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Side A: A New Margin

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The prolific multireedist Ken Vandermark leads multiple bands at the same time, yet few of his outings have included a pianist. This is partly what makes his new trio project, Side A, so momentous: The piano adds a dimension to his music that is rarely heard.

Side A features drummer Chad Taylor and Norwegian pianist Havard Wiik. Vandermark sticks to tenor saxophone and clarinet on this recording, but he often plumbs the extremes, burrowing low on the sax, reaching for piercing wails on the clarinet. Together, these three musicians-each of whom supplies some tunes-create high-caliber fire music. Taylor is a fiend behind the kit, but he listens closely to what his cohorts do and responds quickly, occasionally mimicking their sounds on the skins and cymbals. Wiik favors low, rumbling contrapuntal chords and dashing, breakneck right-hand runs, qualities that put him in a league with Matthew Shipp.

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