Ken Vandermark's acclaimed semi-improvisational jazz quintet. Not to be confused with the Vandermark Quartet. Yes, this is the free jazz fella who won a MacArthur grant for his work.

The members are Ken Vandermark blowing reeds, Mars Williams assisting, Jeb Bishop alternately guitaring and calmly trombonery, Kent Kessler plucking large basses, and Tim Mulvenna granching the drums. Dave Rempis replaced Williams on additional reeds in 1999 or thereabouts.

The 5 play a great mix of freer jazz styles. Ken's songs cover the gamut from Count Basie-style melodic singalongs to super freaky jazz breakdowns in the tradition of Coltrane. Seeing them blast it out live is an intense experience, not to be missed. The usually uneccessary adjective EXPLOSIVE is not out of place here. (They play the Empty Bottle in Chicago a ton; Ken must like the place.)

Their recorded work has certainly improved. The live intensity and telepathic interplay are captured better and better on their later discs, like Burn the Incline and Acoustic Machine.

Listen, stand up, and shout: