A Closer Look at Ken Vandermark’s Made To Break



Made to Break - photo by Cesar Merino

Made To Break

Ken Vandermark’s Made to Break comes to LPR this Wednesday, April 23, so let’s take a look at what’s in store.
According to the group’s bio, Made To Break is Vandermark’s “newest ensemble and his most radical,” bringing together “elements of his interest and experience with the music of Ethiopia and the Ex, alongside the New Music ideas of John Cage and Morton Feldman, and mixing these with his perspective toward jazz and improvised music history, he has devised a compositional framework for the band that can be restructured for every performance and which deals with melody, sound, and rhythm in a completely unique way.”
Since forming in 2011, the group has performed at a number of international festivals and released three LPs.
Lacerba and Provoke, both recorded live in Lisbon in 2011, were released in 2013. The Free Jazz Blog notes that Lacerba takes its name from an Italian futurist literary magazine and says this about the opening track:
“Like classical futurist music the first track, ‘Vita Futurista (for Dick Raaijmakers)’, imitates technology, a dark baritone saxophone sound reminds of a foghorn before the real machine sets in: Kurzmann’s electronics sound like a limbo created by Edgar Allen Poe, there are static loops, a pulsing and scraping that gives you the creeps in a very subtle way. But futurism is not only about darkness, and after four minutes, when the bass turns in playing a super groovy Michael-Henderson-riff and Vandermark slaps out a soulful theme, the band has transformed into a 1980 New York No Jazz group – raw, funky, straight, hardcore.”

The music on Lacerba and Provoke, according to All About Jazz’s Mark Corroto“is a more methodical version of John Zorn’s Cobra and resolves itself as a democratic version of a Butch Morris Conduction.” Here’s his take on Provoke’s first track:
“Opening ‘Further (for John Cage)’ with a simple tenor/drums duet, the piece builds into a heavy funk with the shock of electronics sizzling. The music morphs several times, here and with all tracks, into meditative passages, lyrical (dare I say songlike hymns?) and heavy rock elements. Each module, opens up possibilities of soloing, duos and group interactions.”

Corroto also reviewed Made to Break’s latest LP, this year’s Cherchez La Femme, praising its “fully integrated sound”:
“The three lengthy pieces, all dedicated to women artists from photographers, painters, actor Bette Davis, and the riot grrrl punk band Sleater Kinney, ebb and flow from rocked-out funk to crackling electronic sizzle.”

And here’s Made To Break performing at the Voll-Damm International Festival of Jazz in Barcelona back in 2011:

Now you’re definitely ready to see Made To Break this Wednesday at LPR.
posted by John