News from Made To Break!

KEN VANDERMARK, tenor sax, clarinet. TIM DAISY, percussion. CHRISTOF KURZMANN, electronics. JASPER STADHOUDERS, bass.













Voll-Damm Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona, 2011


Made To Break returns to Europe from February 28th until March 10th to play a series of concerts featuring music from their upcoming albums, on lp ("Lacerba") and cd ("Provoke"), which are being issued by Clean Feed to coincide with this tour. In addition, the group (which features the crucially acclaimed musicians, Tim Daisy [drums], Devin Hoff [electric bass], Christof Kurzmann [electronics], performing the compositions of Ken Vandermark [reeds]) will be working on new material during these shows, which they will then record in Vienna at the conclusion of their trip.



The music composed for Made To Break was developed through work with two previous, coexisting sets of activity and history.  One extended from FME (with Nate McBride, Paal Nilssen-Love) to the Frame Quartet (with Tim Daisy, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Nate).  The other began with Spaceways Inc. (including Hamid Drake, Nate McBride) and then continued with Powerhouse Sound (version 1 involved Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Lasse Marhaug, Nate, Paal Nilssen-Love; version 2 included John Herndon, Jeff Parker, and Nate). Clearly these particular lines of evolution in my music owed a great deal to Nate McBride's input and creativity; I'd like to acknowledge that here.

Material created for FME [2002-2007] and then the Frame Quartet [2007-2010] was formed, in part, to address my ongoing fascination with the challenge of discovering new ways to write music for improvisers; methods of composing that do not establish a fixed road map that can be "learned" or a specific order of musical "puzzles" that can be solved.  There is a tendency for this to happen, even with the most creative players, and it can allow the compositional structure to take over the shape of the improviser's creative choices.  With the music of FME I began use "modular" organization (which is now utilized by the Resonance Ensemble, as well as Made To Break).  This system makes it possible to learn and execute ensemble material while making it feasible to create new paths from one composed point to another.  The pieces are resequenced from performance to performance and long-form compositions are created out of these shorter units.  The Frame Quartet used a fairly complex set of visual cues to assemble the construction of a piece.  A leader was assigned to a specific composition, who then reorganized its structure on the spot, conducting the band and rearranging the form in any way they chose.  At every concert each piece was led by a different member of the group, the structure improvised by them, with the music improvised by the entire band.

Spaceways Inc. [2000-2004] was the first ensemble I composed for that directly addressed my interest in Funk and Reggae.  I was scratching at the surface of this exploration with the Vandermark 5, but eventually realized that there are reasons why these genres of music utilize the electric bass.  Nate McBride was one of the only musicians I knew who was a tremendous acoustic bassist that also had a real fascination for what its electric counterpart could do, so he was the clear choice for the Spaceways Inc., where he used both instruments.  Powerhouse Sound [2005-2010] took this type of exploration further, initially with an Oslo based group that incorporated two electric basses and electronics, then later with a Chicago based unit that featured the possibilities of electric guitar.  I say that Powerhouse Sound took things further because, in addition to the inspiration found in Funk and Reggae, the genesis of that ensemble's music was directly influenced by my growing fascination with the astonishing "electric period" of Miles Davis from the early to mid 1970s.

Made To Break was formed in the summer of 2011, and is an electro-acoustic, improvising ensemble that synthesizes the two parallel streams of creative activity described above.  Its music emphasizes my current preoccupation with spontaneous structures and rhythmic ideas inspired from outside the Jazz tradition (recent influences include an enthusiasm for the messy but precise music from post-punk England, particularly Wire and The Fall; along with the impact of music from Ethiopia, which I've encountered directly through an extremely fortunate association with the Ex).  Each composition is again modular.  The sequence of these components, which create the meta-structure of a piece, is determined before every performance.  But the use of the written elements, and the means of which to move from one composition to another, are completely open to the players, who work independently with the melodic, rhythmic, sonic, and formal ramifications intrinsic to the music.  Christof Kurzmann works as something of a "free agent" in the group, able to develop his own sets of activity that interface with the structure and parts organized by the rest of the ensemble.  Combined, these methods have made it possible to derive the content-based layers of complexity I sought with the Frame Quartet, without using its intricate set of visual cues. 

The material written for Made To Break is a further expansion of creative procedures developed to address the paradox of composing for improvisers: how to leave musicians free to invent spontaneously and as individuals, while simultaneously putting them into specific musical territory which they might not discover organically, and which they can reinterpret from a new standpoint time and time again.  The present solution to this challenge was generated over many years of work by a variety of bands.  It is expressed with a platform that demands complete inventiveness from each player on both the macro level (structure) and the micro level (sound and rhythm).  The compositions make it possible for one musician to immediately recognize what another is doing, while giving the option to work with this or against it, using written components or by improvising.  In addition, because the formation of each piece is unrehearsed, it's impossible for a performer to anticipate another player's choices by becoming overly familiar with the arrangements or memorizing the sequence of events- the material is organized to demand listening and improvising on as many concurrent levels as possible.  The music of Made To Break is a form of problem solving in real time, expressed with sound.

-Ken Vandermark, Köln, October 29, 2012

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