The Vandermark 5 are remarkable on their third recording. Reedmen Ken Vandermark and Dave Rempis are joined by trombonist/guitarist Jeb Bishop, Kent Kessler on bass, and drummer Tim Mulvenna in making some of the most exciting new jazz in the world today. Using American jazzmen for their spiritual inspiration and the European model of free jazz improv, Vandermark and company have come up with something entirely their own: a solid, gritty, soulful funk and squall band who holds within their collective grasp the souls of Sun Ra, Steve Lacy, Albert Ayler, and James Brown's JBs. The eight tunes on Simpatico are all tributes to various jazz and improv greats who have been influential to Vandermark in one way or another. There's the sleet-sheet skronk of "Vent," with Bishop's guitar creating an edgy tension for the horns to play in counterpoint to the rhythm section. In "Fact or Fiction (For Curtis Counce)," the spirit of Les Koenig's Contemporary Records is evoked with its open-wristed swing and minor modes that land just this side of blue. "Point Blank (For Frank Rosalino)" has the bass clarinet solo actually touch on Rosalino's own sense of harmonic architecture, growing out from E-flat into a spider web angularity that embraces the bop arpeggio technique as well as Eric Dolphy's sense of spatial breath. By the time listeners get to Bishop's trombone solo, the entire axis of harmony has been shifted to an imploding sense of phraseology versus teleology and linguistic exchange. What is taking place in the improv is that the three horn players are fighting over Rosalino's clipped modalism. Simpatico is the finest movement yet from a band who seems to be just getting started.