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Customer Reviews

What the critics say

'Reed Trio' name hides a new Ken Vandermark's assamble - this time "Polish edition" complemented with two Poles: Mikolaj Trzaska and Waclaw Zimpel. A line-up is similar to another Vandermark project - Sonora, but with a a slightly different instrumentation. ...musical personalities are completely different than in Sonore and quite another thing is their attention to improvisation. The guiding principle here seems to be the harmony... Strongly recommended!
(Marek Zajac,


Ken Vandermark is frightfully prolific. This recent release, 'Last Train to the First Station' by the Reed Trio is just one of the many current albums and groups in which he is a member. The Reed Trio is Vandermark on clarinet, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, Mikolaj Trzaska on bass clarinet, alto saxophone, c-melody saxophone and Waclaw Zimpel on clarinet, bass clarinet, and tarogato. Without traditional (or any) rhythm section, the trio has been described as a more subtle counterpart to Vandermark's other woodwind trio Sonore with Peter Brötzmann and Mats Gustafsson. While perhaps a little reined in, the sonic textures and melodic improvisations that the Reed Trio explores isn't sleepy by any definition.

Recorded on two separate dates in 2008 at the New Synagogue in Gdansk, Poland, the resulting sound is pristine and lets the listener in on the intimate sounds of the instruments from key clicks and breathes to full bodied tones. The free form songs evolve from a full group effort, without repeating themes or arrangements, but not without free and expressive melodies and rhythms. The harmonic possibilities of the myriad woodwinds is fully explored throughout. There are quiet moments, but more often than not, the trio's music has a fluid undulating energy.
The opening tune, 'When Tulips Were Gold' showcases the great sympathy between the players as they create harmonies in their reactions. The exuberance of 'In Between Chairs' is as good a place as any to attempt to describe the intertwining lines and contrasting colors. The clarinets deliver a twisting melody full of stops, pops, blops and squirrelous sounds. Then diverging, the bass clarinet adds some long low register tones supporting the percolating higher register reeds. The following 'Sitting on a Warm Stone' features a long expressive saxophone solo, expanding and contracting, slowing and quickening, to its own breathy pulse. Whether following the melodic lines anticipating the quirky turns, or letting a cascade of notes wash over the senses, or being pelted by rhythm during 'Anthology Moves', the trio entertains.
I suspect that The Reed Trio's debut album will be on my iPod for quite a while. It's an album that is rewarding to come back to repeatedly. Every listen is engaging and reveals more serendipitous details.
(Paul Acquaro)


Born: September 22, 1964 in Warwick, RI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Eyebrows were raised in the jazz world when it was announced that the relatively obscure and young Ken Vandermark was to receive a 1999 MacArthur Genius grant. Previous MacArthur recipients among jazz musicians include Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton -- near-legendary figures who, over the course of long careers, created substantial bodies of work that have (to some degree) stood the test of time. Vandermark, just 35 at the time, was little-known outside of Chicago, but became renowned all over...
Full Bio
Last Train to the First Station, Ken Vandermark
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 2011

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