With his riveting performance in the inaugural Sequesterfest online festival in April 2020, Ken Vandermark inspired the Black Cross Solo Sessions. Already in the early days of lockdown, making good on the promise – or threat – of protracted off-road time, Vandermark had dedicated himself to the creation of a new book of works for solo reed instruments, which he debuted that day. The result of this watershed moment for the Chicago-based improvisor and composer was a body of works that reassert his seriousness and test his ability to reflect and reevaluate. The compositions, which are platforms for invention, are dealt with in relatively economical, almost stripped-down fashion, ringing with a kind of bell-like clarity and focus. Most tracks are on the shorter side, straight to the point, featuring the rippling intensity that is a Vandermark hallmark, but with an altogether reborn sense of purpose. Pieces are dedicated to filmmakers, photographers, and painters, musicians, choreographers, and writers, pointing outward from the hermetic situation of the pandemic to a network of creative icons. Recorded at home in the detailed chamber sonics of his living room, they offer a bulwark against adversity – the triumph of an endlessly questing mind over the terror of enforced stasis. Liner notes by Vandermark, cover art and design by Christopher Wool.
Ken Vandermark, reeds. All music by Ken Vandermark [Twenty First Mobile Music publishing/ASCAP-CIEN FUEGOS]
Recorded by Ken Vandermark at home in Chicago on September 25th and 26th, 2020. Mixed and mastered by Dave Zuchowski, One Room Studio.
Cover design and artwork by Christopher Wool.
CD design by David Khan-Giordano.
Produced by John Corbett and Christopher Wool.
Thanks to John Corbett, Jim Dempsey, and Christopher Wool; to Sam Clapp for the loan of recording equipment; to Dave Zuchowski; to Ellen Major and Sunny Vandermark; and to the listeners.