The Squid's Ear Magazine

Vandermark, Ken : Site Specific [2 CDs + BOOK] (Audiographic Records)

2 CDs and a book of photos documenting solo work from Chicago improviser Ken Vandermark performing on clarinet, tenor, and baritone sax in 4 sites--a house, a cavern, a train trestle, & a skate park--dedicating the performances to important musicians, and to Buster Keaton, and Jay Adams.

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product information:

Label: Audiographic Records
Catalog ID: AGR-005BOOK
Squidco Product Code: 21585

Format: BOOK + 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: USA
Packaging: Book with 2 CDs
HOUSE recorded in concert on August 9th, 2014 by Dave Zuchowski, at the home of Kate Dumbleton in Chicago, as part of the Ratchet House Concert Series. Special thanks to Kate Dumbleton, Anton Hatwich, Nick Mazzarella, and Frank Rosaly. Mixed and mastered by Dave Zuchowski, One Room Studio.

CAVERN recorded at the Workhouse Ballroom in Louisville, Kentucky on April 16th, 2015 by Dave Zuchowski. Special thanks to the location scout: Tim Barnes, and for the Louisville hospitality: Erica Bricking. Mixed and mastered by Dave Zuchowski, One Room Studio.

TRACKS recorded at the Phoenix Hill Train Trestle in Louisville, Kentucky on April 16th, 2015 by Dave Zuchowski. Mixed and mastered by Dave Zuchowski, One Room Studio.

PIPE was recorded at the Louisville Skate Park in Louisville, Kentucky on April 17th, 2015 by Dave Zuchowski. Mixed and mastered by Dave Zuchowski, One Room Studio.


Ken Vandermark-saxophones, clarinet, photgraphs

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

Site Specific is a neat entry in the Ken Vandermark oeuvre: a minimalistic, beautifully bound book packed with two CDs capturing live solo field performances in '14 and '15, showcasing Vandermark's photographs taken as he has toured the world. It's not a travelogue or tour documentary, it doesn't capture people, or landscapes, rather it's images of very specific objects at sites arranged suite like. Time and place take a back seat to imagery, textures and emerging themes.

For example, an image from Wormer in 2014 with prominent san-serif lettering is placed on a facing page with an image from Omaha (also from 2014) also with the bold lettering but now getting more textual, which becomes the stronger theme in the image from Chicago with raised block letters on the next page. The images are appealing as the attention to the colors, shapes, and framing is quite intriguing.

The whole project is about the environment - not in the green sense but in the where you are now sense, and the four sets of recordings that make up these two discs are recorded in different places, in the field, with the sound of the instruments intimately linked to nearby objects and features. Throughout the tracks, Vandermark switches between clarinet, tenor, and baritone sax.

Music-wise, the first set begins with a knotty muscular theme that teeters on the edge of rambunctious for the duration. You can hear the implied rhythm section, feel the pulse, and may even be tempted to try to nod along. The first sequence of tracks are spacious and light, but much like the images, the sequence builds from track to track, and by the seventh, the music has developed into dense and elliptical patterns that seem like burlap sheets of sound. Track eight inverses the dynamic, instead of the low rumble, Vandermark works the high register. The second set begins with a warmer sound - recorded under a train trestle in Louisville, Kentucky. The final most extreme environment is on Disc two, beginning with track six, with a series called "Pipe", recorded at a Louisville, Kentucky Skate Park (I assume in, around, or quite near a half-pipe).

Site Specific is a coffee table book that physically fits a small coffee table but really fills up a lot of aesthetic space. The photography is worth a purposeful viewing as you listen to the accompanying sounds."-Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Blog

Get additional information at Free Jazz Blog

Artist Biographies

"Born in Warwick, Rhode Island on September 22nd, 1964, Ken Vandermark began studying the tenor saxophone at the age of 16. Since graduating with a degree in Film and Communications from McGill University during the spring of 1986, his primary creative emphasis has been the exploration of contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation. In 1989, he moved to Chicago from Boston, and has worked continuously from the early 1990's onward, both as a performer and organizer in North America and Europe, recording in a large array of contexts, with many internationally renowned musicians (such as Fred Anderson, Ab Baars, Peter Brötzmann, Tim Daisy, Hamid Drake, Terrie Ex, Mats Gustafsson, Devin Hoff, Christof Kurzmann, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen-Love, Paul Lytton, Andy Moor, Joe Morris, and Nate Wooley). His current activity includes work with Made To Break, The Resonance Ensemble, Side A, Lean Left, Fire Room, the DKV Trio, and duos with Paal Nilssen-Love and Tim Daisy; in addition, he is the music director of the experimental Pop band, The Margots. More than half of each year is spent touring in Europe, North America, and Japan, and his concerts and numerous recordings have been critically acclaimed both at home and abroad. In addition to the tenor sax, he also plays the bass and Bb clarinet, and baritone saxophone. In 1999 he was awarded the MacArthur prize for music."

-Ken Vandermark Website (

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Track Listing:

CD 1

1. House 1 For Paul Rutherford (Tenor Sax) 5:50

2. House 2 For Derek Bailey (Clarinet) 3:36

3. House 3 For Evan Parker (Baritone Sax) 5:09

4. House 4 For Barre Philips (Bass Clarinet) 4:31

5. House 5 For Phillip Wachsmann (Baritone Sax) 6:50

6. House 6 For Paul Lytton (Clarinet) 5:50

7. Cavern 1 For Derek Bailey And Min Tanaka (Baritone Sax) 7:19

8. Cavern 2 For Derek Bailey And Min Tanaka (Clarinet) 9:38

9. Cavern 3 For Derek Bailey And Min Tanaka (Tenor Sax) 7:19

10. Cavern 4 For Derek Bailey And Min Tanaka (Clarinet) 6:39

11. Cavern 5 For Derek Bailey And Min Tanaka (Tenor Sax) 5:56

CD 2

1. Tracks 1 (bass clarinet) [04:15]

2. Tracks 2 (tenor) [08:46]

3. Tracks 3 (baritone) [04:01]

4. Tracks 4 (clarinet) [03:40]

5. Tracks 5 (tenor) [05:59]

6. Pipe 1 (baritone) [05:07]

7. Pipe 2 (bass clarinet) [04:51]

8. Pipe 3 (baritone) [04:53]

9. Pipe 4 (bass clarinet) [04:21]

10. Pipe 5 (clarinet) [05:47]

11. Pipe 6 (tenor) [02:18]

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Solo Artist Recordings
Ken Vandermark
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Staff Picks & Recommended Items

Search for other titles on the label:
Audiographic Records.

Recommended & Related Releases:
Other Recommended Releases:
Vandermark, Ken
The Field Within a Line (Black Cross Solo Sessions 1)
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Various Artists: Lao Dan / Rick Countryman / Colin Webster
Saxophone Anatomy
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Rara Avis (Ken Vandermark / Stefano Ferrian / Simone Quatrana / Luca Pissavini / Sec)
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(Not Two)
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Western Automatic
Lean Left
Live At Area Sismica
Platform 1
Takes Off
(Clean Feed)
Double Tandem (Baars / Vandermark / Nilssen-Love)

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