Ken Vandermark, 2012 Artist in Residence

The Chicago Jazz Festival announces saxophonist and composer Ken Vandermark as its Artist in Residence for this year’s festival. The Chicago Jazz Festival exclusively names Chicago artists for its Artist in Residence program, now in its tenth year, commissioning large-scale compositions and presenting multiple performance opportunities over the course of the four day festival. A Chicago-based recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, Vandermark has focused on expanding the possibilities of improvised and composed music for most of the last three decades.

Vandermark has worked continuously from the mid-nineties as a performer and organizer in North America and Europe, with a creative emphasis on contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation. He has performed and recorded in a vast array of contexts with many internationally renowned musicians, touring on a regular basis in North America, Europe, and Japan. His concerts and numerous recordings have been critically acclaimed in the U.S.and abroad.

“The Artist in Residence program has been a great addition to the festival since 2003,” said Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “This approach of highlighting talent residing locally is unique among jazz
festivals in this country, and demonstrates the important commitment the Chicago Jazz Festival has made to support the continuum of Chicago’s jazz legacy.”

When notified of his selection, Vandermark said that he has never before been given the chance to present a panoramic picture of his music that the residency provides. That this would take place for the first time in his home town is a source of great meaning for him.

Vandermark has elected to use the residency to highlight the musical relationships he has cultivated in the Netherlands, Eastern Europe, South America and the United States; creating a band of fellow travelers from Chicago and around the world, some of whom will play together for the first time. Widely known for his experimental spirit, Vandermark has broken boundaries through compositional approaches and rigorous collective improvisation. The international aspect of this Artist Residency marks a new milestone in its evolution.

Vandermark’s four residency’s performances begin on Friday August 31 at 5:00 p.m. at Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall with a duet with fellow saxophonist Joe McPhee. Since his emergence on the creative jazz and new music scene in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, McPhee has been a deeply emotional composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist who is both a kindred spirit and musical counterpart to Ken Vandermark.

Grant Park provides larger settings for Vandermark’s music which finds him performing first on the Jazz and Heritage Stage on Saturday September 1 at 2:00 p.m. with Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. One of the most innovative, dynamic and versatile drummers in jazz, Nilssen-Love has worked on various projects with Vandermark in Europe and in the Netherlands.

Later on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m., the world premiere of the composition commissioned by the Chicago Jazz Festival takes place on the main stage at the Petrillo band shell with Vandermark’s Resonance Ensemble. The creation of the ensemble was inspired by Vandermark’s desire to bring together creative musicians he has played with in Chicago and from around the world. The ensemble created for this performance includes Magnus Broo (trumpet), Steve Swell (trombone), Per-Ake Homlander (Tuba), Waclaw Zimpel (clarinet), Mikolaj Trzaska (reeds), Dave Rempis (Sax), Mark Tokar (bass), Devin Hoff (bass), Tim Daisy (Drums) and Michael Zerang (drums).

On Sunday September 2 at 2:00 p.m., Vandermark’s Made to Break Quartet performs on the Jazz on Jackson Stage. Vandermark’s newest ensemble is also his most radical, as he has devised a compositional framework for the band that can be restructured for every performance and deals with melody, sound, and rhythm in a completely unique way. The individuals involved (Chicagoans Tim Daisy, Devin Hoff, and Argentina’s Christof Kurzmann on reeds) bring their diverse approaches to improvisation, giving the ensemble a dynamic and spontaneous energy.

The Festival officially opens on Thursday afternoon with performances in three venues in the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington) followed that evening with the previously announced Made In Chicago: World Class Jazz finale in Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion and another performance there on Friday Evening. Four Stages are filled with jazz music in Grant Park for the Saturday and Sunday portion of the festival: The Jazz on Jackson Stage, The Jazz & Heritage Stage and the Young Jazz Lions Stage.


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