Ensemble Dal Niente & Ken Vandermark
Now in its second decade, Chicago’s Ensemble Dal Niente performs new and experimental music with dedication, virtuosity, and exploratory verve. Twenty-two musicians play an uncommonly broad range of contemporary music, subverting expectations and representing a panoply of compositional ideas and identities. Before taking home the 2019 Fromm Music Foundation Prize, it was the first ensemble to win The Kranichstein Music Prize for interpretation. With recordings on New World Records, New Amsterdam, and other fine labels, the group has collaborated with composers such as Gérard Grisey, George Lewis, Hilda Paredes, Roscoe Mitchell, and Greg Saunier of Deerhoof.
That path starts with Lu Wang’s Urban Inventory, in which the listener experiences a sonic walk through an urban environment. Sound bites, blips, conversation, and ambient noises enter and exit your attention. In George Lewis’ Hexis, listeners improvise with their ears as the music swirls, honks, slinks and snarls. Vandermark joins the ensemble on saxophone for Roscoe Mitchell’s Last Trane to Clover 5, written for VaKen Vandermark explores contemporary music with a focus on advanced methods of improvisation. A 1999 MacArthur Fellow, he plays not only tenor saxophone but also baritone saxophone, bass, and clarinet. He spends more than half of each year touring in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Japan. He has recorded as a solo performer and with internationally renowned musicians such as Fred Anderson, Ab Baars, Tim Barnes, Peter Brötzmann, Tim Daisy, Kris Davis, and Hamid Drake. He is currently busy with Made to Break, Marker, Lean Left, Shelter, DEK, The DKV Trio, and The Eric Revis Quartet, not to mention his duos with Paal Nilssen-Love, Tim Daisy, Terrie Hessels, and Nate Wooley.
In this concert, Dal Niente and Vandermark chart a course between composition and improvisation that begins with Wang Lu’s Urban Inventory, which is like a sonic walk through an urban environment awash in ambient sounds and pieces of conversation. Next is the snarling swirl of George Lewis’s Hexis, before Vandermark joins the ensemble on saxophone for Last Trane to Clover 5, which Roscoe Mitchell wrote for them in 2020. Rounding out the program is a collaboratively devised work with Hunter Brown. The ensemble will also perform throughout the day at The Knoxville Museum of Art on Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27.