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Reviews: Marsalis and Vandermark unleash storms of sound
Author: Howard Reich
Date: February 2, 2014
Two leonine saxophonists of very different sorts made major statements over the weekend, each reaffirming his stature as soloist and bandleader.
Though Branford Marsalis and Ken Vandermark occupy distinct locales on the jazz spectrum, listeners with varying tastes easily could admire the work of both men. For Marsalis and Vandermark proved that clarity of vision and ferocity of expression make a deep impact on an audience, regardless of the musical style or idiom at play.
The mighty saxophonist told the audience in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center on Friday evening that this was just the second time his quartet had convened since October, the first having been the night before. Moreover, the band had arrived in Chicago at 4 p.m. on Friday, waited for luggage until 5 and inched along the expressway until 6 before taking the stage at 8.
Once Marsalis and his colleagues began to play, however, none of that mattered. For the Marsalis Quartet hit hard from the outset and generally raised the intensity level with each piece, regardless of tempo. If anyone wondered why Marsalis ranks among the most commanding reedists in jazz, this assertive and muscular performance shed light on the subject.