Ensemble dal Niente commissions and selects new music that earns the designation “new” not just because it’s freshly composed; it also challenges both players and audiences to experience performance in new ways. This program, jointly presented by Ear Taxi and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, draws on the resources of Chicago in two ways. First, it’s a collaboration with Ken Vandermark, a local reedist whose work inhabits the fault lines between jazz, free improvisation, modern composition, rock, and R&B. And second, all the music on the program was composed by former or late Chicagoans who’ve been members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. While it’s most closely identified with avant-garde jazz, the AACM created a framework for its members to facilitate one another’s musical investigations regardless of genre, and the three pieces that Vandermark and Ensemble dal Niente will play all explore links between jazz and chamber music. The newly commissioned “Last Trane to Clover 5,” by woodwind player Roscoe Mitchell, is one of a series of his works that uses as source material an improvised trio session with keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Kikanju Baku, which has been transcribed and then rearranged by Mitchell into scored compositions. “Merce and Baby,” written by trombonist, electronic musician, composer, and historian George Lewis, finds areas of overlap between the works of modernist choreographer Merce Cunningham and early jazz drummer Baby Dodds. And “Cult of Electromagnetic Connectivity,” by flutist-composer-educator Nicole Mitchell, is a futuristically themed piece that sets darting woodwinds against dramatic percussion. Vandermark will also play a solo set based on melodies composed by the late Fred Anderson, who was not only an imposing tenor saxophonist but also a mentor for generations of local jazz musicians. This concert is the first of just two joint appearances by Vandermark and Ensemble dal Niente; the second will take place next month at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri.
Hyde Park Jazz Festival presents Ensemble dal Niente with Ken Vandermark, Sat 9/25, 7:15 PM, Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th, free but RSVP required (see the festival website for details), all-ages. A recording of the performance will stream online at the festival’s YouTube channel on Sun 9/26 at 3 PM.