Vector Families

Minneapolis/St. The diverse Minneapolis/St. The Twin Cities, like many other smaller markets, seem to produce multi-dimensional musicians who can play many styles and are open to trying new things. Vector Families is an excellent example of this ethos. Three generations of forward-thinking musicians have come together to create For Those About Jazz/Rock. Dave King, a drummer/composer, is not unfamiliar to the worlds of collaboration and eclecticism. King is a key figure in the cross-over of American pop music and improvisational music, including the Bad Plus, Happy Apple, and the Dave King Trucking Company. This is why it’s no surprise that King’s latest venture continues the same process. King and his wife returned to the Twin Cities in 1996 from Los Angeles. It was only a brief stay to regroup and then they headed to New York. King was delighted to find Anthony Cox, the bassist, at a performance at a local club. Cox was just returning from New York, where he had enjoyed a successful stretch with luminaries like Geri Allen and Marty Ehrlich. King and Cox developed a 20-year-old musical friendship. Cox was the obvious choice for any project, and it would be a privilege to record with him. Working with Dean Granros, a polymath and guitarist genius from Minneapolis, would be a great experience. Granros is renowned for his experiments in jazz, psychedelic music and new music. Kamanari, the former Weather Report drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt’s band, was an enormous influence on a certain generation of Minneapolis jazz musicians like King, Reid Anderson, and Craig Taborn. Brandon Wozniak, a great saxophonist, completes the Vector Families line-up. Wozniak is a straight-forward jazz musician, but his ability to play melodic improvisations and make controlled statements helps balance King and Granros’ more experimental tendencies. What does Vector Families sound exactly like? Their eponymous debut album title gives a hint, but it doesn’t necessarily describe their sound. King compares their sound to Ornette’s Prime Time and Bad Brains, with some Pere Ubu post-rock thrown in. King said it was a dream to put this group together. Their hard work paid off, as they started playing more frequently, including at the 2016 Winter Jazz Fest, New York City, where Vector Families received high praises from the New York Times, and others. Vector Families were naturally invited to the studio. The band entered the studio without any plans and relied entirely on their identity as an improvising group. For Those… was more than just a record of the band. It became the most cohesive performance that the band had ever done. The session is intense and gives an excellent example of what the band sounds and looks like. It begins with “Free Funk”, a mid-paced jam which quickly escalates into some fierce skronk. Cox showcases his cello skills on the appropriately named “Duetz Duetz,” in which different members of the group trade spots in featured duets. Cox, Granros, Wozniak, and Wozniak are the first, then Cox, Granros, and Wozniak, and finally Wozniak, and King. Ellington’s “Satin doll” is given a bizarre treatment, with Granros playing piano phrases using a Guitar Band controller. The “10,000 Year Old Rotary Club”, which begins slowly, then picks up to levels of intensity that the band didn’t expect. Ornette Coleman’s “Dee Dee”, while Ornette Coleman is just as unpredictable as his author, and the close, “African Dictaphone”, is a diverse mix of styles, textures, and sounds. Vector Families is a remarkable display of musical dynamism. Four highly respected musicians come together to smash down walls and make music. For those About to Jazz/Rock, we salute you is the perfect soundtrack for weightlifting and headbanging while you purify yourself in the waters at Lake Minnetonka. from

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