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  The EARL  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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Although i enjoy jazz in general, it is a large genre with an extensive history that i have not explored completely. (Is such an exploration even possible anymore?) At any rate, i was curious to see The Vandermark 5 play, and The EARL did promise that this would be an early show (even thought they've lied to me about that before), so i took the chance and headed down to East Atlanta under the threat of Spring Monsoons.

Apparently someone involved with this show cared deeply about it, because they gave out tickets. No really. See:

I have never seen anything like this at The EARL. Very odd.

Anyway, i walked into the club at 9:13 (checking my watch) and the band were, at that very same moment, climbing onto the stage amid sparse applause. There were less than a hundred people there, making the club a little under half full. All of the seating was pushed forward so that it was right in front of the stage, leaving us late-comers standing in the back. This is, when you think about it, a far more logical set-up than the normal one, in which sitters are stuck in the back of the club unable to see the stage.

Ken Vandermark said hi and talked breifly about the band's new album, which spurred the tour, then they tore into it. Literally -- the first 2 songs were great club jazz. The drummer and the bassist (upright bass, naturally) layed down a solid rhythm and the horns (trombone and sax accompaning multi-instrumentalist Ken Vandermark) soared over top.

Standing there was like being in one of those old Miles Davis or Thelonius Monk bootlegs i have. The rhythm section plods along, and each of the others takes a solo, after which the whole band joins in for a while to really swing, and the crowd claps and cheers after each solo. It was jazz as St. Jack Kerouac described it. Woo hoo!

Vandermark repeatedly thanked the crowd for it's enthusiasm. And i overheard one guy in the bathroom saying that he thought this show was better than some, because the crowd was less snooty and more open. So i guess this wasn't your standard jazz crowd, but it did seem to be an appreciative one.

They played two sets, the first lasting about 45 minutes. Then there was a short intermission wherein Vandermark stood at the merch table and chatted with fans. Then the band came back and played more.

I have seen very little live jazz before, but i thought that this show was amazing. The band was tight, and all of the musicians played very well. They played everything from minimalist free jazz to floor-stomping swing, and did it all well.

The whole show was wonderful. So, my advice to you is go see The Vandermark 5 on tour if you ge the chance. I don't care if you know jazz or not -- go see them. It will, at least, be a break from the stream of indie rock/electronica/metal/whatever you do. And, i think, it is well done to boot.

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