Thursday, February 11th, 2010...8:02 pm

Free Fall - Friday March 12

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Ingebrigt Håker Flaten in association with Epistrophy Arts present the Texas debut of internationally acclaimed jazz trio Free Fall on March 12.

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (Austin) – double bass
Håvard Wk (Oslo, Berlin) - piano
Ken Vandermark (Chicago) – clarinets

Friday March 12, 8PM doors 7:30
411 West Monroe
Austin, TX 78704 (map)
advance tickets available Feb. 12 at End of An Ear and Waterloo Records
$12 advance, $15 door

Free Fall was organized by bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, reedist Ken Vandermark, and pianist Håvard Wk in 2001 as an opportunity to work together in a chamber music environment and without percussion. Inspired in part by Texas jazz legend Jimmy Giuffre’s classic group with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, the band quickly found its own voice, utilizing velocity, space, and sound by incorporating combinations of pulse-based and open time, distributing melodic responsibility through its fragmentation, and building expression through a dialectic between understatement and explosiveness.

For this Austin debut performance, the trio will be performing in support of the upcoming release ‘Gray Scale’ on the Norwegian label Smalltown Superjazz. Grey Scale features material that is completely improvised.

Ken Vandermark
Named as one of the 25 most significant improvising musicians under 40 by Downbeat magazine, Ken Vandermark has been a powerful and influential voice in contemporary jazz, both on and off the stage. He’s the leader of dozens of bands and a valued collaborator to some of the most exciting artists working today. He’s an important organizer of concerts and festivals. He also, at the age of 35, received the prestigious “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. All of the (well-deserved) credentials, accolades, and associations sometimes distract from the most notable thing about Ken Vandermark: he’s one of the most moving and powerful saxophone stylists working in the music today. His strong instrumental voice can shift from an oblique angularity to a comfortable and rocking back-beat. He is equally at home when swinging “in the pocket” or stretching the music to its outer limits. Though he has a distinctive style, the breadth of Vandermark’s projects is a testament to his vital creativity.

Håvard Wk
One of Norway’s most extraordinary artists, pianist/composer Håvard Wk first made his mark in Austin with the Scandinavian powerhouse quintet Atomic in 2008. His sensitive, lyrical playing and ability to traverse mainstream traditions while plying more open approaches has been a hit with audiences. Besides Atomic, Wk also works with Free Fall (Ken Vandermark, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten), Atomic Schooldays, a duo with Hakon Kornstad, and a new project with Axel Dorner and Fredrik Ljungqvist. He’s also collaborated with jazz giants Joe Lovano, Kenny Wheeler, and Lee Konitz.

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten
Ingebrigt, a recent Austin transplant, studied Jazz at the Music Conservatory in Trondheim, Norway, from 1992-95. Since 95 he has been a professional musician, shaping and refining his sound by touring extensively all over the world with a variety of international improvisors. Ingebrigt has ongoing transcontinental projects with musicians from the underground of New York, Chicago, Austin and Houston, and has participated on more than 100 recordings.
Ingebrigt’s primary projects are the acclaimed Scandinavian ensembles Atomic and The Thing, both of which have wowed Austin audiences in recent years. He also leads his own quintet and is a member of the bands, The Electrics, Townhouse Orchestra, The Outskirts, Dave Rempis Percussion Quartet, Scorch Trio, Trinity, IPA, Daniel Levin Trio and Atomic Schooldays. Håker Flaten represents a special era in the Norwegian bass tradition. Inspired by Jimmy Garrison, Richard Davis and William Parker, as well as European bassists such as Barry Guy, Dave Holland and Peter Kowald, he provides an historical continuity of the instrument’s tradition. Ingebrigt’s bass playing also draws inspiration and energy from his deep roots in the bustling Norwegian jazz scene. This can be summarized by placing him and his contemporaries in the great lineage of Norwegian progressive jazz musicians that include the famed Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen and Terje Rypdal, as well as the less well-known pianist, Svein Finnerud, and bassist, Bjørnar Andresen, all of whom were key figures in shaping Norwegian avant-garde jazz into the sound we have today. Making his home in Austin, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten is one of the great ambassadors of the Norwegian sound, carrying this strong tradition further, both musically and geographically. He is constantly pushing and challenging himself, seeking out collaborations that hold a promise to lead to new and unheard territories.

Free Fall, Point in a Line, 2007 smalltownsuperjazz

Free Fall takes its name, of course, from the final studio recording of clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre’s trio with pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow, and The Point in a Line is their third disc together. This trio joins Vandermark’s Bb and bass clarinet with Norwegian pianist Havard Wk and bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on a number of compositions and improvisations by members of the trio.

It is important to realize that this band is not entirely in homage to Giuffre—after all, his music retained a wide-open Texas swagger, even as they explored delicate counterpoint and microtonal extended techniques. Free Fall is classically poised in vignettes of contrast, often between the meatiness of bass and bass clarinet and Wk’s peerless piano mobiles, though Vandermark’s “Eulogy for a Typewriter” approaches the sparse canvas of Morton Feldman—surely an exploration of tonal space far from the group’s namesake. — Clifford Allen, April 6, 2008,

Free Fall, Amsterdam Funk, 2005, smalltownsuperjazz

Given the group’s name and its instrumentation, the association with Jimmy Giuffre’s epochal chamber jazz trio is unavoidable. The homage is deliberate, but partial as Free Fall play nothing but original compositions. Amsterdam Funk comprises 13 pieces of stark, frequently dramatic music. The lack of percussion serves to cast a tightrope shadow upon proceedings, but the resulting tension is leavened by sudden, playful passages. An ominously deep piano chord marks the beginning of Accidents With Ladders, only to be succeeded by Vandermark’s jaunty clarinet. Four minutes later Vandermark’s solo climbs upwards and stops suddenly: the title of the piece is thus musically evoked with fine wit. Although their contributions are remarkable, Vandermark and Flaten should need no introduction, but the lesser-known Wk is a revelation, playing one moment with a vivid intensity, the next with the utmost delicacy. Each player’s solos are often conducted against a backdrop of silence. Accordingly, Amsterdam Funk feels like a deliberate exploration of space as much as of melody or time. It’s a bewitchingly beautiful album. Highly recommended. — Colin Buttimer, November, 2005, Jazzwise

Free Fall, Furnace, 2003, Wobbly Rail

The quirky swing of “Inside Out [for Paul Bley)” features Vandermark on clarinet and shows this trio’s obvious debt to the Jimmy Giuffre Trio as the reed man’s candid liner note makes plain: “Any listener with a solid knowledge of jazz history will realize that inspiration for the name of this group was taken from the brilliant album ‘Free Fair by the Jimmy Giuffre Trio.” This project features Vandermark exclusively on clarinet as he goes on a lyrical journey ranging from the dreamy split tones of “The Spell Of Introspection” and the probing counterpoint of “Half Past Soon” to the intensifying circular motifs of his bass clarinet during “Hopscotch” and the fierce energy of “Furnace.” For all their cool; the warm rapport between Flaten and Wiik brings this tribute into focus and provides the reed man with lucid and inspiring company. “Furnace” features a fierce and free solo pizzicato bass interlude by Flaten until Wk’s clotted piano lines inspire Vandermark to turn up the heat. In contrast, “Into The Air” offers a sequence of slow and meditative solo interludes, opening with Flaten’s poignant pizzicato that lasts almost two minutes before Wiik’s brooding piano ultimately ushers in Vandermark’s clarinet as the trio unfold a rich study in minimalist dynamics, reminding me why Giuffre’s Trio was one of the most unique and special delights of the free jazz era of the early 1960s. Informing the freedom here is the real economy of players who listen to one another and discover new possibilities and directions for creation within the discipline of thrift in a manner that helped to liberate the music for decades to come. Free Fall mines a rich seam here and the resulting music is an enthralling delight. Recommended. — David Lewis, July, 2004, Cadence

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