Ken Vandermark was present on Krakow’s jazz scene even before the birth of Krakow Jazz Autumn when, in 2004, at the initiative of Marek Winiarski, The Vandermark 5 played at Alchemia.

The residency was recorded and released by Not Two as a colossal 12 CD collection (Alchemia, 2005), which received extremely enthusiastic reviews. It was this series of shows that contributed to what we now know as Krakow Jazz Autumn. Since then, he has accompanied the festival, returning with more and more complex and bizarre projects. This year’s five-day residency will undoubtedly be one of the festival’s highlights. This time around, the band includes some older and newer friends of Vandermark, such as Nate Wooley, Mette Rasmussen, Jasper Stadhouders, Terrie Hessels, Elisabeth Harnik and Didi Kern.

Born in 1964, Ken Vandermark is a great, fierce improviser, and a brilliant composer who is well versed in the history of jazz, but also draws on many other genres. He currently resides in Chicago. In an interview for Citizen Jazz, he praises the city’s scene: “In the two decades since I moved to Chicago from Boston in 1989 the improvised music scene has developed a new infrastructure for performing (…) The opportunity to develop work on a regular basis within that city is completely unique”.

It is hard to find someone whom the term “one-man band” would fit better than Ken Vandermark. Looking at his numerous and varied forms of artistic activity, one could start to wonder whether this man ever sleeps. In 54 years, the musician has contributed to over 60 releases (i.e. over 1 per year). But that’s not all…. He graduated in film studies, is a gifted photographer, an expert in architecture and a lover of visual arts. You can see it in a beautiful 250-page book Site Specific, full of photos and graphics, published together with two solo albums recorded at home, in a skate park, in a cave and… under a train trestle.
This year, together with Terrie Ex (aka Terrie Hessels), who will be performing with him at this year’s edition of the festival, Vandermark released the album Scaffolding (Terp Records). Eyal Hareuveni (The Free Jazz Collective) writes that this album is “Inspiring but dense 34 minutes of total freedom (which does not sound like jazz at all)”.

Another regular collaborator of Vandermark is trumpeter Nate Wooley. In an interview for Citizen Jazz, Vandermark says of his collaborators: “The ongoing work with Nate Wooley, both in the duo project and otherwise, has been one of the most important of my newer collaborations. The same is true with my duo work with Terrie Ex. Their approaches to playing are radically different from each other, but the level of challenge and excitement when working with them is equivalent”.

The band is a real cream of the crop of improvisers, and the prospect of hearing them interact live will send shivers down every jazz fan’s spine. Because if Vandermark has a talent that equals that for making music, it’s definitely the talent to surround himself with similarly brilliant artists. Together with Austrian musicians Elisabeth Harnik and Didi Kern they form DEK Trio (with which he recorded 4 albums), Jasper Stadhouders and Christof Kurzmann are members of the band Made to Break, and Stadhouders, Heather and Wooley form the Shelter project with Vandermark. It seems almost impossible to list all music configurations between Vandermark’s friends, but these examples show that the musicians certainly know and understand each other well.

The name Entr’Acte refers to the groundbreaking French short film from 1924. Director René Clair, a dadaist, used various special effects such as slow motion, unusual camera positions and multiple exposures to create surreal film sequences unheard of at the time. The cast includes leading artists of the time, including Francis Picabia, Erik Satie, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Borlin, and Georges Auric.

Ken Vandermark has always been vocal about his fascination with cinema: “my interest in the cinema has definitely had a profound impact on the way I think about composing music for improvisers. Though I listen to and study different kinds of music all the time (not only jazz and improvised music, just as often contemporary composed music, post-punk rock, dub from Jamaica, funk, music from Ethiopia and other countries in African, various periods of music from Brazil…), I am so close to this field of endeavor as a practitioner it has been helpful to use resources and research outside of music to help me develop new approaches to my compositional work. Filmmakers have made key impact on me”.

Ken Vandermark (US) – reeds
Nate Wooley (US) – trumpets
Mette Rasmussen (DK) – reeds
Jasper Stadhouders (NL) – el. guitar
Terrie Hessels (NL) – el. guitar
Elisabeth Harnik (AT) – piano
Joe Williamson (CA) – bass
Dieb13 (AT) – turntables
Christof Kurzmann (AT) – voice
Steve Heather (AT) – drums
Didi Kern (AT) – drums

TICKETS : 30 PLN in presale, 40 PLN on the day of the show

Pupils and students of music schools and colleges, as well as musicology students can buy tickets for each concert at the price of PLN 10 (admission upon showing ID).


WHEN: Wednesday, October 23

Set 1. Terrie Ex, Christof Kurzmann

Set 2. Didi Kern,  Mette Rasmussen, Joe Williamson

Set 3. Dieb13 (Dieter Kovačič), Elisabeth Harnik

Set 4. Shelter (Steve Heather, Jasper Stadhouders, Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley)

START: 8 pm


WHEN: Thursday, October 24 

Set 1. Dieb13 (Dieter Kovačič), Mette Rasmussen, Nate Wooley

Set 2. Steve Heather, Christof Kurzmann, Joe Williamson

Set 3. Terrie Ex, Jasper Stadhouders

Set 4. DEK (Elisabeth Harnik, Didi Kern, Ken Vandermark)

START: 8 pm


WHEN: Friday, October 25

Set 1. Dieb13 (Dieter Kovačič), Didi Kern, Jasper Stadhouders

Set 2. Ken Vandermark/Nate Wooley duo

Set 3. Terrie Ex, Steve Heather, Joe Williamson

Set 4. Elisabeth Harnik, Christof Kurzmann, Mette Rasmussen

START: 8 pm


WHEN: Saturday, October 26

Set 1. Dieb13 (Dieter Kovačič), Didi Kern

Set 2. Elisabeth Harnik, Joe Williamson, Nate Wooley

Set 3. Mette Rasmussen, Jasper Stadhouders

Set 4. Terrie Ex, Steve Heather, Christof Kurzmann, Ken Vandermark

START: 8 pm

Leave a Reply