Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In praise of commercial suicide

If you are in NYC, be sure to check out this week's premier of Daniel Kraus's new documentary, Musician, about the amazing avant-jazz saxophonist and composer Ken Vandermark. The man himself will apparently be playing at each night's screening at the Pioneer Theater on East 3rd. The rest of us probably have to wait for the DVD. The filmmaker's synopsis:

"Common sense says you can't make a living in America playing avant-garde improvisational jazz. But Ken Vandermark does it anyway.

"Among musicians, Vandermark's work ethic is almost mythic. The Chicago reed player has released over 100 albums with nearly 40 ensembles, spends over eight months per year on the road, and lives every other waking moment composing, arranging, performing — and trying to discipline his two hyperactive canines. Though Vandermark was the recipient of a 1999 MacArthur genius grant, he still spends most of his life in smoky clubs and low-budget recording studios, hoping people will plunk down hard-earned cash to hear his wholly non-commercial music."

Nice review of the pic in today's NYT, with this cogent morsel:

"In one early scene the director splits the screen to show Mr. Vandermark working the phone in his home office, effusively thanking a patron for a gig, and then sheepishly informing a creditor that he won’t be able to settle up until next month. Those seeking a nutshell definition of what it means to be a committed artist need look no further."

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