DKV Trio at the Hideout | Concert preview
Hamid Drake, Kent Kessler and Ken Vandermark reconvene.
The last time DKV Trio played a gig, so many people jammed into the Hideout that someone called the cops. As reedist Ken Vandermark tells it, one of the policemen called to the scene approached drummer Hamid Drake and proceeded to compliment him on a great set. You’ll find that story in Vandermark’s liner notes to the group’s new seven-CD box set, Past Present, which includes some of the music from that evening.
The record affirms the officer’s opinion—the trio, which also includes bassist Kent Kessler, put its foot in it that night. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen the group in action. Formed in 1994, it was the best regularly gigging jazz combo in Chicago for much of the ’90s. Drake balanced volcanic energy with a professorial command of the kit; Kessler’s low notes supplied an indomitable center of gravity; and Vandermark’s aggressive tenor saxophone and agile bass clarinet reconciled funk and fire music with a new, more atomized language. But what set them apart was a gift for improvising entire sets that possessed the emotional and thematic coherence of completely composed suites.
Scheduling conflicts have since turned the group’s gigs into semiannual events. But after a 2008 concert in Sardinia where the trio played music by the late, great trumpeter Don Cherry, DKV began playing more frequently. Past Present culls the highlights from six concerts recorded in Milwaukee and Chicago since 2009, in addition to that Sardinian festival set. Collectively it confirms that these vets still have plenty of energy and invention on tap.