Thursday, August 5, 2010
Saxophonist Ken VendermarkListening to your Powerhouse Sound quartet last night at Alvin's Bar in Detroit, I kept thinking about a scene in the new Thelonious Monk biography. Monk hired drummer Frankie Dunlop. Dunlop was a loud drummer at the time. He had a tough time playing some of Monk's tricky tunes. Monk liked to switch tempos without warning. Monk chastised the drummer, explaining Dunlop needed to be more flexible, and learn to swing at various tempos. I wondered how a musician could swing on a slow tempo number. Ken, last night I understood what Monk was talking about listening to Powerhouse Sound. The quartet played intricate music with many tempos changes. During both set, I was awed at how you the band swung on every level. It was creative how you stitched together four or five compositions, making it appear the band played one long composition. I never witness a drummer who played recklessly and beautifully as John Herndon did. He wailed on the drums like a maniac, throwing his cymbals around like a Frisbee. Midway through the first selection, his t-shirt was drench. He was playing that hard. Highlights of the both sets were the collective improvisation even when guitarists Nate McBride and Jeff Parker produced those eerie sound effects. The only criticism I have is you should have written more parts for yourself. When it was your turn to shine, your powerful soloing could have shattered the windshields of the cars parked outside Alvin's Bar. Powerhouse Sound is a fitting name for a powerful band.