"With his buzz-saw haircut, square jaw and no-nonsense attitude, Chicago’s Ken Vandermark is the GI Joe of jazz, kicking down the doors between different genres and regional scenes. His usual crew, the Vandermark Five, fashion an occasionally brutal fusion of dainty modern jazz tunes and chaotic free-jazz splurge, and here hepicks up a clarinet and enlists the pianist and double bassist of his Norwegian opposite numbers, Atomic, for a collaboration that pushes both modes of operation to extremes. Invisible Cities is an object lesson in this method, Vandermark’s clarinet coiling carefully around Havard Wiik’s tumbling piano before the boiling process begins once more." Stewart Lee/TimesOnline.co.uk

 

"Speaking of clarinets, Vandermark plays nothing but in Free Fall, a trio with pianist Havard Wiik and bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten. Taking its name from an album by Jimmy Giuffre, who gets a dedication with "291," Free Fall combines a feel for chamber jazz with the free leanings of their other bands. Group-improvisation tracks appear between each tune, frequently making it hard to detect starts and finishes due to their seamlessness and the trio's shifting roles of accompanist and soloist. "November" seems to describe the seasonal changes of that month: Wiik's tranquil solo gives way to a clarinet wails that evoke cold winds and blowing leaves. In "Turn[s]" Flaten tests the stamina of his bow, raking it like he wants to shred it. Wiik's droning "Mythologies" closes the album out with hypnotic authority." Mike Shanley/Jazz Times

 

"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 Wiik 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/Jazzwise

 

"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 Wiik'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/Cadence