About Ken Vandermark

The exploration of contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation.

Born in Warwick, Rhode Island on September 22nd, 1964, Ken Vandermark began studying the tenor saxophone at the age of 16.  Since graduating with a degree in Film and Communications from McGill University during the spring of 1986, his primary creative emphasis has been the exploration of contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation.

In 1989, Vandermark moved to Chicago from Boston, and has worked continuously from the early 1990′s onward, both as a performer and organizer in North America and Europe, recording in a large array of contexts, with many internationally renowned musicians – including Fred Anderson, Ab Baars, Peter Brötzmann, Tim Daisy, Hamid Drake, Terrie Ex, Mats Gustafsson, Devin Hoff, Christof Kurzmann, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen-Love, Paul Lytton, Andy Moor, Joe Morris, and Nate Wooley.

More than half of each year is spent touring in Europe, North America, and Japan, and his concerts and numerous recordings have been critically acclaimed both at home and abroad.  In addition to the tenor sax, he also plays the bass and Bb clarinet, and baritone saxophone.

A few of Ken’s Citations of Merit:

  • One of the “Chicagoans of the Year in the Arts, 1994″ (Chicago Tribune, January 1, 1995) for his work with the Vandermark Quartet.
  • Selected as one of the “25 For The Future,” the most significant improvising musicians under the age of 40, by Down Beat magazine, June 1998.
  • Selected as a MacArthur Fellow in 1999.
  • In 2004 was named among the “Musicians Of The Year” by All About Jazz, New York.
  • Picked as one of Chicago’s “40 Cultural Heroes” by Time Out magazine in September 2008.
  • Was the first musician to be featured leading his own groups two years in a row at the Newport Jazz Festival (the Vandermark 5 in 2009, Powerhouse Sound in 2010).
  • Selected as “Artist in Residence” for the Chicago Jazz Festival, 2012.

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