The Vandermark 5 are one of the many hot modern jazz ensembles that's emerged from Chicago in the past few years. They're part of a generation of musicians who are influenced by the jazz tradition as well as the furthest reaches of the avant garde, and embrace other forms of music (rock, free improv, dub, blues) that previous generations of jazzers would turn up their noses to. Sympatico is a scintillating plate of a variety of cutting-edge jazz that manages to keep its feet on the ground. "Full Deck (for Jack Montrose)" is a gem of a swinger, recalling Sonny Rollins at his most sardonic, Jimmy Giuffre in its construction & Mingus at his most driving (think his Candid period). "Cover To Cover (to Frank Butler)" recalls the somewhat neglected intersection of "white" cool & "black" hard-bop that happened on the West Coast in the 1950s. The horn playing is an amalgam of Ben Webster (rough, breathy), Rollins (steely, its own inner logic), Eric Dolphy (vocalized, free-spirited) and Evan Parker (wildly fluid), yet it's inspiration -NOT imitation. On guitar, Jeb Bishop comes on like a cross between Derek Bailey and Jim Hall. Highly recommended for those who feel the avant garde should touch the ground more, and seasoned listeners who feel like "nobody's pushing the envelope like they did back when."