Premiere: Kalia Vandever “Temper the Wound”

Front page photo by Bao Ngo

When my friend Allison turned 21, we stayed up all night. We hit a couple bars while it was still dark out, but by 1:00 AM, we were bored. Waiting for drinks and deciding which of the three other bars downtown Durham, North Carolina offered at the time wasn’t the exciting coming-of-age tale it was meant to be. Allison wanted adventure and had never pulled an all-nighter, so we left our bleary-eyed friends at the dark pub they’d settled into and wandered the streets. We occasionally found a bench or an alley where we could smoke weed and giggle about how bad we were being, but the night didn’t really amount to much.

We ended up at the old Durham Athletic Park, the charming–if somewhat rickety–baseball stadium where the Durham Bulls used to play. The fence was low enough to climb, and we understood that this was the moment we’d been searching for all night. We crossed left field to the pitcher’s mound just as the sun started to come up over our tiny city. Neither me nor Allison spoke, just packed the last of our weed into my small pipe, and laughed quietly. Once the day fully broke, we hopped over the fence and wordlessly walked back to my car. It was one of the last times Allison and I would hang out, something both of us must’ve sensed while sitting on the brushed red dirt of the baseball diamond.

Brooklyn trombonist Kalia Vandever’s new single, “Temper the Wound,” feels like that sunrise. It unfurls patiently, stretching into a cavern of reverb. Vandever loops bits of her improvisation–you can hear her pressing a footswitch at times–into a low drone, then dances around it, occasionally creating stunning stacked harmonies. There’s a specific kind of melancholy the trombone can express, and Vandever presents it to us with generosity and grace. It feels like the soundtrack to a beautiful goodbye, the kind of sadness you’re grateful to have experienced. 

You can listen to the track and pre-order the album from AKP Recordings HERE.

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