It’s telling that the first and last shots of Musician show Chicago-based experimental-jazz genius Ken Vandermark laboring alone. Creating is an intense but lonely business, as is being a working (but not famous) musician. The second in vérité documentarian Daniel Kraus’s Work Series, which chronicles the everyday grind of modern-day wage earners, the film doesn’t remotely glamorize its subject’s life or art. In addition to highlighting Vandermark’s reed-playing skills, Musician shows him paying bandmates, packing for tours, hauling equipment and answering his phone. But although this is all very real, after a while it becomes a grind—both for Vandermark and the audience.
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