How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The Vision Festival has cemented its reputation as the premiere event of the creative improvising scene. It celebrates artists dedicated to expanding the art, those (not coincidentally) often overlooked by the haughtier jazz festivals. The confluence of musicians, poets, dancers and appreciative listeners at Vision spawns creative energy and inspired performances. The meeting of saxophonist Louie Belogenis, trumpeter Roy Campbell, Jr., bassist Hill Greene and drummer Michael Wimberly under the moniker Exuberance at the 2003 edition, captured on Live at Vision Festival , offers vivid evidence of the vitality it engenders.
Wimberly's fluid djembe playing and quasi-ritual chanting call for a greater power, as the title suggests, on the opener, "Invocation." Campbell's ethereal flute gliding over the percussive bass continues the exotic vibe, until the driving drums elicit Belogenis' potent blare. Switching to trumpet, Campbell matches Belogenis' intensity and trades bleats and squalls with him until the rhythm finally ebbs. Greene's hypnotic bowing sets the early tone for the sprawling "Procession," which in twenty-plus minutes veers from sparse to dense, with each musician listening intently to modulate the dynamics and flow. Belogenis imbues a melodic sense, especially when the rhythm section tests a diminutive blues groove for the horns to trade quips: the sax favors longer, flowing lines to the trumpet's exclamatory bursts.
"Evocation" gives the musicians and listeners a chance to catch their breath. It moves patiently with a fluttering bass line and atmospheric dialogue between Campbell's muted horn and Belogenis' subdued tenor. A blast from Campbell announces "Incandescence," which becomes a kinetic flurrythe bass and drums locked in an aggressive groove, punctuated by Wimberly's exhortations, as the frenzied horns swirl. It ends with a crash of the cymbals and the crowd's eruptive applause.