Free Jazz Festival - Brazil
It was when occurred the best in this Free Jazz Fest's edition, and maybe the best moment of all editions. It may be said that the audience was unprepared for Randy Weston's African Rhythms Quintet. Weston, at 75, brought a sound that, through his research on African music, avoided deliberately jazz clichés and conventions in search of a 3rd millennium language. Alex Blake (bass), who had been in Brazil 30 years ago, where he came accompanying Dizzy Gillespie, maybe was the one who best epitomized this conscious pursue through his avoidance of single-note solos, privileging chords and strongly percussive effects. Talib Kibwe (alto sax/flute) and Benny Powell (trombone) dialogued in duets which substituted the extroverted idea of a festival performance for an almost religious introversion, dominated by an attention and respect for the emission of each note that transcended the spectacle and suggested a mystical devotion. The group, which also comprises the percussionist Neil Clarke, presented pieces like "African Sunrise", where Weston explored the piano as a polyrhythmic instrument; "The African Cookbook" and "The Shrine" (which had an Indian-scale ecstatic flute solo).
The night still had much to give with the Benny Golson Sextet (Benny Golson, tenor; Curtis Fuller, tb; Mulgrew Miller, p; Valery Ponomarev, tp; Lonnie Plaxico, b; Carl Allen, d) doing a tribute to Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, with original arrangements. Though Golson's solos were somewhat disappointing, showing a lack of continuity and connection between ideas, the level of the audience's excitation reached surpising levels with the brilliant performance by Ponomarev, followed closely by Miller's at the piano. Ponomarev exceeded himself in fluency and inventiveness both in the quick tempi and in ballads, deserving special mention the classic "I Remember Clifford" (Golson). Correspondingly, Allen was up to the mark of the one to whom the homage was paid, especially in "Blues March" (Golson).