International Festival Musique Actuelle Victoriaville, Day 4-5
Like a concise musical history lesson, the sophistication of Parker's first composition provided the festival with the most overtly jazz-centric performance of its programme. Dedicated to the recently-departed bassist Percy Heath, who gave Parker the name "Iron Fingers, Parker's advanced conception integrated individual solos over multiple, often seemingly-conflicting layers of hornsthree trumpets, three trombones, five reeds and tubaand traversed a variety of straightforward and irregular meters throughout its fifty-minute length. The depth of the writing was revealed when, at their most apparently free, arrangements would appear to transition to the next soloist. At times the group sounded brash, but there were also periods where a small horn sections would emerge with rich, long tones providing contrast to the busier phrasing of the others. And while Barker was consistently fluid and Parker would alternate between steady patterns and more aggressive free play, there was always a pulse that provided forward motion, even as the composition felt in a constant state of flux.
Parker's second composition, "Gamma Cluster, was more subdued, a tone poem that contrasted with the more time-centric first piece. Unlike Brötzmann, who opted for breaking his tentet into smaller instrumental groupings, Parker seemed more intent on exploring the orchestral potential of the full ensemble.
In a nearly ninety-minute show, there were a number of standout performances, but alto saxophonist Rob Brown's extended solo in the first piece was a clear highlight, as were Darryl Foster's soprano spot and Steve Swell's brief opportunity in the set's closing piece. And while tuba player Dave Hofstra didn't receive a lot of specific attention, his contribution was absolutely vital, providing bottom-end harmonic movement in contrast to Parker's sometimes rhythmic, other times totally open-ended bass work.
A fine performance that illustrated yet another approach to mixing form with freedom, William Parker's Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra demonstrated the value of breaking down barriers and eliminating artificial labels in pursuit of a greater musical truth.
Another fine day at FIMAV, and another outstanding example of festival director Michel Levasseur's ability to programme in a way that gives each day its own complexion and musical emphasis.
Visit Xu Fengxia, Peter Brötzmann, , and the International Festival Musique Actuelle Victoriaville on the web. For a full schedule of this year's events, click here.
Continue: Day 5