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Live Reviews

Vision Festival X - Day Five, June 18, 2005 (Part 2)

By Published: August 28, 2005

The Eddie Gale Now Band

A lengthy pause saw the stage set up for the Eddie Gale Now Band. Trumpeter Gale is a veteran of Cecil Taylor's 1966 classic "Unit Structures (where he appeared as Eddie Gale Stevens) and occasional appearances with Sun Ra's Arkestra from the early 1960s onwards. Gale's Now Band featured Ismael Navarette on tenor and soprano saxophones and flute, John Gruntfest (great name for a saxophonist) on alto saxophone, Valerie Mih on piano, T. Squire Holman on drums and special guest William Parker on bass. They delivered four compositions by Gale, each following a head-solos-head structure. The first, dedicated to world peace, featured an elegiac theme giving way to a mid tempo groove. Gale's mellow flugelhorn was followed by Gruntfest on alto, announcing himself with a squeal, before cutting loose in a free section. The next piece, entitled "A Meeting With Miles , was introduced with an anecdote about the extremely brief meeting which inspired the composition, by the husky voiced Gale. Navarette set out a compelling excursion on tenor, building up to high register squeals and gruff exclamations. Parker was providing an abundance of drive throughout, which carried on into one of his patented high speed torrent of notes solos. Holman soloed here too, with measured development of motifs and use of space, in a style reminiscent of the late lamented Denis Charles.

"African Sunshine, Shine on Me featuring a riff and upbeat theme appropriate to the title, found Gale complaining that his monitor wasn't working, and cutting short his solo in disgust. But the band sounded great in the audience, and in fact the sound throughout the Festival was consistently excellent. The closer, " Hi Tech Emergency (the title perhaps inspired by Gale's opinion of the sound system) was a free style crowd pleaser, which worked its magic, featuring free piano and blaring solos from the horns. Gruntfest started with an altissimo dog whistle before delving into bottom end blurts and finished, swinging from side to side, with foghorn blasts. All the horns wailed together, blazing at high volume until Gale signalled a sudden halt. Whoops of delight from the audience and a standing ovation from some.

Patricia Nicholson's PaNic

Patricia Nicholson's PaNic combined dance, music and video in a performance of "Revolution : a piece first debuted in NYC at the Visions Collaboration Nights in February. The dance of Nicholson, Kevin Bachman, Jacquiline Lorenzi and Osamu Uehara, was inventively accompanied by the trio of Rob Brown on alto saxophone, William Parker on bass and Alvin Fielder on drums, against the backdrop of a video by Nicholson.

Parker opened by beating his strings with his bow, to evoke an African rhythmic feel, as Fielder shook bells and Brown declaimed a muezzin call on alto. The dancers slowly circled, then whirled, against an image of a rising sun. The set was a winning collaboration with wonderful choreography, dance (with Bachman notably acrobatic), video and music - all of it deserving more undivided attention than it was possible to give.

The music could easily have stood alone with only some of the unforced tempo changes giving a clue that it was responding to outside influences. Brown was outstanding in this small group setting which allowed him ample solo space to spin out his fluid and resourceful runs and sweet sour vibrato heavy cries. Parker and Fielder provided buoyant support, with Parker's bass signalling changes in direction, as the moment demanded, from skipping to walking to shuffling patterns. An excellent set which demanded to be captured on video to be able to take it all in.

Joe McPhee & Lori Freedman

A hiatus followed, as the duo of Peter Brötzmann and Nasheet Waits was found to be a drummer short. Fortunately the scheduled closing act of Joe McPhee and Lori Freedman were on hand to step in. Over the years McPhee has become an accomplished master musician. Although he can express himself through both reeds and brass, here he restricted himself to alto clarinet and tenor saxophone, while Freedman blew on bass clarinet throughout their set of improvised duets.

The first piece was clarinet heaven: McPhee scribbling incredible high notes on alto clarinet, ornamented with vocal overtones and sustained by circular breathing. Freedman 's bubbling lines speared upwards into parallel falsetto cries, mixed in with multiphonic shrieks. Their careening intertwining lines developed organically, with natural pauses before the conversational dialogue resumed.

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