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Live Reviews

Vision Festival X, - Day Six, June 19, 2005

By Published: August 28, 2005

Dennis Gonzalez Yells At Eels

The final act of the Festival, coming onstage at 1.30 am way beyond their allotted time, was trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez Yells At Eels, with his sons Aaron on bass and Stefan on drums, with special guest Oliver Lake. They played five pieces, starting with a recitation from Gonzalez père: "Hymn for the elders , over bass and drum rumblings. A bass ostinato and slow building pulse ushered in D Gonzalez pocket trumpet, to pour forth long held notes with a piercing tone, muted with his hand and wah-wahed over an hypnotic beat. Lake took a burning solo on curved soprano, with punctuation from the trumpet. He contrasted whimpered long tones and spiralling flurries of notes until the rhythm section stilled, leaving Lake alone, to draw to a tender conclusion. A forceful bass solo ensued, working out of the riff, but still maintaining the pulse. A drum solo led back into a rhythm duo, before the horns meshed in loose counterpoint to revisit the opening theme.

Gonzalez has long struck me as an imaginative band leader and organizer of sound, rather than a virtuoso soloist, and so it seemed this evening. His solos were generally concise, with fanfares, mariachi band sonorities and repeated motifs, usually hewing close to a melodic core. His compositions were never less than interesting, even the short "Document for William Parker and "Document for Toshinori Kondo which featured driving thrash solos. On this showing, the virtuoso in the family is Aaron Gonzalez on bass, who demonstrated a strong tone and solid technique in his solo spots as well as on the button syncopation with his brother's kick ass drums. Stefan Gonzalez also contributed a notable tune "Elegy for a slaughtered democracy to further demonstrate the breadth of the family talent. Lake was just the cherry on the cake, his trenchant caustic solos, providing the sharper edges to the satisfying and well rounded set.

They finished after 2.00, leaving me just 4 hours until I needed to set off for JFK for the return flight back to England, with the music from this fantastic week still spinning around inside my head. Watch out for next years line up - the Vision Festival is unlike any other festival on the planet and it needs your support.

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