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Live Reviews

Vision Festival XI, Angel Orensanz Foundation For The Arts, NYC - Day Six, 18 June 2006

By Published: November 11, 2006

Towards the end, Jordan hit on a blues riff, prompting Fielder into a steady 4/4, before Jordan once again slipped into more abstract territory with his high wavering lines, jumping between registers, to both magisterial and tender effect. Another peak of intensity ensued, after which a ruminative conclusion followed by a drumroll signalled the end of an excellent high energy set.


Patricia Nicholson's PaNic are a fixture of the Vision Festival, with a changing roster of musical accompanists. Tonight's support came from partner William Parker, in his ethnic guise on wood flute, guimbri and doussn' gouni; Hamid Drake on tablas and frame drum; and Joseph Jarman on flutes, all corralled stage right. Nicholson mixed recitation, dance and wordless chanting over shifting world music textures as the players switched between instruments. With Parker and Drake playing in tandem, it was no surprise that strongly seductive grooves prevailed—Parker could swing with just an elastic band. Jarman's flute melded pastoral lines onto the continually evolving dancing rhythms. Nicholson at times followed the lead of the music, and at other times the music appeared guided by her movement. Live pictures of the audience or performers were projected on hanging screens above the stage from a video camera operated by Jo Wood-Brown. The single thirty-five minute piece won an enthusiastic response from the audience, and the music would easily have stood on its own merits, even without the marriage with the dance.

Whit Dickey Trio

Whit Dickey is still best known for his tenure in the drum chair of the David S. Ware Quartet, though he has been doing his best to change that familiar role with a string of excellent releases on the Clean Feed label. For this year's offering he rang the changes, presenting the inaugural meeting of his trio, with Matt Moran on vibes and Daniel Levin on cello, in a continuously improvised set in place of his more deliberative, structured compositions.

Forty minutes of intense interplay was book-ended by a measured opening featuring Dickey alone on drums and a closing solo on his brushes. In between, energy and tension were built, and then dissipated without resolution. A brooding atmosphere held sway in the first part of the set, with Dickey maintaining stasis through repetitious percussive textures. Moran bowed his vibes, drawing out unearthly ringing tones while Levin, with eyes closed and fleeting expressions betraying the tussle between imagination and concentration, slashed and droned, contributing to the unsettling aura.

An ominous tattoo signalled a more propulsive stance from Dickey. Accelerated sawing from Levin culminated in a blast of anthemic cello. Moran initially balked at a conventional response, but then succumbed with a repeated rhythmic motif with four mallets, before the momentum subsided once more, and Dickey marshalled his chops for his closing statement.

David S. Ware Quartet

The headline act of this last evening of the Eleventh Vision Festival was billed as the Final US Performance of the David S. Ware Quartet. Once again their was a concentration of young faces towards the stage and a palpable air of anticipation blanketing the hall. This band took the free jazz scene by storm back in the 1990s, winning near universal plaudits with a string of acclaimed releases. However, there have been longer gaps between releases in recent years, and even Ware's most recent "Live in the World set was made up of live recordings spread over four years—1999 and 2003. The appearances have been fewer of late as well, to the extent that Ware's agent was alleged to have dubbed this appearance as "A US Performance Finally."

There was a hiatus before they started while the sound crew attempted to get the onstage monitors to function to the band's satisfaction. The musicians still didn't look totally happy even when Ware unleashed his muscular tone for some unhurried preaching over a stately beat. Though he looked more frail than when I last saw him, his deep powerful sound was unaffected, moving from resonant honks to vocalised yelps and culminating in a melange of majestic overblown cries.

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