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Live Reviews

Vision Festival 2008: Day 2

By Published: July 19, 2008
Jordan appeared to have a bountiful supply of energy, though even he had to sit down after one scorching face-off with Bang. Dancing from foot to foot, the violinist attacked the rhythm as the pulse accelerated. There was little let up, even in a bass and tenor saxophone duet, and with Bang scraping his bow harshly and Parker slapping his bass, Jordan's connection conjured a concatenation of screaming dervishes.

The spirit was most definitely with Jordan, and towards the end he came forward to scream "This is a song about Ayler" into the mic, amid the tumult. At the finale he signed off with "Don't ever forget about Albert Ayler." Even after such a cathartic outpouring Drake was keeping the pulse ticking, ever with an eye to launching a fresh assault if anyone showed the slightest inclination, though he was ultimately thwarted by the standing ovation which brought closure to all before it.

Jordan, Joel Futterman, Clyde Kerr, Parker and Gerald Cleaver

For a man half his age, the effort so far merited a long rest, but after a twenty minute changeover Jordan was back with long-time New Orleans associate Clyde Kerr on trumpet, Joel Futterman on piano, and William Parker again on bass, but sadly without the billed Alvin Fielder, who was ill and replaced by Gerald Cleaver on drums. In recognition Jordan dedicated the set to Fielder.

This was a looser, more abstract set, comprising a single 34-minute improvised piece. After a quiet start marred by a sound problem that necessitated the loss of Futterman's monitor, Kerr propounded a long, fluttering, jabbing trumpet solo over what became a turbulent churning pulse. Jordan dug deep into his Trane bag this set, declaiming ecstatically above the restless rhythmic swells. Even so, there were also moments of delicacy to latch on to, such as the soulful duet between Parker's wavering arco and Futterman's skipping piano, which drew appreciative cheers.

It soon became clear that Jordan and the pianist have a special relationship, given physical expression by the saxophonist's position close to the piano and an intense mutual concentration that made it seem as if the pair were off in a separate band. At one point Jordan stilled the controlled mayhem for a tender duet with Futterman's scraping, clanking piano strings. As the querulous tenor became ever more vulnerable, paraphrasing "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," Futterman laid down lush chords and arpeggios in a shimmering backdrop, Parker pitched in with an arco drone and Cleaver splashed his cymbals for a beautiful, literally spiritual, ending.

New Orleans Pays Tribute

This time Jordan did get a break—though without both Fielder and the scheduled Donald Harrison, Jordan's sons Marlon on trumpet and Kent on flute and piccolo led a paradoxically inside group through four tight pieces as a tribute to their father. Marlon Jordan contributed some crackling trumpet and Cleaver took his due also with a powerful drum excursion, in their 35-minute set.

Fred Anderson with the Kidd Jordan Quartet

Having first played together back in 1985, Jordan and Fred Anderson boast such a rapport that their reunion promised to be one of the highlights of the Festival, and so it proved. Reprising their dream team rhythm section duties, William Parker and Hamid Drake completed the quartet, whose classic Two Days in April (Eremite, 2000) is now happily rereleased, and who, in a nice piece of symmetry, were also the headline act when the Vision Festival paid tribute to Anderson back in 2005.

Billy Bang, Fred Anderson and Kidd Jordan

Their musings always manifest a strong link to their shared heritage with the blues, albeit abstracted yet an important touchstone, and so it was no surprise that they started in a two tenor conclave blending call and response with chase. Anderson was inspired and drew a simpatico response from Jordan, who echoed and extemporized his veteran partner's lines, before bass and drums kicked in and Anderson took off for a strong bottom end solo over an ever evolving groove.

When Billy Bang returned to the stage, the supercharged atmosphere became yet more electric, as he joined Anderson in a free chorale over which Jordan squealed in glorious abandon. Though a problem with his saxophone's ligature disrupted Jordan's flow, the others picked up the baton with barely a pause.

As the intensity grew, Anderson's AACM comrade Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre shyly walked onstage with his tenor saxophone and plunged headlong into the five way interplay. Both Bang and Kalaparush chose their lines carefully to add structure and support. Towards the end Jordan and Kalaparush intertwined tenors over a slowing rhythm. Drake switched to mallets for a final cadenza. Parker and Bang were bowing fast, with Jordan also in testifying mode, when Anderson emerged from the mix with his own brand of righteous sermonizing as they closed to a standing ovation. What a night!

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