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Live Reviews

Vision Festival 2009: Day 3

By Published: July 14, 2009


Sunny Murray Philly Quartet


As one of the pioneering free jazz drummers, Sunny Murray

Sunny Murray
Sunny Murray
b.1937
drums
invited considerable anticipation about his first appearance at the Vision Festival since 2000. Although living in Paris, Philadelphia-native Murray takes every opportunity to hook up with hometown musicians on his infrequent visits to the U.S. and had assembled a stellar quartet featuring the twin horns of Sabir Mateen and Odean Pope
Odean Pope
Odean Pope
b.1938
saxophone
, along with Philly elder statesman of the bass, Lee Smith.





Sabir Mateen with Sunny Murray

Murray led them off, ticking understated pings on cymbals, until Pope walked up to the mic to give a distorted tenor saxophone cry, to be quickly joined by Mateen, also on tenor. Smith lobbed in some resonant bass as Mateen was the first to head for the stratosphere, his falsetto squeals grounded by foghorn blurts from Pope. Initially more restrained than Mateen, Pope repeated a bluesy figure, gradually building, taking his time to get where he was going. A unison soaring line was the first of several Murray themes interpolated into the free-flowing performance, begetting glorious interplay between the sparring horns. Murray and Smith played it cool, undermining expectation by not really stoking the fires, setting up an unusual contrast with the molten hornplay. Smith proved himself an unsung hero, playing very spare with an impeccable sense of when to play and when not.

Stylistic contrasts between the two saxophonists were evident; Pope calling more on gritty R&B based structures while Mateen was more searingly mellifluous. Nonetheless Pope's delivery inspired Mateen to bob and sway during one particularly soulful extemporization. Sadly, after just over 30 minutes the set was truncated due to the late hour, provoking some audience disquiet. Though Murray never really got out of first gear, in many ways that was enough in itself for such a legendary figure, but it was a shame not to hear more of the superb horn interplay by Pope and Mateen and to see whether Murray and Smith might respond in kind.

Friday night promised great excitement with the North American debut of Roy Campbell

Roy Campbell
Roy Campbell
1952 - 2014
trumpet
's Ayler Project, Charles Gayle
Charles Gayle
Charles Gayle
b.1939
saxophone
's high octane trio and a collective quartet nominally led by South African reedman Zim Ngqawana, but featuring heavyweight support from Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
b.1960
piano
and William Parker.



Photo credit

John Sharpe



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