Vision Festival 2009: Day 3
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's Ayler Project, Charles Gayle's high octane trio and a collective quartet nominally led by South African reedman Zim Ngqawana, but featuring heavyweight support from Matthew Shipp and William Parker.