Vision Festival 2009: Day 6
Eighty-year old AACM elder statesman Fred Anderson(on right with William Parker) almost couldn't find his way onto the Vision stage due to the density of microphone stands and leads, but once a path had been cleared he stood stage front listening to long-time associates Hamid Drake on frame drum and William Parker on dousn' gouni embellishing an African-sounding groove . Anderson mentored Drake from his teenage years, taking him on his first trip to Europe back in 1978 when he was still Hank Drake, so there were some deep roots in play manifesting themselves in both the peerless anticipation and responsiveness exposed in two long spontaneously improvised free jazz expositions.
Anderson's first notes were tentative, but then he let a phrase fly, paused and followed it by exploring the middle range of his tenor saxophone, avoiding his more familiar gambits. Drake relaxed into a loping shuffle on frame drum, varying the tempo to push Anderson's wavering cries into sharper relief. At one point Parker took up a double reed horn to inject some strident skirling into the exotic mix, which saw Anderson first mimicking the astringent tone, then weaving his muscular tenor around it. Later Drake added a vocal chant and the three voices commingled in the selfless stream which characterized their set.
Anderson led off the second piece with a strong tenor soliloquy complete with rococo embellishments. At his conclusion Parker and Drake, now at their more familiar stations, launched into some of the spine tingling rhythmic alchemy for which they are so justly feted. Anderson was eventually drawn back in, his simpatico phrasing locking instantly onto Drake's time-keeping in further testament to their shared history.
Occasionally breaking up the flow with periodic excursions around his kit before leaping back in, Drake shaped the organically evolving groove in almost telepathic communion with Parker. Following one astonishing solo where the drummer danced rhythmic motifs around his kit, Parker metamorphosed his speeding motifs into a five note riff, provoking a ticking tempo from the drummer and bottom-end growls from Anderson. Unlike many of the other AACM reedmen, Anderson rarely overblows or makes prolonged forays towards the upper limits. Rather as here he mined the rich middle register seams, hewing out a chiseled phrase, then examining its implications at length. Embarking on a final course of long flowing runs with yelped asides and gruff blurts, Anderson brought things to an end after some fifty minutes with a series of long deliberate notes garnished with a closing trill. Cue standing ovation.
inveigled all sorts of unexpected suspensions and unconventional textures into his time playing, while there was a nicely slurred alto saxophone solo from Loren Stillman. "Power in Numbers" featured a similarly involved arrangement, lurching horn lines and a hot trombone solo from special guest Vincent Gardner. Rosewoman switched to electric piano for the final piece "Warmth" which had a jazz rock feel and featured the leader's wah wahed electric piano in duet with guitrarist Richard Padron, before a cycle of horn solos closed out the set.
Pianist Michelle Rosewoman brought her six-piece Quintessence band to showcase two charts composed with support from Chamber Music America. Explaining that she liked to blur the boundaries of tradition and wide open spaces, Rosewoman's freeish piano introduced the elaborate head and overlapping horn parts of "Unseen" which had a tight M-Base feel. Drummer Tyshawn Sorey