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Live Reviews

2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival: Days 1-3

By Published: July 5, 2010
One facet I continue to marvel at regarding Guy's playing is his common though hardly noticeable use of the foot pedal, never bordering on abusive, as can be a common distraction amongst many other acoustic bassists utilizing the same or similar technology. Houle always has a few tricks up his sleeve as well—from playing his two clarinets simultaneously to removing the mouthpiece and blowing through it, replicating the sound of a bamboo flute or even a hunting horn. He blew harsh tones onto sheet music, the paper percussively rattling, and in doing so creating in essence a quartet member (Houle is yet another musician featured in this year's VIJF who should be making appearances on year-end "Best Of" polls but has been for the most part inexcusably ignored). Homburger might bounce notes from her violin with her bow one moment then play slow crawling legato phrases in a heartbeat without losing an ounce of momentum; her string harmonies with Guy were breathtaking, given they've had many years together to reach and share such zeniths. Original compositions included "Magical Mobiles" (written for bass clarinet but here performed by violin and clarinet), which physically has various mobiles attached to both sides of the sheet music representing choices each musician could make with their improvisations within the composition. The very complex near 10-minute duo was joined by Guy, who seamlessly entered, maintaining the composition's intent through to its end. The trio's immediate rapport and execution of some new and old material came across beautifully.

Off to Gastown in the northeast section of Vancouver, where several outdoor stages had been set up for concerts throughout the afternoons. Today was the music of Jimi Hendrix curiously, but ultimately successfully, performed by Swiss- American vocalist Erika Stucky, Irish-Swiss guitarist Christy Doran, Swiss drummer Fredy Studer and American electric bassist/one-time Ornette Coleman Prime Timer Jamaaladeen Tacuma. The streets quickly filled up with avid listeners and dancers once the music wafted unique renditions and commendable makeovers down and through Gastown, covering a good chunk of Hendrix repertoire— from "Voodoo Chile" and "Purple Haze" to "Machine Gun" and "The Wind Cries Mary." Creating something else out of something already classic and arguably already overdone represents quite an achievement.

Some of Stucky's vocal acrobatic styling was admittedly a bit over the top and quickly became old hat (e.g. her frequent caw- cawing crow sounds grew thin on these ears), but she without a doubt made many of these songs her own by the liberties she and her band took throughout their set. And what a stellar "backup" band she compiled, too. Tacuma more than merely held down the bottom bass line, as could be heard on the excellent instrumental showcase, "Machine Gun." "Castles Made of Sand" may have been the most true to the original rendition of the entire set, even though it featured Stucky and band accomplishing a fascinating rewinding effect of the tune performed backwards as if the cassette was being played in reverse live in performance. For Doran to accomplish his own individuality on such iconic rock standards is the utmost of compliments in itself. He paid a fine tribute to one of the greats with but a rare moment of perceived mimicry. A(nother) true original.

And for the moment we'd all been waiting for.... The Globe Unity Orchestra! It seems the first three days were all leading up to this very event, as surely was intended by VIJF's first week programming. The Roundhouse was bustling with excitement and, well, anticipation. The only GUO member that couldn't make the trip was co-founder trumpeter Manfred Schoof, but otherwise everyone else seemed to be present and accounted for (and all of which had been featured earlier in the week and mentioned in the above coverage for at least one small VIJF project). On hand for this one: Schlippenbach, Parker, Dudek, Walsdorff, Mahall, Dorner, Cappozzo, Thewes, (Connie) Bauer, Lovens and Lytton. With the two drummers set up on the same stage, Lytton unfortunately was placed behind the wall of reedmen, nearly out of sight and arguably sound too; Lovens was more prominently situated to one side of the stage, in front of the brassmen, so enjoyed being omnipresent whenever he touched his kit, however light or heavy.

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