2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival: Days 4-6
The youthful October Trio (tenor saxophonist Evan Arntzen, bassist Josh Cole and drummer Dan Gaucher) played an early evening concert at Ironworks. With ever- present sheet music on stage, they performed many originals, including Cole's "1983," Gaucher's "Ride" and Arntzen's "Do Your Thing." Again, trumpeter Brad Turner sat in. Of the Dave Douglas school, by the sounds of it, he performed with the group on "You're Trying Too Hard" from the October Trio's CD release last year (Looks Like It's Going To Snow, Songlines). Towards the end of the first section of "The Progress Suite," drummer Gaucher finally broke loose from the in time beat patterns that predominated the group's performance to that point. Throwing in more randomly placed light cymbal splashes, and utilizing brushes at the beginning of the following movement of the suite, Gaucher's breaking out of the rhythmic rut added a much needed, even more mature, dynamic to this group's overall performance of, funnily enough, mostly teen love angst-associated titled compositions.
The nighttime headliner at The Roundhouse proved to be a Festival highlightthe Dutch quartet of trumpeter Eric Boeren with Michael Moore (clarinet/alto sax), Wilbert de Joode (bass) and Bennink (snare drum). Performing primarily the music of Ornette Coleman, with other pieces certainly inspired by the iconic altoist and composer (as heard on their recent Clean Feed release, Song for Tracy The Turtle which features in essence the exact same lineup with Paul Lovens playing drums rather than Bennink)the contrast missing in the previously attended show was ever-prevalent here. Both horn players subtly though playfully acknowledged the immediately recognizable Coleman themes, while Bennink, manned only with a snare drum, sticks and brushes, performed acrobatic swimming left-hand dominated brush strokes that not only kept up with up-tempo passages but led the way through them. From Ornette's "I Heard It Over The Radio" to "A Little Symphony" (both of which the composer recorded in 1960), Moore switched from clarinet to alto sax on the latter, and thus created an ear-opening facet to the music of Coleman. It was as if clarinetist John Carter were still alive, perhaps this would be within the realm of his musical possibilities (Carter, a fellow Ft. Worth native, as was Coleman, actually collaborated with the legendary altoist back in the late '40s). Admirably, and perhaps part in dedication to Carter's legacy as well as Coleman's, Moore blew new life, particularly on his licorice stick (which he even on occasion detached the mouthpiece of, blowing flute-like passages) into fairly obscure Coleman material as well as the Coleman-dedicated originals. The second the set ended, Bennink jumped from his kit and left the stage (I think he did all he could do on just a snare for the duration of an entire set, not hoping for an encore to have to come up with anything more!)
The last two sets of the night were by a leaderless trio featuring Chicago flute player Nicole Mitchell and the Vancouver-based piano/cello team of Lisa Cay Miller and Peggy Lee. Given the city's proven ardent support for this kind of improvisational-based music, and especially having witnessed much stronger attendance at Iron Works, the Tuesday night turnout (but certainly not the music) was a bit on the disappointing side for this meeting of one of Vancouver's finest improvisers (Lee) with THE most original flautist playing today. Miller's music (and name) was new to these ears, and this evening represented her first-time collaboration with Mitchell. It didn't take too long, however, for Miller to soon prove she was on equal footing with her bandmates; the three found an immediate musical rapport, collectively improvising layers of subtle sonic textures over one another, many times overlapping to the point that if you closed your eyes you might be hard pressed to determine one sound's origination (e.g. Miller lightly plucked her piano's strings as if it she were pulling on Lee's cello).