Vision Festival 2010: Day 6, June 28, 2010
One worried for the vocalist's vocal chords as she screamed and rasped, her expressiveness matched with overblown screeches from special guest Mexican saxophonist Remi Alvarez. Highlights were a flowing solo of chiming single notes by the guitarist, and a fantastic tenor saxophone duet between Badenhorst and Alvarez, skronking away over pounding forward momentum, something Cleaver excels at (witness also his slow burning fuse in the trio with Lotte Anker and Craig Taborn), pacing a gradual increase in passion until it ascended to fever pitch.
Eventually the intensity crested and we were into a more dreamy terrain in which Morris banjo plucks resonated between drifting tenor and bass clarinet and gently rumbling mallets on drums. Cleaver also threw in electronic sounds which blended so completely with the instruments that it took a while to realize where they were coming from. In a complete change of pace their succinct second number was a lyrical melodic line embellished and harmonized by voice, sax, arco bass, and guitar, like a cooling shower after the midday sun. Overall their set was a splendid and unanticipated pleasure.
Mike Reed's People, Places & Things
For the last set of the night, drummer/composer Mike Reed's People, Places & Things,paid their respects to Chicago elders from the hard bop days. As well as originals they traversed storming versions of tunes by the Windy City's lesser known lights such as "Status Quo" by John Neely, a forgotten Chicago tenor player and "Wilbur's Tune" by unsung drummer Wilbur Campbell. Handling the involved heads with practiced ease were the twin saxophones of tenorist Tim Haldeman and altoist Greg Ward, all the more remarkable as they were doing it the old-fashioned way, without charts. Both saxophonists supported and incited the other during solos, before partaking in daredevil dashes, recalling of tenor chases in the Chicago tradition.
Reed proved a busy active drummer, stoking the high velocity exchanges. During the introduction to Ward's "VS # 1," titled for Velvet Session at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge, Reed became very emotional, voice choked, as he talked about the influence and support the elder man had given to upcoming players. The tune was notable for a slow building outpouring from the composer, starting at the edge of audibility, causing bassist Jason Roebke to respond by unsheathing his bow for some scratchy scrabbling arco bass, while Reed supplied textural detail. Ward etched his dancing lines with persistence and invention, much as altoist Jimmy Lyons was wont to do, until he reached a climax of throttled cries, then transposed into long unfurling cascades to continue, his body undulating on the spot as he played.
To come on Tuesday was the final night of the Vision Festival at the Abrons Arts Center. It promised to be something of a celebration of drummer Rashied Ali, who died in August 2009. Two key sets were a continuation of the collective trio By Any Means which included saxophonist Charles Gayle and the omnipresent William Parker on bass, but with Ali's brother Muhammad on drums, and a closing drum tribute from a cast of five percussionists.
All Photos: John Sharpe