Fay Victor At The Local 269 in New York
On "Nora" at one point, she hit different pitches as she emoted words by expressive gasps. Campbell played notes around her, until all the musicians joined in in a frenzy of sound. Carter played a flurry of fast notes, and then Campbell echoed this with a chromatic rush. Victor raised the tension with a controlled kind of screaming as Carter changed to flute. Drummer Downs brought the piece to a close by metallic sounds as Campbell rattled a pair of percussive hand instruments. It is easy to draw a straight line from African music and performance to this music.
The album to come from the music should be very depictive, as complete scene changes were smoothly achieved by changes in instrument, or by simply employing a new figure and mood.
The third piece, a traditional folk song called "The Night Of The Wake," saw Campbell playing soft muted trumpet, before Parker turned up the heat at the (now acoustic) bass. His intensity remained for most of the rest of the set. Victor began reading the poem, adding a West Indian accent as she raised her voice to heighten the vibe. This soon gave way to more free form vocals. Carter and Campbell played shorter phrases of longer notes, a contrast to the previous pieces, that had been so full of fast passages.
The final calypso was "Salt Fish," by the great Mighty Sparrow: "It's sweeter than meat... but no pepper!" Campbell changed to flugal horn, its greater range projecting depth in the sound.
Victor says Sparrow is probably the most famous calypso poet. He is perhaps a Trinidadian counterpart to Jamaica's Linton Kwesi Johnson, the reggae poet resident in the UK, who is known for amongst other things his 1980 piece on England, "Inglan Is A Bitch": "Inglan is a bitch... there's no escapin' it." "Isn't it funny," said Victor. "Last night it hit me that he is similar to what I wanted to do (with this music). It's similar to his. 'Cause I love Linton Kwesi Johnson. It's a similar vibe. Even though he's reggae, I love (his music). Bass Culture's one of my favorite records. He's a deep deep guy."
Victor should know, as her own music is also rich and exploratory. She conveys the picture that communicates, whether it is a version of The Door's "People Are Strange" (from the evocative Lazy Old Sun Live/Life In The Lowlands) or the world of the calypsonians.