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Live Reviews

Vision Festival: Day 1, June 5, 2011

By Published: July 4, 2011
Haynes' utterances were measured and carefully paced, recalling his mentor, the late Bill Dixon
Bill Dixon
Bill Dixon
1925 - 2010
trumpet
, in his close attention to the placement of sound. Courtesy of an array of mutes, Haynes peppered the canvas with fanfares, blasts and growls. Smith colored the ensembles not only with gongs and marimbas, but also by striking the metal frames on which the noise-makers were strung, drawing no distinction between them in his quest for the most appropriate response. Morris deployed a wide range of tactics, of which conventional chording was by no means the most frequent, extracting scrapings and metallic, scrabbling stutters from his fretboard. At one point with his guitar flat on his lap, he tapped it percussively with two pencils, recalling gamelan sonorities. Together they evinced a sense of calm, unhurried in their captivating lower case group interaction.

John Tchicai's Ascension Unending

Billed to make capital out of John Tchicai
John Tchicai
John Tchicai
1936 - 2012
saxophone
's appearance on one of John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's most celebrated sessions, Ascension Unending was actually the Danish saxophonist's Five Points band responsible for One Long Minute (Nubop, 2010) with the addition of violinist Rosie Hertlein. Their sound was nothing like Trane's loosely proscribed free blow, instead showcasing both the carefully charted structures and improvising skills of a cast of regular collaborators. Prominent among these was guitarist Garrison Fewell
Garrison Fewell
Garrison Fewell
b.1953
guitar
whose "Spectronomous" opened the set, its theme bookending a controlled collective improv section.

It really was a group music, with voices that erupted from the melee rather than individual showcases. Drummer Ches Smith's "One Long Minute" flowered out into a pointillist passage full of unusual techniques, with Fewell tapping his fretboard and Hertlein taking a minimalist approach to her violin. Saxophonist Alex Weiss
Alex Weiss
Alex Weiss

multi-instrumentalist
arranged Marion Brown's "Capricorn Rising," with the lilting melody giving way to Hertlein's wordless vocals over a nagging vamp, before an atonal feature for his alto. Tchicai adopted a fatherly role, overseeing and directing, and only asserting himself instrumentally towards the end of the set with one blowtorched tenor saxophone incantation over a knotty rhythm, which had the house roaring affirmation.

Tony Malaby's Tamarindo

An air of expectation awaited saxophonist Tony Malaby
Tony Malaby
Tony Malaby

sax, tenor
's group Tamarindo, and it didn't disappoint with their one hour set closing out the first evening. Malaby has gradually become more of a name on the scene, his many sideman dates now outnumbered by his leadership vehicles, tonight's trio prominent among them. Vision Festival force majeure William Parker
William Parker
William Parker
b.1952
bass, acoustic
held down the bass chair but with Nasheet Waits
Nasheet Waits
Nasheet Waits
b.1971
drums
unavailable, regular confrere Tom Rainey
Tom Rainey
Tom Rainey
b.1957
drums
manned the trap set.



While on disc, Tamarindo utilizes preconceived heads as launch pads for the leaders' muscular outpourings, if there were written structures here they were treated so sketchily as to be imperceptible. After an organic start, where the reedman swayed from side to side, essaying harsh tenor saxophone blurts atop Parker's urgent propulsion and Rainey's busy percussion, the dynamic ebbed and flowed, but always with the leader involved. It almost seemed as if he co-opted any available distortion as material for extemporization. Harsh ugly sounds were as liable to predominate as melody, with duck calls, multiphonic shrieks and squeaky reed noises coloring his already unpredictable trajectory.

Rainey worked timbral variation adeptly into his percussive crosscurrents, beating his hands, using his elbows to dampen and modulate the timbre of his snare, and wielding a variety of implements to strike the drums with different attack and weight. In tandem with Parker's insistent bass, his interventions time and again reinvigorated Malaby, who appeared inexhaustible, refusing all cues to wind down in an unbroken set of consistently high quality interplay.

Photo Credit

All Photos: John Sharpe


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