All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Live Reviews

Victoriaville 2012

By Published: June 4, 2012
The other part of Ambiances Magnétiques institutionalization came in the form of a sort of repertory group led by violist Joan Jeanrenaud, who released the remarkable solo recording, Fammi (&records) in 2010. With violinist Joshua Zubot, fantastic drummer Pierre Tanguay and bassist Nicolas Caloïa, René struck a Stephane Grappelli
Stephane Grappelli
Stephane Grappelli
1908 - 1997
violin
bop that could melt and reform in quick minutes and turn to upbeat Quebecois folk the next. The set list was comprised of an Ambiances Magnétiques songbook, with old and new pieces by Derome, Norman Guilbeault and Rene Lussier, as well as some of René's own pieces. The quartet was lively and precise, and, along with Ensemble Supermusique, showed once again what a unique group of composers and interpreters there are under the Ambiances Magnétiques banner.

Much of the rest of the schedule was filled by New Yorkers, or at least players from the States. Zorn conducted his Modern Jazz Quartet-molded William S. Burroughs project Nova Express (Tzadik, 2011), with drummer Joey Baron
Joey Baron
Joey Baron
b.1955
drums
, bassist Trevor Dunn, keyboardist John Medeski
John Medeski
John Medeski

keyboard
and drummer Kenny Wollesen, although the concert seemed to fall short of the dynamism of the recent CD release. Better was a new project, The Concealed, with Zorn again conducting (his saxophone was not to be seen), which added violinist Mark Feldman
Mark Feldman
Mark Feldman

violin
and cellist Erik Friedlander
Erik Friedlander
Erik Friedlander
b.1960
cello
to the MJQ instrumentation for a lushly romantic set of compositions based on mystic texts but falling into purely enjoyable listening.

The anticipated appearance of another icon of New York's Downtown music ended up not happening for reasons not given, and as a result the trio Blixt became a duo of guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheim
Raoul Bjorkenheim
Raoul Bjorkenheim
b.1956
guitar
and drummer Morgan Ågren, with spirits and energy level high. To fill out the bill, Henry Grimes
Henry Grimes
Henry Grimes
b.1935
bass, acoustic
(who was not scheduled to play but was in attendance for the whole of the fest) played a solo set on violin and double bass. Grimes may be at his best when he's on his own, and made a strong showing for an excitedly receptive crowd.

Brooklynite guitarist Mary Halvorson played a memorable set with her new quintet. Halvorson's infectious ideas as a composer, and perhaps more so as an arranger, come through all the more strongly with the five-piece, and can only be expected to grow with the promise of a septet in 2013. The pieces often were built on strong unison horn lines and Halvorson's guitar less adorned than usual, with the rhythm section shifting tempi and intensity somehow independent of but still reinforcing the melody lines.

Halvorson's playing seems to have grown along with the size of her ensemble. She's always been a bold guitarist but with this new band she's demanding greater versatility of herself. She did stomp on the overdrive now and again, but for the most part let the warm voice of her big hollowbody come through with less electronic augmentation than she has often used in the past. While the moods swung—a jazzy progression banged and fuzzed, a proggy vamp delivered with surprising delicacy, even something like a calypso through a prism—the structure continually shifted and remained solid.



The New York/New England power trio Spanish Donkey laid a heavy, heavy drone with a scream of what truly sounded like Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
1942 - 1970
guitar, electric
-induced controlled feedback. The set may have been a shock to people who think guitarist Joe Morris
Joe Morris
Joe Morris
b.1955
guitar
and keyboardist Jamie Saft
Jamie Saft
Jamie Saft

piano
permanently reside on the polite side of avant jazz. Saft and drummer Mike Pride
Mike Pride
Mike Pride

percussion
erect monoliths of sound under the name Kalashnakov, and seem to be concerned first and foremost in the trio with reframing Morris' playing. Morris, of course, is more than there for the challenge, and if an idiosyncratic single-note style is what he's best known for, he's also taken to bass, banjo, mandolin and ukulele, so Spanish Donkey is hardly the pony's second trick. At FIMAV, the aural onslaught was heightened by a rigorously democratic mix: everything was at such an even level, including a buzzing synth that stayed just safe of subsuming them all, that at times the only way the noisy keyboards and harsh guitar could be differentiated was by virtue of the players' body language. When on occasion the smoke cleared, Middle Eastern riffs and psychedelic organ became apparent.


comments powered by Disqus