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Barry Guy Blue Shroud Band in Krakow, Poland

John Sharpe By

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Post Script

After the Blue Shroud premiere, the last night of Guy's residency afforded a release from the responsibility of leadership. Back in Alchemia, the bassist renewed acquaintance with Chicago reedman Ken Vandermark, on a bare stage cleared of piano, mics, music stands and drumkits. One previous encounter produced the highly regarded Fox Fire (Maya, 2009), and given the American's history in the venue, it was no surprise the space was rammed.

Over two sets, the pair refreshed the connection between them until it seemed they had never been apart. In a highly responsive stream of twisting tonality, each gesture was variously answered, opposed or ignored. When Vandermark invoked a breathy didgeridoo on baritone saxophone, the bassist responded by taking a short stick to his strings for a series of scratchy harp like tones which contrasted with the American's luxuriant smears. Later, Guy took a brush to the body and open strings of his bass while Vandermark pursued fractured darting lines on clarinet. At times they recalled a deconstructed Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa, as brush in hand, Guy delivered a percussive tour de force. A well deserved encore capped an enjoyable reunion.

Earlier in the week, Festival Director Winiarski had admitted that he didn't know what to expect from Guy's new project. But by the end he must have been absolutely delighted as the artistic success more than repaid his trust. After such a sensational accomplishment, the challenge will be how to go one better in the 10th Krakow Jazz Autumn. Come next fall, jazz fans will be checking their schedules expectantly to see whether that challenge has been met.

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