Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved reader experience across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.


Edgefest 2017: Give the Drummers Some, Part 2-2

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
Friday's headliners were Larry Ochs's Fictive Five. Although the group usually appears in a two- bass quintet format, with Pascal Niggenkemper alongside Ken Filiano, it was just Filiano on Friday; even so, the group stuck with the "Fictive Five" moniker for the performance, which was a fitting culmination to a night of exceptional creativity. Tenor/sopranino saxophonist Ochs is an Edgefest stalwart, having appeared at the festival many times over the years, and he obviously felt right at home in leading his group through a wide-ranging set of music that highlighted his complex compositions but left plenty of room for top-flight improvisation. With a stellar line-up that includes Nate Wooley on trumpet and Harris Eisenstadt on drums in addition to Ochs and Filiano, this band can do anything it wants. There was ferocity galore, as Ochs can take his horn into the stratosphere at the drop of a hat (and Wooley's no slouch in that regard, either); but perhaps the most stimulating moments were the more subdued ones, in which the group slowed things down and generated a more mysterious mood. Wooley's hallmark extended techniques ensured that texture was a crucial component of the group's sound, and Filiano's multifaceted creativity allowed the bass to become an essential feature of the band's musicality. Not to be ignored was the outstanding drum work of Eisenstadt, whose waves of percussive momentum were pivotal in negotiating the fluidity of Ochs's compositions. A challenging, expertly-played set of music, as one can always expect from musicians of this caliber.

Saturday's programming at Edgefest is truly an all-day affair, starting with the community parade that winds its way down North Fourth Avenue at noon. This year's parade was bigger than ever, helped in part by the gorgeous, unseasonably warm weather. With close to 100 middle-school students leading the way under the unflappable guidance of Andrew Drury and with many Edgefest attendees and other members of the community joining in, the parade honored the 100th birthday of Dizzy Gillespie by playing and singing "Happy Birthday, Dizzy Gillespie" to the melody of his classic "Manteca." Drury connected wonderfully with the students, and it truly brought the spirit of jazz into the community, an ideal way to celebrate the birth of one of jazz's greatest ambassadors.

The afternoon's programming was varied and engaging, starting with Detroit-based drummer GayeLynn McKinney's duo with electronic percussionist Ken Kozora. With a battery of electronic instruments and effects, Kozora brought a highly musical sensibility to his playing, whether in an abstract vein or in cranking out some Herbie Hancock-inspired funk. McKinney's versatility allowed her to stay in close communication with Kozora throughout the set, always keeping the beat at the center. Special guests made an appearance as well, with Michael G. Nastos providing a poem dedicated to the entire spectrum of Detroit drummers—everyone from J.C. Heard to Elvin Jones—and then Piotr Michalowski bringing out the bass clarinet for some sparring with Kozora on trumpet. A very enjoyable set, one that paved the way for the fireworks that followed from the Oluyemi Thomas Trio.

Fittingly for a festival dedicated to the drum, and in keeping with Nastos's Detroit homage, native Detroiter Thomas brought two Detroit-based drummers to the stage with him: Djallo Djakate Kieta and Kurt Prisbe. Reminiscent of the days of raw energy music from the 60s avant-garde, Thomas brought jaw-dropping intensity to his bass clarinet and tenor saxophone, and he used a range of other woodwinds to enhance the scope of his performance. One could feel the way in which the drummers' collective force gathered steam behind Thomas's tumultuous flights, and just when the intensity seemed at its highest, Thomas's brother Kenn scampered across the stage for a turn at the piano, pounding the keys with abandon. Kenn Thomas is well-known to Southeast Michigan jazz fans as he's a resident of Ann Arbor, but his appearance at the festival was a surprise that delighted the audience with the additional gale- force power he brought to the music. For its sheer elemental force, this group's performance was tough to top.


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms Live Reviews Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms
by Martin Longley
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano Live Reviews Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano
by Keith Henry Brown
Published: January 13, 2018
Read Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café Live Reviews Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 2, 2018
Read Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook Live Reviews Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café" Live Reviews Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 2, 2018
Read "Jim Beard And Jon Herington At The Kennett Flash" Live Reviews Jim Beard And Jon Herington At The Kennett Flash
by Mike Jacobs
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Kim Nalley's Tribute to Nina Simone" Live Reviews Kim Nalley's Tribute to Nina Simone
by Walter Atkins
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Erik Friedlander At National Concert Hall, Dublin" Live Reviews Erik Friedlander At National Concert Hall, Dublin
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "Kronos Festival 2017" Live Reviews Kronos Festival 2017
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: February 12, 2017