Finally, and not to be outdone, the two-drum lineup in Tomas Fujiwara
's Triple Double anchored one of the festival's most riveting performances, timed perfectly to coincide with the release of the band's self- titled debut album the day before. The group uses an intriguing sextet concept premised on divisions into twos and threes: with duos involving drummers (Fujiwara and Gerald Cleaver
), guitarists (Mary Halvorson
and Brandon Seabrook
) and horn players (Taylor Ho Bynum
cornet; Dave Ballou
trumpet), the group can also be envisioned as two trios, with Fujiwara's longtime colleagues able to assume different configurations within each piece as it unfolds. Dave Ballou replaced Ralph Alessi
for this performance, but he fit in nicely with the band's vibe, which is a heady mixture of lyrical ensemble parts with dense layers of sound: the former spearheaded by Ballou and Bynum, the latter provided by the guitars and drums. But that's an oversimplification, as each instrument could at times assume the forefront of the music. Fujiwara's compositions have an organic logic with surprising twists and turns that still make eminent sense, and the music is by turns subtly beautiful and fiercely aggressive. Remarkably, despite each having a dynamic personality behind the kit, Fujiwara and Cleaver mesh seamlessly in their percussive rapport, and the entire band feeds off of the collective energy they create. There could be no better way to end a drummers' festival than with the music this group provided.
With programming that gets stronger with each passing year, it's clear that Edgefest will continue to set a very high standard for improvised music and creative jazz long into the future. Stay tuned for October 2018, when the festival promises to highlight the best of the current Chicago creative music scene.
Photo credit: Frank Rubolino