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Remi Alvarez: Live at Vision Festival

Jerry D'Souza By

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The Vision Festival is the premier showcase for art, dance and experimental music. Some of the finest exponents of avant-garde and free jazz perform on its stage. The atmosphere is electrifying and vibrant as it captures the expanse of the imaginations of the musicians. The unseen chord becomes a pertinent presence and the harbinger of a whole new realm of ideas.

Saxophonist Remi Alvarez, who first performed at the festival in 2006, finds a compact umbrella under experimental music. He is comfortable improvising as well playing free jazz, parallels that are well cast on this recording. Born in Mexico, Alvarez first played the flute before becoming adept on the alto, tenor and soprano saxophones. He moved to New York City and joined the Creative Music Studio where his teachers in composition and improvisation included Anthony Braxton and George Lewis. Alvarez also travelled to Paris where he studied under Steve Lacy.

Alvarez's 2011 appearance was recorded for this CD, on which the three tracks are down-in-the-groove improvisations. Hitting his stride on the tenor, the only saxophone he played on this date, Alvarez spins a volatile vortex. His energy is abetted by the crosscurrents that spew from the rumbling strings and the angular bowing of double bassist Ken Filiano. The cornucopia of sound is livened by drummer Michael T.A.Thomas , who finds as many thick textures as he does space when the mood slips into gentler mode.

The introspective "Improv #2" continues to create a marvelous tapestry. As Alvarez weaves his patterns with studied eloquence, Dom Minasi adds discerning luminescence. He lets the moment unravel in the beautiful shades that form gently through the notes of his guitar. He never parallels the intensity even when Alvarez raises it, marking his approach as an effective study in contrast.

The quartet is seamless in its approach and its intuition insightful, which makes the music of Live at Vision Festival engrossing.

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