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Various: Vision Fest

Jerry D'Souza By

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The Vision Festival, held annually in New York, brings together some of the most forward thinking performers in jazz. Last year the festival was held mainly at The Center at Old St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. The performances at this venue make up the music on this CD and the accompanying DVD.

There is a lot of good music on Vision Live. Muntu bring in the opening tune by Albert Ayler with Jemeel Moondoc on alto bending the notes, curving the line and triggering yelps and yowls as Roy Campbell on trumpet counterpoints with a buttery tone and straighter lines. An opening like that whets the appetite, and the salivating continues when Dave Burrell and Tyrone Brown come in with an engaging “Existence”; the pianist with his thick chords and hint of stride and Brown through subtle shifts of rhythm and shade.

Violinist Billy Bang joins Jin Hi Kim on komungo (a six-string zither) and saxophonist Hamiett Bluiett in his trio. Bang’s dynamics swelter the opening crescendo of “Bangart 100” before he transcribes the mood into a dialogue with Bluiett, who fills the spaces with honks and slithering lines. And then comes Kim, who slips right into the conversation, accenting the mood and enlivening it with her melodic discourse. Kidd Jordan and Fred Anderson bring in a hard edged narrative to “Spirits Came In,” the two veterans engaging each other in some spunky sparring making for a very enjoyable outing indeed.

Pianist Matthew Shipp is spare on “Speech of Form,” while William Parker on bowed bass and Mat Maneri on viola set the base with some intense structures that at times border on the manic. Down the road Douglas Ewart and Hamid Drake enliven “Crepescule,” Ewart with some high flying mid-eastern sounding soprano playing and Drake with his sense of surprise. Karen Borca gets good and earthy on “45 Hours” with Rob Brown convoluting on alto and Reggie Workman locking in an energetic pulse on the bass. Peter Kowald’s solo bass improvisation is at best an acquired taste, leaving the scat and vocalese of Ellen Christi on “Synchronicity.” It would be a good sign if she knew where to draw the line.

The DVD captures the concert in a straight forward manner. The music, interspersed with the paintings of Jeff Schlanger and some still portraits of the musicians, was mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound.

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