Vision Festival 2008: Day 5

John Sharpe By

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Even more phenomenal was a dazzling passage which saw Grimes' abstract violin sawing, instantly echoed and repeated back at him by Dunmall's tenor
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

Patricia Nicholson's Celestial Moonbeams Funk
Matthew Shipp Trio
Paul Dunmall, Henry Grimes and Andrew Cyrille
George Lewis and Joelle Leandre
Braida/ Borghini/ Spera/ Maraffa Quartet

13th Annual Vision Festival
Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
New York City
June 14, 2008

Like previous years Saturday afternoon was given over to emerging talent, starting with a poetry session where Chaedria LaBouvier gave a superb recitation of some of her complex rhythmic open and affecting poetry, with a percussion accompaniment from Ron Amber Delaney of the Last Poets.

Most of the names this afternoon were new to me, with restlessly inventive percussionist Jeff Arnal making a strong impression with his trio of John Dierker on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet and Gordon Beeferman on piano. Together they formed a tight free improvising ensemble who maintained a strong focus through each of their five pieces. Young trumpeter Nabate Isles showed his biting rhythmic attack on a set of his own compositions, with the outstanding Dave Gilmore on electric guitar, the exuberantly scowling and dancing Sam Barsch on keyboards and Jamieo Brown on drums.

An unorthodox ensemble under the name Kioku proved the stand-out of the afternoon with an intriguing blend of oriental sonorities, free jazz and ambient noise. Comprising Wynn Yamami (percussion), Ali Sakkal (alto, percussion) and Christopher Ariza (live electronics), they attracted attention from the off when rattling electronics and percussion gave way to noise reminiscent of a railway station concourse, before Sakkal debuted his passionate raw-toned alto. Yamami's measured taiko drumming was goosed by funkily rhythmic belches from laptop, before Sakkal erupted with another spirited outing of hoarse cries. A change of pace ensued with the slow-burning atmospherics derived from Sakkal's sustained long tones against a backdrop of trickling water and gongs in an excellent set.

Last set of the afternoon presented the Mazz Muse Trio featuring Mazz Swift on violins and electronics, James Peter Lee on lap steel guitar and Vernon Reid on electric guitar and laptop. After a short almost classical violin prelude, Swift brought the electronics into play, sampling herself to set up a looping backdrop against which she and the others improvised. A dreamy ballad sung by Swift was sandwiched between a spacey wall of sound and funky hip hop rhythms in a set perhaps overly heavy on the electronic effects.

Patricia Nicholson's Celestial Moonbeams Funk

For the first set of the evening a space had been cleared in front of the stage to allow the dancers accompanying Patricia Nicholson's band room to strut their stuff. Against a strong funk rhythm laid down by drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Todd Nicholson, the four athletic young dancers criss crossed the space in a free form capoeira display. Hornmen Sabir Mateen and Lewis Barnes shared the half sung half rapped vocal duties with backing vocals from Rob Brown and Jason Kao Hwang, before switching to their instruments for some free jazz wailing, with solos emerging and receding from the voluble flow.

Such was the visual spectacle that the music tended to take second place, even though it was never less than fine and would easily have stood on its own merits. Nicholson Parker danced a second piece alone against a slower ensemble, before the four youngsters, including her daughter Miriam Parker rejoined for a final energetic workout.

Matthew Shipp Trio

Although only relatively recently configured as a trio, pianist Matt Shipp has long-standing relationships with both drummer Whit Dickey and bassist (and freqent guitarist) Joe Morris, which illuminated the dense group interplay. Their 49 minute set comprised a single freewheeling piece which updated tradition by incorporating both Shipp originals, from the trio's splendid Piano Vortex (Thirsty Ear, 2007) and playful reference to standards, including "On Green Dolphin Street" and "Someday My Prince Will Come" into the organically evolving flow.

Their modus operandi was exemplified in the passage following Morris' fleet-fingered pizzicato solo, where Shipp introduced a repeated motif immediately picked up by his colleagues, with Dickey's crashing cymbals emphasizing the pianist's accents. Although not varying the structure, Shipp dropped a few depth charges, and devised a study in dynamics. Only to suddenly unleash a ringing "Key Swing" from their album, presaging a passage of hard-driving group telepathy until again the energy dissipated to usher in a tumbling polyrhythmic drum solo.


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