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Vision Festival 2010: Day 5, June 27, 2010

John Sharpe By

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Demonstrating that an extemporized session doesn't need to lack in inner structure or design, pianist Dave Burrell announced that the name of this set as "Inner Earth," before laying down an opening motif of repeated hammered chords. Burrell trinkle tinkled at the treble end of the keyboard, then flipped over onto the backs of his hands as he surged down to the bass register. Out of kilter stride, discordant plonks, and a one fingered Morse code stutter were all well-used weapons in the pianist's arsenal.

Burrell's rhythmic style and knowledge of jazz history make him an ideal partner for drummers, as testified by his marvelous duet with Billy Martin (of Medeski, Martin & Wood) Consequences (Amulet Records, 2006). Indeed a remarkable synergy developed between the pianist and drummer Hamid Drake. As the Chicagoan whipped up a flurry, Burrell responded in kind with wild glissandos along the keys until the drummer crescendoed and the pianist returned to his Monkish dissonance. As a fast jazzy section took shape, Drake immediately switched to playing time, into which Burrell interpolated a boisterous syncopated attack, until Drake began to hurl the pianist's rhythmic patterns back at him in a dizzying exhibition of seat of pants navigation.

For his second appearance of the evening, bassist William Parker effected a complete change of costume from the previous set, now resplendent in beaded and embroidered headgear and patterned poncho style shirt. With the option of interplay with Drake curtailed, Parker maintained propulsion, not by the default route of walking, but his own method of short bursts of skipping, hopping, sprinting, and jumping merged into a creative arc. As the set progressed, the opportunity for a Drake drum masterclass emerged: intricate figures flowing smoothly around the kit, while Parker unsheathed his bow and Burrell jangled in support. In Parker's solo he really dug into his arco work, getting into a groove subtly varying the hypnotically recurring tracery, then breaking out with a catchy pizzicato phrase. Illustrating their multifaceted rapport, Burrell picked it up as a motif to transition into the next section, intensifying the riff until culminating in torrential chording.

Transitions evolved organically out of what came before such that it was sometimes difficult to recall how they arrived at some dancing juncture, having been immersed in thunderous tumult just moments before. A tolling chord from Burrell and Parker's bowed response seemed to signal closure. But the spirit was still with Burrell. Just as Drake began winding down, the pianist threw in an ascending glissando with the heel of his hand for a brief tempestuous passage before the finale, as if to say there could be a lot more where this came from. This lineup has yet to record, but having scored yet another Festival highpoint, listener's can only hope that oversight is quickly rectified.

After such a fantastic evening's entertainment it would be churlish to wish for more. But surveying the schedule for the Monday evening, two shows held special promise: a reunion of the all star Stone Quartet with Marilyn Crispell, Joëlle Léandre, Mat Maneri and Roy Campbell, and a rare appearance by the duo of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and German percussionist Gunter Baby Sommer.

Photo Credit

All Photos: John Sharpe

Prologue | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7


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