popped briefly into the panel discussion on "Artist-Organized Presentations in Jazz: 1970 to 2006 and Beyond" to hear william parker talking about his experiences putting festivals together through the years and it strikes me as similar on many levels to the community building we try to do here in terms of alternative poetries. i think of helping william carry in those big foil pans of chicken he made and brought the other night and how it's as much about that as it is the music. he said at the panel discussion how there's always some people who just want to have a gig and won't do anything else; parker's the kinda guy who gets people gigs AND feeds em chicken.
i was out and about running errands part of the afternoon and also meeting up wtih anselm and karen who were putting me up at their place just five blocks from the oresanz center sunday night so i could bus straight outta port authority monday. so i only caught a bit of the string trio -- Miya Masaoka (koto, electronics), Silvie Courvoisier (pno), Peggy Lee (cello) -- but didn't feel too bad about it since i'm pretty sure i've seen masaoka at previous vision festivals. always a useful reminder tho of the long and rich traditon of improvisation in asian musics.
i did make a point of being back in time for Kidd Jordan (tnr sax), Joel Futterman (pno), William Parker (bs), and Alvin Fielder (dr) -- and quite a whorl of sound produced by this band as one can imagine. futterman particularly impressed me: i have him on a leader date for a german label that featured jimmy lyons in one of his last performances. futterman is a figure who literally looms large behind the piano (he must be six foot four) and pounds away to create a wonderful ringing din. in fact i've never seen a pianist's hands move so perpendicularly to the keys (and parallel to the run of the keyboard) before: he literally swept his arms sideways along the keyboard. jordan's tenor playing was certainly fiery but a little to unvarying for my taste: he'd hit a certain height in the upper register and stay there, go back down, back up and stay there, etc.
i skipped out on the next set -- Patricia Nicholson (dance), Hamid Drake (perc), William Parker (bs and sintir), Jo Wood Brown (visual artist) -- and the beginning of the next set -- Whit Dickey Trio: Whit Dickey (dr), Daniel Levin (cello), Matt Moran (vibes) -- to have a homecooked pasta dinner at anselm and karen's before we all walked over to the orensanz center. i regret not seeing the dance with formidible accompaniment, along with dickey who's one of the more interesting drummers on the scene, playing in the DSWQ and now frequently featuring rob brown in his groups. but hey, you gotta eat.
and we arrived in plenty of time to secure seats for the feature act of the week, the final US performance (tho we have it with some good authority that this may indeed not ultimately be the final US performance) of the david s ware quartet. ware himself is such a commanding figure, and this is essentially a band that has been together for sixteen years, so minimal verbal is needed between these guys. nevertheless, there was a sense of unpredictability to the whole performance: ware picked numbers, cued soloists, stopped and started in places and ways that certainly had me constantly guessing and seemed even to have the band guessing too. i have to say that i was not moved to the degree that i was upon first hearing the DSWQ at the visionfestival three years ago, but it was still a command performance. every time he picks up the horn and puts it to his mouth you know you are in the presence of the higher powers. shipp and parker took an amazing duet, and ware gave brown an extended drum solo with no recap. "mikuro's blues" from go see the world was one tune i recognized, the third or fourth in the set, and there was another i recognized but will have to scan through my collection to get the title.
in short, by no means a disappointment but the emotional highpoint of the week for me was clearly the gayle-parker-ali set from saturday night.
sets i'd most like to hear again:
- moncur wednesday night
- rivers trio wednesday night
- dixon/lewis thursday night
- bang friday night
- mitchell saturday night
- gayle saturday night
players newly discovered:
- noriko kamo (moncur piano)
- james zollar (bang trumptet)
- klaus kugel (slammin the infinite drums)
- corey wilkes (mitchell trumpet)
players newly reevaluated:
- warren smith (balafon!)
- roy campbell (most classical/virtuoso sound of the free trumpeters)
- doug matthews / anthony cole (far more than just rivers' rhythm section!)
- craig taborn
- sabir mateen
players i want to hear more recordings of:
- khan jamal (vibes)
- bill dixon (trumpet + electronics)
- ernest dawkins (reeds)
- sam rivers trio (thanks kevin!)
- people who save seats in the front rows the whole evening but don't use them until the last set
- too many XL and XXL t-shirts, not enough S and M (if any!)