|Opening Invocation: Patricia Nicholson, William Parker, and Hamid Drake|
Last year Paul covered the complete Vision Festival in a tremendous spree of reviews, an effort which is really stressful for a single reviewer. This year I’m able to visit the festival for the first time and Paul and I decided to split forces to cover as many events as possible.
In general, most of the visitors, many of them regulars of the festival, were glad that it takes places at Roulette again, since the acoustics in Manhattan’s Judson Hall were difficult (to put it mildly). The venue is part of Memorial Hall in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District and offers a 400-seat theater which is perfect for smaller and larger ensembles.
As usual, the festival began with an opening invocation by bassist William Parker and his wife, dancer Patricia Nicholson, who both co-organize the festival, along with percussionist Hamid Drake. Parker played the gimbri (a three string Moroccan bass) while Drake used a large hand drum. They established a traditional groove to which Nicholson delivered a dance meditation before she picked up a microphone announcing what this year’s festival will be about. She declaimed that there was a lot of work to do, which is why she was calling all spirits particularly evoking the powers of freedom, hope and justice in order to heal our hearts.
It was the festival's clarion call: in times of a crisis of human rights and democracy it’s necessary to remind people of the great achievements of the civil rights movement and of the power and the anger that propelled this movement. On the one hand the festival showcases the musical heroes of this movement, on the other hand it presents young musicians who might be able to carry on the torch.
|Dave Burrell, Steve Swell, Darius Jones, Harrison Bankhead, and Andrew Cyrille|
|Dave Burrell, Archie Shepp, William Parker, and Hamid Drake|
After that there was an interruption by a dance performance by Warrior of Light, a collaboration of dancer/choreographer Djassi DaCosta Johnson and bassist Shayna Dulberger. Johnson recited a modern version of Billie Holidays "Strange Fruit" referring to recent racial lynchings in the US. The performance itself was very intense, Johnson seemed to adopt positions of martial arts warriors. The metaphor of the Warrior of Light refers to personal strength and poise when faced with constant war and struggle. All in all a powerful statement that would have deserved more respect by a rather noisy audience.
|Dave Burrell, Kidd Jordan, William Parker, James Brandon Lewis, and Andrew Cyrille|
All in all a very promising beginning of the festival, which will continue with a focus on younger musicians like Mary Halvorson and one on women (Women with an Axe to Grind) on Thursday night.
All Vision Festival 23 Reviews: