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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Vision Festival #23 2018 - Day 5

By Paul Acquaro

The general consensus, as far as I could tell, is that this is a Vision to remember. So far, on this penultimate evening, the sets have been above average to stellar and a glance at the line-up for this evening suggested no radical departures.

The change of venue, from the past few years at Judson Hall in Manhattan’s West Village has been mostly (quite) good, even though Roulette, in Brooklyn, is a tight space for a festival. Gone is the community room where people could comfortably mingle, eat, drink and peruse (the vendors were set up spaciously around the perimeter), gone is the upper loft with artwork, but also gone is a difficult sound and cavernous space. While there were early troubles with some unruly folks taking pictures (on day one there was one audience member making such a commotion, taking more pictures that anyone could ever need, that everyone wanted to punch!), by this evening the issue seemed to finally be solved. So, with the good sound and the concentrated energy buoying the proceedings, the evening started with a bang.

Paal Nilssen-Love, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Frode Gjerstad, Steve Swell
Actually, it was more a blast. Saxophonist Frode Gjerstad and his trio (with Steve Swell) wasted no time making a big noise. There was no slow burning fuse at work, this firework (and it was one of the big ones) went off as soon as the match touched the fuse, singeing everyone's eyebrows off. The group with Gjersted was half Thing - Paal Nillsen-Love on drums and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass, and trombonist Steve Swell. At the first let up of energy after the initial pop, Swell lurched into a thrilling solo over PnL's and Håker Flaten’s thrumming accompaniment. When Gjerstad took over, the rhythm section pulled back a little and he bit down on his reed and let our a ferocious squeal. His sound was sharp, pointed, and when he and Swell played together, provided a nice contrast to Swell’s rounder, brassier tones. Though it was not an “easy” way to ease into the night of music, it was damn appropriate and shook off any Sunday night audience complacency.

David Virelles, Gerald Cleaver, Brandon Lopez, Chris Potter
The second set of the evening may have been even more intense, with drummer Gerald Cleaver introducing his project with saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist David Virelles, and bassist Brandon Lopez. The set began with Cleaver introducing everything with a drum 'roll'. Building up intensity, he set the stage for Potter, who knew exactly how to bring the musical intensity, and always to be able to add just a little more heat. However, the group took its time. Cleaver kept a steady pulse going, while Lopez delivered a solid groove, the band’s tightness and focus was captivating. Through this collective control, they brought the music almost to a boil several times. Though everyone had chances to stand out and showcase their unique voices, their power came in their unity, and when they finally reached the apex, it was almost too much to bear!

Charles Gayle’s group “By Any Means” were unable to perform as scheduled, and the last group on the schedule was Craig Harris’ “Brown Butterly”. Unfortunately, I was unable to stick around for this event, but ear-witnesses indicated it was, in keeping with the aforementioned high quality performances all around.

All Vision Festival 23 Reviews: