Archives for posts with tag: Peter Brötzmann

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Poet Steve Dalachinsky opened Vision Fest 19’s second day on Thursday, June 12th. Dalachinsky’s a Vision stalwart and fittingly gave tribute to Amiri Baraka, as all poets and many other performers are this year. “Amiri was a person who should’ve been with us forever”, Dalachinsky said as he reflected on his relationship with Baraka. Dalachinsky dedicated one of his own poems, “Saga of the Outlaws #3”, to Baraka.

Dalachinsky’s work shares some lineage with Baraka’s, with influences of jazz and the free flowing verse of the beats and broadly eclectic references that force one to listen deeply. Although he’s read with musicians before, Dalachinsky read solo this time, inviting listeners to delve deep into the words and connections they invoked and taking in the improvisational rhythms of the words themselves and his delivery.

The Wimberly Harlem Ensemble then took the stage. Wimberly mixed African dance with instruments. Sabir Mateen, now living in Italy, returned to play Vision, armed with flute and sax. Meanwhile, Michael Wimberly tirelessly worked the stage, playing balafon, oud, and several percussive instruments. Larry Roland (bass) and Nioka Workman (cello) ably held down the rhythm section. Diane Harvey-Salaam and Souleyman Bodolo added and important dance and theatrical element to their composition titled “Signs and Rituals”.

In a break from the music, visual artist Jeff Schlanger was presented with a lifetime achievement award. “I’ve tried to be the quietest man in the room for 19 years”, Schlanger said, and this is usually the case, though his art speaks volumes. Schlanger probably spoke more than he has in the entire time he’s been at Vision Fest, but in keeping with the spirit of the entire festival this year, gave important historical context from his memory of being a longtime participant in the music scene.

“I’ve tried to be the quietest man in the room for 19 years”—Visual Jeff Schlanger

Schlanger, who goes by the moniker musicWitness®, recalled being at the first Vision Fest on Lafayette Street and spoke to the centrality of dance and movement in Vision. He also recalled many artists who have made their transition: poets Amiri Baraka, Louis Reyes Rivera, and Sekou Sundiata; all of whom were performers at past Vision Fests.

Schlanger is omnipresent at the Festival, quietly composing his vibrant drawings in front of the stage, improvising just as the musicians are and drawing inspiration from what happens a few feet in front of him. For the past several years, his work has been projected as a backdrop during the performances. His body of work is large enough that what one sees usually reflects what is going on onstage at the time. Schlanger’s work exhibits the same feeling of freeform dynamism that one hears in the performances at Vision. You can see a clip of his process in the following clip.

I’ve seen emerging electric guitarist Mary Halvorson several times, and always feel good about the future of the music when I see her perform. She was joined by Susan Alcorn on steel pedal guitar this evening and the duo did an excellent job of playing off of each other, with Alcorn providing a good counterpoint to Halvorson’s richly textured, brooding, work.

The final set of the evening featured a trio of Vision Fest regulars: saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, drummer Hamid Drake, and bassist William Parker. It’s always a treat to hear Brötzmann, as his playing is electrifying and when joined by the solid rhythm section of Drake and Parker, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a powerful, earth-shaking performance.

Brötzmann, who was given a lifetime achievement award in 2011 at Vision Festival 16, fits the Vision ethos well. While he’s known in this context as a musician, he’s an accomplished visual artist and designer as well, having done several solo art shows in Europe, a few of which can be seen on his website.

Drake started the set solo, with a remembrance of Roy Campbell and Amiri Baraka. Parker and, finally Brötzmann then joined him on the alto sax. The set started slowly with a long solo by Drake, who was joined by Parker.

The quiet and introspective feel eventually gave way to Brötzmann’s familiar high register squeals as he pushed the sax to its limits. Drake and Parker easily kept up and kept pushing Brötzmann ahead.

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On Friday, June 13th, saxophonist Jameel Moondoc’s quintet devoted its set to another departed Vision stalwart, trumpeter Roy Campbell, Jr, who died in January 2014. Moondoc, trombonist Steve Swell, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker all appeared on Campbell’s last CD, See You on the Other Side (2013). Nathan Breedlove (trumpet) and Hilliard Green (bass) rounded out the quintet.

The quintet’s renditions of Campbell compositions “Charmain” and “Thanks to the Creator” provided the individual members ample room to stretch out, while bringing out the best in the songs’ melodies.

Electric guitarist James Blood Ulmer’s Music Revelation Ensemble Revisited capped off Friday night with a blistering instrumental set. Each Vision Fest illuminates at least one group that stands out from the rest, and Ulmer’s ensemble did so this year. Ulmer’s far from a newcomer and is well established in the blues scene, but may not be the first thing people think about in the context of free jazz, but fit brilliantly into the format.

Ulmer promised a retrospective of 20 years of his work, guided by guitar harmolodics, fittingly drawing a connection to the great saxophonist Ornette Coleman, who he joined in a rare NYC concert himself not too far away in Brooklyn this week. Calvin Rochester’s powerful drumming was the perfect counterpoint to Ulmer’s blues-inflected guitar on the first few songs, with Calvin “The Truth” Jones (bass) rounding out the rhythm section.

Near the end of the set Ulmer gave Rochester a chance to let loose, and he more than rose to the occasion with a blistering solo that showed (not that there was any doubt) that he had plenty to say in addition to being an excellent foil for Ulmer and providing color throughout the set.

Ulmer, sharply dressed in a yellow suit, looked the quintessential bluesman, though perfectly grasped the ethos of Vision, drawing from deep in the well of the blues, yet playing out and connecting it all to the jazz tradition. That’s a tall order, but the Music Revelation Ensemble Revisited delivered in style, sending us off into the cool night with their songs still in our heads.

Do you have any favorite moments? Add your thoughts in the comments!

You can see the Vision Fest 19 magazine with full days’ lineups, interviews, and more on Issuu here.

All photos courtesy of Joyce Jones and used with permission. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licensed.

Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

Joyce Jones is producer and host for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and a graphic artist.

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For New York City jazz fans and those who can get here, one of the things to look forward to in the summer are the music festivals and events. It’s a particularly good time of year with lots of shows—many of them free or low cost.

We’re far from summer, but as the weather thaws out this week, the big news is the 10th Anniversary of the at the Winter Jazz Fest, which is scattered throughout imultiple venues in Greenwich Village. While it officially started on the 7th, the real action is this weekend on the 10th and 11th.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a “cheat sheet” of sorts of former Suga’ guests who will be performing. There are also a several other people we like (including a few we have on our radar for future shows), so we’ve added them at the end. And a reminder that you can go to the Suga’ in My Bowl audio archives, where all of our shows live on to check up on past guests. So with that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Friday January 10th Picks

At 9PM, singer Rene Marie takes the stage at the Zinc Bar. Diehard Marie fans should get there early, as the space is small and tends to fill quickly with the mix of people who are there as part of their regular hangout and people coming for the jazz fest.

We’ve featured Marie’s work twice on Suga’. First in March 2013 when she was the featured guest and then in November after the release of her Eartha Kitt tribute I Wanna Be Evil as part of our Eartha Kitt show.

Marie’s a deeply soulful singer and songwriter following in a long tradition of jazz balladeers. She’s no stranger to politics either, drawing heat for her rendition of the national anthem and then dedicating all the proceeds from her “This is Not a Protest Song” to homeless advocates.

Also at 9PM, veteran saxophonist Gary Bartz takes the Revive Music Stage with a quartet. Bartz was our guest in December 2010 and you can expect a strong set from him.

At 9:45 PM, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and Lionel Loueke take the stage at Le Poisson Rouge. We covered Watts in July 2013.

Honorable mentions:

We might stop by guitarist Mary Halvorson’s Septet at the 10:00pm show at Judson Memorial Church. We’re fans of free jazz, and Halvorson’s guitar explorations have caught our eye in the past.

Following them at Judson is Peter Brötzmann’s 11:15pm set with drummer Hamid Drake and Jason Adasiewicz. Brötzmann’s an electrifying performer and been a free jazz stalwart for years. He doesn’t make it to the US that often, so this set is one to see if you’re a fan of his type of work.

Saturday January 11th Picks

The Saturday sets with Suga’ guests happen to be conveniently concentrated in 2 venues. Early action sets at the Bitter End, before heading to Zinc Bar.

Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba ensemble takes the Bitter End’s stage at 6:15. It’ll be a smaller ensemble than the full big band featured last fall at Dizzy’s Club and Rosewoman’s looking to fill the lead vocal role, but expect a performance that’s intensely spiritual, swings hard, and blends Afro-Cuban rhythms at the same time.

Howard Johnson & Gravity follow at 7:30, with their tuba prowess rumbling the venue. We featured Johnson in 2012 and he had so much to say that we actually posted a web extra. It’s a rare opportunity to catch the Gravity ensemble.

Switching gears to the Zinc Bar, we find drummer Terri Lyne Carrington teaming up with harmonica virtuoso Gregoire Maret at 10:15pm. Carrington’s another guest whose been with us a couple of times. First, in 2007 for a profile of her work and then in 2011 the context of the Mosaic Project release, featuring women from all over the jazz spectrum.

At 11:30pm saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin & Soul Squad will be sure to keep the party going. Benjamin’s been working the NYC area jazz scene for a while now and got a breakthrough last year with a spot in the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.

In the fine tradition of the after hours jam sessions, you’ll have to stay up really late for Marc Cary’s Focus Trio, who don’t take the stage until 12:45 AM, but we think it’s worth it. We talked to Cary for our Abbey Lincoln special, as he was her pianist and released For the Love of Abbey, a solo piano CD dedicated to Lincoln, last year. You may hear some of those compositions, but definitely count on hearing material from the trio’s Four Directions release.

Honorable mentions:

Saxophonist Henry Threadgill‘s “Ensemble Double-Up” In Remembrance of Lawrence Butch Morris has 8 and 10 PM shows at Judson. Following them, the 11:45pm show at Judson featuring guitarist Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog ensemble with guitarist Mary Halvorson promises to be one that’ll satisfy electric guitar fans. If you’re already at Judson, then you might as well stay for pianist Matthew Shipp’s Trio’s 1:00am set. We probably can’t stay up late enough to catch Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s 1:30am set at Le Poisson Rouge, but the real night owls out there should consider giving them a look. We would if we could.

Hope to see you at the festival! What sets are you planning to or did you see? Let us know in the comments.

Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

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