I was in NY for a portion of the Vision Festival last weekend. I don’t really have the time nor inclination to write a blow by blow review of what I heard, although there are plenty of those out there. I do want to mention a few things though.
One of the biggest things I learned was about the tenacity of music lovers. The venue was very warm and pretty uncomfortable and it was still packed pretty much every moment I was there. From the stage Joelle Leandre said it felt like a sauna, and she was probably being polite. It was really freakin’ hot in there. They also had those really crappy plastic folding chairs. They might not be too bad for smallish people, but they are very uncomfortable for us larger folks. The fact that anyone was sitting packed like sardines in these conditions listening to anything is amazing to me, but we were all there wanting to hear what was being offered. If it is any consolation, I caught some of the New Languages Festival around the corner at the Living Theater, and their a/c was less than effective as well, and they had the same crappy chairs.
On to the music…
The Gebhard Ullmann/Steve Swell 4tet was a good show. It was nice to hear Barry Altschul live, and Hill Greene sounded great. Steve is a great trombone player, a really nice cat, and a great supporter of other musicians. I try to hear him whenever possible.
I really enjoyed observing the process of Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quintet. Watching him wave stuff in and out, and watching the players sometimes do what he appeared to be asking.
I caught some of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society over at New Languages and they sounded great. Very dynamic performance of excellent material. Both of those aspects are hard tricks to pull off with a large ensemble.
I was looking forward to hearing the Matthew Shipp Trio with Joe Morris and Whit Dickey, and they didn’t disappoint.
George Lewis and Joelle Leandre were probably the highlight of the weekend for me. I knew George Lewis was bad, but he is way badder than I anticipated. The communication and playful interaction between Lewis and Leandre was great. They reminded us all that it is ok to laugh during a “serious free jazz” show, and that is an important thing to remember.
The weekend also included good cheap Chinese food, cannoli, and a trip to MOMA, along with seeing some friends I don’t get to see too often, and making a few new ones as well. Not a bad way to spend a couple of days.