Vision Festival 2010: Day 7, June 29, 2010
Lafayette Gilchrist's Inside Out Trio
Baltimore pianist Lafayette Gilchrist last graced the Vision Festival in 2006[?] on the emerging artists roster in the company of drummer Hamid Drake. Four years on and he had been deservedly promoted to the main program with his Inside Out Trio. Gilchrist may be most well known as part of quartet and octet settings under the leadership of saxophonist David Murray, but has also gigged as part of William Parker's Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield assemblage.
Alone at the piano, Gilchrist initially drew romantic strains from his rippling keys, then counted in bassist Michael Formanek and Eric Kennedy on drums. A fast stepping theme expanded into the exciting trio interplay based on listening and interaction which characterized their set. Altogether they moved through four composed sections in fifty-minutes, opening with a short suite of three tunes: "Breakout," "Spontaneous Combustion" and "Waves" preceded a ballad called "Safe Passage." From the infectiously finger snapping to the outright free, they shifted gears as a telepathic unit, inside out you could say, straddling that borderline with aplomb.
Gilchrist displayed a more rhythmic and less florid bent than his last Vision outing, provoking thoughts of Matthew Shipp with his thunderous chording and Dave Burrellin his staggered dissonance, blending well with off kilter bass and drum syncopation. At times, often within the same number, he also ventured into invigorating free form territory, drawing suitably energetic arco support from Formanek and clattering drums from Kennedy.
Loose limbed, almost languid, the drummer nonetheless whipped up a whirling maelstrom, dropping bombs while simultaneously keeping time. Frequent drum rolls distinguished his playing, though he resorted to cymbal coloration during rubato passages. Formanek appeared impassive throughout, belying his nimble fingerwork and rapidfire solos. Like Kennedy he also added emphasis to the more dissonant sections, contributing his own depth charge equivalents in his deep resonant notes. A simpatico partner, he moved from doubling Gilchrists left hand figures to open improvisation in terms of space and texture when his cello-register scrapings came to the fore.
Another very good set, which was a bonus in that it was an unexpected pleasure, and one which left many listeners hoping for a forthcoming recording from this trio.
For the swansong, five percussionists assembled for a drum tribute to the late Rashied Ali. There were several changes from the line up in the program, with Nasheet Waits unavailable and Hamid Drake absent at Fred Anderson's funeral. But instead we had Warren Smith joining Michael Wimberly, Brahim Frigbane, Vladimir Tarasov, and Gerald Cleaver strung across the stage.
Like Reggie Nicholson's percussion based set earlier in the week, this was not an out and out drumfest. Melodic duties here were taken on initially by Frigbane, who sang in plaintive Arabic style, then took up his oud to initiate a gentle foot tapping cadence. Wimberly augmented the rhythm on big gourd with a tabla like sound, Tarasov added shakers, Cleaver struck wood on tambourine, Smith ricocheted off his drum rims, all embellishing Frigbane's original groove.
One notable passage involved a piledriving beat led by Cleaver who was simultaneously chanting "Rashied." What followed was the sort of free tumult that might have been expected as the default mode. Wimberly ousted Tarasov from his kit and thrashed hell for leather. Cleaver joined the fray while Smith colored on cymbals, Tarasov tapped a hand drum, and Frigbane sat out the storm. They all coalesced around the four note "A Love Supreme" riff, played using pitches of different drums. Though nobody intoned the words they were in the air and evoked a suitably reverential atmosphere.
Premature applause as they were in the process of transition into another section brought the set to an early close, but as the concluding event there was no time pressure, so for once there was an encore. This time it was a two-minute group thrash. Short but sweet. And that was the Vision Festival for another year, for me at any rate. An after festival party was scheduled the following night at the Poisson Rouge, but for many of the out of town visitors, this was their final show as well.