Vision Festival: Days 2-3, June 6-7, 2011
Perhaps a sign of the straitened times, the third day was a joint venture with the Festival of New Trumpet Music, presenting a cast of brass players which spanned both the generations and the globe. Amir ElSaffar opened with an involved and challenging program which featured Jen Shyu singing Azerbaijani texts. Away from the main stage, Stephanie Richards's Watercolor included the leader drawing weird, bubbling harmonics by blowing her trumpet into a tray of water during a series of adventurous pieces. One, entitled "Work Song," wittily had the two percussionists face each other to make rhythmic interjections, Qasim Naqvi with a hammer on a block of wood, and Andrew Munsey with a hacksaw. Later the main hall saw the Vision Festival debut of Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko appearing with a trio of NYC musicians, who added some welcome grit to his airy melodicism. Sylvie Courvoisier used preparations on her piano to extract percussive textures, while violinist Mark Feldman and bassist Mark Helias moved between austere and choppy, provoking some spluttering animation from the leader at times, in a performance which drew the first standing ovation of the week.
However, the most entertaining set of the evening came from trumpeter Ted Daniel's Salute to King Oliver. Daniel noted the irony of showcasing a program of 1923 vintage at an avant-garde festival, explaining that of course they were avant-garde in their day. Joining him in a polyphonic front line were the exuberant violin of Charles Burnham and supple tuba of Howard Johnson. Burnham in particular was full of expressive fills, asides and musical commentary, with his face reflecting his thoughts as his bow danced through the air. Daniel presided over a lively good-natured display that stretched the confines of the tunes across the century, but which might profitably have gone even further.
All Photos: John Sharpe