Lakeland Jazz Festival 2013: Kirtland, Ohio, February 22-24
The new tunes enjoyed more space on this night than they do on the record. Some of this the result of soloing choices and, no doubt, pre-concert structural decisions by the band. But the shift from the record's quintet to a quartet, with Virelles taking on all piano duties in Craig Taborn's absence, also opened things up, primarily through the character of Virelles' playingthe music now infused with dissonant voicings, chord progressions that seemed to fall back on themselves, sharply struck and spacious melodies, and the flare of Virelles' native Cuba. But Potter also added intros to "Penelope" and "The Sirens," spending several minutes to work his way alone into each song's haunting melodyon soprano sax and bass clarinet, respectivelyas if needing to conjure them from a universe of spiraling sonic dust (his correlate, perhaps, to Homer's "Sing to me ... Muse").
On "The Sirens," a more forlorn song was sent down, the bass clarinet's warning call from the album replaced with a dirge that was already mourning the travelers at the moment they sailed into the sirens' radius. Later in the piece, Grenadier's bowed bass solo drew out the Indian melodies swimming just beneath the tune's surface. Indeed, there was a sea-like quality to this entire set of music, the instrumentalists riding waves to their height in a tumult, dipping into valleys of relief and often allowing one song to drift on into another. And there were the dry land breaks from the Odyssey suite that generally discarded the mood in favor of full- throttled wailings. Chief among these was "Four in One," on which Potter blew a tenor bop solo that shot through the music like a multi-threaded, metal cable, tightly coiledsuch was its propulsion and precision.
When the band stepped back on stage for "Darn That Dream," it opened in a decidedly romantic mood, with Potter's tenor purring over Harland's lush brush work. But later Potter's playing became more agitated (a baby in the audience even let out a few startled cries upon hearing the switch) then dipped into the pools of regret and longing that always keep lost dreams company. A crescendo with bowed bass and mallets pounding the snare drum lifted the song to its close. A final mallet shot ended it. And the dream was over.