Free bop gets a big shot in the arm at the Fest’s final presentation. Mike Pride’s From Bacteria To Boys sextet is basking in the glee of a dropping a new record that refines all the posi aspects of their debut. The drummer-leader is a master of pummel, but has plenty of ideas when it comes to dispensing flutter as well. The blend of Loren Stillman’s reeds and Gary Versace’s organ gives Bad Touch a unique approach; the quartet finds way to balance spacy drifting and locomotive pulse. Lark, a newish foursome that boasts intrepid pianist Kris Davis as well as agile saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, seems able to maneuver into myriad positions. A pair of trios rounds out the bill. Alison Miller’s Big Molasses finds the wily Brandon Seabrook on guitar, and fellow string player Paul Kogut closes the program.
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There was a big buzz when the saxophonist’s Spirit Fiction dropped last year, and rightfully so. Coltrane had always been an impressive bandleader, but this was a breakthrough disc, artistically. A bit more gumption, a bit more adventure, a bit more lyricism – it all added up to some next level eloquence. This week he’s chosen guitarist Adam Rogers as a foil, and they could make a fearsome team when it comes to quick-witted exchanges.
One of the best parts of the Vision Festival is its celebration of elders. At this annual aggregation of leftie jazz improvisers, experience and impact are celebrated, and this year’s lifetime achievement award goes to 71-year-old percussionist Milford Graves, who has been sagely jostling the norm since the mid-’60s (he performs on opening night on June 12). Other seminal vets dot the five-night bash, too. The wily saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell (72) plays in a trio with bassist Henry Grimes (77); and New Orleans spitfire Kidd Jordan (78) and Sun Ra lieutenant Marshall Allen (pushing 90!) are both positioned in inventive ensembles. Of course, room is made for the insights of younger players, too. Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up are one of the more resourceful outfits in town, and the poetic trio of pianist Kris Davis, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Andrew Cyrille is a pan-generational joy. Ditto for bassist Mario Pavone’s trio. Connecting the dots between the various approaches should be a blast.