Various Artists

Vision One: Vision Festival 1997 Compiled

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This limited-edition double-CD (sold for less than the price of a single disc) is a compendium of the second annual Vision Festival held in New York City. Many of the artists who performed also record for AUM Fidelity, but many here do not. Strictly speaking, a compilation such as this one should stand on its own merit, divorced entirely from its context. Volume one does so nicely, offering us a glimpse of artists caught in the heat of performance, offering us their finest work at that moment. Many of the acts on this disc were created just for this festival. Take for instance the Hurricane Trio comprised of bass god William Parker (who is all over these two CDs), tenorman Glen Spearman, and drummer Paul Murphy. They exist as a trio for this date only, their signature scrawled indelibly over the proceedings with their ribbons of sound approach, deep African witness and frightening vocal improvisation. There is also the Mark Dresser Quartet, playing its own brand of improvisational chamber music, which is a relief after the pyrotechnics of Hurricane. John Zorn and Susie Ibarra play a nothing less than astonishing duet of wild counterpoint and arpeggiated accents. Large ensembles are also present Butch Morris' big band, William Parker's Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra and the Patricia Nicholson Ensemble. Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore makes an appearance with Matthew Shipp, Rob Brown, Jon Voight, and Laurence Cook. It's a pounding screech fest, but there are solid moments when Moore connects with Shipp and Brown, spiraling into a new metalingual space. Mind-blowing are the David S. Ware Quartet with Shipp, Parker, and Ibarra, Rashied Ali's Prima Materia doing Coltrane's "Meditations," and Assif Tashar's band with very special guest altoist John Tchicai. Essentially, these discs are edited for diversity and power -- which is the right thing to do. The sequencing is impeccable, the sound is phenomenal, and, in sum total, Vol. 1 is a massive dose of textured, wildly varied free jazz and spontaneous composition. It's an excellent introduction to a truly great independent label, and a salivating taste of what being there might have been like.

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