Sunday, July 03, 2005

Reviewing the 20th Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Wow, what a day. The UK Septet, drawn from the Dedication Orchestra (note: link features MP3s) and featuring their leader, Louis Moholo, was the first thing I saw at the Roundhouse -- a wonderful warmup for a day ending with a Dedication Orchestra performance... Delightful that Maggie Nicols and other cohorts from the Dedication Orchestra will be performing tomorrow at the Roundhouse for free, too! If anyone out there didn't see the Dedication Orchestra tonight (and isn't going to see Roscoe Mitchell, as I am) I urge you to see them open for Ladysmith Black Mambazo tomorrow -- it should be an astonishing show. Phil Minton performs with them, as well -- he even sings, in a regular, singing-kinda way, with a surprisingly deep voice -- almost Paul Robeson-y in that regard. Anyhow, Dedication Orchestra make truly joyful music that evokes South African townships (tho' most of the band seem to be English). There's so much good to say about them -- how joyful and life-affirming their music is, tho' it contains just a pinch of grief and melancholy too, such that the joy is like the rapture one feels after a night of crying, say -- that I won't even try to sell their music to you. If you need a reason to go, go to see the third vocalist, David Serame's, face, which is as open and friendly a face as I think I've seen. It's a truly beautiful face -- he could get a job as a guru, if he wanted to.

Actually, my second event of the day was Dedication-related, too --Julian Arguelles, playing with Bernie Arai and Andre Lachance (two of a small, but growing, number of local jazz musicians whose playing I actually enjoy). Arguelles did very tuneful, blues-related extended pieces, that opened up in a way that reminded me of some of what I've heard on ECM, without ever losing the sense that there was a tune somewhere continuing, over, between, or at least proximately near what Arguelles was playing. I think, of the musicians I've seen (unless Phil Minton and Maggie Nicols count) I enjoyed his playing most of the people I've seen this festival.

What else did I see today? In keeping with my general desire not to piss off anyone local, I won't mention the stuff I didn't enjoy... But actually, well, that leaves me with nothing else to write about.

Tomorrow at the Roundhouse, I'll be seeing AACM-man Mwata Bowden, who has been working with a local high school band, as he did, most productively, last year -- the kids were excellent, so set aside any misgivings, if you're interested; it'll be a nice peak at Bowden in the context of leader, for those of us who'll be seeing him open for Mitchell at the Culch in the evening. Then I'll take a chance on L'Orkestra des Pas Perdus, mostly because I assume they're a big band, and this year's festival seems particularly ripe with them (anyone do the Italian Instabile Orchestra the other day?) . Then it's Maggie Nicols with Paul Rutherford, Steve Beresford, and John Edwards. After that, I think I'll go home for a rest, maybe cook some curry, before heading out to see Roscoe Mitchell... I missed his workshop this afternoon, but a friend of a friend named Ralph tells me that Mitchell seemed intensely serious... somehow that's what I'd expected.

My thanks and salutations to the whole damn jazz festival and to Coastal Jazz and Blues for putting it on.

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