winter jazz festival 2015  - MARATHON (2nd DAY) - nyc, jan 10

  • photography by Clara Pereira / text by Filipe Freitas

Facing the bitter cold, we managed to stay a good half-hour outdoors, in the line, to get the wristband that would give us access to the awaited marathon of concerts.

We started at the Bitter End with the Oliver Lake Organ Quartet. 
Mr. Lake, sounding more discreet in terms of improvisation than at other times, seemed more cerebral and less impulsive to me. Still, it was great to hear and see one of the musicians who, many years ago, spiked my curiosity toward the free/avant-garde scene, through his highlighted albums ‘Heavy Spirits’, ‘Expandable Language’ and ‘Virtual Reality: Total Escapism’.
The organist Jared Gold and the drummer Gene Lake (son of the bandleader), were responsible for setting the mood, which kept oscillating between raucous, swinging, and soulful, working as a vehicle for Mr. Lake’s atonal cascades and the trumpeter Josh Evans' well-developed ideas and intelligent counterpoints.

Later on, the magnificent tenor saxophonist, David Murray, whose long career never stopped to amaze me, gave the best concert of the night at Le Poisson Rouge.
All his energy, powerful sound and eloquent language were there, exactly as in his old records, and liberated with a scintillating passion and straightforward attitude.
The ferocious blend of avant-garde, soul, and bebop has found perfect sustenance in the chord progressions of the pianist Orrin Evans, the dynamic bass lines of Jaribu Shahid, and the groovy tapestry of Nasheet Waits' drums.
This memorable concert also featured the irreverent poet/rapper Saul Williams.
So ravishing and energizing that I would definitely go see them again.

Then, we stepped into the resonating Judson Church where two top representatives of the alternative jazz panorama performed in duo. The bombastic multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and the trendy trumpeter Nate Wooley prove they don’t need a rhythm section to make their highly conceptual and aesthetic music work. 
Vandermark, playing in a penetrating low register with the baritone saxophone, naturally assumes the role of conductor, but also flies high, creating turbulence with the clarinet and tenor sax. In turn, Wooley counterpoints in a higher register, expressing a multitude of colors with the sometimes-sweet, sometimes-aggressive phrasings. 
Whether in unison or using disparate melodic lines, they sounded great and intriguing, providing us with a cutting-edge experience.
This concert was performed inbetween the release of their albums ‘East by Northwest’ and ‘All Directions Home’.

Eivind Opsvik’s Overseas, a quintet that offers a very personalized sound, plays a type of jazz that moves away from expected boundaries.
The adventurous band frequently explores cinematic pieces with hints of pop/rock while its musicians individually convey how comfortable they feel with the music. 
Tony Malaby was always stainless on the tenor saxophone, Brandon Seabrook showed how frantic and daring his guitar can sound, Jacob Sacks was super-interactive on the piano, the Norwegian bandleader Eivind Opsvik insisted in ostinatos and chamberlike atmospheres, and Kenny Wollesen’s fluttery percussion propelled this boat toward pleasant waters.