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24 June 2007


peter breslin

Hi- I've been enjoying your blog for some time and just got around to linking to it...sort of a link frenzy today, spurred by the realization that I would never get to it if I counted on my self to learn the html.

Anyway, Brian Olewnick's report from the VF helps me see some of the feathers on the darts and a bit of the impetus. I'm quite vulnerable to the critique that I "don't get out much," living in Santa Fe, NM. If any *one* of almost all of those groupings made it out here it would be a major event in the creative music community here. (There's already a buzz about Rashied Ali coming here in *October*.) I do not know what it would be like to live among such riches as to have even heard Sabir Mateen "a dozen times," as Brian indicates he has.



Thanks for the link, Peter. By the way, if you're trying to teach yourself basic blog-level HTML, you may find this link useful:

How to Write Good, HTML Edition


Well, Brian actually had good words for the previous edition of the VizFest, if memory serves. He's not too keen on the free jazz scene nowadays in general (judging from the fact that his reviewing has almost entirely switched over to e.a.i. material) but I don't think his review is going out of its way to be hostile or skeptical.

The Patricia Nicholson factor has always been one thing keeping me away from VF (I've never been to it); & in general the programs often have a frustrating mix of acts I'd like to see & acts I'd walk a mile to avoid.


I don't think his review is going out of its way to be hostile or skeptical.

Hey Nate,

I see "hostile" and "skeptical" as two different concepts. Obviously, Brian didn't show up with his jaw clenched, determined to hate everything he heard, but on the other hand, I don't think it's uncharitable or inaccurate to characterize the tone of his "preview" post as fundamentally "skeptical."

And I while I'm perhaps more inclined than Brian to extend the benefit of the doubt to a grassroots endeavor like the Vision Fest, I don't think "skeptical" is necessarily a bad attitude to take. If someone decides to drag me to a concert of Elliott Carter string quartets, I'm pretty much going to be skeptical no matter how hard I might try to keep an open mind, but so long as I acknowledge that (as Brian did), well -- no harm, no foul.

At any rate, by linking to both posts, my intention was only to try to get some discussion going. For instance:

in general the programs often have a frustrating mix of acts I'd like to see & acts I'd walk a mile to avoid

Isn't this somewhat inevitable when there are 4-5 acts a night? Is it unfair to expect people to pay $30 (advance) even if there is only one act on the bill they are interested in seeing? When you go to a rock show with two opening bands you don't like before the headliner comes on, do you feel cheated? Doesn't the Vision Festival format create opportunities to re-assess artists you think you know, but haven't heard recently (as happened with Brian viz Matt Shipp)? Or would it be better to try to assemble a sequence of more obviously compatible artists for each night?

I found it really interesting to hear Bill Dixon's large-ensemble music followed immediately by the Grimes-Crispell-Ali trio, even if those groups didn't share a whole lot of aesthetic common ground with each other.

Brian Olewnick

Hi Darcy, thanks for the link.

It's entirely fair to cast my pre-fest attitude as skeptical, no problem. I've attended, I don't know, six or seven of these events and have seen most of the participants fairly often at other venues (though not too much outside of Vision in the last decade) so I tend to think I have a reasonable idea of what to expect. However, I do try to maintain an open attitude (which ain't always easy, granted) and have been pleasantly surprised on several occasions, like Dixon/Lewis and Morris/Phillips last year.

Nothing hit me on that level this past weekend though, on the other hand, there wasn't anything quite as dreadful as a few shows I've also seen there (an incredibly noodlesome Parker/Bang pairing comes to mind, "enhanced" by Ms. Nicholson).

It's a personal taste thing, obviously, but were they to dispense with all the quasi-mystical trappings, the, erm, poetry of hacks like Budbill (hey, shouldn't he be improvising his stuff anyway? Eh, maybe better not....) and the extraordinarily antiquated and embarrassing cavorting of people like Ms. Nicholson (she's not alone in this regard but has simply become emblematic), it still wouldn't be my real cup of tea but would be far more generally palatable.

I do think it's an interesting subject re: the really conservative nature of most of the music, particularly in a structural sense. Of what I saw, only the Anderson/Bankhead/Drake trio came close to really playing free music (I didn't think the performance was so successful, but so what?). Much of the rest struck me as just as hidebound as the rote bop bands of the late 50s that Ornette et. al. rebelled against. Hierarchical solo order, who could play what when, the whole shebang. Jeez, if you're gonna go that route, I'd just as soon hear solos worked off of changes!


Hey Brian,

I hear you on the quasi-mystical trappings. The anachronistic hippie vibe is off-putting for me as well, and I suspect it hurts them with the younger crowd.

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