On Saturday, the 14th of September, The Fire in the Valley Festival in collaboration with the Boston Creative Music Alliance moved to the Institute of Contemporary Art Theater venue where over a dozen musicians collected in five groups took to the stage to perform from their hearts, their minds, their souls.
I must have taken 50 pages of notes, sequenced with arrows & lines & drawings & words intended to coalesce my experience of six hours of music so that I could write a coherent, truthful and probably lengthy report of the Festival. The point is that when I refer to these notes, it almost does not matter that I wrote them. For how I am when I write today is a ramification of writing the notes anyway. What CANNOT be written in the notes as to HOW my experience was yesterday inevitably comes through automatically in the words that I write in the present moment.
That being said:
The emphasis of all the music played so elegantly at this festival is its beauty. It is the beauty of the improvisational creativity that harbors the boundless energy and innate insightfulness of every musician who plays. The visual memory of each and every one of them is burnt into my brain. The audible memory of the music is equally as vivid.
I could describe the moves of each musician. The moves which impressed me the most; the countless riffs that instilled vibrancy into my being. The expressions on the faces of the drummers, the sax players, the bass players, the vibist, the violinist, the clarinetist, the trombonist, the trumpeter, all of which possessed an adamancy beyond the pale...The endless, relentless streams of notes played, the sounds that were mechanically structured, all were so exquisitely interlaced that taking them apart to write about them in this linear fashion destroys their impact. It is enough to express the emotional and spiritual impact that the music had on me, approaching the religious, as would be manifest in the reasons that I follow this music: because it gives me pleasure, a cloak of serenity, a sense of security, comfort and being in a never-ending embrace.
No matter how incongruous any of the sounds may have seemed, no matter how intensely rhythmic the music may have become, the quality that superseded it all was the element of oneness that the musicians have when they play together. Whether or not they perform in solos, duets, or trios within whole groups or partial groups, the musicians connect in ways that are unpredictable, not predisposed, thoroughly sensitive within the awareness of each to the other. They play within limitless boundaries. They can push the envelope so far that it can and DID take me out of my seat as I witnessed the ultimate in tonal shifts, timbral shifts, rhythmic shifts, resonance, constancy, continuity, fluidity, disconsonance, synchronism, call and responsiveness, chorus repetition, forwardness, persistence, exuberance, expert technical control and seriousness, uplifting excessiveness, mesmerization, internal bliss. All of this and more than I can possibly enumerate comprises the original center of the Groove....the greatest and only one.
The following is a list of musicians who participated in the 2002 Fire in the Valley Festival:
Set One, the afternoon-
William Parker Clarinet Trio: Walter Perkins, drums; Perry Robinson, clarinet; William Parker, bass.
In the Tradition Trio: Roger Turner, drums & percussion; Johannes Bauer, trombone; Alan Silva, synthesizer.
Set Two, the evening-
Goldstein/Silva/Turner Trio: Malcolm Goldstein, violin; Alan Silva, bass; Roger Turner, drums & percussion.
Revolt of the Negro Lawn Jockeys Quintet: Khan Jamal, vibes; Nathan Breedlove, trumpet; Jon Voigt, electronic upright bass; Newman Baker, drums; Jemeel Moondoc, alto sax.
Two Days in April Quartet: Kidd Jordan, tenor sax; Hamid Drake, drums & frame drum; William Parker, bass & doussn' gouni; Fred Anderson, tenor sax.