Within this CD is the promise of an outstanding recording. The musicians are top drawer, including Fasteau on soprano sax & a variety of other instruments, Joe McPhee on soprano sax & pocket trumpet, Hamid Drake on drums & bindir, Ron McBee on African percussion & djembe, Sabir Mateen on alto & tenor sax & bamboo slide flute and William Parker on contrabass. The CD is a compilation of three gigs, one in Chicago, one in Guelph, Canada and another at the Stone Ridge Art Center in NY. Fasteau has tried to make a coherent statement here especially through the titling of the relatively short pieces with the exception of one which is 12 minutes long; the titles all relate to colors and how Fasteau corresponds them to sound.
I do believe that the pulling together of three different concerts is a detriment to the music, for what she wants to make sense falls apart. I need only listen to the clipping of applause that opens the CD and the way the first cut swipes out of range in its finish to be swayed in a direction that does not help listening to the rest.
The pieces each have a mideastern quality. Fasteau's soprano sax work speaks of a "snake charmer" rhythm and for that nasality is quite distinctive in contrast to McPhee's sax playing which is rounder, more blue and deeper in tone. Parker & Drake provide as always a solid rhythmic backup for the improvisation in which they take part. On one cut, McPhee even keeps the pulse with his pocket trumpet. Ron McBee sears the djembe a couple of times; and then, in one instance, he integrates his hard driving rhythm into Fasteau's soprano and Mateen's tenor playing for a piece that has a tendency to ramble until it ends with Fasteau solo closure. This cut is also snapped off.
Fasteau's notable vocals resemble a Sun Ra song; this cut disappears as well. Drake sings and meets his own standard playing on the bindir in the following piece. And somewhere in here, Mateen interjects beautifully on his alto.
Parker never really stands out except in the last cut, where his arco technique shines. The last cut is in fact a pedestal for more Fasteau vocals and high pitch manipulation on the soprano sax which squealiness McPhee brings down with his own soprano and they end the work playing together one phrase repeatedly and then pass to vibrato to tune again to close. There is applause and then another marked erasure of sound.
I had a pre-concert conversation once with a well known reviewer for a well known avantgarde jazz publication. We were talking about how to think about live recordings. He rated them at the bottom of the barrel. I did not because if live recordings are well mastered, they are an excellent chance for an audience to hear a performance that it would not necessarily have had a chance to hear. But having heard VIVID, unfortunately, I agree with him. This CD becomes a catch-all. These musicians are all too good to be on this recording. They deserve better. And what Fasteau intends to convey in terms of a "mix of sensuality" of color, sound and energy can agglomerate in a far more convincing manner than this recording offers.