All sorts of jazz, free jazz and improv. Never for money, always for love.
Live at Vision Festival — only the second by this master quartet, recorded four years after the self-titled DMG/ARC 2008 debut — is an exemplary document of free-improvisation. It's free-flowing, full of musical ideas, unique dynamics with a cohesive narrative and, as AAJ colleague John Sharpe wrote in his liner notes, "everyone's ego subsumed to the needs of the music."
Recorded at the 2010 edition of New York City's Vision Festival, the album offers two pieces: a 32-minute improvisation and a shorter improvised encore. It begins with a duo of violist Mat Maneri and double bassist Joëlle Léandre, playing arco, each adding contrapuntal layers to the other's gestures. Pianist Marilyn Crispell then commences another duet with trumpeter Roy Campbell, with both duets ultimately uniting.
The non-idiomatic improvisation flows with great restraint, patience and discipline, with brief, almost miniature shifts and the musicians' accumulative experience, broad knowledge, extended virtuoso techniques and expressive power channeled to the benefit of the music. Léandre's theatrical vocals only emerge during the final third of this improvisation, but are used simply as an organic means to inject another facet to this trio's already powerful dynamics, rather than diverting the sensitive interplay.
The second, shorter improvisation is more playful, lighter in spirit and more open-ended. Campbell's muted trumpet set the tone for the subdued melody, aided with Crispell's energetic runs and Maneri's poetic lines, with Léandre holding it all together.
The Stone Quartet offers cerebral music that demands the utmost attention, but rewards with an exceptional performance.
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