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Live Review: Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, Quebec

After more or less taking a holiday from jazz programming last year, FIMAV (Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, aka “Victoriaville”) returned to the jazz cause with a passion this spring, if not a friendly vengeance. Amidst the traditional count of 24 shows in five days, the biggest name on the 2007 roster was Anthony Braxton, coming back in two contexts-the Diamond Curtain Wall Trio and the sweeping 12(+1)Tet-after appearing in three shows here in 2005. Other marquee stealers included frequent FIMAV flyer John Zorn (pictured), bravely and boldly going solo, and Marilyn Crispell, premiering a dazzling new quartet, with drummer Andrew Cyrille on the other end of the stage from the tasteful provocateur of a pianist (and former Braxton bandmate).

Sneaking in beneath the big three was the festival’s surprise jazz delight: the Cor Fuhler-led Corkestra, a captivating, fresh and witty Dutch ensemble crossing the Atlantic for the first time. In this octet, featuring compelling Dutch saxist Ab Baars and the unusual timbre of Nora Mulder’s cymbalum, structures are present but porous. Scored fragments are shuffled and cued between players, with plenty of room for improvisation (a format, actually, which mirrors the m.o. of Braxton’s 12(+1)Tet, but with more triads and codified “grooves”).

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