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Various Artists: Vision Fest: Visionlive

For New Yorkers who have learned to love modern free jazz, the Vision Festival may be the best kind of one-stop shopping. But for everyone else, it’s not always a possibility to attend. Fortunately, Thirsty Ear gives everyone from the second category a chance to hear just what went down with Visionlive, a collection of various live performances from Vision Fest 2002. Certainly, making this recording available was a savvy move for Thirsty Ear. The musicians who have helped to make their Blue Series jazz recordings such a creative success all make requisite appearances. Familiars in attendance include pianist Matthew Shipp, violinist Mat Maneri, drummer Hamid Drake, trumpeter Roy Campbell and bassist William Parker. Parker and Drake make themselves especially available-at least one of them turns up on over half of the selections.

The Thirsty Ear crowd does get their mike time, but the bulk of the recording belongs to veterans who have never had quite as high a profile. It’s these vets and lesser knowns who come off best-particularly reedist Douglas Ewart, who leads a pungent all-star agglomeration (trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, reedist Joseph Jarman, Parker and Drake). Appropriately, the last word goes to the late bassist, Peter Kowald, who takes the stage by himself and makes it his own.

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