23rd Vision Festival Set for Brooklyn, May 23-28

Festival performers include Archie Shepp, Roscoe Mitchell, Oliver Lake, Mary Halvorson, Matthew Shipp, Jaimie Branch, Ambrose Akinmusire, Kris Davis and Tyshawn Sorey

Archie Shepp in performance at the 2013 London Jazz Festival (photo by Paul Wood)
Archie Shepp in performance at the 2013 London Jazz Festival (photo by Paul Wood)

The Vision Festival – the yearly salute to avant-garde jazz and free music, dance, visual art, poetry, film and discussion – held at Roulette in Downtown Brooklyn, is set for May 23-28.  This year’s event, the 23rd annual, features performances by elder statesmen such as Archie Shepp, Roscoe Mitchell and Oliver Lake alongside contemporary leaders like Mary Halvorson, Matthew Shipp and Jaimie Branch, and a trio comprising trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, pianist Kris Davis and drummer Tyshawn Sorey.

The festival, presented by Arts for Art Inc., will also present a Lifetime Achievement Tribute to pianist-composer Dave Burrell, whose work since the 1960s has included collaborations with Shepp, David Murray, Pharoah Sanders and many others.

In a press release announcing the event, co-founder Patricia Nicholson Parker said, “I feel, in light of the failure to act to protect freedom for all peoples, we need to come together, as creative artists of all generations, to amplify a powerful message of freedom, justice and compassion for America and all peoples of the world.”

The release further states, “This year’s lineup is rooted in powerful and forward-thinking artists of the 1960s, a time when freedom and open-mindedness was almost universally celebrated. It includes the very best artists who have come along since that time, while showcasing exciting up-and-coming figures. These artists are bound by a common ethos of freedom in art and compassion for all.”

The six days of live music will be preceded by a day of film screenings, on May 21, at Anthology Film Archives. Among the showcased films will be a new 30-minute documentary about Burrell entitled Echo, directed by Michael Lucio Sternbach, screening at 7 p.m. Also screening will be Gérard Patris and Luc Ferrari’s Cecil Taylor À Paris—Les Grandes Répétitions, filmed in 1966 for French television. The 9 p.m. program will consist of Antoine Prum’s 2008 film Sunny’s Time Now—A Portrait of Jazz Drummer Sunny Murray, celebrating the late visionary drummer and percussionist.

For a complete list of performances and more information, visit their website.

Read Tad Hendrickson’s profile of the Vision Festival from the October 2015 issue of JazzTimes.