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Field Notes: BRIC JazzFest Marathon

Kamasi Washington, James Carter, Dr. Lonnie Smith and more at this inaugural NYC event

Bassist Ben Williams & Sound Effect at Brooklyn's BRIC JazzFest, October 2015
Kris Bowers at Brooklyn's BRIC JazzFest, October 2015
Trumpeter Takuya Kuroda and band at Brooklyn's BRIC JazzFest, October 2015
Nir Felder (and drummer Ross Pederson) at Brooklyn's BRIC JazzFest, October 2015
Kamasi Washington, on tenor saxophone, and band at Brooklyn's BRIC JazzFest, October 2015

Sometimes in the arts a confluence of venue and event can occur that is so perfect it makes you wonder which came first-the concept of the show or the construction of the space. In the case of the inaugural BRIC JazzFest’s fun and well-wrought two-night marathon, which wrapped on Friday, that seemingly predestined venue is the BRIC House in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. A decades-in-the-making product of BRIC, the organization best known for its public-television efforts and the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series, the facility opened in the fall of 2013 and features three rooms that should pique any ambitious arts presenter’s sense of possibility: a 400-capacity ballroom, with seated balcony, reminiscent of a fine-sounding rock club; a 75-capacity “Artist Studio” with broadcast-quality sound; and a quarry-like, 3,000-square-foot gallery space with an amphitheater built into one end-not so good for sound but great for atmosphere.

The festival’s curators included two producers from the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival plus Brice Rosenbloom, of NYC Winter Jazz Fest, and that institution’s footprint was impossible to ignore, particularly during the marathon. (The fest also featured three individual performances beginning on Oct. 11, including those by the Ron Carter Trio and Battle Trance, the new-music saxophone quartet whose name announces its m.o. of deep-focus new-music and technical endurance.)

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