Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Live@VisionFest 20, Perry Robinson, Mark Whitecage, Ken Filiano, Lou Grassi


Time seems to fly by half the time. Here we are contemplating a fine album Live@VisionFest20 (Not Two MW1023-2) and as I listen with a lot of pleasure I of course then note with alarm that clarinetist Perry Robinson and alto saxist Mark Whitecage are both gone from this earth! The good news is that bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Lou Grassi are still thriving, and that we have this excellent set of all four to enjoy as many times as we want!

As I mentioned on the last Whitecage review I also recall hearing Mark and Perry with the Gunter Hampel Big Band at Sweet Basil and not only was that in 1985 but my two dear friends who went to see them with me are dead as well. As it turned out that set was recorded too and it still sounds great to me. So thank the stars for recordings!

But what matters here is this new release. The VisionFest is like what Newport was years ago. If an important conflagration was slated to play, you know they were going to give it their all. Are sure enough, this quartet set has a full flush effort going for it. It is a Free exploration of course, and the 34 minute "One for Roy" is an especially flat-out scorcher with Filiano and Grassi laying down a thick carpet of energy and heat while Robinson ranges fully and firey across the entire spectrum of his clarinet. And then Mark comes through with some of the most fully stoked chromatic runs ever. That in itself is a thing of fineness and we remember why he mattered always!

Well now such a recording and such a festival is all the more valuable in the scarcity of every moment going forward. This is essential music, just as the VisionFest in NYC is essential each year. So grab this one and get gone to the good stuff!

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