I liked the second set a lot. It did strike me as unusual that they alternated pieces that were out or close to out (usually Ballantyne's, e.g. Round Again) with pieces that were VERY in (usually Nussbaum's). I think I have a pretty broad appreciation of the idiom, so I liked them both. They did everything well. But I could see that someone would like just half the set. They demanded a broad taste, or vocabulary, of their audience.
The drummer with Melissa Aldana (who was terrific) was Francisco Mela. He's played at the festival a few times before--with Esperanza Spaulding, Antonio Ciacca, and Joe Lovano.
Re: Vijay. I saw his second set. I heard the same review from others there. I am guessing they fixed the sound for the second set; it wasn't bad. He explained that because his parents were there, he did his "PG" material in the first set; we got the late night material. I am guessing the second set was more adventurous. I thought it was great. He didn't break until 45 minutes in and played till 11:30.
Agree about Kari Ikonen.
Melissa Aldana was fantastic at Max. Not really out but chordless. Nice balance of freedom and structure.
I would recommend Flat Earth Society. I saw them in Xerox last night and they play again in Lutheran tonight. Pretty large ensemble, five brass, five reeds, piano, guitar, bass, drums. A lot of rock beats, which I might in another case complain about, but the compositions and solos were really interesting. A lot of positive energy, too.
The sound in the church is typically challenging. On top of that, they didn't get the dynamics right in the sound check. When they both played loud, you couldn't hear Escreet at all. They were both miked. I thought about saying something to the sound guy but didn't. I didn't like the set much either, but I wondered if it would have been better with better sound dynamics. I have liked Escreet in the past.
The previous night for Partisans, I could hear the sax and drums clearly, but with the amps at the back of the stage all I could hear from the guitar and bass was a rumble. I know they play more cleanly than I heard. I wish the festival would either work on the sound in this venue or ditch it. It's disappointing to go to hear good musicians and not be able to hear them.
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