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JUNE 20 2008
© Amir Bey, 2007
Patricia Nicholson Parker enjoying the show. The phantom image in the left foreground is multi-instrumentalist Cooper Moore taking a photo.
Amir Bey, Famoudou Don Moye, Pheeroan Aklaff, Oliver Lake, Dennis Gonzalez
Choir members of Humanities Preparatory HS, Tompkins Middle School, and the York College Blue Notes
Leena Conquest and Amiri Baraka vocalizin' and wordin' in William Parker's tribute to Curtis Mayfield
A moment from Patricia Parker's CELESTIAL MOON BEAMS FUNK. Dancers: Amon Bey, Jason Jordan, Miriam Parker, Julia Wilkins. Musicians shown: Rob Brown (his sax is visible) Louis Barnes (tr)Jason Kao Hwang, (vi)

The most recent installment of the annual VISION FESTIVAL in New York City was held between June 10-15 at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center. VISION has become representative of the innovative and new voices in the music scene along with a spicing of traditional and not-jazz-yet-related music, art and performance. Oliver Lake's NEW QUINTET PROJECT offered unique compositions that set the stage for recalling of the roots and branches of the music; Hamiett Blueitt's BLUEITT'S BIO ELECTRIC had fun moments with the rousing mirthful joy between Blueitt and violinist Billy Bang; Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure’s DEEP SAHARA West African sounds on the last evening gave a rich contrast to previous sets; and James Spaulding’s SWING EXPRESSIONS was a showcase for his virtuoso classicism. On a personal note, after not seeing him for ages, I enjoyed hearing Famoudou Don Moye in Wadada Leo Smith’s GOLDEN QUARTET; his cascading rhythms, their variety, speed and execution remain eye and ear magnets, and before the set, his witty comments ‘bout folks and the state of the music were as much fun; come back to New York soon, Don! But hey, I could talk about so many other great sets, such as NU BAND, DAVE DOUGLAS MAGIC CIRCLE, and the many other truly great musicians; as Paul Lawrence Dunbar said in his poem THE PARTY,“I jes’ can’t tell you about it, you shoulda seen it for yourself”
The visual art component for this year's festival did not include as many artists as previous years, due to the space limitations of this year's venue, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural center, located at 107 Suffolk Street. However, there were remarkable installations by Jo Wood Brown, who had mobile pieces, Rev/Revolution, in the Main room, and Kazuko Miyamoto's Lunar, in the Milagro stage room. That room had several dance and poetry pieces that were accompanied by musicians, and the dancers often used Miyamoto's hanging twisted paper and branches in their performances.
One of the things that distinguishes VISION from most other festivals is that its main founders, dancer/choreographer Patricia Nicholson Parker and bassist William Parker are artists who also perform, and when they do, it’s not just a vanity affair. Patricia’s CELESTIAL MOON BEAMS FUNK fused elements of capoiera with vigorous, sensual dance and music. Reedist Sabir Mateen sang rapped and chanted with Patricia like I never heard him before. MOON BEAMS is an ongoing project, and this ensemble included dancers Miriam Parker, Jason Jordan, Julia Wilkins, Amon Bey and Patricia. The musicians were Louis Barnes, trumpet and vocals, Rob Brown, alto, Gerald Cleaver, drums, Jason Kao Hwang, violin, and Sabir.
The finale was WILLIAM PARKER’S INSIDE SONGS CURTIS MAYFIELD AND YOUTH CHOIR, which featured young performers from Humanities Preparatory HS, Tompkins Middle School,and the York College Blue Notes. Their singing brought some “erligion” to da joint, and had everyone shouting and stomping. Rendering Curtis Mayfield's music; hmm... the musicians were Darryl Foster, reeds, Hamid Drake, drums, Lewis Barnes, trumpet, Dave Burell, piano, Sabir Mateen, reeds, Asim Barnes, guitar (avery good young guitarist, y'all!), Amiri Baraka, vocals and word (the poet laureate of New Jersey was smokin’, y’all!), the elegant Leena Conquest, vocals, and William Parker on bass. There was great interest in what this line-up of folks would do with Curtis’s music, with its rich source of materials. THE NEW TIMES HOLLER! was happy that William Parker had this concept and the devotion to such a project that was so uplifting to those who experienced it. In this project he united the out, the free, with the deep wells of a youthful rockin’ choir. Yeah, everyone was brought back home with that number, an’ that’s why they came there in the first place. In the midst of the conclusion of the piece, the sculptor Charlotte Ka grabbed someone’s baseball hat and took a collection for the choir and within a minute filled the hat with $100.

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