vancouver jazz festival 2002

gavin bryars is one of those few beasts to whom the word ‘lumbering’ is entirely accurate. he walks as though it were an involuntary action, imaginary rope pulling his mid-section along without the express consent of his legs or arms.

that said, his compositions are dreamy. drifting and heavy, pulsating with emotion.

while many double bassists tend to exhibit serious facial ticks and body twitches, perhaps due to the shocking physicality of the bass itself, gavin bryars does not. he is an enormous statue, quietly dwarfing his instrument. an instrument which, incidentally, he resembles in every way.

holly cole, on the other hand, is quite a lot smaller than i imagined. she is slim and dainty, and even her female tom waits voice was tinier than i would have thought.

all said, last night’s performance was fulfilling.

this was preceded by another great year of jazz at the roundhouse. while i did not suck back du maurier cigarettes (still the sponsor), i took in a few decent acts.

the eivind aarset trio combines rock instrumentation and electronics, most of this played over by a frippish guitar player. while there were some moments of serious cheese with this group, it was mostly interesting. it was the live instrumentation that saves these guys, with the drummer giving the group extra kick.

the matthias lupri quintet was like stumbling across some musical group masturbation session. too many skilled musicians playing together apart. while the vibraphone rocked, and the bassist was neurotically polished, the combined effort of the group was drivel.

this was followed by the combined improvised efforts of torsten müller, françoise houle, and dylan van der schyff. this was a lot of fun to watch. we sat across from müller – he left an impressive puddle of sweat, pouring from his large, bald, dome onto the stage.

the efforts of these three collaborators was another window of insight into the improvisational process and how musical communication. while there were some awkward moments, such as waiting for houle to find his entrance point in the third piece, it was rewarding overall.

finally, this day was capped with a performance/discussion with jason roebke. roebke definitely falls into the category of bassists who display spastic facial expressions while playing. his were like a combination of facial surgery and having a limb falling asleep (very impressive).

roebke is a highly articulate musician, and was capable of answering all of the audience’s questions/attacks regarding improvised music. it is the first time i’ve heard someone express such coherent thoughts about the form. if you get a chance to see him, do so.