I just had the chance to attend two sets with Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith tonight! That happened at The Stone, a small music room in NYC owned by John Zorn that features avant-garde jazz music (but not only).
The first set was a plain duet of these two artists. The Stone was packed and we had to sit on the floor. After 10 quite boring minutes during which Vijay played electronics only, he took on the piano and music emerged. Although Vijay had sheets of music prepared, this set sounded very free, especially concerning Wadada Leo Smith's playing—it seems he used all what a trumpet allows to create sound. However, the atmosphere was peaceful. For those who know some of Wadada Leo Smith's music, this was closer to Kulture Jazz than to Ten Freedom Summers which I had discussed on this blog last year
For the second set, came along Reggie Workman at the bass, Nitin Mitta on the tablas, and Patricia Franceschy on vibes. This made the music sound quite differently. The musicians had decided of a few melodic lines and ostinatos, and grooved on that. The tablas gave a wonderful color to the music, similar as the one on Tirtha (with Prasanna on the guitar, and Nitin Mitta on the tablas). The vibes also gave a good touch. It seems that there are nice vibes players in free jazz nowadays; I'm thinking for example of Jason
Adasiewicz who plays in Nicole Mitchelle's Ice Crystals group.
It was my first night in New York City since 2 years. I am happy to have had the opportunity to hear these great artists. Tomorrow night, if the announced snow storm permits, I'll go listen to Ari Hoenig at the Smalls!