A Tribute to Alvin Fielder - Live at Vision Festival XXIV
Edward "Kidd" Jordan, Joel Futterman, William Parker, Hamid Drake
Pianist Joel Futterman and saxophonist Kidd Jordan salute a fallen comrade on Tribute to Alvin Fielder, an energized and eclectic free improvisation. Joined by bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake, their performance was recorded live at the Brooklyn club Roulette during the 2019 Vision Festival in New York. It includes 45 minutes of continuous—and continuously shifting—music.
Futterman and Jordan were longtime friends and collaborators of Fielder, an explorative drummer and founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) who passed away in January of 2019. Parker previously worked with the trio on Jordan’s 1999 New Orleans Festival Suite. With Drake taking the kit, the musicians ably evoke Fielder’s loose, omnivorous approach to rhythm and time and run the gamut of the jazz lineage. From New Orleans tradition to bop to free form, Tribute to Alvin Fielder also pays tribute to the music Fielder loved.
Although the quartet’s improvisation consistently changes shape and approach, it doesn’t easily break down into sections. The twists and turns are organic, each idea a logical extension of the preceding one. Hard-driving paroxysm evolves into earthy spiritual jazz, evolves into inquisitive solo bass. Time compresses, expands, and vanishes all together. Within those developments, however, are moments of complete spontaneity, whether in Futterman’s quote of Thelonious Monk’s “Crepuscule with Nellie” ten minutes into the proceedings, or Jordan and Parker’s ghostly moans in the closing moments.
Still, there are constants in the music. They lie in Parker and Drake’s simmering rhythmic lines—which for all their varying forms and directions, never relent even for an instant—and in the raw intensity of the performance. Fielder’s friends and fellow artists grieve his loss, yet also summon the powers of their imaginations to create sublime, in-the-moment music.
Which is surely the best possible eulogy. Sad though his physical departure (as his onetime employer Sun Ra would say) may be, Tribute to Alvin Fielder makes clear that the creative spirits that inspired and animated the drummer’s 83 years not only live on but thrive. Indeed, they show no sign of fading anytime soon.