Winter Jazzfest is designed for the deeply committed as well as the mildly interested. Happily, the annual multi-night barrage of improvisers usually manages to tickle both crowds, and this year will be no different. More than 100 acts swamp myriad venues around the Village and its outer reaches, bringing all sorts of subgenres to the fore. Two evenings spotlight the ECM label (shows stretch from guitarist David Torn's solitary musings to the mega stomp of bassist Michael Formanek's Ensemble Kolossus, performing tonight), and there are rare NYC visits from Dutch rads the Ex and Bay Area sax daredevils Rova, who augment their ranks with plugged-in guests to salute Coltrane's Ascension. Of course New York has its own deep well of talent, and each January reminds that this tidal wave of action is a perfect way to sample it, one solo at a time.
It's a shotgun blast, really. You either take it head-on and laugh, or wander away wounded. Lots of fans manage the victory of the former, because the