Jazz Standards: Fest Aims to Strengthen Community


It hasn’t been easy putting together Gotham’s foremost avant-jazz festival for the last 10 years. After gathering dozens of musicians, dancers, and video artists for the week-long celebration, the annual Vision Festival always seems to face a familiar problem: finding the right real estate at the right price. Having used a church basement, the old Electric Circus building, and the Knitting Factory in the past, the fest has struggled to find a community space where audience and artists can stroll around and interact. This year, after a last-minute scramble, they arrived at the Orensanz Center (for the third time), an arts foundation that was originally a synagogue and has the look and splendor of such. Aside from the mix of seasoned vets (sax powerhouse Peter Brotzmann, loft scene legend Alan Glover), young bucks, political discourse (on building Afghan schools, saving Iraqi art), and poet-led ensembles (Nora McCarthy’s Conceptual Motion Orchestra, Ijeoma Thomas’s Positive Knowledge), the festival is planning ongoing workshops and meetings to build up a strong sense of unity within the jazz world and to reach outside to a larger community. Organizer Patricia Nicholson believes the gathering provides “a sense of how to work well together.” As such, the festival’s organizational goals are as inspiring and challenging as the music it hosts.