Jump to content

Big Ears Festival


Recommended Posts

11 minutes ago, randyhersom said:


Next was Trefoil's first set, in progress.  There's something mathematical about Kris Davis' playing, feeling more kinship with Anthony Braxton than Coltrane or Ayler.  Good, and not unemotional, but architectural.  Gerald Cleaver made the strongest impression on me in this set.  I got to move up the the front row for the second set and they announce it was being recorded, so please turn of phones.  Both Davis and Ambrose Akinmusire turned it up a notch for this set, and I look forward to the chance to hear it again.

Joe Henry was quite good.  I was unfamiliar with his work, and the presence of Jason Moran in his band was the deciding factor in choosing to see him, but I'll be checking out his work more.

More soon ....


I heard the second Trefoil set also. I preferred the other Kris Davis band.

Agreed as to Joe Henry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 421
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted Images

Craig Taborn trio starts Day Two in fine fashion.  Ches Smith really impressed me playing with Roscoe Mitchell at a previous Big Ears, and Tomeka Reid was a great fit as well.  Craig supplemented his piano with some electronics which was done well.  I heard some audience members pronouncing the set superior to the 2019 duets with Vijay Iyer, I'd call them about equal.

Harriet Tubman is next.  The sheer force of the amplified bass dominates the impression, I'm a Brandon Ross fan and enjoy his guitar playing.  The best moment is actually when they check Brandon's voice mike in the soundcheck and he gets off a great couplet, expressing sympathy with the mothers of the Russians, then noting that "something needs flushing".  But the set itself was fine.

I arrive in time for Kris Davis Diatom Ribbons set.  Her taste in drummers is once again confirmed, as Teri Lynne Carrington is at the kit.  Voice processing electronics are a big part of the set and are a big audience pleaser.  I don't have the clear preference for this band that kh1958 had, but liked the set just fine.

Now I head for the first Andrew Cyrille duet set with Ambrose Akinmusire.  Utterly brilliant.  Unfortunately I missed the first part.  For the encore, after determining that he has permission from "the cops" he walks around his kit playing from the outside before taking a seat to finish up.

I have been schooled on the long lines and decide to get in line for Patti Smith II instead of trying for a part of the second Diatom Ribbons set.  It looks like this was the right move.  Patti's even better with the full band.  She speaks highly of Kim Gordon, and I decide to start around for that set instead of checking out Aurora Nealand.  I'm not familiar with any of the material.  Videos are used well, first an animation of a triangle drawing geometric patterns, then a city travelogue.  Big prerecorded loops of industrial riffs are used a lot and the trio rock hard on top of them.  Not my go-to style, but an OK diversion. 

Unfortunately I stick with it too long and the Frisell/Moran tribute to Ron Miles has 40ish people outside 15 minutes after show time.  I know this means "one out, one in" and I liked what I heard of Mdou Moctar on Amazon Music, so I head for the Mill and Mine for their set.  The guitarist plays brilliant, ecstatic lines, but the band as a whole is a little too wooden rhythmically for my taste.  I stay for the whole set.

Day 3 begins with one of the two twin highlights of the festival, Myra Melford's Snowy Egret.  I'm pleasantly surprised to hear Cuong Vu announced.  I have heard the albums but didn't pay much attention to credits.  It turns out the recently deceased Ron Miles was a member of Snowy Egret, and also that Liberty Ellman just had a hand injury so they are playing as a quartet.  Passionate playing from Myra and Cuong and I like the chopsy electric bassist and new drummer (I also didn't know that Tyshawn Sorey was in Snowy Egret for the albums).

The distance of the walk to see Ches Smith makes me choose a full set of Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah over a part set of Ches.  No regrets, he talks quite a bit but I like what he's saying about the jazz tradition, he really talks up his band, and the muscular McCoy influenced band is very enjoyable.  Nubya Garcia is up next, She's solid, it's great that what we used to call spiritual jazz is finding a good audience, but it's not very adventurous.

I leave early for Zorn's Simulacrum featuring John Medeski.  It's more prog-rock than jazz, extreme organ and guitar virtuosity, but the rhythm is anything but wooden, a real trio.  I loved it, and want to hear the 2015 album it came from.

Now is Andrew Cyrille and Marc Ribot.  More brilliance, I like Ribot better here than anywhere else I have heard him.  But I have decided to leave this set early for Jason Moran's solo set, and do so.

Moran's set is the other highlight of the festival for me.   He talks a bit about how the difficulties of the pandemic and how New York is dying a little.  He starts out with a nice standard, then namechecks his teacher Jaki Byard announcing the next tune.  A little later on he reads some Toni Morrison about how there are different shades of black, leading to the phrase "it might as well be a rainbow" then begins a composition inspired by the words.  At some point the lights change so that you only see his hands, as he plays a rumbling low ostinato with the sustain pedal down that changes only very subtly.  Then the light on his hands goes away and the stage is entirely dark.  there are lights from the back of the theater so you can see the people in rows ahead of you, but you can't see Jason at all.  The deep rumbling keeps going on for a long time in the dark, then other shades are explored as the lights come back up.  Brilliantly dramatic, and fully musical.

I'm getting lucky with the shuttles and catch the beginning of Jaimie Branch's Fly or Die.  I'm surprised by her appearance, but enjoy the punk and protest aspects of her set, expressed vocally, as well as her trumpet playing.  I leave early, and that was a mistake in retrospect.

Annette Peacock is playing solo at the Tennessee theater, with piano and string synthesizer and a drum machine on some tracks.  I first heard her during my prog-rock days, but this set is what I think of as a "chanteuse" style.  The lyrics are torchy but the vocals are reserved.  She's a good singer but there's not much variety.  On the last track the "drum machine" turns out to be a tape loop including bass, and then she walks off stage while the tape loop is still playing her voice, and it's clearly not coming from her.  Clever, but expressing some distance from the audience.

I head back to the Standard which has no seating options unless you paid 3x for the VIP pass.  I saw Melford and Cyrille/Ribot here.  Joshua Abrams Information Society is very good and just what I expected, entrancing long jams where the horn plays background and the bass and drum instruments shine out front.  They did start about 30 minutes later than scheduled.  Unfortunately I'm not up for standing the whole set and leave early, but no fault to the fine musicians, and I'm glad I came to hear them

The next morning I get in a traffic jam that keeps me from hearing another Zorn act at noon, and before I hear a single note, I learn of a minor emergency at home that I need to start home early to deal with.  Big Ears has lived up to its reputation and I'm OK with leaving it under the circumstances, but ready to come back next year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like I was at some of the shows already mentioned. This was my best Big Ears yet. Saw many EXCELLENT performances - some expected and many that were NOT.

Some favorites were: Attacca Quartet, mssv, Taborn Trio, Cyrille w/Akinmusire, Patty Smith Band, Myra Melford & Snowy Egret and ALL of Sunday except for dePlume and Frisell (who spent too much time noodling and playing with electronics)

Kronos Quartet + So Percussion, Caroline Shaw, Shodekeh
75 Dollar Bill
Attacca Quartet
Bill Callahan
mssv (Mike Baggetta, Mike Watt, Stephen Hodges)

Conversation: Ann Powers w/Joe Henry, Jason Moran
Craig Taborn Trio w/Tomeka Reid, Chez Smith
Harriet Tubman
Jeff Parker & New Breed w/Makaya McCraven, Josh Johnson, Paul Bryant
Andrew Cyrille w/Akinmusire
Patti Smith Band
Kim Gordon (15 minutes)
Mdou Moctar

Nikki Giovanni
Myra Melford & Snowy Egret 
Caroline Shaw/Attacca Quartet
Meredith Monk w/Bang on a Can All-Stars, Theo Bleckman 
Val Jenty
Circuit des Yeux
Annette Peacock

Alabaster dePlume
Miguel Zenon & Spektral Quartet
Bill Frisell Trio w/Brian Blade, Thomas Morgan 
Odean Pope & Immanuel Wilkins w/Kresten Osgood, drums
Bang on a Can All Stars (Terry Riley's Autodreamographical Tales)
John Zorn New Electric Masada w/Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, John Medeski, Brian Marsella, Trevor Dunn, Kenny Wollesen, Ches Smith, Kenny Grohowski

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, JSngry said:

Attacca Quartet is a great band (uh...string quartet...I'm calling almost everybody a "band" these days)! Do you remember what they played?

I don't remember exactly, but I saw them twice. First was their own show which included a drummer, so probably pieces from Real Life. The other show was a collaboration with Caroline Shaw. Everything was composed by her and she sang some pieces, too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Attendance figures for 2022 Big Ears:

"The festival tracked an average of 5,000 ticketed attendees each day in 2022, which Capps said was roughly 2,000 more per day than in 2019. 

Throughout the 2022 weekend, nearly 22,000 daily tickets were utilized, the study estimated. A weekend passholder could be counted up to four times in that figure, Capps said. That figure does not include attendees who enjoyed the free, non-ticketed programming like parades. "

Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, kh1958 said:

Attendance figures for 2022 Big Ears:

"The festival tracked an average of 5,000 ticketed attendees each day in 2022, which Capps said was roughly 2,000 more per day than in 2019. 

Throughout the 2022 weekend, nearly 22,000 daily tickets were utilized, the study estimated. A weekend passholder could be counted up to four times in that figure, Capps said. That figure does not include attendees who enjoyed the free, non-ticketed programming like parades. "

Can't wait until next March!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
9 hours ago, BFrank said:

Hotel booked, but holding off on the plane to see if fares drop in the next few months

The fare prices were expensive but I was able to get an Advantage miles ticket for less than the normal mileage charge, so I booked it.

Edited by kh1958
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...


Mark your calendar! 

We’re excited to start unveiling the program for Big Ears 2023 on Monday, September 12.  

Big Ears 2023 will mark “Ten Years of Big Ears” and we’re planning a celebration worthy of the occasion. Our official on-sale starts Wednesday, September 14, but we’re offering two special pre-sales for our donors and previous pass purchasers:
  • Monday, September 12: Early access for Big Ears supporters who have given at the Voyager Level or above ($100+) between September 14, 2021 and September 11, 2022.
  • Tuesday, September 13: Early access for past Big Ears Festival pass purchasers
Purchase codes will be delivered to pre-sale participants via email the night of Sunday, September 11. We will share additional information soon in this newsletter and through Big Ears' social media channels.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...


The initial lineup includes the following... Thrilled to have the opportunity to see James Blood Ulmer and Sona Jobarteh again.

Amadou and Mariam

Zoh Amba

Rafiq Bhatia

Viinicius Cantuaria

Bill Frisell

Mary Halvorson

Vijay Iyer

Sona Jobarteh

Charles Lloyd

Joe Lovano

Christian McBride

Makaya McCraven

Ava Mendoza

William Parker

Marc Ribot

Cecile McLoren Salvant

Antonio Sanchez

Nate Smith

Tarbaby with David Murray

Tyshawn Sorey

James Blood Ulmer

Edited by kh1958
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd add Cecile McLorin Salvant and Ava Mendoza to that list on the jazz side, although Mendoza's solo set may be more prog-rock than jazz.  William Parker's entry mentions both Mayan Space Station (that album featured Mendoza and was part of a recent BFT) as well as In Order to Survive, so she may be playing with Parker as well as as a leader.  Also John Zorn is listed as a player in one set and composer in several others.

For non-jazz acts, Los Lobos, Mountain Goats, Bela Fleck and Rickie Lee Jones are on my radar, as well as the Steve Reich string quartets.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, BFrank said:

At first I was a little disappointed in the lineup mainly because of so many returnees from last year. But the more I look at it, I'm not worried about seeing great music. I'm sure there will be lots of additions/changes in the next 6 months, too.

The festival will be wonderful, as always.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm very disappointed for the second year running. Lots of reruns (a certain amount of this was usual, and welcome to me since I couldn't see everything I wanted each year),  rock is up, free jazz/improv is down, minimalism is down, and world music is non existent unless I am missing something.

I don't know why this is happening. Ashley sold AC Entertainment to Live Nation in 2020, but Big Ears is a nonprofit, so (while sources online are not entirely clear) I think it's separate from AC Entertainment now. On the other hand, some of the more mainstream acts look suspiciously like cross bookings with the other fesivals. He must have gotten a nice sum for the company, and I know he is a long time fan of free jazz and minimalism, and still heavily involved with Big Ears.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

"world music is non existent unless I am missing something"

Sona Jobarteh is a kora player from Gambia, the first West African female kora griot and a cousin of Toumani Diabate.

Viinicius Cantuaria is a Brazilian guitarist/vocalist.

I haven't tallied the world music but this is about the same as usual, one or two such artists that interest me.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a quick survey for other World music: Amadou & Miriam are from Africa. Ibeyi from Cuba.Tarta Relena, Spain. I'm sure there's more.

As I just quickly clicked through the artists I'm not familiar with, it looks VERY promising! As usual, what I tend to find most interesting at BE is discovering musicians and musical styles I've never heard before. It's gonna be GOOD!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...