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Day 1 (11 November)

The first day of the festival this year. It coincided with Day 316 of the Vortex’s own festival, a year round event. And indeed we were all still high from a marvellous two nights of Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, along with the young bassist Mark Trounson’s band. There was quite a reunion of top downtown New Yorkers. Bill McHenry hanging with Tim’s wife Sarah, Dave Holland chatting about his new album with Evan Parker to Matt Mitchell.

The first day itself passed all so smoothly. Rehearsals by LJO and Dan Casimir going on upstairs and downstairs by day, before the four bands of the night. Hannes Riepler’s Quartet, Fini Bearman, followed by a chilled late night event by Raph Clarkson, focussing on the poetry of his Dissolute Society and Alex Munk’s dynamic quartet.I hardly had time to drop in to hear one of our favourite pianists, Sarah Tandy, playing her monthly residency at the Servants Jazz Quarters.

Meanwhile, we have two other developments. David Mossman has created a wall of Vortex memory. Two large displays of Vortex programmes from the old club, photos by Nick White and more.

Downstairs, we now have a Downstairs meal offering from House of Momo. Nepalese dumplings at really fair prices. Highly recommended!

Day 7 (16 November)

Running around with a lot of great gigs, upstairs and downstairs. It is though never always straightforward in this festival with so much going on to get in the people! Pablo Held Trio, even with Elt involving Kit Downes in support, was nowhere near as full as the band deserved. Though it was lovely that Mike Gibbs was hanging around for the whole night.

On Tuesday, Rick Simpson’s shirt alone should have got him into the gig of artists creating on perspex downstairs. It was as colourful. The artists painted on to perspex at the front of the stage. So that made them very visible and their art could be seen by the band (Liran Donin, Simon Roth, Alberto Palau). All credit to Aurelie Freoua who set up the evening and, in my view, did the most stylish and impressive painting.

Emilia Martensson, with her red hair and larger than life personality, is jazz’s answer to Cilla Black. It was a jazz variety night of the highest order, since she had such a top notch band with Fulvio Sigurta, Luca Boscagin, Sam Lasserson and Adriano Adewale. Bob Barkany, who did some great photos for Babel of Christine Tobin and Huw Warren was in. Good to see him.

A summary:

Overall we had 24 events within the festival (and another three during it, such as NYJC). Highlights? Too many to mention. Illegal Crowns, and Gilad Hekselman/Mark Turner were especially exciting. But now it’s back to the regular nights which are year round…….

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