The October Revolution in Philadelphia Reviewed

Source: The New York Times

From Thursday through Sunday, audiences at FringeArts in this city’s historic district heard a saxophone distorted through six effects pedals squealing at peak volume, surrealist absurdism from a heritage jazz ensemble, atonal electric harp, and solo flute played in vehement gusts over a track of looming electronics.

The October Revolution in Jazz & Contemporary Music was something like a State of the Union for free improvisation and avant-garde composition, and also a statement of potential. An intergenerational sweep of experimentalists — including younger acts as well as many of free jazz’s first-generation heroes, now in their 70s, 80s and 90s — appeared on a well-appointed stage in a city not known for high-budget jazz presentations. It was a rare institutional moment for the improvising avant-garde and maybe proof that in a moment when jazz is surging, the United States can respect its fringes on a level that only Europe historically has.

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