Another highlight of this year’s NYC Winter Jazzfest was the debut of the OGJB Band, featuring alto sax master Oliver Lake, cornetist Graham Haynes (who doubled on doussin gouni, a five-stringed African instrument), bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Barry Altschul.
At 73, Altschul, a one-time drummer of the avant-garde group Circle (with Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Anthony Braxton), is still a force of nature behind the kit. Lake, also 73, is as expressive and probing on his instrument as ever. Fonda, at 61, and Haynes, at 55, are the youngsters of this adventurous group.
Together they held forth in a set that drew inspiration from the musical hookup between avant-garde stalwarts Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman. This was especially evident when the horns took a half-time approach on top of the kinetic double-time pulse created by the powerful rhythm tandem of frequent collaborators Fonda and Altschul.
Fonda showed remarkable endurance on his frantic groove number “Listen To Dr. Cornell West.” And Altschul wailed on a drum solo on his jaunty original “Be Out S’Cool,” from his recent album The 3Dom Factor (TUM Records). This all-star avant-garde band has yet to record together. Meanwhile, open-eared patrons at the NYC Winter Jazzfest got a premiere of this potent new music.