Opening the festival, Jeff Tain Watts's Drum Club was a visual feast in itself with Tain upstage audience right, Joe Locke downstage left, and an ocean of percussion in between. One man on one instrument, Joe worked and danced and made melodies HAPPEN, climaxing solos with fully extended, 180-degree-arm-coming-down mallet strikes. Several times. In a row. He held his own and then some.
Upstage, Tony Lewis, Horacio Hernandez and Tain played kits on platforms left, center and right. In the middle tier, Rafael Statin played saxes, Susie Ibarra was at her beautiful kulintang -- a Philippine instrument of inverted, knobbed metal flower pots (an improvised description at best); conguero Pedro Martinez (in the photo); and bassist Bob Hurst. And the rest was all Tain’s turf, including a beautiful tympani down front. But he stayed mostly at his drumkit. Imagine rhythms flying, at first more abstract, then in deeper grooves, which the audience loved. The festival has begun.