Bass player Ben Allison, last years chosen Talent Deserving Wider Recognition in Downbeats' Critics Poll, is very active. Of course he is a musical conductor and approaches music in an entirely original and authentic way. Now two of Allison's projects can be heard at the festival: the Herbie Nichols Project with his Jazz Composers Collective, and Peace Pipe - already the fifth album under his own name. Peace Pipe is a ground-breaking project that goes beyond Allison's progressive group Medicine Wheel. Allison feels comfortable in avant-garde music, but will just as easily play straight jazz. His music is hard to define, it's modern, though not abstract. Mamadou Diabate's kora, added to the traditional jazz section on the album, is a great complement to Allison's bass. Peace Pipe was considered one of the best albums of 2002 according to The New York Times and Jazztimes, among others.