There were some people who had serious misgivings about the viability of the tented stage that the festival inaugurated last year. Immediately adjacent to one of the city's busiest streets, it promised to be a less-than-intimate space. That may be so; I've never seen a really quiet show in there, but it has become a terrific space for big bands.
Last year, Christine Jensen's band gave one of the best shows I saw at the festival—no surprise, really, given the music and the playing of her sister Ingrid—and last night (again, with Ingrid aboard) Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sounded marvellous.
The first time I saw the band with its full New York-based lineup (Argue has also done variations with a number of Canadian subs) was in Le Poisson Rouge in the Village, which is not the ideal place for close listening. Last night in the tent, though, everything was crystal clear, and you could see the way the band interacts with the leader and each other.
It was topped off by a nice hang at the jam session, with the room filled with Secret Society members, Christian McBride and his band, and a number of other musicians like drummer Ari Hoenig.