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Live Reviews

Burlington Vermont Discover Jazz 2007: Beside The Joyous Lake

By Published: July 17, 2007

The Discover Jazz Blues Tent is a tradition that never fails to become pure celebration, and 2007 was no exception. Betty Lavette no doubt came as a revelation to those who found her down-to-earth soul all the more affecting for its lack of pretension. She may not have been as frenzied as Otis Redding, but the depth of feeling was comparable.

Magic Slim had to go a ways to match the intensity of the audience, not to mention his opening act, and the introductory mini-set from his own Teardrops further challenged the stout bluesman: at least early on, even he couldn't wholly surmount what had preceded. Neverthless, the increasing volume of the music wasn't the source of the crowd's hearty reaction: it was the authenticity of the sound itself emanating from the musicians who made it.

June 7th

To their credit, Bassdrumbone trio did not trade solely on their eccentric instrumental lineup. Apart from the almost wholly abstract opening piece, the threesome focused on rhythm juxtaposed with mere shards of melody as their set went on. It's a tribute to the venue itself and the broadminded attitude of the audience (which can be self-congratulatory to a serious fault in this venue) that both band and listeners reveled in each others' presence before it was all over.

Bela Fleck and Chick Corea
Flynn Mainstage
June 8th

On paper this was the crown jewel of Discover Jazz, and it turned out to be just that. Two highly celebrated musicians took the stage to a thunderous acclaim, yet they refused to play it safe. Certainly, some shtick on Corea's part interrupted the musicianly flow of the second set (Bela's self-effacing demeanor was a marked contrast), but the two-plus hours overall were generally bereft of exercise in technique for its own sake. Rather, the pair challenged each other as musicians on a selection of material from their CD The Enchantment (Stretch, 2007) as well as older material such as Corea's â??Å"Children's Song #6."

Fleck may have been the more impressive of the pair, as his speed and fluid (can you say flamenco?) virtuosity regularly set a pace which the elder Scientologist statesman exerted himself to match. For their labors both performers received richly-deserved kudos: wholly absorbed during the duo's interplay, the soldout crowd burst into spontaneous applause, whether at the conclusion of a piece or an especially impressive interlude.

Lee Scratch Perry w/Dub Is A Weapon and Skatalites
Waterfront Blues Tent
Saturday June 9th

A somewhat anti-climactic show near festival's end, it was worth it to share the rarified air with the reggae legend whose work in the Jamaican recording industry actually predates Bob Marley's. None of the three acts truly distinguished itself, but as a suitable soundtrack for the sublime weather and scenic vistas of Lake Champlain the bill was wholly appropriate .

Coda: Have Guitar Will Travel

Guitarist Nick Cassarino was all over the place during the ten days of Discover Jazz. He played with various group alignments including trio and quartet and led his Sisters of Salvation gospel group in addition to sitting in with Vorcza for their Flynn engagement (as well as a late night, rain-shortened gig at Red Square in downtown Burlington). The native of South Burlington proved he can play open improv as well as traditional forms and material with equal assurance and enthusiasm. The young guitarist might do well to assume a similarly peripatetic residency for himself in Boston or New York : who knows who'd hear him, who'd play with him and who'd take part in Cassarino getting the break he deserves?

Photo Credit
Dana Pleasant

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