25th Annual Discover Jazz Festival, Burlington, VT
Not exactly free playing, but rather an angular approach to melody and rhythm in which pianist Craig Taborn, drummer Tom Rainey and the saxophonist leader simultaneously spiraled around each other in elliptical patterns that generally diverged (though not too far afield from each other) and occasionally meshed in sweet unison. The intensity of their approach was reflected in the focused concentration each of the trio displayed but, like those aforementioned moments of unity, their respective beaming visages at the close of a tune said it all about the gratification that comes from jazz well and ambitiously played.
The expressions throughout the audience mirrored the artists' whose presentation was bereft of theatrics except that of the innate drama of great musicians in action. It was the kind of show that left you hoping a stealth tape was at work somewhere in the room, if only to preserve a one-of-a-kind performance that deserves a place in posterity somewhere.
Jason Lindner Now vs. Now Trio
June 5, 2008
Difficult as it was to leave the picturesque waterfront buoyed by the sounds of Geno Delafose & co's French Rockin' Boogie, the prospect of a jazz trio in the intimate confines of FlynnSpace held its own attraction. Far better it would have been, however, to more accurately credit this trio as more than just piano, bass and drums: that classic jazz lineup got barely a nod, at least in the early going June 5th
Even had Bob Blumenthal's brochure notes included listing of the Moog and Roland equipment arrayed on stage, the setup could not have prepared an attendee for the high volume bombast that strained the sound system of the intimate venue. Further pandering to the audience with self-conscious vocal and instrumental flash-to-flaunt called attention to itself at the expense of genuine invention.
As duly noted by Flynn artistic director Arnie Malina in his introduction, Linder's appearance was a return to the venue, having taken part in Dafnis Prieto's memorable appearance back in 2006, but the only resemblance between the two performances was the understated eloquence of drummer Mark Giuliana: playing, perhaps not coincidentally, a stripped-down kit similar to that of Rainey from Hardcell, his understated attention to detail was in stark contrast to the broad strokes of his bandmates.
Dave Brubeck Quartet
June 6, 2008
Approaching the ninety-year mark, Dave Brubeck refuses to merely go through the motions. Likewise his quartet, whose robust energy radiates a commitment to the jazz tradition, grounded no doubt in their loyalty to their leader, that had them swinging from start to finish in their near hour and half on the Mainstage. And it doesn't hurt that they obviously love to listen to each other play, given the wide grins circulating at so many points during their set.
Bobby Militello's sax playing contained a sweet simplicity comparable to the chording and clustered notes of the pianist, who so often almost but not quite played the blues, while drummer Randy Jones, even apart from his spectacular solo on "Take Five," made his peripatetic playing look eminently easy. To be sure, the sold-out audience was inclined to be on the side of the artist, but this happened to be one night the devotion was well-deserved and wholly reciprocal.
June 7, 2008
It was perfectly appropriate the last official Discover Jazz show occurred 6/8 at FlynnSpacea collaboration between two local mainstays Paul Asbell and Nick Cassarino brandishing acoustic guitars with journeyman James Harvey opening upand it served as something of an encore for the ten-day program. Ornette Coleman's performance the night before was the dramatic climax.
Though it may have been more a necessity of booking than anything else, it was perfectly fitting for the Queen city's festival to end with the scintillating performance of the forward-thinking and playing Coleman, especially so closely on the heels of the Brubeck performance. In a bracing hour-plus on stage, the unconventional quartet two bassists, drummer and the leader on sax, trumpet and violinmoved with an authority equaling their unpredictability.
It is one thing to hear technical expertise at such a prodigious level; it is another to hear deeply profound emotion in such musicianship. It is another sensation altogether to hear those forces united, and that's what Coleman achieved on June 7th : their leader at the forefront, as he has in the jazz world for decades, each individual played only the notes that count the most, a reminder of what constitutes true beautyin music as in all things. Discover jazz indeed!