Discover Jazz Festival, Burlington, Vermont: Garden of Musical Delights
The Will Bernard Band
June 9, 2009
What was true of The Luis Perdomo Trio was equally true of West Coast guitarist Bernard and his band. The quartet was right at home in the informal atmosphere of the Burlington landmark and the sound suited the space, allowing the deep bass lines of Tim Luntzel, the least known member of the group, to rise to its proper prominence (and remain perfectly audible throughout the close to three hours of playing). Each of the other three members of the band was worth watching and listening to on their own. New Orleans native Stanton Mooredances behind his drums (when he can't help standing up all of a sudden) and with eyes closed sounds almost as mighty as an entire marching band. Robert Walter, on the other hand, is the epitome of casual as he plays Hammond organ with quiet panache: no one could make it look easier.
For his part the leader of the band is deceptively dexterous, utilizing the liquid texture of Wes Montgomery, an unorthodox approach to the bottleneck no to mention the bonafide badass attitude of a rocker: the final tune of set two was Led Zeppelin's "Good times Bad Times."
June 11, 2009
Highly improvisational music the likes of which this Dutch trio plays rarely derives from the blues, but this rainy Thursday night a snappy shuffle and a hard twelve-bar provided the launching pad for a first set that moved into truly rollicking sounds before it was abruptly over. There's a sense of exuberance that comes from free playing like this, but it rarely appears with such a tangible sense of purpose. This threesome were confident enough of themselves to alternately avoid melody or play it at will, exulting in the sound of their instruments with all the relish of the attentive audience.
The Branford Marsalis Quartet
June 12, 2009
Any thoughts of a staid formal presentation from Marsalis and his band went out the window during pianist Joey Calderazzo's tune "Blossom of a Parting": the author played his instrument as gently as could be prior to the rest of the group coming in to create rolling waves of intense playing. It was just the first instance of the audience lighting up in response to the vigorous interplay between the four musicians.
On this gorgeous evening, after a day (and night) of rain, The Branford Marsalis Quartet was a whole much greater than the sum of its parts, especially so because the leader was front and center roughly only ten to fifteen percent of the time the group was on stage. But, in music as in business, the tone is set at the top: Marsalis would introduce a theme and the direction of the piece, as he did on the encore "St. Louis Blues," then would go to the rear of the stage to enjoy, unobtrusively, the instrumental repartee of his band.
And there was much of that, particularly in the form of precocious drummer Justin Faulkner, who fully justified his cocky demeanor. With all intelligence and complete immersion in his playing, bassist Eric Revis demonstrated equal aplomb when he took his solo. Not the final show of Discover Jazz 2009 or even the last from the MainStage, but the finality of The Marsalis Quartet performance necessarily rendered all that followed through the second weekend an anticlimactic encore.
Pato Banton-Corey Harris
Waterfront Park World Tent
June 13, 2009
And that's just how the reggae music at the World Tent worked Saturday afternoon and evening. It might have been more or less enlivened and enlivening if the weather were sunny rather than rainy, but that's the relative nature of encores: they can function as a huge sendoff or a quiet benediction. Harris' solo acoustic music laid a solid foundation for Banton and his band, which built momentum with each successive tune, the inclusion of a tease of Bob Marley inevitable perhaps (certainly more so than one of The Police!?!), but appropriate nonetheless.
And more so than he might have guessed. One of the late reggae icon's most oft-quoted lyrics might apply to the 2009 Discover Jazz Festival: "When the music hits you, you feel no pain..."