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Live Reviews

Burlington Vermont Discover Jazz Festival 2010: In Service to the Community

By Published: June 29, 2010

And brave as it was for Wagner and his group to tackle Cream's take on "Crossroads," they did more than just acquit themselves well: following the leader, who plays with as much fire as focus (and sings like the words carry personal meaning), they romped through it. They did much the same, albeit at an appropriately slower pace for a slow blues, with "Key to the Highway:" this was one instance where there were no concerns about the artist transcending his influences because he and his accompanists—including wizard-of-a-bassist John Ragone, drummer Russ Lawton and soulful keyboardist Ray Paczkowski—are so firmly and happily grounded in their chosen spirit of the moment.

Allen Toussaint
Flynn Mainstage
June 5, 2010

Allen Toussaint's saxophonist Brian Cayolle introduced him as "the high priest of New Orleans music," a high-falutin' accolade in contrast to the self-deprecating persona the famous songwriter and record producer evinced in his interview with a local Burlington weekly publication the previous week. Toussaint carried himself with dignity throughout most of his extended performance on the MainStage, particularly during the first half: he is one of those rare musicians from whom music flows effortlessly, and when gifted, visionary horn player Don Byron joined the ensemble about thirty minutes into the set, a reverential audience had the rare experience of being in the same room with two undeniably "natural" musicians.

Would that more time had been given to the exploratory strains of Toussaint's latest, highly acclaimed album The Bright Mississippi(Nonesuch, 2009), rather than the extended series of medleys stringing together a clutch of the man's composing and production works. While it was fascinating to learn (or be reminded of) his extended history, it's nevertheless true that even confections of the highest order—like "Get Out of My Life Woman"—can't compare to the atmospheric likes of this night's rendition of "St James Infirmary."

Mose Alison
June 6th, 2010

This venerable pianist-songwriter was accorded almost as much spirited acclamation this Sunday evening as Allen Toussaint had received the night before. And leading an acoustic trio, Allison generally justified the enthusiastic response, despite some minor muffs of lyrics during the course of this first set of the evening.

Such a miscues may be understandable because, though Allison is a bona fide original, marrying fluid blues-based melodies to tongue-in-cheek topicality on his best original material, there is a certain sameness to his approach. (On the other hand, his folk-jazz piano playing and understated singing is so unique it deserves to be called personal style, not shortage of ideas, making it understandable, and certainly forgivable, if even the author might be prone to mix-ups among the tunes in his distinctive repertory. And such slip-ups did not, tellingly, occur on the covers.) More importantly, Mose himself wasn't visibly fazed by the snafus—nor was his rhythm section (during those moments when he momentarily lost the rolling beat of certain tunes). The music was "of a piece," which is why this bluesman-songwriter, who came to New York in the '50s from Tippo, Mississippi to record as a jazz pianist for the likes of Zoot Sims and Stan Getz, fully deserved the loud testament of respect he got both before and after his performance.

Stephane Wrembel & The Django Experiment
Jamie Masefield & Brad Terry

June 7, 2010

Local musicians Jamie Masefield and Brad Terry brought an endearing informality to the stage, and the music they played in such an off-the-cuff manner had the same winning spontaneity. Both spoke of the intuitive communication they discovered when they met just weeks prior to this gig, and certainly they understated it: such uncanny rapport as they demonstrated in playing together is not to be learned even with the most assiduous practice: it is a wholly natural phenomenon if it exists between musicians at all and thus is equally rare and rewarding to behold.

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