Burlington Vermont Discover Jazz Festival 2010: In Service to the Community
Stephane Wrembel's tribute to Django Reinhardt on the hundredth anniversary of the latter's birth really couldn't compare, despite the daunting technical expertise and well-practiced presentation of the quartet. It's perhaps too disparaging to dismiss the group as a cover band, but the overweening facility with which they blew through the early segment of their setmuch to the delight of an audience ready to be so pleasedhad all the earmarks of a thoroughly rehearsed act conceived and executed to a level of expertise that quickly became less elevating or energizing than enervating through a lack of genuine fire in the playing. This was icy music, not Le Jazz Hot.
Gerald Clayton Trio
June 8, 2010
Gerald Clayton displayed a poise beyond his years as he began to play his acoustic piano this night, but this was merely a transferral of the dignified air he and his trio evinced as they walked to their instruments upon introduction. In performance, Clayton and company seem intent on assuming the most formal role of jazz musicians on every front, and the fearlessness, not to mention sheer delight, they showed as they played together suggests they are well on their way.
Rare it is to see so many grins of joy shared during the moments of instrumental interaction as evidenced by the interaction among the pianist, bassist Joe Sanders and fiery drummer Justin Brown. Indeed they had a right to be so expressive, as those intimate moments arose directly from an unusually distinctive approach to improvising: Clayton loves to turn melodies inside-out to discover as many nuances as he possibly can, while the rhythm section uncovers the beat intrinsic to the tune in order to render that rhythm more pronounced on their respective instruments. This trio has a remarkably tuneful means of deconstructing the material they choose to play, so it's little wonder they elicited such hearty response from the audience that comfortably filled the tiny venue. Gerald Clayton is the discovery of the 2010 Discover Jazz Festival.
Michael Zsoldos Quartet
June 10, 2010
The Michael Zsoldos Quartet radiated a quiet self-assurance as they took the stage in their classic jazz alignment (tenor sax, bass, piano drums) and played in that mode during most of their hour-plus set celebrating the release of Zsoldos' first album as a leader. The foursome became discernibly more assertive as they reached the end of their set, yet there were no fiery improvisations or truly extended renderings. Most takes, of original material from various sources and covers, including a Coleman Hawkins piece, were in the six to seven-minute range, comprising bright melodious playing from Zsoldos, pianist Miro Sprague and even bassist Martin Wind (whose instrument came though clearly in an impeccable house sound).
The latter applied more than a few rhythmic flourishes whether he was soloing or not, while "the lovely and talented" (Zsoldos' words) drummer Matt Wilson inserted his own slightly eccentric but nevertheless appropriately decorative touches within the ensemble and when he soloed. Whether Zsoldos, familiar as a regionally-based musician and teacher, becomes a genuine innovator remains to be seen, but genuine aficionados of jazz can never hear too much of this kind of rich, accessible acoustic music.
Jim Hall Quartet
June 11, 2010
If Discover Jazz 2010 had a designated artist-in-residence, Jim Hall might qualify. He appeared at a "Meet the Artist" session, guested with Sonny Rollins during Newk's concert on June 12, and he conducted his own performance the night prior, during which he hosted a brass section composed of Vermont musicians supervised by The University of Vermont's Alex Stewart.
The initial portion of the evening was devoted to pieces from the venerable guitarist's Textures (Telarc, 1997) and, to be fair, drummer Joey Baron stole the show, as much through the obvious delight he takes in playing as through the unconventional approach he takes to drumming. The arrangements, including the brass, with Hall on guitar (more as a table-setter than soloist) and bassist Scott Colley, featured Baron more than anyone, and the drummer took great pleasure in working his way around his kitliterallyspending as much time tapping its stands, the sides as well as the heads of drums and rubbing, as well as slapping or crashing his cymbals; it was hard to take your eyes off him (no small compliment inasmuch as the talented Colley is almost as tall as his double bass!).