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Live Reviews

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival: Burlington, Vermont, June 3-12, 2011

By Published: July 8, 2011
It's fair to say J.D. Allen exceeded expectations, if you take into account his rhythm section, two musicians who played at nearly as high a level as their leader. Drummer Rudy Royston
Rudy Royston
Rudy Royston

, in fact, might take credit for strongest propulsion. As it happened, Allen generated as it happened, invariably when the saxophonist stood directly in front of the drummer. For his part, bassist Michael Bates distinguished himself with each solo, which he took as his strength, detailing and creating instrumental short stories.

JazzLab Burlington City Arts Center June 8, 9, & 11, 2011

Discover Jazz regularly presents educational events each year in various forms and perhaps the most enlightening of all those in 2011 was the Jazz Lab. Owners and operators of The Tank Studios in Burlington, Ben Collette and Rob O'Dea took over the second floor of the Burlington City Arts building off City Hall Park, setting up one room with recording and video equipment, the other for three different groups of musicians to play each day.

As the bands played, the music was not only recorded, but broadcast via live stream throughout the city and during breaks in those intervals, Q&A sessions similarly transmitted, were conducted not only with the instrumentalists, but the engineers themselves.

With three markedly different lineups attending these open-to-the-public sessions, including Brooklyn's Snarky Puppy and Burlington's own Barika, and three different purposes for the recording including, actual tracking by the latter two units, The Jazz Lab offered a fascinating real time perspective on the creative and technical aspect of music-making.

Groove Tent Waterfront Park June 9, 2011

Another unique but reliable aspect of Burlington Discover Jazz is the collection of shows conducted each year on the Lake Champlain waterfront. This year dubbed the Groove Tent and the World Tent, the two evenings of music proved successful as Ever,. albeit not in quite the manner expected.

After an almost ideal opening on June 9th with the ((Joshua Panda Band}}, whose irrepressible leader singer made his cross of country and gospel accessible all the way round, Bonerama

's set was interrupted by storm warnings of high winds and heavy rain: in their infinite wisdom, organizers of the festival had a contingency plan in place right down to signs leading the attendees to safe haven across the street in a parking garage until it was safe to return and conclude the night with the highly anticipated 10-year reunion of Viperhouse. It was not, to their credit, anti-climactic.

World Tent Waterfront Park June 11, 2011

Hardy Vermonters, no doubt learning to appreciate the color contrast between gray skies and lush green foliage, began to fill the tent virtually at the 3:30 p.m. start time of Saturday afternoon's festivities on the lakefront, even as rain came and went through the afternoon (and into the evening). Having endured such precipitation almost constantly this spring, the attendees were quickly roused to celebration by the spirited eclectics of Toubab Krewe, who mixed exotic string sounds such as the kora with various percussion, plus conventional guitars, drums and bass (brought into serious play on a selection of surf music mid-set. In their own way as perfect an opening act as Joshua Panda two nights before, the band inspired the growing crowd to such an extent that dancing continued as the sextet left the stage and recorded reggae began to fill the air in anticipation of another four-and-a-half hours of music.

Matt Schofield FlynnSpace June 10, 2011

Any festival worth its salt has to suffer from an embarrassment of riches in its live Offerings, and so it was the night between the two Waterfront Tent spectaculars, even with the unfortunate cancellation of Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez
's appearance on the Flynn Mainstage due to travel issues. A rare performance by the Vorcza trio in the courtyard at Halvorson's was a hot ticket (and Myra Melford turned out to be the unsung star of Discover Jazz 2011), as Church Street overflowed with crowds enjoying warm, dry weather for a change, but neither that, nor the block party accompanied by Bearquarium, posed any conflict with the 10 p.m. FlynnSpace performance by British blues guitarist Matt Schofield.

In what ought to become a festival tradition, this late night offering made the intimate venue even more so as guitar hero-worshippers whooped it up before the first note was struck. Truth be told, the self-effacing guitarist's fire came and went: it was only after an Albert King
Albert King
Albert King
1923 - 1992
guitar, electric
cover, tribute to one of Schofield's obvious influences, that his notes flashed an edge. Still, his compact lineup of drums and Hammond organ made for music fluid and strong during the course of a set that extended to near midnight.

Bela Fleck
Bela Fleck
Bela Fleck
Flynn MainStage June 12, 2011

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