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Live Reviews

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival: Burlington, VT, June 1-10, 2012

By Published: June 27, 2012
It is more important still to hear Cliff's music. It recalls the roots of reggae, originally dubbed ska, which is deeply tied to American soul music and laced with rhythm and blues. In "You Can Make It (If you Really Try) and "Wild World," the punchy, pithy horn arrangements, and echoes of gospel in the female harmony vocals represent not a concession to mainstream pop, but the natural amalgamation of influences. And then there's the fact that only a reggae artist, of Cliff's stature or not, can sing and encourage audience chants of "Love!" with no trace of irony whatsoever.

It seemed there was no better place to be this definitive summer night, than on the shores of Lake Champlain, with Frisbee-playing, strolling and waterside contemplation going on as the sun fell and darkness descended. It was only necessary to walk up a single block from the water's shore to see diners sitting comfortably outside restaurants while bands offered more jazz music, this at the very same moment Dianne Reeves was playing and singing to an audience of her own on the Flynn Mainstage. The waterfront tent was merely the center of a larger universe extending throughout the city of Burlington, still over ten days away from the official summer solstice.

Lee Konitz FlynnSpace June 10, 2012

As if it were an encore to the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival climax on the previous night, the venerable saxman's appearance in the tiny cabaret was a subdued and fitting act of closure to what may, with just short retrospect, be seen as an absolutely spectacular ten-day run of music oriented events. The early part of his seventy-five minutes on stage was the definition of delicacy, as Konitz and his band seemed to be trying to play as gently as they possibly could. That said, there was no note struck not authoritative, a tone set by the leader whose instrument spoke of worlds of experience, almost as if to demonstrate how well he'd learned to avoid hitting the wrong note(s).

Bittersweet all through the set, the sound of the horn remained so, as finger- snapping gave way to tom-tom thumping, rolling bass lines and bouncing piano. The band hit the home stretch sprightly as the man himself who, at eighty-years stood and played as a good-humored role model for a lifetime of creative ideas. Lee Konitz' appearance at Discover Jazz was nothing less than a benediction to an event, or rather series of them, that could not have been more artfully or successfully conceived and executed.


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