11

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2014

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Burlington Vermont Discover Jazz Festival 2014
Burlington, Vermont
May 30-June 8, 2014

During Burlington Vermont's Discover Jazz Festival, Vermont's Queen City teems with a level of excitement and activity unusual even for its ceaselessly vibrant environs. And while the Mainstage of the Flynn Performing Arts Center functions as the center of that universe, it is often the case that those performances at the intimate FlynnSpace downstairs, as well as other venues around the city, imbed the most indelible memories of the week-plus run. With all due respect to headliners such as Tony Bennett and Donald Harrison, 2014 was certainly no exception—in fact, perhaps a better illustration than usual of that rule of thumb.

Seth Yacovone
Nectar's
May 30, 2014

Guitarist/composer Yacovone embodies the improvisational nature at the heart of jazz with his regular succession of performances with his own trio, Blues for Breakfast, and Dead Sessions. Though not officially affiliated with the fest, with this acoustic set he rose to the occasion of the BDJF's annual inauguration with one of the most scintillating set lists he's offered in recent memory. Having just celebrated his ninth anniversary of solo shows at the former home of Phish on Main Street, the native Vermonter offered tunes by Bob Dylan ("Po Boy"), the Band ("Ophelia"), two by Neil Young ("Thrasher" and "Motion Pictures"" and a selection from the vast repertoire of the Grateful Dead (in the form of Jerry Garcia's and Robert Hunter's "Dire Wolf"). If such an opener sounds a bit intimidating, it was no doubt intended, and worked successfully as an attention getter as Yacovone parlayed his various choices with an upbeat and fundamentally positive air. Even without brandishing his bottleneck at all, his impeccable acoustic fingerpicking lent further decoration to those aforementioned songs from which his voice elicited their intrinsic subtleties. And, to think the native Vermonter was heading out after these two hours for a show with Seth Yacovone Band, made the uniformity of this presentation all the more laudable.

Regina Carter Southern Comfort
Flynn Mainstage
May 30, 2014

Roughly halfway through Seth Yacovone's set up the street, the center of the Discover Jazz universe was filling with attendees for Regina Carter's concert, the momentum of which hit its home stretch at roughly 9:00 p.m. A headlining article in a Burlington weekly newspaper trumpeted the violinist's incursion into Americana on her latest recording, but just prior to the blues-derived "CC Rider" (where she and her four accompanists proved how to generate steam in low key), the collective offered palpable European strains that couldn't help but recall Stephane Grappelli's work with and without Django Reinhardt. Even so, those sounds were no more or less authentic than those emanating from the Louisiana-rooted tune, arranged by accordionist Will Holshouser, which closed the set. As polite as was the audience, deep in rapt attention to the detail in this musicianship, it was impossible not to sense the rustle of enlivenment as it permeated the listeners and, appropriate to its varied history, the building at large and the venues within. To call Carter's show a most apt opening for 2014 Discover Jazz is an understatement, given the festival's theme of traditionalism and the constant redefining of that concept in the hands, hearts and minds of the genre's most creative proponents.

Gregoire Maret Quartet
FlynnSpace
May 31, 2014

Every year at Discover Jazz there's a show that, somewhat unheralded in advance, ends up becoming the buzz of the festival. As with J.D. Allen's 2011 show, this year the distinction may go to the Gregoire Maret Quartet, who played a late night (10pm) show in order to avoid conflicting with Tony Bennett on the Mainstage. The band sounded sumptuous just coming down the stairs to the intimate venue, and all the more so when surrounded by the luxurious tones they created. Drowned out by the electric bass and drums once in a while early on, the mix evened out quickly to allow the warm, friendly tones of Maret's harmonica to float in and out of the keyboards of Federico Gonzalez Pena, creating a plush flow of sound not all that dissimilar to that of the Pat Metheny Group, with whom Maret played in 2005. In their bell-like clarity and glistening tones, acoustic and electric pianos as well as the leader's instrument offset synthesized textures, while James Genus's bass flowed in tandem with John Davis's drums: it wasn't so much that they kept a beat as generated an ebb and flow of rhythm that added all the depth necessary to a create a cushion of sound upon which the sound of the leader's instrument—and in fact much of the comfortably ensconced audience—could rest.

The Benny Golson Quartet
Flynn Mainstage
June 1, 2014

Surprisingly, or perhaps not—considering their long-term friendship—Ron Carter's trio played first this evening with the saxophonist and his quartet following, right away establishing a sonic realism suited to this well established venue: the remodeled, retooled, and reconfigured landmark of Burlington seemed perfectly suited to carry the acoustic sounds of piano and standup bass, while the leader's horn emitted sounds that seemed to glow in the air. And it was good that it did, given his intros to each tune the group played. Self-effacing and facetious as he was (and to the extent it masked the somewhat predictable approach of the ensemble), the flow of the evening suffered slightly as he framed his intros to a Clifford Brown tune and his own ode to the famous trumpeter. Moving from sax to Mike Ladonne's piano, then to Peter Washington's bass, and then Carl Allen on drums, didn't exactly bespeak spontaneity, but at least the latter evinced true personality when it came time for him to command the stage alone on the percussion composition "Out of the Shadows." The applause that erupted across the venue was in proportion to his concentration and the nuance that arose from it.

Linda May Han Oh Sun Pictures Quartet
FlynnSpace
June 2, 2014

The Linda Oh Quartet finished their FlynnSpace set with a flourish, playing with the finesse of a well practiced team of high-flying trapeze artists who know how to stay just close enough to each other. The Sun Pictures Quartet maintained the melody and the rhythm of the music, yet still impressed with their own individual and collective grace in motion. Their well deserved (and enthusiastically demanded) encore was more of the same, if a little less involved, as the flourishes proffered by guitarist Matt Stevens only heightened the perception that—apart from Oh herself with an exquisite touch for melody on her standup bass—the most provocative musician on the intimate stage was drummer Rudy Royston: his percussive attack on his kit pushed the boundaries of what the group was doing on this comparatively structured number.
About Benny Golson
Articles | Calendar | Discography | Photos | More...

Tags

Jazz Near Burlington
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related