Discover Jazz Festival 2009: Garden of Delights
June 5-14, 2009
Observing how the Queen City of Burlington Vermont comes alive during the ten days of the Discover Jazz Festival is akin to the way the spring and summer evolves in the Green Mountains. The plenitude of rain that preceded the inaugural event on June 4th gave way to balmy weather, both trees and grass are as green as they get this time of year in Vermont, while flowers are just beginning to bloom. And so it is with the music during the run of the Discover Jazz: music blossoms inside and outside, in venues where it's usually featured and also in those who only do so at this time of yearclubs, restaurants and the streets of Burlington fill with sounds as varied as the flora dotting the asphalt and concrete around the city environs.
Anat Cohen Quartet
June 5 2009
It's well near impossible not to deeply enjoy this Israeli-born composer, bandleader and horn player. And not just because she was immediately and deeply caught up in the spirit of the moment in her own playing this opening night of Discover Jazz: her band was ever on its collective and individual toes, prompting and prodding each other, never allowing the music to slip even near the threshold of predictability.
Cohen will walk to the side of the stage when pianist Jason Lindner, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Daniel Freedman take solo turns or play as an ensemble without her, and when she does, she is constantly responding to the music with the unself-conscious grace of the music lover who can't resist. Her response and the audience's buzz post-show is merely a reflection of Cohen's compositions, arrangements and playing. In sum, this first formal show of the Festival was an opening of the highest order.
Red Square. Church Street
June 5, 2009
While this Vermont trio is by no means careerist in that they spend as much time seemingly on solo endeavors as in the Vorcza combine, when hearing them outside on this summer night, just off the main commercial downtown thoroughfare, it's as if they never stopped playing together. And that's meant as the highest of compliments: the natural motion of the rhythms and the thick fluid melody lines suggest keyboardist Ray Pazckowski, drummer Gabe Jarrett and bassist Robinson Morse tap in to that music that is perpetually in the air and, in so doing, translate its power and beauty in such a funky way we can understand it and groove to it, physically and mentally.
Dave Keller Band
Church Street Market place
June 5 2009
Playing under the stars and the floodlight this first weekend of Discover Jazz, erstwhile Vermont bluesman Keller and his three rockin' amigos sounded like they could've and should've been the house band for the Burlington marketplace. Coaxing a crowd to dance and sing along, the guitarist/vocalist frontman was in his element, alternately tantalizing and tough in the elemental blues patterns he brought to life with organist Ira Friedman, drummer Brett Hoffman and bassist Jan Schultz, Keller was.
Parker Shper Quintet
City Hall Park
June 6, 2009
In a stop-and-go start that mirrored the alternately overcast and sunny sky, not to mention the breeze that came and went, this young five-piece band was nevertheless the direct reflection of the warm inviting weather next to Burlington's government headquarters this summer afternoon. Bryan McNamara's guttural sax sounded just smooth enough around the edges while composer/pianist Parker Shper's instrument was simultaneously warm and crisp. Traditional as their roots might be, the group expands upon tradition making their final slot in the bill a sign of deserved respect.
Luis Perdomo Trio
June 8 2009
From the very first notes struck by The Luis Perdomo Trio, it was abundantly clear they were going to bring a classic jazz format to full fruition. The intensity rose through the first two numbers while Perdomo and co. found the perfect foil for the rollicking "Baby Steps" (written by the leader's wife) in the gorgeous balladry of "Comedia."
Certainly the piano trio was perfectly suited to the low-ceilinged intimate downstairs venue and vice versa: the acoustic piano, double bass and minimal drum kit was all perfectly audible in almost audiophile sonority throughout the first set. As they played, there wasn't a wasted note as each musician aligned with the other two, overlapping only enough to create an ensemble sound without sacrificing their individual instrumental personality.