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April 11, 2012

The Jazzmen (and Women) Cometh: BDJF 2012 Lineup Announced

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, leaves are confused and at a press conference earlier today the lineup for the 2012 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival was announced. It's official, folks. Spring has sprung in Vermont.

As usual, this year's lineup features a wealth of options, jazz and jazz-ish, to suit a wide variety of tastes. But in contrast to previous fests anchored by jazz icons such as Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins, the 2012 BDJF lineup feels a little less top heavy and more balanced throughout.

To be sure, there are some big names atop the marquee — Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Cliff and Diane Reeves, to name a few. But the bulk of the slate comprises a mix of heavy hitters (Christian McBride, Marco Benevento), rising stars (Donny McCaslin Group, Trombone Shorty) and lesser-known up-and-comers (Mary Halvorson Quintet, Asphalt Orchestra) that should place the notion of discovery front and center at this year's fest.

You can check out the entire lineup at the BDJF website, which launched today. But here are a few quick hits that have this critic pretty, um, jazzed. (Sorry.)

The Stooges Brass Band, City Hall Park, Saturday, June 2.

OK, I confess. I saw the name and had visions of a N'awlins brass band doing Iggy Pop. That's not quite what we'll get on Big Joe Burrell Day. But judging by this version of Chick Corea's "Spain," the band's mix of traditional New Orleans brass and urban beats and rhythms is a good consolation.


The Ninety Miles Project, Saturday, June 2, Flynn MainStage

Named after the distance between Cuba and the U.S., this all-star ensemble featuring vibist Stephon Harris, saxophonist David Sanchez and trumpeter Nicholas Payton explores the myriad ways Caribbean and American music have influenced one another. I'm officially offering to buy Ozzie Guillen's ticket.


Chicha Libre, Wednesday, June 6, Nectar's

It seems like every year the sleeper hit of Jazz Fest happens at Nectar's. A few years back it was soul powerhouse Ryan Shaw. Last year, Snarky Puppy was the buzz of the festival. That trend could well continue as psychedelic-Latin-surf-pop ensemble — yes, you read that correctly — Chicha Libre blow into town, blending postmodern, Western psych-rock with Colombian cumbia, Peruvian chicha and 1970s pop. In other words, it's as if Bebo Best and Man or Astro-man? dropped acid while watching The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. And as a bonus, everybody's favorite suspender fusion aesthetes, the Vermont Joy Parade, open the show.




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