June 11, 2007
Mary Lou Williams Resurgence Project Concert
This was the fifth consecutive year that the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival Big Band has performed at this festival and I have witnessed them all. Every one of them have been magical. I have the feeling that when I come to their concert that they are playing for my own personal pleasure, since I know most of the musicians on stage.
I think it's mandatory that I should relay some off my friend's names to you. Reed section: Brian McCarthy, Bryan MacNamara, Michael Zsoldas, Dave Grippo & Alex Stewart (also the band master). Trumpet section: Chris Gribnau, Cam Cross, Dave Ellis & Paul Brana (17 y.o. H.S student). Bone section: Lori Salimando-Porter, Andy Moroz, Dan Silverman, & Rick Davies. Piano: Tom Cleary, Bass: John Rivers, & Jeff Salisbury on drums.
Kudos to Cecilia Smith (vibes) for putting this concert together. She was ably assisted by Amina Claudine Myers (piano & vocals) and Elon Robin Dixon (vocals).
Congratulations to Champlain Valley Union H.S. chorus, especially to the six girls on the upper two levels (stage left). They were singing and swaying to the beat just as if they were in the choir at a black Baptist Sunday church meeting. The director, Carl Recchia is to be commended for his chorus's performance. I must admit that every time I see young people like this in performance, my throat starts to constrict and I have to take out my hankie as I must have had some particle stuck in my eye. Strange, it's happening again as I write this. Maybe it's because I'm jealous. The only time that attention has been brought to me is when my name has been published in the daily newspaper court report. Just think how Paul Brana feels like today after being on stage as part of the band. Or how many members of the chorus didn't fall asleep until the wee hours of this morning.
Having extolled this concert, I see a black cloud in the future for this event. Less than 400 people attended this concert. Maybe the BDJF folks need a new hook for the general public. Mary Lou Williams is not a stranger to jazz heads like me, but the attendance figures show that there needs to be a new approach. I would hate to see this concert eliminated because it's "losing" money, and as you well know the local performing arts scene ain't in the business to do that.
This is my last posting on this blog. I want to personally thank Cathy Resmer (7D Online Editor) whose job is very much like the photograph in the 7D jobs section. You know the one I mean. The one where a woman is standing behind an elephant with a canvas bag and is catching the bowel movement. She has been cleaning up behind me for several weeks now and god knows I can produce an enormous amount of drek.
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Just some housecleaning here -
First, thanks to Seven Days for thier support of the festival and for making space for this discussion.
Now - I've pointedly waited to mention other festivals out of respect for our own while it's going on. But now that it's a recent (and very fond) memory, a word or two for the best one around: The Montreal Jazz Festival. I've been to The Vermont Jazz Festival at Sugarbush in the late 70's, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, spent 17 years attending both days of
The Saratoga Peforming Arts center's
Newport/Kool/Freihoffers weekend, and I've been to Northsea Jazz Festival back when it was in a town called Den Haag, ...in a building called Den Haag. I've been to Port Townsend, Litchfield, Lake George and The Knitting Factory "what is Jazz?" festival. I've been to Victoriaville a couple of times.
I mention this just to provide context.
While the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival offers something no other festival does - Montreal's another order of magnitude altogether.
In my opinion Montreal is the best of the larger ones, because it doesn't merely dazzle on paper - it makes good on it's promise in the moment - when you're there experiencing the music.
First - the city actually has a "festival district" right downtown. And the civic culture of the city embraces a dozen or so festivals which enliven Montreal, and Montrealers respond enthusiastically.
The Montreal Jazz Festival offers some 350 free outdoor concerts within a 10 day period, all within walking distance, and all contained right in the center of the city. But during this time (this year it's June 28-July 8)there are also roughly 120 ticketed shows on offer. But that doesn't really give you a sense of the scope of the festival - because it also offers a sort of music instrument makers convention (free and open to the public) a small Jazz film festival with inexpensive tickets, and a huge childrens component. But here's the weird thing: It's possible to really get your arms around the whole thing without knocking yourself silly. That's because it's so darned well run, and so well conceived.
The festival is organized around verious series, which take place in some of the most comfortable and convenient venues I've encountered. So one can easily see an intimate indoor concert, have a nice meal, and then catch an outdoor show - and not even have to walk much. It's that well put together.
There are even 3 enormous free events this year at which enormous peaceful crowds are expected. One of them has an entire day devoted to itself.
More "non-cognitive aspects of the city": There are actually other "jazz" festivals in Montreal which have emerged in recent years, and are still going strong. Feel free to email me for details. email@example.com works pretty well for this purpose.
I'm told this "blog" is to go away soon - and if that's the case, my favorite place on the www to discuss Jazz is Jazzcorner.com - There's a pretty vibrant discussion of Jazz (and other topics for that matter) going on there 365 days a year. The "speakeasy" section is the discussion area. I post there - and have for years - as Chaz Longue. But more importantly - really knowledgeable people, and high profile musicians themselves, do too. The site is vast and a real resource. It's not uncommon for the musician in question to post and help settle some issue about his/her history, discography or upcoming concert schedule. There's in fact a discussion of The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival there.
Posted by: David Beckett | Jun 11, 2007 11:08:17 PM
I am NOT from Vermont, but I have a question for native Vermonters. Why is it that Vermonter women (not transplants) insist on wearing beards and leg hair? It isn't attractive and the men here aren't happy. Men don't like having to worry if the women they are dating could kick their asses. I guess it's good to take a Vermonter woman hiking with you in case you break your leg. At least then you will have someone to carry you back to the Subaru. SHAVE YOUR BEARDS and CUT OFF YOUR DREADLOCKS. Tweezers are cheap. Buy some! Good Lord!
Posted by: Not From VT | Jul 11, 2007 8:29:58 PM