June 10, 2007
Waterfront World & Paradise/Pizzarelli
I caught The Skatalites, with original vocalist Doreen Schaffer, at the Waterfront World Tent Saturday night. With younger horns and some classic members doing the songs like Freedom Sounds & Latin Goes Ska folks were dancing, even in the long food lines. I tried to wait for Lee Perry but it became clear it was going to take awhile for him to appear.
Caught enough of Dub Is A Weapon (Perry's back-up band on this date) to be very impressed with their tenor saxophone player Maria Eisen, whose solos pulled great response from the throbbing tent. The scene was sweet all by itself with golden light reflected off the lake, with dancing, strolling and the usual hightening of perceptions.
I walked up the hill to the Flynn and, unfortunately missed Kate Paradise & her all-star band, but caught Mr Can't-Joke-Enough Pizzarelli's Swing 7. Rhythm section & four horns playing terrific arrangements while John sang large chunks of Sinatra's book and other classic Gershwin, Porter songs. I enjoyed John's constant schtick of New Joisey jokes, quips and, oops, asides to the band, while others I talked to found it a bit much. The energetic ending highlights included a long sequence based on a song extoling the virtues of New Jersey as if done by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, etc, etc. It makes me appreciate where we are, as Vermont doesn't seem to need an-over-the-top tribute, we just are woodchucks & flatlanders struggling to make it thru mud-season. The music helps.
May 30, 2007
Lectures You'll Love
Bob Blumenthal is one of the great joys of The Burlington Jazz Festival. Here's a guy who's won two Grammys for his liner notes on Miles Davis box sets who is as down-to-earth as anyone you know, but get a good discussion going and he can go deep with the facts and the insights. Musicians, critics, DJs all show up for his interviews and discussions.
This year he'll be talking with the artists in the FlynnSpace at 5:30pm (for FREE!):
Eddie Palmieri - Fri June 1
Migel Zenon - Mon June 4
Montreal Double Bill - Tue June 5
BassDrumBone - Thu June 7
His Sunday listening session takes place in the Amy Terrant Gallery at the Flynn Center with the focus on Duke Ellington with the listening at 2pm and then a lecture/discussion following at 3pm. Not matter how much or how little you know about the Duke, be ready to come away with new insight.
May 11, 2007
Labels & Jazz
Labels, as in fusion, smooth, latin, etc. Each covers too much turf and ends up meaningless. Sorta like the term JAZZ which is now forced to be useful in describing Dixieland, New Orleans, Swing, Bop, Rebop, Chicago, Post-Bop, Acid Jazz, Fusion, Free Jazz and many more. Better to listen closely and realize that your ears are just as valid as anyone else's. They just may have more listening hours than you. Doesn't make 'em a expert in your taste, which is gonna change over time anyway.
I've known Bela Fleck since he was 15 and playing in Jack Tottle's bluegrass group. He was awesome then and remains so, not only for his technical prowess but for his taste. Chick Corea & Bela should result in real music, no corners cut. I also passed on Chick's recent foray into his chosen religion but I doubt he'll be so limited in this setting. With two percussive instruments, rhythm will rule.
One of the concerts I'm most excited about at the Festival is the Esparanza Spalding Trio at the FlynnSpace on 8:30pm Wednesday June 6th. The 22year old double bass player & vocalist & teacher at Berklee College Of Music makes music on her first CD Junjo. Plus she looks & sounds like she's having fun while pulling off licks that must make Mingus smile in his cosmic jam session.
April 30, 2007
Eddie & Me
God knows I've resisted blogging because it seemed like such an ego trip, but now that I know my buddy LJ is on board and it's clear that ego tripping is normal, off we go.
When I started doing the Jazz show on Vermont Public Radio in August of 2001, Eddie Palmieri was already set up to talk & play solo piano in the VPR Performance Studio. I was terrified how little I knew about him except for the legendary Harlem River Drive album which I'd bought in the early 70's and loved to dance to, but Eddie proved to be great to interview and played piano like the giant he is.
Later that month he and his band played on the Statehouse lawn in Montpelier and then jammed across the street in a restaurant. Packing the band into a smaller space was better but both shows swung with tight horns and steamy latin percussion made vibrant by Eddie's keyboard, smiles & energy.