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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

It Begins. A First Look at Jazz Fest 2010

Though climatologists, meteorologists, and other assorted and sundry smart people may disagree, it ain't spring in Burlington until the lineup for that summer's Discover Jazz Fest is announced. At their annual press conference/ice cream social — yes, really — earlier this afternoon, the fine folks from the BDJF did just that, unveiling what looks to be an impressive and stylistically varied slate of talent.

Flynn MainStage highlights include jazz trumpet virtuoso Arturo Sandoval (6/4), sax legend Sonny Rollins (6/12) and guitar god Jim Hall (6/11). Speaking of Hall, in addition to his own performance, he'll join Rollins to reprise their collaboration on the 1962 classic The Bridge. BTW, did you realize that Rollins is 80 years old? True story.

Notable FlynnSpace performances include The Tomaz Stanko Quintet (6/7), violinist Jason Kao Hwang (6/10) and Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza (6/9). In his description of the last performer, Flynn artistic director Arnie Malina suggested her blend of Bossa Nova and scat vocals evoke more powerful emotions than Ella Fitzgerald. Yeah … um, settle down, Arnie. Hyperbole aside, Souza really is a striking singer. Check it out …

Proving that "jazz" truly is in the ear of the beholder, this year's fest takes unprecedented liberty with the definition of the term. As usual, the Waterfront Tent will serve up not-explicitly-jazzy fare, including reggae (The Wailing Souls, The Itals, and Easy Star All-Stars, 6/12) as well as gospel, funk and R&B (Sharon Jones, 6/10 … woo hoo!). But how Levon Helm (6/13, Flynn MainStage) falls under the ever-widening umbrella of jazz is an argument I'd love to hear. Actually, screw it. I don't want to hear it. Let's just be psyched Levon freakin' Helm is playing in Burlington.

Anyway, that's just the tip of the iceberg. There is a ton of music not mentioned here that we'll get into in coming weeks. For now though, you can check the rest of the lineup here. And there will be even more good stuff announced soon. But there are two stories surrounding the 2010 Burlington Discover Jazz Fest that trump even the names on the Flynn marquee.

The first is that the memorial statue to iconic Burlington saxophonist, vocalist and bandleader Big Joe Burrell is (finally) completed and will be unveiled on the festival's opening afternoon at the Fountain Stage on the top block of Church Street. The second is that the annual Gospel throwdown on the fest's closing Sunday (6/14) will serve as a tribute to the late, great Sandra Wright, who passed away earlier this year. The City Hall Stage show will feature the Sandra Wright Band and plenty of special guests. Just throwin' this out there, but maybe Big Joe could use a pal a couple of blocks up the street …

And by the way, tickets are on sale right … about … now!


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