BDJ Festival, day 7: concert, what concert?

Artful Art Brooks

Artful Art Brooks

Thursday (6/11), 3pm, on the sun-flooded second floor of Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery: the start of JAZZLAB, three days of mind-expanding adventures at the intersection of music and dance and ultimate artistic interactivity. It’s multimedia in its approach, and multidimensional in its capacity to engage many senses simultaneously (and unexpectedly!)

This is the second year for JAZZLAB, a cooperative project between Burlington City Arts and the Discover Jazz Festival. And this year the’ve called in a real innovator to guide the projects; trumpeter and visionary Arthur Brooks. His Ensemble V features locals Michael Chorney (guitar), cellists Polly Vanderputten and Nelson Caldwell, Anthony Santor (double bass), and percussionist P.J. Davidian.

Even the footwear is avant-garde

Even the footwear is avant-garde

Three interpretive dancers (and their houseplants, telephones, and other props) from The Architects troupe joined in the experience, which unfolded in both rooms at either end of the Gallery’s second floor, and in the hardwood hallway that joins them. Ensemble V was augmented by members of the Trio Braam DeJoode Vatcher, who also performed at the FlynnSpace in their own show later that evening. What a warmup!

Somehow this photo sums up the experience. I have no idea how I took this pic.

Somehow this really sums up the experience. (I have no idea how I took this picture.)

The happening lasted around two hours, with the eight musicians and three dancers moving slowly, rhythmically, freely between the two rooms, performing and openly challenging the conventional “concert” experience the entire time.

The success of the challenge might have been best realized, interestingly, NOT by the performers, but rather in the behaviour of the ‘audience members. They acted like audience members, standing (a few) and seated (almost everyone) around the periphery of the two rooms, silent and nearly immobile for the duration of the show. Since the performance was a moving target it seemed to encourage the same in the onlookers, and yet that didn’t really happen.

Hello? (hello, hello) there anybody - OUT there?

Hello? (hello, hello) there anybody - OUT there?

So who IS the odd man out here?

The musicians and dancers playing and gesturing in unexpected, non-linear, untraditional ways, or the audience members whose years of training to sit and be still don’t allow them to relax and respond in the more natural way the performance encourages?

This is why we love JAZZLAB.

(JAZZLAB continues on Friday and Saturday as part of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, look for more updates coming here…)

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