BDJ Festival, days 8-10: the wrap

And on the seventh day, the sousaphone rested.

And on the seventh day... (the sousaphone rested.)

Well maybe it says enough about the last three days of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival that I didn’t have time to jump in here and share an update until now, two days after it has ended.

Every day was filled with tents and stages, artists and good friends, and dancing to the sounds of the area’s best street performers and school-aged bands and ensembles.

Each night rang with music from the festival’s headliners and the wide variety of acts in neighborhood clubs, cafés and streetside patios.

Reggae, gypsy swing, close harmony, experimental, big band, little band, funk, African drumming, a Fela Kuti tribute, and gospel singing…we didn’t miss anything.

Impossible to pick out the best of the lot from the last three days: was it the Branford Marsalis concert last Friday evening, where we were

Corey Harris

Corey Harris

introduced to his brilliant new 18-year old (!) drummer? The after-party at the Thai restaurant with the area’s hottest Afro-Cuban jam band? Maybe it was the inspiring City Park sidewalk drawing contest, and deep reggae groove at the Waterfront Tent on Saturday night. Or Anat Cohen’s off-the-charts performance on opening night. Or, the gospel singers on the Marketplace Sunday afternoon, followed by the sweet swing of Django stylings at the local coffee house.

Really impossible.

I can tell you I didn’t see and hear everything I wanted to during the Festival’s 10 days: on Saturday night I made the call to stay in the Tent and ride out the rain with   Pato Banton’s positive jah vibes, instead of walking up the hill to hear Pink Martini singing at the Flynn

Lettuce @ the Waterfront Tent

Lettuce @ the Waterfront Tent

Theatre. That meant I also missed Martini’s hot opening act, the innovative, quirky, and unconventionally ingenious Sneakin’ Out. Great fun! Or so I heard. They played typewriters. Apparently really well. I do regret missing that.

It was a strong Festival with a lot of high points: planned, many unplanned, and several that weren’t even directly related to the Festival. (The banjo happening at the Firehouse Gallery – unbelievable.)

The only act that didn’t quite measure up artistically was still entertaining. Saxophonist/vocalist/songwriter Grace Kelly lit up the FlynnSpace last Tuesday night with her charm and natural stage presence, even if her music didn’t reach that same level of accomplishment. It’s a tough one to criticize. She’s 17, and the fact that she’s leading her own group at festivals around the world is a notable achievement in itself. But a little less time touring and more time practicing, developing a unique voice, and becoming a stronger player and singer will ultimately be the key to making sure that Grace makes the transition from teen phenom to adult contender in the next crucial couple of years. She can do it, she has everything and more it takes to be great. Even time is on her side, and how many artists can say that?

Yesterday downtown I saw the Festival banners coming down, posters being scraped off the inside of shop windows, and the energy on the Marketplace had already been transformed from the creative crackle of the past week to the usual hum of more typical touristy summer activity.

That just means it’s time to start planning for Discover Jazz Festival 2010!

(Congratulations to the Festival staff, sponsors, partners, the volunteer crew, and ALL of the musicians and artists who made this year’s Festival such a rich experience.)

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