Day two at the Discover Jazz Festival and the weather could not have been better. Somewhere around 70 degrees, breezy and sunny – great day to be out in City Park and on the marketplace.
It was the annual Big Joe Burrell Day, with music in the park from Noon-4pm. Big Joe landed in Burlington in 1976 after years on the road playing with B.B. King, Count Basie, and many other groups. Some of his partners here included keyboardist Chuck Eller, guitarist Paul Asbell, bassist Tony Markellis and drummer Russ Lawton – all fellow members of the locally legendary Unknown Blues Band. Big Joe died on February 2, 2005 from complications after surgery. He was 80. Every year he’s honored at the Discover Jazz Fest with a special day of music in the park featuring mostly – but not by any means exclusively – local players.
Three acts took the stage in City Park; The Brian McCarthy Quartet, James Harvey’s new group, Jazzilla; and the NY City-based Bhangra party band Red Baarat. (Red Baarat is also one of the bands I mentioned here last year, as one of the highlights at the Montreal Jazz Festival!) High energy, grooving and exciting – the music was a big draw, but it was only part of the story at the Park yesterday. Being Saturday, the weekly Burlington Farmer’s Market was also underway there with artisans, artists and vendors of all kinds. I’ve never seen it so busy there.
Later in the afternoon I had a great (grilled chicken/greens & gorgonzola) salad at Sweetwaters on Church Street and then spent the rest of the day enjoying music on the street. That’s the thing: I could have gone to the afternoon listening session (Herbie Hancock’s 1964 album, “Empyrean Isles”) with Bob Blumenthal. I could have gone to Herbie Hancock’s concert later in the evening. But I had a memorable, music-filled day as it was just walking around town. That’s the way it goes with this Festival.
Not sure I’m going to make it downtown today, but leave a comment here if you do and let me know what you saw. Here’s what’s happening today: Dan Morgenstern’s 3pm talk, “Miles Smiles and other Tales from a Life in Jazz” in the Amy Tarrant Flynn Gallery; Ray Vega’s discussion/demonstration, “The Roots of NYC Latin Jazz”; and then Ray Vega’s Latin Jazz Quintet at FlynnSpace tonight in an 8:30pm show. Maple Jam also has a 1pm gig at Leunig’s, and there’s a lot of other stuff happening ’round town as well.
You just have to get there, the rest takes care of itself.