Posts Tagged ‘Paul Metzger’

BDJ Festival, days 8-10: the wrap

June 16, 2009
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.)

playlist #74 (6/8/2009)-New season, new artists, new music

June 15, 2009
World of Music
Pgm #74 – 6/8/09 – Previewing artist coming to the area &  featuring new world music.
Listen online Mondays 3-5pm EDT at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Calima: Gatito Perdido (Lost Kitten) / Azul / ColoRecords 94877 – (SPAIN)
Ojos de Brujos: Ventilaor R-80 / Bari / La Fabrica de Colores 1 – (SPAIN)
The Paragons: The Tide is High / Treasure Isle-Rock Steady / Heartbeat 95 – (JAMAICA)
Nikki Giovanni: Poem For a Lady Whose Voice I Like (dedicated to Nina Simone) / The Way I Feel / Collectables 6507 – (USA)
Trio Braam de Joode Vatcher: Songs Each Night / Change This Song / VPRO 2005 – (NETHERLANDS) * At the Discover Jazz Festival (Flynn Space) on Thu. 6/11, at 8:30pm: … atcher.php *
Jennifer Hartswick: That’s All / TRUE / Rubber Jungle Records 7 – (MADE IN VERMONT) * At the Discover Jazz Festival (Flynn Space) on Thu. 6/14, at 7:00pm: … tswick.php *
James & Troy Andrews: Bourbon Street Parade / New Orleans Brass / Putumayo 270 – (N’AWLINS) * Get a boogie on at the Waterfront Bayou Funk Tent, Thu. 6/11: BBQ at 5, music at  6: … stoltz.php *
Félix Balloy: El mal de la hipocresía / Baila Mi Son / Tumi 100 – (CUBA)
Timbalada: Ashansu Serviço de Animação Popular / Vale Music 376 – (BRAZIL)
Umalali: Nibari / Hear Globally / Cumbancha 2009 – (BELIZE) *NEW ANTHOLOGY *
Will Patton Ensemble: Valse 29 / 6th St. Runaround / King’s Hill Music 2008 – (MADE IN VERMONT)
El Tanbura: I Saw The Moon / Between the Desert and the Sea / World Village 450002 – (EGYPT) *NEW*
Paul Metzger, modified banjo: Improvisation #3 / Three Improvisations on Modified Banjo / 2005
Mo’ Horizons: Pé ne éstrada (Hit the Road Jack) / Brazil Remixed / Groove Gravy 1102 – (BRAZIL)
Kobo Town: Trinity / Independence / Kobo 1 – (TRINIDAD)
Miles From India: So What / Miles From India / Times Square Records 1808 – (INDIA/USA)  ==
Ismaël Lô: Dibi Dibi Rek / The Balladeer-The Best Of / Wrass 31 – (SENEGAL)
Pink Martini: Andalucia / Sympathique / Heinz Records 1 – (USA) * At the Discover Jazz Festival (Flynn Space) on Sat. 6/13, at 8:00pm: … artini.php *
Gilberto Gil: Metáfora / Gil Luminoso / drg brazil 31618 – (BRAZIL)
Le Vent du Nord: Le berger (the Villager) / Dans Les Airs / Borealis 189 – (QUÉBEC)
Alash: Bashtak-la Deesh Meni Kanchaar? (Trad. Tuvan folksong) / Alash / 2008 – (TUVA)
Gertrudis: Intro oye-Oye-Les Czardas de Monti / 500 (recorded live) / Mass Records 72509 – (SPAIN) *NEW*

BDJ Festival, day 2: rock, paper, scissors

June 8, 2009
a Firehouse floor socket, only one in the whole place that was empty!

a Firehouse floor socket, only one in the whole place that was empty!

Yesterday evening’s performance at Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery was just the kind of thing I usually try to seek out at the Discover Jazz festival: the unusual performances that define the edges of the art, as much as the headliners aim squarely for the populist center. A complete festival needs (and attracts) both kinds of experiences.

A few days ago I found out banjo legend Paul Metzger was coming to town. While not technically an event sponsored by the Discover Jazz Festival, his appearance in Burlington was timed perfectly to offer that alternative musical performance perspective. He’s touring with with Elaine Evans (amplified violin and pocket trumpet), Amen Dunes (guitar/vocals), the Paper Hats (self-described “experimentalists”) and Eric Carbonara, who plays fine flamenco-style acoustic guitar and an unusual guitar/sitar hybrid called a “Chaturangui”.  They each played an individual set, and the order of performances was decided in the back of the room just before the music started. It was a very involved process: a heated bout of rock/paper/scissors. (Those crazy experimental musicians!)

Paul doesn’t have the high profile of other banjo greats – folks like Bela Fleck and Earl Scruggs – though it’s a safe bet they sure know who he is. He doesn’t seem to be too bothered with all of that. I talked with him a little before the show and I got the feeling that the mainstream isn’t where an artist like him can operate, and still have the latitude they need to to develop their vision. Paul’s career has been defined by breaking every banjo rule and rediscovering the instrument from the ground up, including how it’s played, and expectations of how it “should” sound.

Paul tuning his modified banjo

Paul tuning his modified banjo

While Paul is reinventing an established instrument, guitarist Eric Carbonara is exploring new realms with a recently invented one. He helped design the instrument with his teacher, Indian slide guitar master Debashish Bhattacharya. The “Chaturangui” fuses an acoustic guitar and a sitar onto a single body and sounds like an entire metallic orchestra of guitars and sitars all playing simultaneously. The sound is big, and impressive. On the way home last night I listened to one of Eric’s CDs I had picked up at the show. It contains two tracks: each is over 10 min. long, unfolding and developing patiently, building in complexity, much like ragas in their form and feel. Loved it.

Eric and the Chaturangui

Eric and the Chaturanguia

The concert reminded me of something I read recently in Kyle Gann’s excellent collection of essays on contemporary music, Music Downtown: “Music is a language to the extent that it has syntax, rules that govern its continuation, a level of predictability with which events happen. But that’s the formulaic, ‘yang’ side of music. Rules don’t govern everything, and some passages take even the composer by surprise. In the hullaballoo about language, music’s less describable side – image – has suffered neglect, in both composition and discourse.”

Last night’s show was all about that side: music’s capacity to evoke images, expressed vividly through the unique language of experimentalism.

Earlier in the day, for some non-jazz festival music, I had stopped by the Fleming Museum to hear organist David Neiweem’s recital on UVM’s 4-stop portative organ in the Museum’s interior Marble Courtyard. It’s a 2001 model, by Dutch builder Henk Klop. The performance was part of the Museum’s new exhibit “A Beckoning Country“, a celebration of art from the Champlain Valley to coincide with the region’s Quadricentennial celebrations this year.

David’s program featured music from the time of Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who arrived in the area from Québec City and mapped the Lake region in 1609. Who was writing music around that time? Girolamo Frescobaldi and John Blow were. So were Samuel Scheidt, Michele Corrette, and, J.S. Bach. What an interesting idea for a program.

David Neiweem at the Fleming

David Neiweem at the Fleming

Scheidt’s partita on Martin Luther’s Easter chorale Christ lag in Todesbanden was especially lovely, as the light voice of the portative spoke in airy contrast to the weightiness of the chorale.

What a great day of diverse music!

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