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Esperanza Spalding & Anat Cohen Quartet

The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival kicked off yesterday and the streets of Burlington were as lively as ever. Music enthusiasts and general bar-hoppers populated Church St. late into the night as live music filled the evening air on every block. 

Meet The Artist Session

The evening started with a “Meet The Artist” session downstairs at the Flynn Space (the Flynn’s smaller cabaret equivalent). Jazz critic-in-residence Bob Blumenthal moderated the session with bass player/vocalist Esperanza Spalding and clarinetist/saxophonist Anat Cohen.

Spalding was interviewed one-on-one by Blumenthal while Cohen finished up her soundcheck for the evening performance upstairs. Spalding talked about her childhood experiences and their influences on her musicianship. She was incredibly articulate and well spoken during the session. 

Cohen came down after 45 minutes and began discussing her past in Israel as well as her musician brothers. She also discussed her record label, Anzic Records (named by combining “Anat” with “Muzic,”) and the reason for its creation. It’s clear that she wanted to be able to take more control over her albums than a outside label might normally let her. Joel Frahm, Jason Lindner and Cohen’s brother, Avishai Cohen, are artists on the label. 

The session was certainly one of the best I’d seen since I started attending them. At 90 minutes long, I couldn’t remember a longer session taking place in the past. The educational events during the festival are not to be missed. Take a look at the schedule here

Esperanza Spalding describes the size of the sound that she sought from herself on the bass.

Esperanza Spalding describes the size of the sound that she sought from herself on the bass.

Anat Cohen talks about her record label, Anzic Records.

Anat Cohen talks about her record label, Anzic Records.

The Concert

Following the typical introductions and sponsor recognition, the show began with a 75 minute set by the Anat Cohen Quartet. Cohen performed on clarinet for the first several songs, wowing the audience with her emotions and ability to seemingly sing through the instrument. Pianist Jason Lindner made use of a variety of prepared piano techniques throughout the set. In some cases he would mute the strings with is fingers while playing to produce a sound similar to plucking guitar strings. The percussive element was quite captivating as well.

Drummer Daniel Freedman produced all sorts of atmospheres with a variety of techniques. He played simply with his hands for portions and even made use of the brush end of a household broomstick at one point to increase the dynamic of the brush texture. 

The highlight of the set was the performance of “Hofim,” (which translates to “Seashores”) off of her 2007 album Poetica. The vibe was moving and the performance was quite captivating. Cohen sure knows how to grab you and make you feel what she’s feeling. 

Esperanza Spalding took the stage after a more lengthy stage change with a different lineup of musicians from her last performance in Burlington (Discover Jazz ’07). Her light hearted humor and youthful style was endearing as she sang a short introduction to her set, making it known that this would not be your “typical vocal jazz” performance. 

Her ensemble played a nice variety of songs ranging from older compositions to a newer, more “pop” song and a Nina Simone cover. Sadly, the front-of-house sound engineer didn’t quite dial in an adequate mix for her set until the end. One must wonder if he mistakenly thought that, because of Esperanza’s headlining name, the bass must be at the front of the mix. I was never quite satisfied with the vocal level either but that’s just the nature of live sound sometimes.

I’m certainly looking forward to all of the upcoming concerts including guitarist David “Fuze” Fiuczynski at Nectar’s, followed by Michetti (the latest project by Raq frontman Chris Michetti).

Anat Cohen Quartet | Flynn Theater 6.5.09

Anat Cohen Quartet | Flynn Theater 6.5.09

Esperanza Spalding | Flynn Theater 6.5.09

Esperanza Spalding | Flynn Theater 6.5.09


Esperanza Spalding & Otis Brown | Flynn Theater 6.5.09

Esperanza Spalding & Otis Brown | Flynn Theater 6.5.09


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