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Enough Lettuce to feed a family of four + more funk!

I’ve been on total funk overload (TFO, for those you like such things) for the past couple of days. It started with Will Bernard’s group at Nectar’s on Tuesday. That was just the beginning. The following night, Lettuce played a two hour long “evening with” show at Club Metronome.

Lettuce was super tight. Adam Deitch laid down the funky beats like nobody’s business. The highlight for me was Neal Evans on keys though. I’ve been listening to him for a while now and it was great to see the man at work. His organ sounds are so aggressive and catchy. I knew that this was only a preview of what was to follow on Thursday night at the Waterfront Funk Tent.

Gloomy weather couldn’t stop this city from getting its funk on. I parked at an undisclosed (but very free!) location up closer to Church St. (cause I’m a starving college student and I’m not really into the whole “pay money for a parking spot” thing) and hiked down to the waterfront. I was hearing thunder as I made my way down in the rain but my spirits were far from dampened.

I got to the tent and knew that the evening would be one to remember. The stage setup was solid and the lighting was phenomenal. Big Sam’s Funky Nation took the stage at 6pm on the dot, playing for just over an hour. Lettuce followed suit with a slightly longer set which, sadly, resembled the set from the previous night a bit too much. It was still quite enjoyable. Porter, Baptiste, Stoltz took the stage just after 9pm putting on a great show. If it were me, I would have programmed Lettuce as the headliner, just because their following seemed much stronger.

The music went from 6-11pm. The rain stopped sometime during the first set and allowed for people to comfortably walk outside the tent to get some fresh air and stretch their legs. I moved around throughout each of the sets, taking photos as I went and searching for decent sound.

Sadly, I never really found the perfect mix. I can’t imagine that the tent made a great space to run sound in and I can certainly sympathize with sound guys now, having run sound at a club for the past year. Still, I can’t help but think that things could have been made a bit better for each set. At times I wondered if the front of house sound guy just set the faders for the evening and left them until something started to feedback (which it did…). It was still, without a doubt, an awesome evening of music.

Big Sam

Big Sam's Funky Nation | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

Guitarist takes a solo | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

Guitarist takes a solo | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

Neal Evans takes a solo | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

Neal Evans takes a solo | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

Nigel Hall hypes the crowd | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

Nigel Hall hypes the crowd | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

George Porter lays down some funky lines | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

George Porter lays down some funky lines | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

Brian Stoltz | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

Brian Stoltz | Waterfront Funk Tent 6.11.09

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Will Bernard & Friends lay it down at Nectar’s

Will Bernard and his band provided an unforgettable night of music on Tuesday at Nectar’s. Along side Bernard were Tim Luntzel, Robert Walter and one of the funkiest New Orleans drummers ever, Stanton Moore.

It was clear after the first few songs that this show was not meant to be all about Will Bernard. The group played originals by every member of the band over the course of the evening. The musical conversation was always good and even, at times, quite humorous.

The masters of funk played all the way up until 2am, leaving the audience exhausted but entirely satisfied. The musicians were all grateful for the enthusiastic crowd. I finally got my opportunity to meet Stanton Moore, a drummer whom I’ve been listening to and admiring for quite a few  years. He was incredibly kind and more than willing to sign a copy of his album III for me. I took a moment to thank the rest of the band members for the show as well.

Will Bernard | Nectar's 6.9.09

Will Bernard | Nectar's 6.9.09

I also managed to catch James Harvey and Garuda playing at the bottom block of Church St. as part of the Twilight Jazz series earlier in the evening. I can’t remember the last time I saw James Harvey play drums but it was definitely enjoyable. The rest of his ensemble was with him every step of the way, providing a nice period of early evening entertainment.

What I love seeing the most is all the people that show up for these events. The demographic is usually somewhat unpredictable but the turnout has been much higher for such events in the past couple of years. I can remember attending things like the “Meet the Artist” sessions and being one of no more than 10 people in the audience. Now, the Flynn Space gets comfortable full for the educational events on a regular basis.

Looking forward to the first night of Lettuce tonight.

James Harvey & Garuda | Church St. 6.9.09

James Harvey & Garuda | Church St. 6.9.09

A captive audience enjoying the music of the Twilight Jazz Series on Church St.

A captive audience enjoying the music of the Twilight Jazz Series on Church St.

Getting to know Luis Perdomo

I took in another “Meet the Artist” session on Monday afternoon. This time was Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo. Perdomo and his band were fresh off a European tour and were looking forward to playing in Burlington again.

Perdomo had visited Burlington on vacation with a friend quite some time ago and had enjoyed the area. For a musician who had grown up in Venezuela, just getting to experience another area must have been very new and interesting.

He talked about his childhood and how his life as a musician took off. He had his first gig at the age of 12. He listened to any music he could get his hands on. His piano teacher would lend him several LP’s (remember, those big black CD things that played on record players? You do remember record players, right?) every week. One of the first was a Cecil Taylor record. He would blare it from his house while his friends were listening to more popular Venezuelan music. Taylor’s music was the catalyst for his interest in becoming at Jazz musician. At the age of 13, he decided that he wanted to be a professional musician.

While studying back in Venezuela, his teacher stressed the importance of studying classical music in addition to Jazz and other popular musical genres. He would study Bach and Beethoven in addition to Cecil Taylor and other prominent Jazz pianists.

After finishing high school, he applied to three colleges and got into one for Biology but decided not to attend. Instead, he tried to get local gigs playing music. Finally he got a gig playing in the most popular Jazz club in Caracas. The band played Jazz from 9pm to 3:30am. The next youngest musician in the band was 38 years old. Perdomo held the gig for four years.

In May of 1989, he made a trip to New York City with some friends, having wanted to see the place where all of the music he was listening too came from. During the trip, he spent all of his money on CD’s and Yankee’s tickets.

He just happened to be in New York when the Manhattan School of Music was holding auditions for the following year and decided to take an audition on a whim. He played a Jazz standard and did some sight reading (reading unprepared music) and that was it. After returning home, he was informed that he had been accepted and offered a sizable scholarship to attend the prestigious school.

While at school, he began to have a greater understanding for the music he had been playing for years. He played in a band with the notable vibraphone player Steffon Harris. Harris got him a lot of his first gigs in New York. Through him, Perdomo met Claudio Acuna and Jason Lindner. When Lindner couldn’t make a gig, Perdomo subbed for him. Soon he was playing with the great Jazz bassist John Pattitucci.

He soon received a call from Ravi Coltrane, son of the great John Coltrane. He played with Ravi for a period of time and soon began playing with alto sax player Miguel Zenon. Though he had his reservations about playing with the Puertro Rican musician, thinking that “he must not play ‘real Jazz,'” he was quite impressed.

Sadly, I was not able to attend the concert on Monday evening but I certainly plan to check out Perdomo’s music. I can tell just from hearing him talk about his experiences and decisions throughout his career that he certainly has something to say musically.

Looking forward to catching some music around town this afternoon, despite the inclement weather. And of course, Will Bernard and his band (Stanton Moore and Robert Walters among them) will be at Nectar’s tonight for a show that is not to be missed.

Meet the Artist with Luis Perdomo | Flynn Space 6.8.09

Meet the Artist with Luis Perdomo | Flynn Space 6.8.09

Fiuczynski rolls in on the KiF Express

Last night was David “Fuze” Fiuczynski’s KiF at Nectar’s, followed by Raq guitarist Chris Michetti with his band. Both bands certainly brought their “A” game for the night. 

Fuze went on at 9:30pm, playing material off of his latest album, KiF Express. His band was with him at every turn. There were certainly times when the crowd just didn’t know what to make of his music and were simply awed. 

Michette took the stage at 11:30 and tore it up with more progressive rock-based music. Though his band couldn’t compare to Fuze’s in talent, they were just as tight.

At a $5 cover, this was certainly the best bang for the buck.  Nectar’s is certainly off to a great start on their part for the festival.

David "Fuze" Fiuczynski | Nectar's 6.6.09

David "Fuze" Fiuczynski | Nectar's 6.6.09

David Fiuczynski @ KiF

David Fiuczynski & KiF | Nectar's 6.6.09

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

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival ’09

Here’s what’s on my menu so far:

Thur. 6.4.09
Left Ear Trio @ Ri Ra Pub

Fri. 6.5.09
Esperanza Spalding & Anat Cohen @ Flynn

Sat. 6.6.09
Revision @ Red Square
David “Fuze” Fiuczynski & Michetti @ Nectar’s

Sun. 6.7.09
Michael Louis Smith Coalition @ Half Lounge

Mon. 6.8.09
General musical wandering…

Tues. 6.9.09
CVU Jazz @ City Hall Stage (Church St.)
James Harvey & Garuda @ City Hall Stage (Church St.)
Will Bernard Group (Will Bernard, Tim Luntzel, Stanton Moore, Robert Walter) @ Nectar’s

Wed. 6.10.09
Gordon Stone @ Lawson Lane Stage
Japhy Ryder @ Fountain Stage (Church St.)
Lettuce @ Metronome

Thur. 6.11.09
Lettuce & Porter, Baptiste, Stoltz @ Waterfront Funk Tent

Fri. 6.12.09
Rubblebucket Orchestra @ Fountain Stage for Block Party
Branford Marsalis @ Flynn
Marco Benevento Trio @ Metronome

Sat. 6.13.09
Rubblebucket Orchestra @ Nectar’s

Sun. 6.14.09
General musical wandering…

I plan to catch all sorts of other things around town as I hear about them/hear them. I’ll take pictures and maybe some audio as well and I’ll do my best to post throughout the week.

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
Picture 1

Chapter 2 kicks up the dust at Metronome

Eric Krasno, the guitarist of Soulive and Lettuce and various other projects, lead Chapter 2 on an evening of funk and soul at Club Metronome in downtown Burlington on Thursday night. The group put on quite a show. Louis Cato, the bass player, managed to steal the show with an incredible solo at one point during the night. Adam Deitch also deserves to be mentioned for some of the tightest and most interesting live drumming I’ve heard in a while. It seemed like he broke new ground with every song they played.

Looking forward to catching Krasno and Deitch together with Lettuce when they play during the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

Chapter 2 | 5.28.09 Club Metronome - Burlington, VT

Chapter 2 | 5.28.09 Club Metronome - Burlington, VT