Seven Can't-Miss Shows at Burlington Discover Jazz Festival | Music Feature | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Music » Music Feature

Seven Can't-Miss Shows at Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

By and

Published June 5, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.

Lady Wray - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Lady Wray

During this week's Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, the strains of jazz, funk, hip-hop and more will emanate from stages around the city, coalescing into a roiling bitches' brew over five days and nights. Even at half the length of the festival in its heyday, the lineup presents no shortage of options.

To aid the jazz-addled masses, music editor Chris Farnsworth and culture coeditor (and former longtime music editor) Dan Bolles offer their picks for can't-miss performances. Of course, these are but a sampling of what's out there to, well, discover — you'll also want to catch shows by curator Adi Oasis, headliner Cécile McLorin Salvant and the all-star tribute to late local sax legend Joe Moore. Follow your ears to all the rest.

Some Like It Hot

Lady Wray, Thursday, June 6, 7:20 p.m., at Church Street Top of the Block. Free.

As debuts go, Lady Wray's have been pretty good. She broke onto the scene as a featured vocalist on "Gettaway," a single from Missy Elliott's 1997 debut, Supa Dupa Fly. The following year, Wray released her first single, "Make It Hot," which hit the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold within six weeks. These days, the California singer is less about chart-topping success and hobnobbing with the likes of Ol' Dirty Bastard and the Black Keys than she is about family life. But she's still delivering provocative, boundary-pushing soul music, such as her 2022 album Piece of Me, which fuses vintage R&B with the classic boom-bap hip-hop of her youth.

— D.B.

Getting Their Flowers

11 Years of Jazz at Juniper, Wednesday, June 5, through Saturday, June 8, 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., at Juniper Bar & Restaurant. Free.

The Queen City has a number of hot spots for local jazz, but none has been more consistent in offering weekly performances than Juniper Bar & Restaurant at Hotel Vermont. During this year's jazz fest, the downtown establishment hosts four nights of music celebrating its 11-year tradition of featuring the best of the local scene every weekend. Wednesday kicks it off with the All Star Latin Jazz Jam, followed on Thursday by an album-release show for the Patricia Julien Project. On Friday, Alex Stewart and Friends featuring Josh Bruneau perform a tribute to American trumpeter and composer Lee Morgan. Saturday wraps it up with local jazz legend Ray Vega and his quartet playing the music of the late, great Wayne Shorter. While the jazz fest has abundant out-of-town talent, if you want to hear what Burlington has to offer, there's no better spot than Juniper.

— C.F.

Let's Dance

The Illustrious Blacks: Hot Butter LGBTQIA+ Disco, Friday, June 7, 10 p.m., at Flynn Space. $10.

The Illustrious Blacks are hard to categorize. But if you really want to affix a genre label to the New York City duo, the title of its 2017 debut EP wouldn't be a bad place to start: Neo Afro Futuristic Psychedelic Surrealistic Hippy. Inspired in equal parts by David Bowie, Prince and George Clinton, Manchildblack and Monstah Black internalize everything from classic house music and hip-hop to glam rock and space funk before refracting it all back out to the dance floor in a glittering blend of ass-shaking grooves and good vibes. At Burlington Discover Jazz Fest, they hold court over the latest edition of the Flynn's Hot Butter LGBTQIA+ Disco dance party series.

— D.B.

The Son Also Rises

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Saturday, June 8, 9 p.m., at Waterfront Park. Free.

Seun Kuti was probably never gonna be an accountant or a lawyer. From the time he was 9 years old, the saxophonist and singer was joining his dad, legendary Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer and activist Fela Kuti, onstage. When Fela died in 1997, Seun, just 14, took over his father's longtime band, Egypt 80. A quarter century later, Fela's youngest son carries on his father's musical and political legacies as a champion of both heady, genre-swallowing grooves and social justice. In 2020, he revived his father's 1970s political party, the progressive-minded Movement of the People. He followed that up two years later with African Dreams, a critically acclaimed EP with the Roots' Black Thought.

— D.B.

Bounce Castle

Big Freedia, Friday, June 7, 9:35 p.m., at Waterfront Park. Free.

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival has many aspects, from great music to educational programming. But at the end of the day, it's a big party. And every party needs its queen. Reigning over this year's festivities is Big Freedia. The New Orleans rapper and acknowledged Queen of Bounce — bounce music, that is — collaborated with no less a luminary than Beyoncé on the 2022 Grammy Award-winning song "Break My Soul" and followed that with the album Central City. Featuring all-stars such as Lil Wayne, Ciara and Faith Evans, the album pleased critics: Pitchfork called it "a dizzying collage that's in service of Freedia having an excellent time." That party atmosphere translates to a raucous live show, sure to light up the Burlington waterfront.

— C.F.

After Midnight

Tyreek McDole, Wednesday, June 5, through Sunday, June 9, 10 p.m., at Big Joe's at Vermont Comedy Club. Free.

Sarah Vaughan headlined the inaugural Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in 1984. Four decades later, the iconic vocalist's legacy can still be heard in certain corners of the Queen City's premier music fest, if you know where to look. Tyreek McDole is a 24-year-old Haitian American singer based in New York City. He's also the 2023 winner of the prestigious Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. He may still be a few years away from following in Vaughan's footsteps on the Flynn Main Stage, but local hepcats will have five chances to catch the silky-smooth baritone in an intimate cabaret setting. Every night of the festival, McDole and his band will hold down a late-night residency at Big Joe's at Vermont Comedy Club — renamed for the fest in honor of the late, great local sax man "Big Joe" Burrell. When the clock strikes midnight, the stage hosts an open jam that goes into the wee hours.

— D.B.


Robert Glasper with Aja Monet, Sunday, June 9, 7:30 p.m., at Flynn Main Stage. $20-84.

Music is not sports, so it's misleading to judge an artist by numbers as we might an athlete. Still, Robert Glasper's stats are pretty damn impressive. He's been nominated for 14 Grammy Awards and won five. But the really wild part is that he's been nominated in nine different categories, including Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best Jazz Instrumental Album and three times for Best R&B Album. That's a testament not only to the keyboardist and composer's talent but also to his rare versatility. Working with everyone from jazz great Christian McBride to rapper Kendrick Lamar, Glasper is the rare artist who succeeds across genres — and transcends them.

— D.B.

The original print version of this article was headlined "All That Jazz | Seven can't-miss shows at Burlington Discover Jazz Festival"

Related Stories

Speaking of...



Comments are closed.

From 2014-2020, Seven Days allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we've appreciated the suggestions and insights, right now Seven Days is prioritizing our core mission — producing high-quality, responsible local journalism — over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.