Before I mention some of the local stuff I've seen in the last few days, I thought I would give you a short (hopefully) history of the jazz "scene" in Burlington. My short bio for this blog says that I moved to Burlington in 1989. That's not completely true. I have actually lived here in three different decades. The first time I moved here was in 1967. I was living in NYC and visited some of my NYC friends in the Bad Liver Valley (Mad River). My then-child bride, who was born and raised in Manhattan fell in love with the area, so we moved here.
First of all, I couldn't find a job, because I wore a neatly trimmed goatee (it was black in color then). My hair was short cropped and neat. It's still neat, but I have more growing out of my ears than on the top of my head. There was only one other person in this area who wore a beard and he was an engineer at the G.E. plant off Pine Street. We soon discovered that after NYC, Burlington was a cultural shock for us in 1967.
The only club that had jazz on a regular basis was the High Hat which was located where Nectar's is now. The bandstand was positioned on a raised platform in the middle of a horseshoe-shaped bar. I can only remember the house band (C.R.S. Syndrome), which consisted of a rhythm section plus a reed player. The members of this ensemble were all African-Americans. The Roostertail was located where the Ground Round is now. They had a Hammond B-3 organ (with a Lesley speaker) trio. They could play jazz, but were only allowed to play dance music. If I had consumed vast amounts of alcohol, I would drop by and listen every once in a while. That was the total jazz
scene. Consider yourselves lucky. We lived at the edge of the flat earth then.
Monday (6/04) - UVM "Post-Bop Ensemble - Basement of Memorial Auditorium(rain site) - I've seen a lot of these players on campus and made it a point to pay my respects.
Wednesday (6/06) - South Burlington H.S. Jazz Ensemble - Dave Grippo always brings his troops prepared. Last tune of the day was a smoking Latin piece.
Wednesday (6/06) - Harwood "A" Band &Harwood "B" Band back to back. Bruce Sklar (director), has the same mine set as Grippo.
Wednesday (6/06) Mike Hardin Sextet. This is Michael's third year leading his own group of H.S. players. I've seen them all and can testify of their musicianship.
Thursday (6/07) - Moss Point (Mississippi) H.S. Jazz All-Stars. Old fashioned instrumentation (brass driven). This band must make a lot of pilgrimages to New Orleans. Excellent.
Friday (6/08) - Union College Jazz Ensemble - Ugh!! I would put up any of the aforementioned local H.S. bands against this group. After the second song, they drove me up the street into the arms of the...
Wes Ruielle Trio (I think? because there was an additional two reed players) who were performing under the tent at Leunig's Bistro. Just as I began to appreciate their straight-ahead playing, the boss came out and said to tone it down, because nobody wanted to sit up front next to the band stand. I don't understand. This is a jazz festival isn't it? Okay, if you want the diner crowd, then hire the Lester Lanin Orchestra (inside NYC joke). I departed soon after.
Thursday (6/07) - Ellen Powell Quartet at Leunig's - Damn, I wish that Ellen's foot would permit her to pick up the upright base again. She sounds better with it.
Wednesday (6/06) - Nicholas Cassarino & Joseph Davidian at The Daily Planet - Some more of the upcoming young lions.
Every time I've made a search up Church Street, I poke my head into the 1/2 Lounge and I like everything I've heard. It's always been some adventurous music. The ambience is classic old school NYC hole in the wall jazz club. A postage stamp-sized bandstand and the customers are actually listening! I don't know what they do the rest of the year, but I'm planning to visit more often. Of course, my recommendation may be their death knell.