Symptoms | Music Feature | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Published May 31, 2007 at 8:05 p.m.


June can be a cruel time for certain festival goers, and I mean those who are hopelessly jazz addicted.  And, sad to say, I mean myself.  If you even suspect that you might be a candidate for this group, and I speak from experience, there are several symptoms to be on the lookout for.

First there's unrestrained nostalgia for past festivals.  Surely nothing on this years schedule can begin to compare with the great programs of the past.  I think back on David Murray's appearances, the trombone quartet Slide Ride, Max Roach, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Fortune and Rashied Ali, and on and on.  Remembering those who have passed on--Joe Henderson, Raphe Malik, others--brings me close to tears.  This is all horribly sentimental, and in the end a waste of time.

Then there's the lure (threat) of new CDs.  All these players may come bearing new and old recorded material impossible to resist.  I look at every inch of my house, trying to guess how many CDs will fit into every uncrowded or empty space, and it gets harder every year.  The number of discs I buy annually has dropped significantly, but I run a jazz label and the music keeps coming in.  Maybe those Canadians will bring new product that's not to be easily found here.  Of course Anderson/Helias/Hemingway will have a new CD and I can't leave empty handed, can I?

Finally, I catch myself looking forward to next year's DJF before this one has even begun.  Maybe we'll finally get Cecil Taylor, and jazz fans who are overwhelmed (read intimidated) by his power can have a chance to discover how great his lyrical gifts are in the rich segments of repose that arrive in every performance.  Or maybe Abdullah Ibrahim will be back, offering another long flowing set that becomes uncommonly absorbing as it progresses.  Maybe he'll play Ellington again!  Or let's bring Billy Harper, not known to all, but a vigorous Texas tenor with a great band that's evolved out of hard bop over time.  So what then, we have to sit through all of this year's stuff before we can get to the goodies?

For anyone who wonders whether I'm a half-empty or half-full sort of geezer, there are hints above.  As day one of DJF approaches, with no organized twelve-step JA group in sight, I'm getting nervous and wondering if Bob Blumenthal might be able to talk me through it.

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