Two of the best and most distinctive artists in jazz grace our region with performances in the Burlington area Thursday. Monster saxophonist Kamasi Washington brings his sizable band to the Higher Ground Ballroom, while master guitarist Bill Frisell and his Harmony quartet settle into the intimate confines of ArtsRiot.
Here’s a closer look at the two artists.
Bill Frisell: HarmonyAn unassuming master guitarist, Bill Frisell is known for his fluid fretwork and gorgeously dreamy soundscapes that deftly fuse everything from American and African roots music to blues and rock styles with a jazz sensibility.
Frisell, 68, returns to ArtsRiot one year after performing solo at the intimate nightspot. This time out, he brings a unique quartet featuring longtime collaborators Petra Haden on vocals and Hank Roberts on cello and vocals, in addition to Luke Bergman on acoustic guitars, bass and vocals.
The quartet is featured on Frisell’s acclaimed new album “Harmony.” Released in October, the album is his first for Blue Note Records.
While Frisell has worked with vocalists in the past, he says that “Harmony” is something altogether different. “We premiered in San Francisco in 2016,” he says in press materials, “and, kind of at the last minute, I thought, ‘Wow, everybody sings.’ They sang a few things, and I was like, ‘OK, now I think we’re really onto something.”
“Frisell, as always, plays for the group and for the song rather than reeling off solos,” said the Wire about the album. “Every Frisell performance is shaped with love and care, and with a near perfect balance between form and freedom.”
Bill Frisell: Harmony performs at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at ArtsRiot in Burlington. Tickets are $55 (all ages; general admission); call 802-540-0406 or go online to www.artsriot.com.
Kamasi WashingtonA major highlight of the 2017 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, 38-year-old sax titan Kamasi Washington returns to Higher Ground where he performed later that year. Washington, 38, performs in support of a new concert film, “Live at the Apollo Theater,” released two weeks ago on Amazon Prime Video.
Also, Amazon Music released a previously unheard track, “The Bombshell’s Waltz,” which was originally recorded for Washington’s self-released 2007 album, “The Proclamation.”
“Live at the Apollo Theater,” a 90-minute film that documents Washington’s first-ever performance one year ago at the iconic venue in Harlem, N.Y., “captures the energy that has made the Los Angeles tenor player one of the key jazz bandleaders and players of the last decade,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The visually stunning cinematography is equaled by the sound production,” added the Times. “Precisely recorded and mixed, the concert rewards not only screen-centered viewing, but audio-only listening.”
A longtime standout of L.A.’s progressive jazz scene, Washington took the world by storm with his 2015 opus, “The Epic,” a staple of best-album lists that year, jazz and otherwise. And his stunning 2018 double album “Heaven and Earth” continues to receive widespread critical acclaim.
“Drawing on the inclusive spirit of 1970s soul jazz and using massed strings, vocals and a contingent of eclectic improvisers,” said the New Yorker of the album, “Washington creates his effect by painting with sweeping brushstrokes.”
Lady Moon & the Eclipse, a Brooklyn-based collective that plays a dance-inducing blend of R&B and Afrobeat-influenced rhythms, opens the show.
Kamasi Washington and opener Lady Moon & the Eclipse perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at Higher Ground Ballroom, S. Burlington. Tickets are $30 advance, $33 day of show (all ages); call 877-987-6487 or go online to www.highergroundmusic.com.