Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

What to expect from the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2023

 People sit on grass facing a stage where musicians are performing.
Emily Corwin
People enjoy a concert at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in 2018.

The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival is celebrating 40 years — long enough, noted Flynn Executive Director Jay Wahl, that people who attended the early festivals may now be bringing their kids or even grandchildren to enjoy the music.

This year's festival brings together "icons" in the jazz world with new, young voices, Wahl said as he joined Vermont Edition host Mikaela Lefrak on Tuesday to preview highlights of the upcoming festival.

Festival curator Lakecia Benjamin plays the alto saxophone and is a "dynamo," Wahl said.

"She's a rising star in the jazz word world," Wahl said. "She's toured with Prince and Alicia Keys and the Roots — and like, in fact, if you run into her at the festival, you have to ask her about her work with Prince because she tells the most amazing stories."

In curating the festival this year, Benjamin sought to center "the future of jazz" and honor women, Wahl said. Those goals are manifested in performances by Vermont's own singer-songwriter (and Vermont Public staffer) Myra Flynn, performing June 11 at the Flynn, and Grammy award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, performing June 9 on the waterfront.

Vermonters may have seen Benjamin perform last year on the Burlington Waterfront when she opened for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. In addition to curating the festival this summer, she will perform at the June 7 show that opens the festival, along with "marvelous singer-songwriter pianist" Samora Pinderhughes and singer Samara Joy.

Samara Joy just won the Grammy award for Best New Artist at 23 years old. "If you haven't heard her yet, you're gonna be astounded by her," Wahl said.

The jazz group Sun Ra Arkestra is led by Marshall Allen, "who turned 99 last week," Wahl said. They'll perform the evening of June 8 on Church Street.

The festival also continues a tradition of highlighting young musicians — first with the hundreds of high school students who will be performing with their bands on Church Street throughout the festival, and also with Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead program, which features 16 composers under the age of 25 who have written new jazz music.

With these highlights and more, festival organizers hope visitors can simply enjoy the party that kicks off the summer.

"I've always worried that people hear jazz and they go, oh, this is the important music. It's like, you know, it's like broccoli. It's good for you. No, no, no — I mean, it is, but that's not the point," Wahl said. "We're just here to be together, shake our groove things, have a beer, hang out on the waterfront, feel the breeze — like, come on, it's Vermont, it's summertime. Get your groove on."

The Flynn is a Vermont Public underwriter.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or check us out on Instagram.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Tedra worked on Vermont Edition as a producer and editor from 2022 to 2024.