When I make a word do a lot of work like that, said Humpty Dumpty to Alice in Wonderland, "I always pay it extra." Humpty and Alice were not talking about the word "jazz," but they might as well have been.
As the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival's Program Guide emphasizes, if you ask a hundred people to define jazz, you'll get 300 answers. The overworked word deserves extra pay.
The festival works hard also. Realizing that jazz is continually evolving, the festival showcases many of jazz's faces and forms in a very short time period. During the ten-day Festival, you can experience bebop, big band, blues, bluegrass, ballads, bossa nova and beyond.
On June 13, for example, sitarist Paul Crowley and tablaist Benjamin Stewart will perform "Ragas of North India" on the Burlington City Hall Stage at 2 p.m.
A raga is a musical scale or mode (like a "key") that dictates what notes can be played during a particular musical piece. Each raga is associated with a certain kind of musical and emotional mood and with specific types of ornamentation and dominant notes. Indian classical musicians are known for their improvisation, but such invention must take place within a raga's individual boundaries.
Although ragas may seem way outside the meaning of jazz, they are not. Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane fell in love with classical Indian music about half a century ago, and he incorporated many of its characteristics into his work. He even named his son after famed Bengali Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar.
During the last few days of the festival, heed the festival's command. Take a chance. Discover what jazz can mean.