An early-summer institution in the Green Mountain State, the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival — now in its 36th year — is serving up its first five shows, tickets for which went on sale to the public Thursday. The fest will once again feature “100-plus hours of free live music,” according to a press release.
The complete lineup for the festival, which runs from May 31-June 9, will be announced in the coming weeks. Here’s a closer look at the five events:
Saturday, June 1: Pharoah Sanders
Called “probably the best tenor player in the world” by no less than singular saxophonist Ornette Coleman himself, Grammy-winning musician Pharoah Sanders “possesses one of the most distinctive tenor saxophone sounds in jazz,” according to the All Music Guide.
After getting his start in jazz with the late avant-garde great Sun Ra in 1961, Sanders, now 78, rose to prominence playing and recording with John and Alice Coltrane. “Although he made his name with expressionistic, nearly anarchic free jazz in John Coltrane’s late ensembles of the mid-‘60s,” says the AMG, “Sanders’ later music is guided by more graceful concerns.”
Flynn main stage, 8 p.m.; $16.50-$58.50
Thursday, June 6: Christian Sands Trio
One of the most in-demand pianists in jazz, Christian Sands — who turns 30 in May — brings his trio to FlynnSpace for two shows in support of his stellar, groove-driven 2018 album, “Facing Dragons.”
“I like the freedom of the trio format,” says Sands in press materials. “It’s more dramatic to me. It’s a smaller entity, but with a big personality. I can fit it into different situations dramatically, compositionally.”
FlynnSpace, 6 and 8:30 p.m.; $32.25
Thursday, June 6: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Tank & the Bangas
A lauded Birmingham, Alabama eight-piece group known for its infectious, boundary-blending mix of soul, rock ’n’ roll, R&B and funk, St. Paul & the Broken Bones plays the Waterfront Tent in support of its third album, “Young Sick Camellia,” released last fall.
“Anyone who might have written off St. Paul & the Broken Bones as a mere throwback ought to settle in and marinate in a sound that keeps getting weirder, more inventive and … more committed than ever to the pleasures of sprightly, joyous funk,” said NPR.
Waterfront Tent, 6 p.m.; $53.25
Saturday, June 8: Tia Fuller
A former member of Beyonce’s touring band, Tia Fuller is an accomplished performer in her own right. The alto saxophonist and composer, 42, who is also a professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, performs two shows at FlynnSpace — and serves as festival artist-in-residence — in support of her fifth album as a bandleader.
“Diamond Cut,” a trio album released last spring on Mack Avenue Records, is Fuller’s first album in six years, and follows four albums with her quartet. PopMatters called it “probably her best recording, not just because of the talent backing her up but also because the tunes … are arresting and arranged with a balance of groove and swing.”
“Tia Fuller continues to grow in power with each release, and ‘Diamond Cut’ is an easily recommended example of her musical talents,” said Jazz Monthly, calling Fuller “one of the top alto saxophonists of the past decade.”
FlynnSpace, 6 and 8:30 p.m.; $32.25
Saturday, June 8: Toots & the Maytals, The Big Takeover, Sabouyouma
One of the rightful architects of reggae music, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert is true reggae royalty. Known for his numerous reggae classics and high-energy live shows, the soulful singer garnered a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for his star-studded 2004 album, “True Love,” which Billboard called “a 55-minute party in a jewel case.”
Raised in Jamaica, Hibbert grew into a national star during the mid-1960s, recording countless tunes with the Maytals and personally popularizing the term “reggae.”
Toots has reportedly recorded more than two albums worth of new material, some of which he hopes to release this year. He recently released “A Song Call Marley,” a tune that harkens to his time as a young man in Jamaica.
“I have more than two albums in me,” Hibbert recently told Relix magazine. “I have a lot of songs. I’m waiting for the time. When young people request it, I will deliver it.”
Waterfront Park, 6 p.m.; $43.75