Arts & Leisure

Vergennes sax player helps kick off Burlington’s jazz fest

VERGENNES RESIDENT DOUGLAS Hartwell joins the world’s largest community saxophone orchestra to open Burlington’s Discover Jazz Festival (June 4-13).

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, produced by the Flynn in association with Burlington City Arts, and presented by New England Federal Credit Union, begins on June 4, at 6 p.m., with an eccentric and joyful kick-off event at the Burlington waterfront: 50 Saxophones, a gathering of area saxophonists that is open to all ages, backgrounds and experience levels. Dubbed “the world’s largest community saxophone orchestra,” this will be an opportunity for all our communities to join together and make some noise after a year of isolation.

The Flynn put out a call for saxophonists to participate in late-April and interest quickly surpassed the goal in the title. More than 70 saxophonists, ages 12 to 78 years old, are signed up to get the 2021 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival started, setting the tone for a 10-day festival full of free events that celebrate community, togetherness, and local artistry. And the total number of participants keeps rising.

50 Saxophones participants come from all over the region, including several out-of-state players, as well as counties across Vermont. Douglas Hartwell (from Vergennes) will be representing Addison County, with neighbors Matt Davide (from Shelburne), and Denise Farmer (from Hinesburg).

Under the direction of Dave Grippo — a Burlington-based alto saxophonist and Phish/Trey Anastasio collaborator who serves as director of Jazz Studies for the South Burlington school district — the gathered saxophonists will play a selection of crowd-pleasing jazz standards, casting them in an entirely new light through this one-of-a-kind, irrepressible big band arrangement.

It’s not too late to join! To participate in the 50 Saxophones event, fill out the registration form at

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