What you say? My comment policy needs restating....
Yes, Virginia, there is jazz in Rochester after the RIJF....

The question I kept getting asked on Jazz Street ... What have been your favorites at this year's RIJF?

RIJF M&T Bank logoTook me awhile to recover enough from nine days of too much beer and street meat, and too little sleep. Now that those are all digested, I might be able to look back on the Seventh Rochester International Jazz Festival with clearer eyes.  This may be one of several posts recapping 2008's RIJF and looking toward 2009.  Although not doubling like it did in previous years, the Rochester International Jazz Festival posted a record crowd of over 125,000 over its 9 days. It was great again seeing so many people having fun in downtown Rochester.

So I guess I'll start with the obvious...What were my favorites of 2008's Rochester Jazz Festival?  There was such a rich diversity of music that it's hard to confine my choices, but out of the 600 artists or so that played during the festival, I'll give it a go:

  • On Day 1, the Timo Lassy Band at the fantastic Nordic Jazz Now series.  Perhaps it is the first day excitement, but the set by this Finnish artist and his band was smokin. They started hard and didn't let up. While the NJN series did not offer as many things I felt compelled to see this year, I still think that it is a great addition to the festival and look forward as Nugent programs in series from other nations (apparently the next will be from the UK).
  • On Day 2, Stephanie McKay delivered the goods at High Fidelity and reminded me again of how the RIJF is a place to discover all kinds of music, not just jazz.
  • Also on Day 2, I need to add Dee Dee Bridgewater and the musical and spiritual journey I took with my lovely wife Dianna through her discovery of her roots in Mali.
  • On Day 4, Dave Liebman was an artist I had not been exposed to and he was a great find.
  • I just had a great time spending two sets with the good Doctor Lonnie Smith, Ulysses Owens and Mel Henderson aon Day 5.  Just can't help it with that B3 organ trio sound kicking out the grooves.
  • I had an absolutely great night of music on Day 6 with Dave Murray's Black Saint Quartet and the historic gathering of artists for the Rochester Jazz at the Philharmonic.
  • On Day 7, it was great to see Joe Locke bringing it home with his new band Force of Four and I discovered Blake Tartare by sheer accident.
  • Day 8 brought me another discovery—Billy's Band from St. Petersburg, Russia.

In many ways the above is a good representation of what makes the RIJF so satisfying musically. It's not just one kind of jazz or one kind of music, ranging from straightahead to "outsider" to R&B to offbeat.  I discovered some artists that I will now want to listen to and will soon be making a pilgrimage to the Bop Shop to start purchasing some of their CDs.

This year's RIJF was just a great time for me and I can't believe it's already over. Thanks to John Nugent, Marc Iacona, Jean Dalmath and the rest of the RIJF staff and volunteers for putting on another great festival of music.  I'll continue to do some other wrap ups as I think of them and will also continue with the listings and other regularly scheduled programming. What do you think?  Leave a short comment to let us know about your favorites (although we've heard enough from one artist's fans, if you know what I mean....) and watch the blog for a poll that I intend to add soon so you can let us know your favorites and who you'd like to see for the Eighth Annual RIJF next year.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.


My favorites were the following:

Day 1:
Blue Vipers of Brooklyn - hot jazz that moved me to dance even in the 90 degree weather.

Day 2:
Robin McKelle - her voice is amazing! Her band was tight and they kept me entranced throughout the whole performance. Even better..she's a Rochester native.

Day 4:
Lou Donaldson Quartet - I am still in awe and am left speechless regarding Lou's drummer, Fuku. Lou had us in stitches!

Day 5:
Henderson-Owens-Smith - One of the things I love about Ulysses Owens is his ability to find the groove and get into that pocket that keeps the music alive. The energy and power this trio creates is almost magical.

Day 7:
Joe Locke blew me away with his vibe skills

Day 8:
Billy's Band and Barbara Dennerlein were my favorite's of that night. The alto sax player in Billy's Band was outta sight! These cats have some sweet skills and on top of that they are theatrical entertainers.

Day 9:
Oh man! What a night!!! Catherine Russell swung hard followed by the Soul Rebels Brass Band from New Orleans. I went to the Zydeco show after that, and I must say that killer rub board players are few and far between. Dwayne Dopsie has one of the best!

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