As I set out in the preview post for yesterday's RIJF festivities, I came out to support those who ply the jazz trade in the Rochester area. After a beer and a cigar at Havana Moe's, and some street meat on Gibbs, I started the evening out in the tent with the Bill Tiberio Band. I have a confession to make. In the preview I completely blew it in setting out Bill and the band. I've known Bill for awhile and have seen him play with the Bill Tiberio Group and Bill Welch Band. When I saw he was going to be playing in the tent on Tuesday, I just assumed that he'd be playing with members of Paradigm Shift, who in the past have usually been, with Bill, the "Bill Tiberio Group". So when I got into the tent and saw Bill and his band setting up, it was quite a surprise when none of them (other than Bill, of course) were from PS. Bill's got a brand new band (apparently this was one of their first gigs together). So to give them their due, I wanted to make sure I listed who's actually in the band, which includes (in addition to Bill Tiberio on saxophone): Joe Chiappone (guitar), Geoff Smith (bass), Scott Bradley (trumpet AND piano), and Phil Lake (drums). The group played well before a large and appreciative audience in the tent.
Headed over a little while after Bill Tiberio's set began to High Fidelity to catch some of another local group, John Viviani and Filthy Funk. When I arrived shortly after their set began they were funking up the place and the place was packed full almost to the door. I was able to hear, but not see. They were really hitting their stride, with Mike Cottone joining them and laying down some brass.
Left HF and headed over to Christ Church to see Nate Rawls Band. I assumed it would be his Big Band and was somewhat disappointed when I walked in and it was a quintet (including two percussionists) and a singer. Additionally, there was that sound quality issue...Christ Church is too cavernous a space for the type of music that has been programmed into it (or perhaps there should have been more attention paid to the sound as it seems they have a bare minimum sound system in there).
Headed back to the tent to catch the main event for the evening, at least for me, the Henderson-Owens 3 featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith. I had missed them when they played the Exodus to Jazz series awhile back. I ran into Jeff Spevak on the way back, who raved about the 6:00 pm performance of ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro and as I wandered up Jazz Street the "word on the street" was that this was a performance not to miss. Caught in a bind as it will be difficult for me to make seeing him at High Fidelity today, I had to make a decision.
The first session with the Doctor made that decision easy. Dr. Lonnie Smith was on fire and had us in that groove that only his B3 can do for more than a hour (Akiko Tsuruga, Lou Donaldson's B3 player from the previous night, had been Smith's student, which explained a lot). He was full of piss and vinegar, parodying Nat King Cole in Misty and Stevie Wonder in You Are the Sunshine of My Life. Sometimes he just seemed possessed by the groove and, at one point, needed to play those bass notes faster than his feet would go, so he pulled out his seat at the organ and got down on his knees to bang out the groove with his hands on the pedals. I've seen the Good Doctor several times and had never heard him sing as much as he did last night. Since I knew I would have to spend most of the set standing in line to catch the ukulele stylings of Mr. Shimabukuro, it was an easy choice to move up closer and see the second set with Dr. Lonnie Smith at 10:00 pm. We were sitting on the side during the first set and could watch Smith's hands. At the later set, all we could see was his head and his feet pumping out that bass line. His shows are always fun and funky—last night was no exception.
I headed home satisfied and ready to get some shut-eye so my body doesn't shut down before the RIJF does.
—June 19th: In an amazing feat of thoughtlessness, I managed to write the preceding words yesterday about the Henderson-Owens 3 without really mentioning two of the 3—Melvin Henderson and Ulysses Owens—and feel compelled to add something to this post now as their fantastic playing and interplay with the Doctor were the strong backbone of two absolutely satisfying sets of music that still left me wanting more. I've been hearing Mel's guitar with Paradigm Shift, the Doctor, and others since shortly after I arrived in Rochester in 2002, and always have loved his sound and the way he interplays with soloists. Mel also is a tireless supporter of live jazz in his hometown and I've come to value him as a friend. I've seen Ulysses Owens a few times with different groups. This young drummer is one of the best out there and watching him work the night before last with Dr. Lonnie Smith and their close bond as they played was a delight. Owens will be here with his own group appearing at the exciting fall season of Exodus to Jazz series (and it is a major group, so watch for further information in this blog and elsewhere on this great fall season).
Some other voices on the festival:
- Ken catches up with RIJF 2008, Days 3 & 4 & 5 at Fretful Porpentine.
- Krazy Barrister has a few posts up (sorry I missed them earlier) on the first 4 days.
- Jeff Spevak in the Democrat & Chronicle describes seeing Jake Shimabukuro in Shimabukuro charms, awes Rochester International Jazz Festival.
- Jack Garner in the D&C on Gillespie tribute a real treat for sparse jazz festival crowd.
- Anna Reguero did a number of posts, ranging from some doings at the after- after-hours at the Flat Iron Cafe early yesterday morning to covering Day 4 in Organ Bliss,
Day 5 (she was writing about Day 4, but that's understandable as she's been out every night until the wee hours...we're all missing things), and How to make a four-stringed ukulele sound like a 13-stringed koto among others.
- Jeff Spevak in the D&C blog in Day 5 (sorry, Anna, I didn't see Jeff's name at the bottom... I'm definitely missing things)
- Brendan Guisti in City Newspaper with JAZZ BLOG 08, DAY 5: Smooth jazz that swings hard?
- Frank DeBlase in City with JAZZ BLOG 08, DAY 5: Like something out of Greek mythology
- Ron Netsky in City with JAZZ BLOG 08, DAY 5: "I'm doing what I can do"