Well, it's here! I have a couple of hours before heading downtown to Jazz Street. Beautiful day here in Rochester, so why am I here inside writing? To record my picks for Friday and Saturday, the last two days of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival for you my readers, of course!
On Friday, June 27th, the eighth night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to get to the Club Pass gigs of the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):
- Bill Frisell's Guitar in the Space Age: Bill Frisell comes to the jazz festival here quite often, but every time he comes he brings a wildly different project. It's always like he's a completely diferent artist each time he comes. So, I'll be heading out to Kilbourn to see him for maybe the 4th time at XRIJF. Based on what I've read, the quartet he's bringing will be mining the guitar that is the formative clay of Frisell's playing, including that of: jazz legend Charlie Christian; rock and roll's Chuck Berry, Duane Eddy, Link Wray and The Wrecking Crew; surf music icons Dick Dale, The Ventures and The Astronauts; folk's Pete Seeger; and country music stars Chet Atkins, Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant and Merle Travis. Frisell was born in 1951 ... can you tell? May have to get there early to get a good seat given all the guitarists in town who will likely be there...
- The Wee Trio: This trio has been here twice (in 2010 at MCC and 2012 at Roberts Wesleyan) and I had to miss them both times. Instead of a piano, The Wee Trio replaces it with vibes and a marimba. They range from standards to reimaginings of Nirvana songs, from straight up to sideways. Just the way I like it.... Here's a couple of videos, one of them playing The Oracle and another live performance from one of my favorite Chicago jazz clubs, the Green Mill (a bit of static at the beginning goes away). By the way, the Wee's drummer Jared Schonig used to hold down the beat with Rochester's own Paradigm Shift.
- The Deciders: Despite City's mis-labeling them (as of this writing) in their guide as a rock band from Boulder this The Deciders is from Norway and is anything but, belonging more to the tradition of Sun Ra (without the spaceship) than to covers of blues and southern rock. As anyone who has read this blog for awhile will know, I like to open my ears and this group of musicians will do that from me. A writer for the Irish Times calls them a "big, blowsy outfit, with plenty of chops and energy in spades." For a pretty big taste and confirmation of that here is a video of them from the 2012 MoldeJazz festival, and another of a set (I think, it's 23 minutes) from Victoria (probably B.C., Canada).
- Ibrahim Electric: We caught this Danish group when they were at the festival in 2010 and I am ready for more. Ibrahim Electric drives hard and breaks things, like barriers between genres, mixing jazz, rock, surf, afro-pop, soul and funk. Here they are with Rain Man, or this set from jazzahead2014's Danish Night.
This night's choices were hard as I would have liked to pull in the Rufus Reid Trio, but again have opted to branch out from the familiar as much as possible. Also Ester Rada (see below), opening for Marcus Miller Band outside.
On Saturday, June 28th, the last night of the XRIJF, sniff... sniff, I'm going to try to hear the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):
- Newport Jazz Festival: Now 60: Celebrating the 60 years that the Newport Jazz Festival, the first annual festival in the U.S., this cast of players is traveling the circuit. Directed by Anat Cohen, who was here last year, it includes Karrin Allyson, Randy Brecker, Mark Whitfield, Peter Martin, Larry Grenadier,and Clarence Penn, all of who are stars in their own right. Although I've yet to make my way over to Rhode Island for the festival itself, I have shared the great streams of the concerts that WGBO and National Public Radio do each year. Maybe for the 61st?
- Ester Rada: This Israeli born fits this festival so well, mixing all sorts of influences from across the world from Ethiopian jazz of Ester Rada's heritage to neo-soul, funk and R&B. Plus the music that I've heard just makes you want to move. Her performance is going to be a party in the Big Tent (or on the street on Friday) if she brings it like she does on this live cut of Bad Guy from the Barby Club in Tel Aviv.
- Cyrille Aimée: Depends on my mood, but by the end of the festival I'm usually ready to kick back and end it on a mellow tone (and that may be necessary given my previous pick). Max at Eastman Place is a space for that. If it goes the other way toward the more driving and intense side, I'll end with The Deciders at Montage, which is the space for that (although that's only if I don't see them Friday). The Washington Post describes Cyrille Aimée's voice as "like fine whiskey--oaky and smooth, with a hint of smokiness." When I saw her at the MAG awhile back she was touring with a Brazilian guitarist. This year she'll probably be appearing with the band on her new album It's A Good Day, with bass, drums and three guitars to cover her main influences of gypsy, jazz and Brazilian music. Here's a recent video of a live performance and one from 2012 singing Caravan with her Surreal Band at Birdland.
There are only 3 above as it is highly likely that I will miss one of my Friday picks and there is usually a few repeats, in different venues, between Friday and Saturday of the festival. If that's not necessary, I might get over to the Lutheran Church to see Susanna. The last night will be a fluid night.
As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...usually). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 27th and June 28th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.
Well, it's been a great ride figuring out my 2014 XRIJF with you... I'll see you on Jazz Street (where I'm heading as soon as I hit the Enter key...).