OK, I'm a little late to the party, so you may have heard most of this elsewhere after the lineup announcement press conference last Tuesday, but I finally had some time this weekend to start my coverage of the 16th Anniversary Edition of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, coming June 23rd through July 1st. This year's festival will present more than 1,500 artists from around the world in 325+ shows at 19 venues around the East End of Rochester. I'll just run through a few highlights, including what's new this year:
- First thing is that XRIJF has a spiffy new website. While the components are pretty much the same, navigation is much easier and the site is responsive (like this one), so it'll fit whatever screen you're looking at.
- The Club Pass will be personalized with your picture and name (using Xerox technology, of course...). You can see how they'll look on the front page of the new website. While they didn't go into too much detail about the process at the presser, I expect that there will be stations throughout the site to pick up your pass and that's where the photo will be taken and your pass issued. You may want to give yourself some time and look your best (or how you wish to be seen for the next 9 days) before coming down to pick it up for the first time. While the spin on this new development is that it increases security and will make it possible to issue a new pass if you lose yours (and these are good things...), part of its purpose is to close down sharing of passes, which was always frowned upon, so be forewarned unless you have an uncanny resemblance to the person you intend to share with.
- The after-hours jam sessions each night will be at the Riverview Ballroom of the Radisson Rochester Riverside hotel (and, conveniently, the artists will also be staying there....). There will actually be two different jam sessions, each with a different focus, and the new one led by Karl Stabnau (more on that as I learn of the details). If you haven't been in the Ballroom for a wedding or other event, it is a pretty large space (much larger than the State Street Bar & Grill inside, good sight lines, and it has a separate and large bar area. I've heard jazz there and, with good sound, some ambience and food/drink, it may be an improvement. Of course, it may also be a bit harder for the artists to find it... will leave it John Nugent and Bob Sneider to help them find the way.
- The Lyric Theatre returns as a Club Pass venue after last year's absence due to the Inner Loop construction, with five shows running from Sunday, June 25th through Thursday, June 29th. The Democrat & Chronicle is sponsoring it this year.
- The Rochester Club is being renamed (for the festival) "The Wilder Room." That doesn't mean the music will be wilder, though. Looks like a good, eclectic lineup for this venue.
- The Save Time in Line wristbands are returning for the Kilbourn Hall and Max's at Eastman Place venues. As I missed last year's festival, I didn't experience how these worked, but since I tend to see a lot of the shows at Kilbourn (and Max's for that matter...), I love the idea of being able to leave the line and hear something else. Nothing worse than showing up to line up for a Kilbourn show after the line has snaked down the alley and then spending more than an hour there.
- Young musicians will have an opportunity to take advantage of 5 free workshops, working with artists performing at the festival. These are sponsored by Wegmans.
As I noted on Wednesday, and paraphrasing the bard of "Jazz" Street John Nugent, in this year's XRIJF there will be some you know, some you don’t know ... That's just the way I like it! More later....