And the festivals begin with ... Live jazz in (and around) ROC, June 1-7
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Looking back and forward at JazzRochester’s coverage of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

I started JazzRochester's coverage of the 16th Edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival back at the end of March, right after the lineup was announced, and since have threatened to start it up again several times. Now we begin a series of posts over the next few weeks highlighting some of the music I hope to hear at this year’s XRIJF with a look back at how JazzRochester’s coverage has “evolved” over the years and where I intend to take it.

XRIJF logo JazzRochester’s coverage of the Rochester International Jazz Festival began back in 2006. Back then, there was not much local coverage during the festival by the major media outlets in Rochester. A couple of fellow bloggers and I met that year (we’ve heard a lot of music together since). We met up again in 2007 and inaugurated a short-lived podcast of sorts, which we called “Da Jazz”, a decidedly low brow recap of the evening’s listening. That year I also tried my hand at “moblogging,” which was me doing a sort of “man on the Jazz Street” thing, and which I admit were pretty lame (although the idea spread a bit that year and other more professional efforts were heard). In 2007 there was also the first (and only) “taped” interview of a jazz artist (pianist Geri Allen), where I learned how much work it was to not sound like a rank amateur (and given that I was, it was only because Ms. Allen is such a professional that it came out as well as it did....). After the final performance of the night by Avishai Cohen at the Montage, Jason Crane sat in and recorded the group doing a final “Da Jazz”, which was published to his great podcast interview site The Jazz Session.

Given the multiple attempts at moblogging in 2007 (most of which are no longer available for listening to thank the Lord), there were 76 posts during that year’s festival! I don’t think I’ve had that many in any year since. After that year I began learning that the more I tried to post to the blog during the festival itself, the less I was able to do what I really was there for … listen to the music. Additionally, as the years went by and coverage of the festival began to increase in the major media, especially after Xerox’s entry in 2010, I found that the blog’s traffic actually started to go down during XRIJF (before it had usually doubled or tripled). This is the inevitable result of the wall-to-wall coverage that the festival is now getting in local TV and newspapers. As that coverage increased, the importance of posting to the blog itself during the festival seemed less important; enjoying the festival and the music became my focus. Over the ensuing years, I began turning my coverage during the festival to other platforms where JazzRochester has more of an impact, especially Twitter where JazzRochester was building a larger and broader audience (now at over 11,000), Facebook and elsewhere. Now I try to do a recap post after each evening, but most of the coverage during the festival itself is found in other places. I’ll have a post closer to the 23rd that will outline where to find JazzRochester during the XRIJF.

Last year was the first that there was no direct coverage of the XRIJF in JazzRochester since 2006. Why? As those who read the blog regularly will remember, I wasn’t here. I was in Wichita, Kansas from the end of April through October, helping to care for my father, who was on home hospice and passed away at the end of September. Being on the outside for the 15th Edition, I gained some perspective about what this blog is really about, which is covering the live jazz in Rochester for the other 356 days of the year. I hope to use that perspective in framing my coverage and other activities this year.

In 2017, during the XRIJF I intend to focus as I have in more recent years on sharing the great coverage that others are doing and trying to make connections between the artists and festival goers. I’m also going to focus on doing what I can during the XRIJF to raise awareness of the site and what it does throughout the year. In addition to that, I’m looking forward to seeing how new concepts introduced at the festival are affecting the experience of the festival. For example, how will the new (last year) Save Time in Line wristbands for the Kilbourn Hall and Max’s Club Pass venues (two which I tend to include in my itinerary often) will affect my (and others) ability to hear more of the local artists, high school bands, and just to experience more of the festival’s great atmosphere, from someplace other than the alley next to Kilbourn or behind the vendors on Jazz Street. Looks like I won’t have to assess the effect of the XRIJF’s announcement of new Club Passes with pictures and names on Club Pass use given that, since the announcement in March, the festival decided to hold off implementing that change (it will be voluntary this year).

I’m looking forward to the nine days of the XRIJF at the end of June. Please tell me what you’re thinking about for this year’s Edition of the XRIJF in the Comments at the end of the post!

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

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