31 posts categorized "RIJF 2009" Feed

Rest, Mordecai, rest . . . the end of festival week will never be the same

As you may already know, Mordecai Lipshutz, former WXXI radio host and for Rochester jazz listeners, the voice that traditionally has closed the late night jam sessions during the Rochester International Jazz Festival with "We'll Be Together Again," passed away on Sunday following a long illness.  

Here's his last festival closing performance last year:

 

A couple more, made available by WXXI:

Friends and WXXI listeners are invited to celebrate his life and share memories this Sunday, March 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. at ARTISANworks, 565 Blossom Road, Suite L, Rochester, New York 14610. For more information, call ARTISANworks at (585) 288-7170.

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

All good things must come to an end ... Last night at the 2009 XRIJF

XRIJF imageThe motto on the new T-shirt I bought on Thursday night is "It's not who you know; it's who you don't know". This is the festival music director John Nugent's mantra and a good descriptor for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. The last night for this year's XRIJF was a good case in point.

I started out with someone I know—Joe Lovano and Us Five in Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm and then turned to those I didn't. It was raining when I got to Jazz Street and throughout the last night of XRIJF, but luckily the line for Joe Lovano was not so far that I had to stand in it (without umbrella). Joe Lovano was one of my "must sees" for this year's festival. Us Five is a new project that features his wife Judi Silvano as a vocalist, although singing songs is not her role. Using her voice to scat or mimic instruments, Silvano adds to the quartet of James Weidman on piano, Cameron Brown on bass, and the outstanding Francisco Mela on drums to make it a quintet. Lovano's set was fantastic, starting with the title piece off his new album with the Us Five Folk Art and including other tracks off the album and standards like Mal Waldron's Soul Eyes. In addition to tenor sax, he played an aulochrome, a double soprano saxophone, tuned to different keys that created a sort of two tone (except when he concentrated on one side of the mouthpiece). His compositions were inventive and fun. He also gave the rest of his band, including his wife, wide areas to shine, which they all stepped up to regularly.

I sloshed my way through the puddles, slowly, as excessive use and tucking behind seat backs had blown out one of my two bad knees, over to the Reformation Lutheran Church for my last taste of the Nordic Jazz Now series with Delirium. This quartet of Finns and Danes were very playful and inventive, with compositions and playing mixing straight ahead with freer sounds. I especially liked the second piece, which was an almost 1920s stomp, punctuated with periods of zany dissonance. The cornet/trumpet player stood out for his versatility with the horn, constantly changing the sound of his horn with dampers and other tools to get desired effects.

I finished out the 2009 Rochester jazz festival by checking out the last of the Made in the UK Series groups, Tim Garland's Lighthouse Trio, over at the Christ Church. Reed many Garland arranged music on Chick Corea's new album The New Crystal Silence, worked with vibist Joe Locke on a project, and I'd heard great things from various folks about this group. The Lighthouse trio consists of Garland, Asaf Sirkis (who plays a custom built set of frame drums, bass Udu, Hang drum and other percussion instruments), and the young pianist Gwilym Simcock. There is no bass. With the ambient noise of the rain outside providing an added layer, these three created a tapestry of inventive music in the now great sounding space of Christ Church. Due to my knee needing some attention and the great music I'd just experienced, I decided to go on home and skip the after hours. The Lighthouse Trio was a great way to end this year's festival.

For more, I'll point you toward stories and posts in the Democrat & Chronicle, City Newspaper, and any blogs or other sources I can find:

OK, tie a toe tag on it. The 2009 Xerox International Jazz Festival is over, kaput, fini, long live the 2010 Xerox International Jazz Festival! Although there will be some occasional content here relating to the jazz festival, I now return you to your regularly scheduled Jazz@Rochester programming.

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

Hangin' with @40,000 of my closest friends ... Day 8 at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

XRIJF image Friday night at the Xerox Rochester Jazz Festival was about crowds and moving through a wide spectrum of music. According to the D&C, the folks at XRIJF believed that there was perhaps 40,000 happy music listeners milling around the East End to hear the free shows on East Avenue and the great music still going on in the Club Pass venues (and of course, Taj Mahal with Susan Tedeschi in Eastman).

The evening started out for me at 4:30, getting in line for guitarist Pat Martino's 6:00 pm appearance in Kilbourn Hall with Hammond B3 organ player Tony Monaco and young Jason Brown on drums. After brain surgery in 1980 for aneurysms, Martino lost his memory, including how to play the guitar and so much more (he almost didn't recognize his parents). He studied his own recordings and used other technology to help reverse this memory loss and relearn the guitar before starting to record again in 1987. Last night's incredible performance drove home how hard that road back must have been. He showed amazing technical skill, moving through pieces at lightning speed, but also played with a lot of emotion and would take chords and notes in different directions than I was expecting. I think that half the guitarists in Rochester were in that performance, just soaking up the sounds coming out of Martino's fingers. Monaco's seemed to be having a great time as he mouthed, ran and growled his way through solos and comping behind Martino, using those two Leslie boxes on the stage to their fullest effect. Brown held down the grooves well and had some spot on short solo runs.

After leaving Martino, I looked for my lost Downbeat hat (my favorite) over at the Eastman and jazz fest office lost and found, but it seems to have found a new head to perch itself on. I went over to meet my wife, who was coming in to see Susan Tedeschi and Taj Mahal. She never made it in as she didn't give herself enough time to get through the huge mess that the East End became around 7:00 pm as the free concerts began. She found no place to park and finally gave up. I ducked into Eastman Theater and heard a bit of Tedeschi's set. She's a great blues rocker, but I'd heard her several times before and moved on since my wife wasn't there to share it with me. Headed over to Christ Church to catch a bit of UK singer Norma Winstone. I'm afraid I just wasn't into the singers this year and only made it for a couple of songs before heading out again.

Next stop was a quick trip to the tent to catch up with some friends. When I entered, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers were playing at full tilt with the washboard player nearly knocking himself over (he was pretty thin...) with those two spoons and Dopsie just pounding the keys of his accordion. Everyone was on their feet in front and having a big party.

Back over to Eastman where the crowd was heading back in for Taj Mahal. While I've seen gigs by some of the great blues artists (Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins and others in the 80s and 90s in Chicago), I wish I had a seat for this show (on sold out shows my media access gets me in the door, but the seats are for paying bums...in the UK sense). Taj Mahal is the real deal and the first part of his set was fantastic. He came with just a bass player and drummer, but that's all he needed as he made that guitar sing. However, even if I had a seat, I'm not sure I would have felt like sitting it (I was kind of restless last night). So after four or five songs, I moved on....

Ended up the evening at the State Street Bar & Grill at the Rochester Plaza hotel for the after hours. Took the bus down there from Jazz Street. My friends had preceded me and secured a table in the outside patio. Much more comfortable than inside and a prime perch for watching the proceedings going on as artists and others arrived. They've set up a projection screen for the live video of the band inside and a pretty good sound system, so we could watch and hear the jam session inside (when it got crowded, you can't even hear inside, so in some ways it was better). We just sat and laughed and had a few beers as we wound down from the day. 

For more, I'll point you toward stories and posts in the Democrat & Chronicle, City Newspaper, and any blogs or other sources I can find:

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

MIA on Day 7 of the jazz festival in Rochester, but still there in spirit...

Don't recall this ever happening before, but last night I opted to sit out a night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.  I decided to go home to my loving, but "jazz widow" spouse instead of hitting the Club Pass circuit and Kilbourn Hall. Due to work obligations she has been unable to join me at the festival this year. Looking at my Twitter feed and reading the reviews, it sounds like I missed some great music. Rested (well, relatively) and ready for the final two days! This time I'll just point you toward what others said about last night out there in the Democrat & Chronicle, City Newspaper, and any bloggers or other sources I can find, although none were found when this posted (I may add some later):

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

Check out 6x6x2009 at RoCo ... One block down from Jazz Street

Add more art to your Jazz Festival experience by dropping in to see the Visual Art Event of the Summer at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center! Over 3.050 artworks submitted from 17 countries, 36 states, and 4 species! All these pieces (which are all 6"X6") are available for only $20! And you will be supporting the programs at Rochester Contemporary Art Center The exhibition runs from June 6th to July 12th at Rochester Contemporary Art Center 137 East Avenue, 1 block east of Jazz Street. There are special Jazz Festival hours:
  • Friday June 19th 1-10pm
  • Saturday June 20th 1-10pm

You can also view and buy works of art online on RoCo's website.

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

A day off, some floating and sloshing around ... we take day 6 at the XRIJF in stride

XRIJF image Wednesday night at the Xerox Rochester Jazz Festival felt a bit free-floating, but was satisfying nonetheless. Woke up Wednesday with a sour stomach (too much street meat and beer) and having not slept for most of the morning since getting in after midnight. Although I planned to work at the day job throughout the festival week, by yesterday I had hit the wall and, there being no meetings or deadlines, I decided to stay home, sleep a bit more and do some housework.

I headed down to "Jazz Street" about 4:00 pm and met up with friends. They were going to see Bonerama. While I'd seen them twice before, their 'Nawlins party music was a good wakeup for Day 6. They started out with Jimi Hendrix's Manic Depression, those bones just ripping up the floor boards.

After Bonerama, I caught the last of the set by local composer Dave Rivello's set with his larger ensemble. While I've not paid much attention to larger ensemble jazz, Rivello's writing and his excellent group, and my recent opportunity to see the Maria Schneider Orchestra (as well as some more recent discoveries), have increased my curiosity and interest in this area. Rivello's music is complex and accessible and he gathers great musicians around him to play it. I'm glad I took a detour and took in some of his set.

After Rivello's set ended, I sloshed myself across the street to the Reformation Lutheran Church for the set by NYNDK Collective. Sitting upstairs (not sure I've ever done that before...), it was one of those sets that while I needed to go to the next thing, I didn't want to leave. This group of Danish, Norwegian and U.S. musicians were something different and compelling. ANY group that plays THREE pieces arranged from the music of composer Charles Ives is different and compelling in my book. I have enjoyed the Ives'  music since hearing The Unanswered Question and other pieces years ago in college. To have a group of Nordic and U.S. musicians arrange songs for piano and voice into multi-layered jazz pieces, as well as play the music of Norwegian favorite son Edvard Grieg, reminded me that the "mashups" of genres that I enjoy work in both directions ... and work well.

I broke my streak of not going to hear Dave Brubeck in his three previous appearances here and slipped into the Eastman Theatre to hear a bit of his 4th appearance here at Rochester's festival. I was there a couple of tunes before the intermission and heard the song, Sermon on the Mount, with Brubeck's son Matthew playing beautifully on cello. Brubeck was never a firebrand on the piano, but at 88 still plays beautifully with a lot of touch and sophistication.

My final stop was the 10:00 pm set of Michael Occhipinti and the Sicilian Jazz Project at Max at Eastman Place. This project by Toronto guitarist Occhipinti has taken work songs and other traditional music of Sicily and arranging it into jazz pieces. The band members filed into the venue chanting a tuna fishing song, which was used to introduce (in Sicilian) each of them. These songs that arose from the hard work of that land were compelling in their sparse opening moments when sung in a more traditional way and then opened up with the whole assembly playing, including bassist and older brother Roberto Occhipinti. Another one of the great moments of Rochester jazz festivals where you are exposed to music brought in from the outside of the jazz orbit and then made part of that orbit, played by excellent musicians.

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

Free Jazz Jam Session for Kids during the XRIJF

XRIJF logoStudents, ages 14-19, have been invited to come play with the pros on the last day of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Saturday, June 20th from 2-4 p.m. in Room 120 at the Eastman School of Music, 26 Gibbs Street (i.e., "Jazz Street"). Sign up (first-come, first-served at 1:30 p.m.) for this unique learning opportunity for your children.  You can send any questions via email to Bob Sneider.

Eastman School of Music and Eastman Community Music School faculty including Bob Sneider, Paul Hofmann, Jeff Campbell and Rich Thompson, will play with students and provide helpful feedback. You never know who else might pop by! It is during the jazz festival, don't you know....

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

Notes from June 16th at the Rochester jazz festival: Dafnis Prieto, Lionel Loueke and everything in between

XRIJF imageMy sixth evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival started out in line for the Dafnis Prieto Sextet in Kilbourn Hall. While I heard that others thought it was too loud (and if you were sitting further back in Kilbourn while he was soloing the echoes would have made it more like a cacophony), there was a lot going on from where I was sitting. His drumming is both agressive and intricate, using multiple surfaces to set up complex rhythms. He showed a lot of versatility, moving from Cuban and other Latin rhythms to standard be-bop drumming with ease. His band was all stellar, with three horns up front of Peter Apfelbaum, Felipe Lamoglia on sax and Mike Rodriguez on trumpet (who blew some wicked solos), backed by Manuel Valera on piano, Charles Flores on bass and, of course, Prieto. I sort of wandered around as I expected a line at Max for guitarist Lionel Loueke and his trio, listening to a bit of Soul Stew and a bit of Sidsel Stromnes' singing over at the Nordic Jazz Now series before sitting down and talking with friends and meeting new ones in Max waiting for Loueke. While I was expecting something else from Lionel Loueke Trio (which Loueke ended up delivering at the end of his set), that doesn't mean I wasn't enjoying it. Loueke at times was processing his nylon-stringed guitar through something that made it sound almost like an organ. When he turned to a songs from his album Karibu, he vocalized through the guitar al a Peter Frampton. I was expecting to hear more of a mashup of the West African and other roots from I had heard on his album—the clicking, the vocalizations. What he played sounded more like standard trio fare. That's what happens sometimes; Loueke wanted to try something different out with his trio of bassist Massimo Biolcati & drummer Ferenc Nemeth. Sometimes magic happens that way...

My body finally said "STOP!!!" and I went home and have taken a day off from work to get a bit of rest. I get back to it tonight with an ambitious schedule (although something may have to fall out...).

To read what others are saying out there, here are some links about the festival from the local media Democrat & Chronicle, City Newspaper, and other bloggers and sources when I find them (keep checking back on their sites as well for continued coverage):

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

From legends to lunacy . . . June 15th at the XRIJF

Andrei Razin and Second Approach image My evening started out in Kilbourn Hall with jazz legend and octogenarian Chico Hamilton with his group Euphoria. Chico has slowed down some in the walking department, as his shuffle out to his drum set showed, but his skills with the sticks and skins, his compositions, and his attitude show he is nowhere near calling it quits (nor should he!). He has gathered around him a band that were all incredible musicians, including Cary DeNegris on guitar, Paul Ramsey on bass, Evan Schwam on reeds, and Jeremy Carlstedt on hand drums. Like a lot of the jazz legends, Chico Hamilton was full of stories and one-liners, but when he was playing he was all business (well, most of the time...). There were no crazy drum solos (the guy's 87, so I didn't expect him to be slapping the skins too hard), but the music was a pleasure to listen to and that's what counts.

Meeting up with some friends, I spent the "middle period" between the 6:00 and 10:00 pm shows talking and listening to the Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra (with local chanteuse Madeline Forster doing a few numbers) and caught a bit of Stephane Wrembel in the Big Tent before heading over around 9:00 pm to get in line at Montage for the Russian group Andrei Razin and Second Approach Trio. When I got over there ... no line. A tweet I wrote during the set sums my reaction: "Absolute artistry combined with sheer lunacy." Razin on piano, Igor Ivanushkin on bass, and the voice of Tatyana Komova. Razin's compositions are wild, inventive "universes" that involve the whole of each of the artists instruments. Razin and Ivanushkin use all of their instruments (at times, I thought Razin was going to climb into the piano and Ivanushkin was banging on his bass so much that he knocked his pickup clean off and tore a number of guts on his bow). Komova's contribution to this is a rich, beautiful voice that she uses, without words, to mimic a trumpet or other instrument, scat, or create voice soundscapes. Both Razin and Ivanushkin also vocalized. At times the interplay of vocalizations with Razin's and Ivanushkin's playing seemed like a conversation, but again without words. Most importantly, their music, although incredibly serious and highly sophisticated, was full of wild, slapstick humor.  It made for a wonderful musical experience and is a prime example of the festival's catch phrase: "It's not who you know, it's who you don't know."

Due to my day job and a general wish to have fun and perhaps even have an opportunity to relax this year, I am not writing as much during the festival and only "tweeting" during the festival itself. To read what others are saying out there, here are some links about the festival from local media and other bloggers that I've located (keep checking back on their sites as well for continued coverage):

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

XRIJF ends its first weekend ... Day 3 of the jazz festival in Rochester

XRIJF imageMy Sunday, Day 3 of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, started out on Jazz Street (Gibbs) listening to some more of the great local high school jazz ensembles, procuring a sandwich and libation. Got into a pretty long line for Jonas Kullhammer Quartet. These guys were here 5 years ago and Kullhammer was very happy to be back in Rochester, or at least he said so, quite a few times. Great saxophone, tight quartet AND some standup comedy as well. It was a great set that went from post-bop to emotionally--charged love (or lost love) songs. Ducked inside the Reformation Lutheran Church to catch a bit of Danish trumpeter Søren Kjærgaard's set. Then went over to Christ Church to hear the a great set in the Made in the UK series by the Neil Cowley Trio. Line for California Guitar Trio was already in 1-in-1-out mode, so had no chance there. I had decided to pass on Ernestine Anderson to try to get in with some friends to see CGT. Went back to jazz street and listened to the free show by guitarist Stephane Wrembel before heading over for a bit of my hometown Chicago blues from Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater at 10:00 pm. All my friends went home, I decided there was a chance that there would be some action over at the after hours. Had an opportunity to have a nice conversation with Neil Cowley at the after hours, although not to hear any members of his or Jonas Kullhammer's band (both of which were in the bar) before I left after the second set. By coincidence when I went up to the bar to get a beer next to Neil Cowley, he had recently just "followed" Jazz@Rochester on Twitter and then "retweeted" one of my posts (or actually he retweeted a retweet by the Made In the UK "twitterer" of one of my posts). We talked of Rochester and Twitter as he is a relative newcomer to the microblogging platform.

To read what others are saying out there, here are some links about Day Three of the festival from local media and other bloggers that I've located (I'll add more as I find things):

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

I'm not writing as much, but I can point ... Here's more coverage of Day 2 of the XRIJF

XRIJF imageWhile I'm writing less this year, due to the participation of Xerox and the work of the jazz festival staff, the mainstream media in Rochester has really stepped up their coverage of the Rochester International Jazz Festival this year. Starting with the press conference in April there has been a lot more local media interest in the festival over previous years. Additionally, in the interim the media are also using blogs, Twitter and other social media tools to get their content out among us.  Additionally, there are probably a lot of coverage in other media outlets, blogs and other media. I'll try to help connect you to the reviews and commentary from this spectrum of sources.  Here are some links about Day Two of the festival from local media:

For now, I've only found one blog post on Day 2, but there may be more that pop up and I'll try to add them here:

  • Into The Light Filled Void, Pop Wars (here's the post for Day One from Pop Wars), from the folks who bring you a great local site The Refrigerator, which also will have some great images from this and previous years' RIJFs as well).
  • A video of trumpeter Terrell Stafford playing with festival honcho and saxophonist John Nugent at the XRIJF afterhours. Added image
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Tweety notes from Day 2 of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

XRIJF imageAs I've noted before, I don't want to let feeding content to this blog make it impossible for me to experience the music or spend time with friends, which are the qualities that make the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival such a wonderful experience for me. This isn't my job. This year I am feeling it more than before, so I'm stepping back, writing less, and using Twitter and other new ways to communicate as I experience the XRIJF this year. To that end, I'm going to try something new here.  Here are some of my "tweets" off the @jazzrochester Twitter stream for Day Two with a few notes on my day at the RIJF:

Geez, it's 5:08 & the line is already pretty long 4 6 pm Terrell Stafford Qt @ Montage. Glad I checked. #XRIJF

Have 2 remind myself how young these guys in Terrell Stafford's Qt are...they look just out of Stridex! Don't play that way, tho. #XRIJF

  • On the weekends, the first show at the clubs like Montage are increasingly likely to have a line form early. This one was well on the way to snaking around the corner onto Chestnut when I poked my head around to look almost an hour before Stafford took the stage.
  • Although the Stridex comment was probably a bit stupid for a number of reasons, members of Terrell Stafford's Quartet were mostly still studying in college. His drummer, whose solos just cooked, graduates from high school on Tuesday! 
  • Although young, Stafford's quartet was tight and played a great set. While Stafford's playing on trumpet and flugelhorn was outstanding, he would often step back to let his companions shine through.

Made it ovr 2 Lutheran Church 4 Nordic Connect. Just getting started w/ set in ths beautiful setting w/ some lush sounds. #XRIJF

  • The Reformation Lutheran Church was a great place to hear this music. By the time I got there there was next to no seating. While some friends slid over to give me a seat, I felt I was cramping them and realized I'd probably drive them crazy with pulling my phone out to tweet or check on other things while listening (see what I mean how it's starting to get in the way...?), so I moved back to the back and leaned against the wall.
  • Nordic Connect, fronted by sisters Ingrid and Christine Jensen was perfect for that space. I had heard the wonderful solos that Ingrid had played when here with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and her trumpet and flugelhorn playing was again superb. Her sister's interplay on sax at times seemed to weave in and out of each other so you couldn't tell who was playing. While it wasn't for everyone, I enjoyed it and it was just what I needed right then.

Popped in 2 C a bit of SMV ... Walls of the Eastman Theater will B rumblin soon. Miller, Wooten, & Clarke (on bass clarinet @ 1st) #XRIJF

Ok, I'm sitting too far back & Mr. Clarke is bigger than I remembered. It was Marcus Miller on bass clarinet. Stanley is on standup #XRIJF

  • This is one of those instances where the immediacy of Twitter makes for a egg-stained face.  I just came in and sat in back to hear some of the SMV set with bass gods Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, and Stanley Clarke.  I remember Clarke from his earlier days as pretty slim and don't know much about Marcus Miller (have an album). I just assumed that Stanley was in the middle (as he is sort of the "leader" of this supergroup), but couldn't really see well enough.  Of course, then the guy I was tweeting was Clarke, introduced Stanley Clarke. Oh well.  Insert foot ... in mouth.
  • I only caught a bit of this set, but Miller and Wooten trading fours was probably sending the bass heads in the audience into something close to ecstacy.  
It's 10pm, & Jon Cleary just took the stage & is kickin out the N'awlins jams in high gear. Dancin in the aisles is not far behind. #XRIJF
  • After running over to the ticket shop to get a ticket for my wife for one of the Taj Mahal/Susan Tedeschi show that was about to sell out, I came over to the Big Tent and just sat down for awhile until some friends showed up to catch the 10:00 pm of Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentleman. 
  • Cleary is a student of New Orleans music and his set was like a history lesson taught by him, Professor Longhair and other NOLA musical legends.  He had people on their feet dancing within minutes. He is a madman on the piano, singing with a lot of soul and apparently moving so much while he plays that they duct taped his piano lid to keep it from falling while he played.  He plays again tonight.
I did other tweets yesterday, mostly "retweets" of information and links or replies to other posters. Twitter is clearly not for everyone, but there is a growing community of jazz musicians, jazz venues, and other lovers of jazz on this microblogging service and it is a great way to quickly get information out, share the experience of an event with others (potentially thousands), and even to meet some of those people in person which is why it is called "social media."  Check out the TweetFest widget here to check out or follow the conversation.  The folks at XRIJF are also on Twitter.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

XRIJF Opening Night, a video story by Annette Lein and other D&C multimedia

There's a lot going on out there in the coverage of this year's Rochester International Jazz Festival, so check it out. Here's a video montage from the opening night, brought to you by the Democrat & Chronicle:

Of course, the D&C is also doing the multimedia page they have had in the past on their site, including Wil Yurman's Jazz Tales where Yurman mixes great images of artists with short interviews (as of this writing, only Peter King is there, but there will be more each day). Anna Reguero and other D&C arts writers are posting about the jazz fest in the HerRochester Arts Blog.

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

What was I thinking? My first night out at the XRIJF started out with a Bang, well sorta...

Don't get me wrong, I heard some wonderful music last night and got to spend some time with my friends, but ... geez ... what was I thinking! My schedule for Day One of the Rochester International Jazz Festival was a bit TOO ambitious. I was running here and there (just listen to my second moblog!). Started out at the Jazz Mandolin Project, but left after they jammed out a couple tunes in their set. Hoofed it over to the new venue, the Xerox Auditorium and then found myself compelled to stay for the whole of Billy Bang Quintet's first set.  Why? Because it was a fantastic set, with some of Bang's pieces from Vietnam: The Aftermath album at one end, and Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman (the version with Don Cherry and Dewey Redman) and a tune he wrote At Play in the Fields of the Lord (about living in the Bronx) at the other, I just had to stay. Why? Because you just can't walk away from a set like that. Staying with Bang caused me to miss the Finish group Kari Ikonen & Karikko at the Nordic Jazz Now Series, which was on my list. That was the only thing I missed entirely though. Still, I want some more time to kick back and take it in. Didn't really achieve that this night, but damn I heard some fine tunes.

The tightness in my Friday schedule also caused me to cut too short a great set from Peter King at Christ Church, which has had some auditory upgrades from the muddy mess of sound it was last year. King's Quartet (especially his pianist really sounded great in that huge space, but his Suite of Trane (well, that's what I heard, but have found no recording of it) mashing up motifs from a number of John Coltrane's book.  Unfortunately, I had to leave before it was over to get in the queue for Eric Alexander's 10:00 pm set. The sacrifices we make ....

Eric Alexander, who began cutting his jazz teeth in Chicago while I was living there (I think I first saw him there in a gig he played with the great Hammond B3 player Charles Earland), was just on fire in the first couple of pieces in his Quartet's late set at the Montage. He appeared with his regular quartet of Harold Mabern on piano, drummer Joe Farnsworth, and John Webber on bass. Mabern was a powerhouse on the piano, although I detected some issue that they may have brought in their trek from the green room (or perhaps the sound?). Midway through, Mabern said "not tonight" when Alexander introduced that he was going to set out while Mabern lead the other two in a piano trio piece.  It was an odd moment, but then they launched into another quartet piece and it came back together.

Had to leave that set a bit early as well to meet friends who were ready to head over to the after hours at the hotel (I'm working without a car right now). That "scene" was the usual. Music was good, beer was flowing and so was the conversation (sometimes overpowering the music—but that's as much an issue with the room). I guess there was a wedding around with the bride and groom later doing a jazz "Wedding March". Must have been the last set—we only made it through the second.

OK, enough here.  If you want to go somewhere else and read some more about last night, try these(let me know of others and I'll add them later):

One more thing, if you were at the XRIJF last night please leave your own thoughts on YOUR evening and the music you experienced in the comments! 
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Ring, Ring ... Jazz@Rochester calling in from the 2009 XRIJF

Click on the bar below to hear a live moblog from the 2009 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in Rochester, New York. Over at Christ Church for Peter King Quartet ...

Live Jazz@Rochester Updates from RIJF

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

Ring, Ring ... Jazz@Rochester calling in from the 2009 XRIJF

Click on the bar below to hear a live moblog from the 2009 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in Rochester, New York.

Hoofing (and huffing and puffing...gotta get more exercise) over to hear Billy Bang Quintet at the new venue, the Xerox Auditorium....

Live Jazz@Rochester Updates from RIJF

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

Ring, Ring ... Jazz@Rochester calling in from the 2009 XRIJF

Click on the bar below to hear a live moblog from the 2009 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in Rochester, New York. 

The festival opens on Jazz Street ...

Live Jazz@Rochester Updates from XRIJF

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

Jazz@Rochester and the XRIJF ... Here we go!

XRIJF logoTomorrow, the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival will begin, for me, nine straight days of music, late nights, malty beverages and street meat tomorrow.  I'm planning on having a good time and, while doing that, will try to share with you information and experiences.  I'm going to try different approaches, though.  For one, I will be doing a lot more with Twitter as it will allow me to do on the spot stuff without having a laptop with me. I encourage you to join (or at least check out the conversation on Twitter by checking out my TweetFest page by clicking here or on the badge with the bird in the right panel and, if you're on Twitter, using the #XRIJF hashtag. I will also be trying to do some moblogging—on the spot interviews or audio posts posted directly to Jazz@Rochester—to give you my live impressions, new information about the jazz festival, changes that occur, etc. 

What I will not be doing is writing a lot of long posts recapping each night as I have done in past. I have a day job and will have to work at it throughout the whole nine days of XRIJF. I'm going to focus on having fun, hanging with my friends and, most importantly, hearing as much music as I can without jeopardizing my well-being. While I'm doing that, I'll see if I can push the conversation using Twitter and other new tools.

Right now, I'm going to turn off, tune out and get some rest ....

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

Closer to home .... Not everyone at the XRIJF is from out of town!

XRIJF logoMy focus during the Rochester International Jazz Festival often turns away from Rochester to increase my exposure to jazz and other music from beyond our area, but that doesn't mean that I don't value the jazz that is to be found right here. Of course not, if I didn't think that Rochester wasn't an interesting and, in fact, unique location for hearing live jazz and other music why would I be doing this blog at all? It ain't making me rich, that's for sure.

The fact is that Rochester has (and has a history of having) a great number of incredible and talented jazz artists who call this area home. There are many who are teaching the jazz artists of tomorrow and are students of the music themselves. Some are playing this year's XRIJF; some are not and should be. Come out and hear some of these great artists during the festival and find out what you're missing throughout the year (and don't forget check out posts each Wednesday here to find out when and where, like the one I'll post tomorrow). Here's a rundown of locals (and those who were here recently) at the XRIJF:

Friday, June 12th

Saturday, June 13th

  • Smugtown Stompers @ Mary Jemison Boat on The Genesee River, 2:30 pm
  • Smugtown Stompers @ Mary Jemison Boat on The Genesee River, 4:30 pm
  • Honeoye Falls HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Pittsford-Sutherland HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Greece Jazz Band @ XRIJF Club Pass Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • After hours with Bob Sneider Trio @ State St. Bar & Grille at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, 10:30 pm

Sunday, June 14th

  • Smugtown Stompers @ Mary Jemison Boat on The Genesee River, 2:30 pm
  • Smugtown Stompers @ Mary Jemison Boat on The Genesee River, 4:30 pm
  • Webster Schoeder HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Rush-Henrietta HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • High School Band Directors Big Band directed by Bill Tiberio @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Eastman Community Music School Jazz Combo @ XRIJF Club Pass Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • After hours with Bob Sneider Trio @ State St. Bar & Grille at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, 10:30 pm

Monday, June 15th

  • Mike Cottone @ Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • West Irondequoit HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30
  • Hilton HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15
  • Bill Tiberio Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Mike Melito Quintet @ XRIJF Club Pass Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 7:15 pm
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra @ Eastman Theatre, 7:30 pm
  • RIJF-ESM Scholarships Performance "Celebrating The Legacy of Woody Herman" @ Eastman Theatre, 8:00
  • Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 9:15 pm
  • After hours with Bob Sneider Trio @ State St. Bar & Grille at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, 10:30 pm

Tuesday, June 16th

  • Matt Valerio Quartet @ Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • Greece Odyssey HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Penfield HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Eastman Community Music School Jazz Combo @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage , 6:00 pm
  • Sean Jefferson 5tet + Marcus Strickland @ Montage, 6:00 & 10:00 pm
  • After hours with Bob Sneider Trio @ State St. Bar & Grille at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, 10:30 pm

Wednesday, June 17th

  • Bob Sneider Trio @ Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • Greece Athena HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • School Of The Arts HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Eastman Community Music School Jazz Combo @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage , 6:00 pm
  • Dave Rivello Ensemble @ XRIJF Club Pass Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • After hours with Bob Sneider Trio @ State St. Bar & Grille at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, 10:30 pm

Thursday, June 18th

  • Matt Owens @ Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • Brockport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Spencerport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Brockport Community Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Clay Jenkins & Friends @ XRIJF Club Pass Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Eastman Community Music School Jazz Combo @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage , 6:00 pm
  • New Horizons Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 7:15 pm
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 9:15 pm
  • After hours with Bob Sneider Trio @ State St. Bar & Grille at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, 10:30 pm

Friday, June 19th

  • Fairport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Newark HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • John Nyerges Quintet @ XRIJF Club Pass Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • XRIJF Salutes the late Joe Romano with Special Guests @ Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 & 9:00 pm
  • Campbell Brothers (opening for Robert Randolph) @ City of Rochester East Ave. & Alexander St. Stage, 7:00 pm
  • Po' Boys Brass Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage,7:15 & 9:15 pm
  • After hours with Bob Sneider Trio @ State St. Bar & Grille at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, 10:30 pm

Saturday, June 20th

  • Webster Thomas HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Kendall HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Rochester Metro Jazz Orchestra @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Bacci Band @ City of Rochester East Ave. & Alexander St. Stage, 7:00 pm
  • After hours with Bob Sneider Trio @ State St. Bar & Grille at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, 10:30 pm

Let me know if I missed anyone! If you're playing around town during the festival, send me an email and let me know when and where so I can get you into the post tomorrow and next Wednesday.

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

Another Rochester jazz festival will come to an end ... Day 9 picks for XRIJF

XRIJF logoWhile refraining from weight-challenged female references, I must tell you that the 2009 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival comes to an end on Saturday, June 20th, so this is the last preview post. Day nine includes one of my "must sees" and trying to fit in a lot into the final night (body willing... that is). Here's how the end of my 2009 XRIJF is coming together:

  • My last evening starts out at 6:00 pm with one of my "must sees" for this year's festival, the Joe Lovano Quartet in Kilbourn Hall, appearing with special guest singer/songwriter Judi Silvano. Here's a great video documentary by the JazzVideoGuy Joe Lovano In the Music about Joe Lovano and his most recent project "Us Five" (a quartet, with an extra drummer... with Joe on saxes, James Weidman on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass, and two incredible drummers, Francisco Mela and Otis Brown, III) at a Village Vanguard gig late last year. As usual, Brett Primack's videos provide a nice look at the people and thoughts behind the music (which is served up in generous amounts as well).
  • Next I'll head over to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation for Delirium, in the Nordic Jazz Now series. Delirium is sax player Mikko Innanen from Finland, and cornet player Kasper Tranberg, bassist Jonas Westergaard and drummer Stefan Pasborg from Denmark, who are described as playing with "Ornette Coleman in [their] back pocket... paint[ing] intense pictures that are obscure and straight-ahead—as well as wild and lyrical...." Listen to Jazz and Poultry and other classics on their MySpace page.
  • I'll try to hoof it over to the Xerox Auditorium to catch the Aaron Parks Trio, with Matt Brewer on bass and Ted Poor on drums. You can listen to some of it here on his MySpace page. On the other hand, I have missed much of the Made in the UK series at the Christ Church and Tim Garland's Lighthouse Trio set at 8:45 sounds like another good possibility.
  • After chillin with Parks for awhile, I think I'll head over to Max at Eastman Place to catch the 10:00 pm set by Marta Gomez Quartet. Columbiana singer Gomez will provide a fitting "international" coda to the 2009 festival for me. Marta Gomez has a MySpace page that has some cuts of her singing. Here's a video of the Quartet performing at the Jewish Museum in NYC in March and one with some additional background.

There's a lot more every night than what I'm setting out here in this and the other "pick" posts, so check out the entire artist lineup for each night here. Also note that while I'm selecting a time in coming up with my itinerary, most of the venues will have two sets, many around 6:00 and 10:00 pm.  There will be a mix of times in between those two main set times. Some artists are appearing on more than one day.

And again, Jazz@Rochester is on Twitter and I have created a widget, which has its own page to help you follow the conversation about jazz and the XRIJF on that popular micro-blogging platform. For those who want to begin the conversation now, start using #XRIJF as a hash tag (if you're on Twitter, you'll know what I mean) and help me spread the word to use that tag during the festival. If you'd like to access Jazz@Rochester on your smart phone, please try the new mobile site.

Previous Preview & Pick posts:

Other links:

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

Tickets! Tickets! Get yer quick update on XRIJF tickets...

XRIJF logoClub Passes for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival are selling fast and may sell out before the festival starts on Friday. The folks over at the festival let us know how and where tickets and Club Passes are being sold for the XRIJF going forward:
  • Buy Club Passes in person until they are sold out at the XRIJF Jazz Shop at the corner of Gibbs St. & East Ave during business hours now throughout the festival. The Shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday thru the opening of festival on Friday. During the Festival the shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Club Pass Sales will be discontinued in person at Rochester Broadway Theatre League Box Office (Ticketmaster) at the Auditorium Theater on East Main St. at 12:00 noon on Wednesday June 10th.
  • Club Pass Sales will be discontinued at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at 12:00 noon on Wednesday June 10th due to closeness of the festival and mailing concerns
  • Club Pass Sales will be discontinued on the XRIFJ website at 12:00 noon on Monday June 8 due to closeness of the festival and mailing concerns
  • Eastman Theatre Headliner Show Tickets. Tickets still available for all headliner shows at Eastman Theatre. Purchase at the XRIJF Ticket Shop in advance (service charge $1 per ticket) or at the door prior to shows.

Get 'em while they're hot (and available)!

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

Day 8 of the XRIJF... the picks get tougher

XRIJF logoDay 8 of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, June 19th, is going to be a night of choices and possible regrets. There are two of the offerings this penultimate night, neither of them particularly "jazz," that are vying for selection. It will probably be up in the air which one I actually choose until the night itself. That's the way the Festival goes, though. My June 19th is, with alternatives, shaping up as follows:

  • The initial outing of the evening is a no brainer considering the rest of the evening. One of my "must sees" for this festival is guitarist Pat Martino who will be kicking off my Day 8 in Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm. His story is amazing, a man who basically came back to his music from a tabula rasa after a brain aneurysm in the 1980s that left him without much if any memory of his former days in the music. The story is continued from the write up on the XRIJF site in an interview on AllAboutJazz.com. To get a taste (although Joey DeFrancesco is also coming to the jazz Fest, I hear Martino will be appearing with Tony Monaco). For a recent taste of what we'll be hearing on Day 8, here's a video of the Pat Martino Trio with DeFrancesco on B3 from the Umbria Festival in 2007.
  • Here's where it gets difficult, I really want to see one of the free shows, the "sacred steel" gospel of Robert Randolph and the Family Band at 9:00 pm, with the Rochester area's own sacred steel powerhouses The Campbell Brothers opening at 7:00 pm. I just love this stuff!   However, I also want to see bluesman Taj Mahal, who will be playing Eastman Theatre (with blues woman Susan Tedeschi and her band opening), starting at 8:00 pm. Finally, one of the highlights of the Made in the UK Series, and someone who I didn't want to miss if possible, is singer Norma Winstone who will be appearing in the Church of Christ at 6:45 and 8:45. Trouble is, they're all playing at times which will make it next to impossible to catch them all (although I'll try...). I'll make the choices on the spur of the moment. It's the only way this late in the game. By Day 8, you're running on how you feel ... what you need at that time.

As I keep pointing out, there's a lot more every night than what I'm setting out here in this and the other "pick" posts, so check out the entire artist lineup for each night here. Also note that while I'm selecting a time in coming up with my itinerary, most of the venues will have two sets, many around 6:00 and 10:00 pm.  There will be a mix of times in between those two main set times. Some artists are appearing on more than one day.

And again, Jazz@Rochester is on Twitter and I have created a widget, which has its own page to help you follow the conversation about jazz and the XRIJF on that popular micro-blogging platform. For those who want to begin the conversation now, start using #XRIJF as a hash tag (if you're on Twitter, you'll know what I mean) and help me spread the word to use that tag during the festival. If you'd like to access Jazz@Rochester on your smart phone, please try the new mobile site.

Previous Preview & Pick posts:

Other links:

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

My XRIJF plans for June 18th, Day Seven of the XRIJF

XRIJF logoDay Seven already? Now we're sliding into the home stretch of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, although a marathon analogy may be more appropriate. I'll be dragging by Thursday, so only looking to hit three (OK, depends on how early I get there...). My June 18th is coming together this way:

  • Dianna and I missed seeing Grammy-nominated singer Ryan Shaw awhile ago when he came for a show (I think) at Water Street. This young guy is among a number artists who are trying to bring back the R&B and soul of the 60s and early 70s.  He's going to be my first stop on Day 8 at the Montage, 6:00 pm. Check out a few tunes on his MySpace page. Shaw's had some success with the single Do the 45. Here is a video of another single Choosin'.
  • Next I'll head over to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation for Nils Petter Molvaer Group at 7:30 pm. I'm intrigued by what I've found about Molvaer, who mashes up jazz with a lot of other electronic and other music. Looking forward to pushing my ears in a new direction. I found a review of a recent concert opening the 3rd International Jazz Festival of Middelburg at Whitsuntide on Keep Swinging (a Dutch/English jazz blog). I also found a video from Jazz Baltica in 2005 (there a series of them from this set). Don't know how much this will be like his appearance here, but it gives you a taste.
  • Finishing up Day 8 with Monty Alexander Trio in Kilbourn Hall at 10:00 pm. Alexander will be mixing it up in a different way, using American jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica like reggae on his palette. Howard Reich reviewed a recent Alexander gig at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago for the Chicago Tribune. Check out the Trio doing Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry last year at the Petit Journal Montparnasse Jazz Club.

The Rochester International Jazz Festival is full of choices. There's a lot more every night than what I'm setting out here in this and the other "pick" posts, so check out the entire artist lineup for each night here. Also note that while I'm selecting a time in coming up with my itinerary, most of the venues will have two sets, many around 6:00 and 10:00 pm.  There will be a mix of times in between those two main set times. Some artists are appearing on more than one day.

Again, Jazz@Rochester is on Twitter and I have created a widget, which has its own page to help you follow the conversation about jazz and the XRIJF on that popular micro-blogging platform. For those who want to begin the conversation now, start using #XRIJF as a hash tag (if you're on Twitter, you'll know what I mean) and help me spread the word to use that tag during the festival. If you'd like to access Jazz@Rochester on your smart phone, please try the new mobile site.

Previous Preview & Pick posts:

Other links:

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

Festival plans for June 17th, Day Six of the XRIJF

XRIJF logoDay six is an eclectic and, for me, mostly international mix on Day Six of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. Believe it or not, I'm going to keep my streak of not catching Dave Brubeck in Eastman. He's been here several times and I've yet to catch him. Don't get me wrong, I love Brubeck and his music—he's a real class act—but as I've noted elsewhere, I've seen him play a number of times, mostly in Chicago and I'll just keep the memories of those great performances in my head (and Take Five in my ears). Here's how my Wednesday, June 17th is shaping up:

  • After checking out some high school bands on the bricks or perhaps the wall of trombones of Bonerama for a bit, I'll head over to the Montage to catch the 6:00 pm set of Susan Pereira & Sabor Brasil for some samba, bossa nova, etc. Pereira was unable to make it into Rochester for her gig earlier this year for the Exodus to Jazz series.
  • Next I'll check out the NYNDK Jazz Collective, which a group of musicians from New York, Norway, and Denmark (get it?) over at the Nordic Jazz Now series at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. Brad Walseth over at JazzChicago.net gushes about the Collective's 2008 album Nordic Disruption: "Music this rich, inventive and exciting simply explodes out of the speakers and into the ears/brain of the listener with a vibrancy so often lacking in today's music." While I may not go that far, a listen to their MySpace page definitely draws me to go out to give them a listen.
  • I've heard and read quite a lot about Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Kate McGarry, but have yet to hear her, so I think I'll hoof over to the Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza for her 9:00 pm set. Jason Crane interviewed McGarry for a Jazz Session podcast in 2007 after her album If Less Is More … Nothing Is Everything (Palmetto, 2008) was nominated for a Grammy award. There are some cuts to listen to on her MySpace page. And she performed on Boston TV in March of this year, available on YouTube, singing a beautiful, sparse rendering of The Meaning of the Blues.
  • To keep to the mostly international and low-keyed flavor of this evening, I'm going to finish up the night with the 10:00 pm set of Canadian guitarist Michael Occhipinti & The Sicilian Jazz Project, which he put together with a number of the best from Canadian jazz,including his brother Robert on bass, reshaping traditional Sicilian folk music. The Sicilian Jazz Project has a MySpace page. Here is a video of the opening of a concert from April of this year at the Festival Cultural Zacatecas in Mexico followed by Cialomi (wait a bit to move from the traditional chanting to the music...it's worth the wait).

The Rochester International Jazz Festival is full of choices.  There's a lot more every night than what I'm setting out here in this and the other "pick" posts, so check out the entire artist lineup for each night here. Also note that while I'm selecting a time in coming up with my itinerary, most of the venues will have two sets, many around 6:00 and 10:00 pm.  There will be a mix of times in between those two main set times. Some artists are appearing on more than one day.

Again, Jazz@Rochester is on Twitter and I have created a widget, which has its own page to help you follow the conversation about jazz and the XRIJF on that popular micro-blogging platform. For those who want to begin the conversation now, start using #XRIJF as a hash tag (if you're on Twitter, you'll know what I mean) and help me spread the word to use that tag during the festival. If you'd like to access Jazz@Rochester on your smart phone, please try the new mobile site.

Previous Preview & Pick posts:

Other links:

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

My festival plans for June 16th, Day Five of the XRIJF

XRIJF logoThere are a couple of "must sees" for me on Day Five of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. Here's how my Tuesday, June 16th seems to be working out for me:

  • I'm heading into Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm to catch the Dafnis Prieto Sextet. This young Cuban-born drummer has had a major effect on jazz and Latin music and I can't get enough of Afro-Cuban jazz, traditional Latin music and other Latin jazz. On top of that, this guy tears it up on drums. While you wouldn't know it from the RIJF's page for Prieto, there is quite a lot for you to check out to find out more about him. Here's his website, his MySpace page, and a video of a blazing drum solo from a drum festival in Montreal in 2006.
  • At 7:30, I may head over to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation for Nordic Jazz Now's presentation of Norwegian singer Sidsel Strømnes. Read the material on the RIJF site as her website is in Norwegian (and there isn't an "English" link that I could find).
  • On the other hand, I may mosey into the Eastman and catch some of ukelele sensation Jake Shimabukuro's big night in the Big House (Eastman, of course) at 8:00 pm, appearing there with Carolyn Wonderland. Last year, Jake was a sensation at the RIJF, playing hastily organized extra sets and spending some time at the after hours sets as well (that's the only time I heard him last year), and Wonderland wowed the crowds in her appearance as well. Then again, I may wait until 8:45 and head over to Christ Church and catch Welsh jazz woman Paula Gardiner Trio with Huw Warren.  Here's Gardiner's MySpace page where you can listen to some of her music.
  • The other "must see" for me on the 16th is Lionel Loueke Trio, who I will be catching at Max of Eastman Place at 10:00 pm. This guitarist's music is unique, full of African, blues and other influences. I think will be one of my highlights of the jazz festival.  One reason that I am leaving my "mid-zone" more, shall we say, flexible this night is to gauge the line at Max and make sure I get in to hear Loueke. To give you a taste, check out this video of Loueke doing his thing. See what I mean?

The Rochester International Jazz Festival is full of choices.  There's a lot more every night than what I'm setting out here in this and the other "pick" posts, so check out the entire artist lineup for each night here.  We have to make hard choices (I'm missing someone I really want to see, local drummer Sean Jefferson with a 5tet & Marcus Strickland because he's appearing only at 6:00 and 10:00). Also note that while I'm selecting a time in coming up with my itinerary, most of the venues will have two sets, many around 6:00 and 10:00 pm.  There will be a mix of times in between those two main set times. Some artists are appearing on more than one day.

Again, Jazz@Rochester is on Twitter and I have created a widget, which has its own page to help you follow the conversation about jazz and the XRIJF on that popular micro-blogging platform. For those who want to begin the conversation now, start using #XRIJF as a hash tag (if you're on Twitter, you'll know what I mean) and help me spread the word to use that tag during the festival. If you'd like to access Jazz@Rochester on your smart phone, please try the new mobile site.

Previous Preview & Pick posts:

Other links:

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

My plan for June 15th, Day Four of the XRIJF

XRIJF logoThis is nine days, baby... we're just getting started. I have to pace myself and after the wild first weekend, I often find myself taking a breather on Monday.  While there is lots to choose from, due to repeats (both between festivals and during this festival) there are only two Club Pass gigs I'm planning on getting to, although between the two, I'm sure I'll find something to do. Here's how my Monday, June 15th during the Rochester International Jazz Festival is coming together:

  • Starting out at 6:00 pm (well, I may catch something beforehand if I get down to Jazz Street early) with NEA Jazz Master and percussionist Chico Hamilton with his group Euphoria in Kilbourn Hall.  This octogenarian continues to innovate and deliver diverse music since his Cool Jazz days in the 50s.  He can still cook the skins as shown in this clip from a couple of years ago. Get some more on the man at Hamilton's MySpace page and through his responses to a Take Five "interview" on AllAboutJazz.com.
  • At 10:00 pm, I'm going to try to check out Andrei Razin  & Second Approach over at the Montage. This Russian pianist and his trio is, according to John Nugent and others, one of the acts not to miss at this year's festival. Check out the mp3s available on their site here and the rest of the site for more.
  • In between the 6:00 and 10:00 pm shows I will probably wander around a bit. Although I've now seen him at least twice, I may drop in on the Cedar Walton Quartet (I don't think I've seen him in a Quartet here) at the Harro East, or the Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra (which I've not yet had a chance to catch myself) on the Jazz Street Stage, both at 7:15 pm. Alternatively, I may drop in 8:30 to check out the Stephane Wrembel Django Experiment to hear some gypsy jazz in the Big Tent or the Bossa Nova sounds of Maria Farinha & Jongo Trio at Xerox Auditorium at 9:00 pm before heading over to Montage for my Russian lesson. 
Just going to play it by ear ... so to speak.

I'm going to keep repeating that Jazz@Rochester is on Twitter and I have created a widget, which has its own page to help you follow the conversation about jazz and the XRIJF on that popular micro-blogging platform. For those who want to begin or join the conversation now, start using #XRIJF as a hash tag (if you're on Twitter, you'll know what I mean) and help me spread the word to use that tag during the festival. If you'd like to access Jazz@Rochester on your smart phone during the festival or througout the year, please try the new mobile site.

Previous Preview & Pick posts:

Other links:

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

My plan and picks for XRIJF Day Three, June 14th

XRIJF logoAgain I let too many days pass and now we're getting down to the wire on getting these posts out before the festival starts itself on June 12th. I'm falling down in my quest that this Rochester International Jazz Festival is not going to turn into another job. As I said, this year I want to concentrate on having fun! However, these posts serve two functions, they allow me to map out where I might want to focus during the festival and, I hope, give you some idea on how you can catch a number of sounds each night and information additional to that on the Festival's site on at least some of the many jazz and other musical tastes that may find fulfillment during the festival. Here's how my Sunday, June 14th is shaping up:

  • Starting at 4:00 pm, the Eastman Theatre will become a big movie house. In the mid-1970s, WXXI produced a series of one-hour jazz programs that were shown nationally on PBS. Most of the programs were filmed in Rochester’s Top of the Plaza, which is how the series got its name, At the Top. This year there will be video from that series, with sets by the Bill Evans Trio, the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra, ending with a special episode from the second season of WXXI’s Rochester International Jazz Festival series, that presents an overview of last year's festival and includes excerpts from many of the performances, street scenes and interviews with some of the musicians and jazz fans. I checked this out last year and saw some great footage of the Buddy Rich big band. If I can get out of the office by 4:00 I may do that again for a bit. I may also spend some time listening to one or more of the great high school jazz bands from around Rochester or get a reprise of Jon Cleary, who will be over at Harro East.
  • For my first Club Pass gig, I'll head over to the Xerox Auditorium to catch Jonas Kullhammar Quartet. Kullhammer has been in town before playing in one of the shows put on by the Bop Shop, but I was never able to get to the gig so I'm looking forward to getting a chance to hear him at his 6:30 pm set. In addition to the cuts on Kullhammer's MySpace page, check out this video of a Stockholm gig from 2007.
  • Since this night appears to be developing into mostly envelope pushing, my next stop will be Christ Church to catch the 8:45 set of the Neil Cowley Trio from the "Made in the UK" series. Keyboardist Cowley is one of the "post-jazz" musicians who with the Trio creates concoctions from various genres building on a jazz foundation. Some have drawn connections to E.S.T., although Cowley has taken great pains to not let their music influence the directions he takes with his compositions. Luckily, since they are from Generation at least X, the Nate Cowley Trio has a lot of stuff out there on the interwebs where you can get a taste, including their website and MySpace page, and they're on Twitter. Here's a good video of the Trio performing "Dinosaur die" in Paris last year.
  • There is a chance that I'll feel like overdosing on the folks from Scandanavia, so I may instead choose the 7:30 set of Dane Søren Kjærgaard at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, if only because his playing floored me when he appeared here at last year's festival with Blake Tartare. Here is a video of Kjærgaard with a group playing his Ballad for Leo (Mathiesen) in 2006. This is what he's been working on lately with Torben Ulrich (be prepared it's quite long), but there's no indication what Kjærgaard is bringing to Rochester.
  • I'm actually going to finally make it into Kilbourn Hall to get my head straightened back out with Ernestine Anderson. This woman may come out with anything from the blues or jazz songbooks and has been doing that for 5 decades. But it will be just what I'll need toward the end of the third night—comfort food for my ears. Here's a video of her dishing some of that out in Japan last year.

This night shaped up with a lot of music that, for the RIJF, will be outside the mainstream (except for Miss Anderson, that is). That's just the way I roll ....

As I announced earlier, Jazz@Rochester is also on Twitter and I have created a widget, which has its own page to help you follow the conversation about jazz and the XRIJF on that micro-blogging platform. For those who want to begin the conversation now, start using #XRIJF as a hash tag (if you're on Twitter, you'll know what I mean) and help me spread the word to use that during the festival. If you'd like to access Jazz@Rochester on your smart phone, please try the new mobile site.

Previous Preview & Pick posts:

Other links:

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

Jazz@Rochester preview and picks for XRIJF Day Two

XRIJF logoDay Two of the Rochester International Jazz Festival is going to be one of those eclectic nights you find yourself having at the fest. There is a lot of variety (even for those who's taste in "jazz" venture toward Southern fried rock) to sample from.  Although I'm only touching the broad swath of music that the folks at RIJF have concocted for the first Saturday (which you should check out in its entirety), here's how my evening on June 13th is shaping up:

  • As on Day One, I'm not hitting Kilbourn Hall at all on June 13th.  Not that I don't think it would be great to see Hammond B3 monster Joey DeFrancesco, but the fact is I caught him at Iridium in NYC in February and I'd like to keep that gig he did with Larry Coryell in my ears a bit longer. I have never heard trumpeter Terrell Stafford and his Quartet play, so will catch them first at 6:00 pm at the Montage.
  • On my way over to the next stop, I'll pause to have a beer and conjure up some memories of my former home town while catching a bit of Chicago bluesman and Alligator recording Artist Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater, who is scheduled to begin playing at 7:00 pm. He's playing the Club Pass Tent on Sunday as well, so if I need some more of that home town cookin I'll see if I can catch it then.
  • After getting a bit of blues, a beer and perhaps some "street meat," I'll head down Chestnut, pick up a bottle of water (you'll understand when you go there) and head inside that great space to hear the group Nordic Connect, another in the Nordic Jazz Now series. This group is a special project of leader, trumpeter/composer (and Canadian) Ingrid Jensen, a featured soloist in the Maria Schneider Orchestra when they were here in January. Jensen is joined for this project with Christine Jensen, Swedish pianist-composer Maggi Olin, her husband and drummer Jon Wikan (who although Alaskan-born has a Norwegian background), and Swedish bassist Mattias Welin. Listened to some of their new CD Flurry and know that their music will be perfect for that space and looking forward to sitting back in the pew, taking a breath, and listening.
  • The way the RIJF is scheduled now there are a lot of choices in the 7:00 to 9:00 pm range. You usually have some "change ups" in mind to provide flexibility for your mood or what you're hearing on the wind.  As I have some flexibility this night due to my not hitting Kilbourn, I may postpone my Nordic Connect-ion until 9:30 pm or otherwise mix it up and head over with those who love that deep sound to catch some of SMV, a supergroup touring this summer that unites gods of bass Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, at the Eastman Theater at 8:00 pm. Perhaps they are trying to do some of the demolition for the new Theater annex without hiring a contractor?
  • I'm going to tie up the evening (that is if there are no change ups and I don't head out for after-hours jams) with Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, who will be kicking out the New Orleans jams in the Club Pass Tent at 10:00 pm (also, if changes prevail, at 8:30). I've wanted to see this UK ivory tickler, who transplanted to his heart's true home on the Gulf Coast, in a live show since I first heard his song "So Damn Good" a few years ago (I couldn't get the infectious shuffle groove and its lyric says it all ..."I feel so damn good that I'll be glad when I've got the blues ... I'm so down being up that I'll be winning when I start to lose"). To check him out catch "Mo Hippa" (a live cut off his new CD by the same name) and some other cuts (including "So Damn Good") on Cleary's MySpace page. If you're just needing to get your groove on, then you may also want to catch returning group Papa Grows Funk, who'll be appearing twice on the Jazz Street stage (for free, too). Cleary and the Gentleman will also be gracing the stage at Harro East on Sunday.

I'm going to start kicking these Preview & Pick posts out now as fast as possible. I hope to do try some different approaches in Jazz@Rochester coverage throughout the Festival, focusing more on the conversation about the festival rather than try to keep up with posts on "what did I hear tonight". Main thing is I intend to have some fun and hang with all of my old "jazz fest" friends. Come here (or the new mobile site) to find out more as we get closer to June 12th.

As I announced earlier, Jazz@Rochester is also on Twitter. For those who want to begin the conversation now, let's start using #XRIJF as a hash tag. I'm going to be doing something special to pick up that conversation on the site soon.

Previous Preview & Picks:

Day One Preview & Picks

Other links:

City Newspaper's XRIJF Guide for June 13th

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

Jazz@Rochester preview and picks for XRIJF Day One

XRIJF logo imageThis post kicks off nine posts that will be published over the next month or so highlighting each night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, coming June 12th to 20th.  As there is a wealth of information on the festival's own site about lineup of artists each night with links to writeups on each artist (here's one), I'm going to focus my posts on the artists or groups I'm planning to catch each day (not that I have any pretensions that you give a hoot what I'm going to go hear, but mostly as a way to organize my own thoughts).  Of course, as anyone who has been to the RIJF will attest, you have to be flexible as you make your way through the nine days of the festival, flexibility that sometimes leads to new musical experiences. Well, enough with the introduction, let's get on with the picks:

  • On the first day of RIJF I usually get off work and head over around 4:00 pm to see the last minute set up and often catch glimpses of festival producers John Nugent and Marc Iaccona are running around making tweaks and putting out fires (not that they aren't doing that almost continuously for the next 9 days as well). I wait for the beer stand to open, get a beer and get in line at Kilbourn Hall for the first show there, but like last year, my first set of the 2009 XRIJF is going to be somewhere else this year. Although I enjoy hearing Bill Frisell every time, I've seen him several times at RIJF, so I'm planning to first head over to the Harro East Ballroom at 5:30 to catch some of the Jazz Mandolin Project (mostly as I'm an aspiring mando player, although mostly aspiring, not playing). You can hear a bit at JMP's MySpace page.
  • As I meander to the next item on my list, I may duck inside the Big Tent to catch a bit of local trumpeter Mike Kaupa (link for him on the Rochester Jazz Artists & Groups page).  It seems that RIJF scheduling local acts for the early sets in the tent, although again there is a local artist who gives so much to this city conspicuously absent from the local lineups for the RIJF.
  • Despite seeing him play several times in Rochester, at 6:30 I'm going to go hear Billy Bang, so I can check out the new venue (brought to you by the new sponsor, Xerox), the Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza. I think this is going to be a great new addition to the venues as it is a larger hall with apparently pretty good acoustics. Check out Bang on MySpace and this interview from 2003 on Allaboutjazz.com
  • At 7:30 pm, I'll head over to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation to catch the first set of the popular Nordic Jazz Now series, hearing Kari Ikonen & Karikko out of Finland. You can hear some more here and his profile on the Finnish Music Information Center.
  • I'll dash over to the Christ Church to catch the 8:45 set of the first artist in the new Made in the UK Series, the Peter King Quartet. I hope that there has been some attention paid to the acoustics in this cavernous space, but nonethless I'm looking forward to hearing some of the UK artists with whom I'm mostly unfamiliar. Here's King's page from Wikipedia and an "in his own words" article from 2003 from the Jazz Institute of Chicago's site.
  • It's a short walk from there to the Montage Grill to catch Eric Alexander Quartet's 10:00 pm set. I saw Alexander play twice in 2008 (at the Jazz at Philharmonic remake at last year's RIJF and with the guys over at the Strathallan Hotel more recently), but want to catch him with his quartet. It's a bit of nostalgia too for me, a former Chicagoan. Here's the Quartet live in Asheville, NC, playing "Pearl."
  • I will try to make the first night of the after hours at the RIJF's "official" hotel (now called the Rochester Plaza Hotel, which by the way has a blog). There's some folks that I expect will drop by to sit in with Bob Sneider et al.

I've put a to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival site in my left panel. I'll be putting up more special XRIJF features soon. Watch for them and for additional "picks" posts to come. I'm also going to try moving stuff around a bit, so watch for that as well and I apologize in advance if there are any hiccups along the way.  I'll try to have everything ready by the time June 12th rolls around.

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

What are YOU doing June 12-20? .... You know where I'll be! RIJF lineup announced ...

Xerox RIJF logoThis year the John Nugent, Marc Iacona and the folks at Rochester International Jazz Festival, with new sponsor Xerox, did the lineup announcement proud.  Instead of an email or press release, this morning the media, including yours truly, were brought together at the RIJF's newest venue, the 500+ seat Xerox Auditorium, for an announcement of the lineup for this year's festival.  It's going to be a good one.

As John Nugent put it, a music festival is "not just about who you know, it it about who you don't know."  As in past years there are familiar faces and complete unknowns, there is blues, world music flavors, a bit of Southern Fried Rock, some Nawlins' stuff and, of course, a sh*tload of jazz (it's my blog, I can say it...).

I'm not going to go into much detail here in this post as I will be doing that from now until June in the blog anyway and RIJF does a fine job of telling you all about it on through links from its artist lineup on the website.

All I'll say is that there will be the aforementioned new venue (which is going to be a great space).  The Nordic Jazz Now series at the Lutheran Church is back.  A new series will begin at Christ Church with some well known and up and coming jazz artists from the United Kingdom (to announce that, John joined on the web with two of the artists and the friend who help him set it up from Xerox's HQ in the UK). I'll be doing the usual as we approach, but thought I'd let you know that the lineup is out there so you can start doing this June Jazz grid instead of the one for March Madness.

You'd better think about getting your Club Pass.  Watch for more here, but go and check out the lineup on the site now.  Come back here and leave your thoughts in the comments. Nine days man...

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

Get 'em while they're "cheap"! Rochester International Jazz Fest ticket price going up on January 1st

 RIJF/XeroxThe price for the coveted Club Pass to the 2009 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, running from June 12-20, will be increasing at noon on January 1st. Club Passes permit access to all non-Eastman Theatre shows. Right now, Club Passes are $105, plus a $4 service charge. At noon on New Year's Day, the price increases $30 to $135 plus a $4 service charge. For details, visit the RIJF's site or Ticketmaster.

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