37 posts categorized "RIJF 2008" Feed

"Finale" of last year's RIJF on WXXI tomorrow, hosted by Tom Hampson

Mostly Jazz Host Tom Hampson, heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on WXXI AM1370, will be in the studio to present the final episode of WXXI’s 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival (RIJF) series. Hampson, who was involved in the 1970s WXXI production of the At the Top jazz series, and this month will be celebrating his 50th year of playing jazz on the radio in Rochester, will introduce the final episode of the RIJF series on the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival, which airs tomorrow, June 2 at 9:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV21. The Rochester International Jazz Festival series was shot during last year's festival. Shot in high-definition and recorded in the historic Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music, the series tries to capture the essence of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. This final episode includes selections from Catherine Russell, Slide Hampton, and The Bad Plus, and provides sights and sounds in and around the nine-day festival.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Survey says . . . a few of my readers' thoughts on the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival (Part Two)

This second post on the RIJF survey is a bit more difficult as the responses were so diverse that I think it's best to paint it with a broader brush, highlighting some of the areas where several people had something to say, but not providing a verbatim account (I will use quotes where I am, however). As far as the question about suggestions for the RIJF to see, I will be sending the full responses on to the RIJF staff, both positive and negative (so as not to lose any of their, shall we say, direct and sometimes earthy expression).  I appreciate the kind words many of you had about Jazz@Rochester and will take to heart some of your suggestions regarding our RIJF coverage.

If you would change one thing about the RIJF, what would it be?

QuestionnaireWhile some couldn't limit themselves to just one suggestion, there were some themes in the responses to this questions, including:

Comments on the strategy of selecting artists:

  • I liked the response from one reader who wrote that the RIJF should "...keep balancing the old and the new...need big names for the draw, and build a reputation as the "Cannes" of new discoveries who are just turning the corner into notoriety."
  • Several people thought there should be more local talent included in the festival. More than one suggested a secondary series of shows, like the Nordic Jazz Now series, dedicated exclusively to Rochester area musicians. As one wrote, "[i]f this were the Chicago Int'l Festival, say, then most likely there would be many Chicago-based musicians on the bill.The RIJF is a fantastic opportunity to put some of our best local musicians in the spotlight."
  • Several spoke to specific artists or genres of artists they'd like to hear at future RIJFs. One was looking for more "elite" headliners, naming Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Joni Mitchell, Chick Corea, Asleep at the Wheel, or Taj Mahal and adding "hang the expense." Another spoke to the lack of emphasis on "contemporary jazz & R&B artists such as Lee Ritenour, Fourplay, Bobby Caldwell, Ivan Lins, Patti Austin, Dave Grusin ,Brian Auger, Tower of Power. Another, a fan of artists like John Hollenbeck and John Zorn and the more abstract scene felt there was virtually nothing from that area to check out this year and would like to see more.
  • One reader thought there should be bands roving the streets a la New Orleans. 
  • Another reader wrote of wanting to know the artist roster much more earlier than just one month before the festival begins. The reader wrote that "once the artists have been secured then the blog and various media could start the buzz around Rochester and choices could be made well in advance as to what shows are the most interesting to prospective patrons" (this comment was really on the Jazz@Rochester question, but I thought it fit here).

Comments on the sound:

  • "Fix the sound at Christ Church--it was a nearly unlistenable venue this year"  (I have to agree with this assessment).
  • One reader questioned whether all venues or artists need amplification, including Kilbourn Hall (recalling hearing an acoustic set of the Phil Woods Quartet at Red Creek without mikes years back finding the sound great). Also had words about the tent. Another found that Harro East's sound so bad that "the music suffers greatly."

Comments on the Club Passes, food & other logistical issues:

  • There were some who thought that RIJF should try different types of Club Passes, including passes good for the weekends to make it easier for someone visiting from out of town to get all there was to get out of the fest for a particular day and day passes.
  • Several had suggestions regarding the food and other offerings of vendors at the RIJF, including: providing more vegetarian options ("vendors were too meat centric and we ended up eating dinner before we left for the festival.  If there was a good veggie alternative we would have spent more money at the festival and just ate there"); serving beer brewed by Rochester's High Falls Brewery (OK, the reader said Genny...); and a wider wine selection at Max's.
  • Of course, there were issues with the lines and scheduling conflicts (although on the latter, the reader noted that this is a good problem to have).  One reader suggested that the times for performances be alternated so that there is no dead/down time; for example 6:00, 7:30; 9, 10 or 10:30.  Another suggested having more artists appear on more than one day.
  • There was a suggestion for more afternoon concerts.
  • One reader says that RIJF needs to "[g]et a different artist to do the poster. What was originally artistic has become a series of cliches."

Comments on the jazz vs. non-jazz:

  • On reader wrote that "[m]y worst memories of this year's festival are leaving a wonderful jazz concert and stepping into the street to hear blasting, pounding non-jazz. From the sublime to the ridiculous, literally. It's the RIJF, for crying out loud, not some drunken East End Fest." He also had a problem with the "slobs putting their feet up in Kilbourn Hall."
  • Another reader wrote "[p]lease leave the Jerry Lee Lewis shit at home. There's no justification for that as he and others (FS jr. for ex.) are not showing up at the hipper more revered jazz fests across the land and certainly not in Europe."
  • However, another wrote "I would like RIJF attendees to stop whining when there are 'other than mainstream jazz' acts at the fest. The RIJF allows us the opportunity to come together as a community and experience musical art that we may not otherwise be exposed to during the course of the year. Just like TV there are some 800 channels to choose from—if you don't like one channel then change it."

What kind of coverage would you like to see more of in Jazz@Rochester during the festival?

QuestionnaireWhile a lot of responses to this question were complimentary, there were several observations and suggestions for coverage of future RIJFs that I'd like to share and solicit your further comment:

  • Several spoke to wanting to see more daily coverage and to hear more voices. One reader wrote "[m]ore contributors so broader and timely daily coverage is achieved." Another wrote "[i]t would be neat if you had multiple reporters feeding live updates of various performances so, for instance, someone could've written a rave at the first set of Timo Lassy  and folks could rearrange their plans to catch the second set." Another suggesetd that "[I] could rely on more local musicians, especially younger people, for guest reports and things of that nature. I noticed that happened a bit before the festival on your site, but during, you seemed to be flying solo... [] more opinions=better coverage to me." The more voices I was working on, but just didn't get it in place beforehand. I recognize the need for more help and will be recruiting some more during the year so we're prepared next RIJF. Let me know if you'd like to contribute.
  • One reader remembered an earlier interview of pianist Geri Allen from last year and suggested doing more of that. Interviews are hard work and I just couldn't swing a credible shot at them this year, but perhaps more next year?
  • Someone suggested more "DaJazz" podcasts (our inaugural issue from last year is here). Seth, Ken and I just didn't get to it this year. We tried to record one, but it sounded pretty lame, so we didn't inflict it on you.
  • Someone suggested more video. I don't have a camera, but I'm happy to post more of it if someone else takes some quality footage and wants to send it my way (or send me a link on YouTube or other video aggregator).  There is quite a lot of video of the RIJF available out there and I have been thinking of doing a series of posts highlighting them.
  • One person suggested there be less promotion of alcohol. This was one of the surprise comment, but in looking back over my posts, I can see the reader's point. Jazz is often found in close proximity to the stuff, and I do like my beer and other spirits. While I don't like the idea of censoring myself, there is no need to waive the stein in people's faces quite so much.

So there it is.  I really got a lot out of this exercise and intend to do this every year.  As I noted in the companion to this post yesterday, if you missed adding your voice to the poll itself, feel free to add your two cents in the comments below on this post (I'd ask that you add it to the one that includes the questions you want to comment on). 

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

Survey says . . . a few of my readers' thoughts on the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival (Part One)

QuestionnaireFor the past month, I've been collecting the thoughts some of you had about the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival through an online survey.  I asked my readers 5 questions, including:

  • Who was your favorite artist or group at this year's jazz festival?
  • What artist of group would you like to hear at next year's RIJF?
  • What level of RIJF fanatic were you? (giving you a few choices, including "All 9 days, baby...")
  • If you would change one thing about the RIJF, what would it be?
  • What kind of coverage would you like to see more of in Jazz@Rochester during the festival?

I'm finally getting around to setting out the results of this informal and very unscientific poll of about 25 of my readers. Eight who responded had been to all 9 days of the festival.  All but three of the rest had been "onsite" 5 or more days. In this first post, I'll cover the first three questions. In one published tomorrow, we'll look at some of the suggested changes to the RIJF and to my coverage of it in Jazz@Rochester. My survey did not record any information about who thought these other than their responses, but in almost all cases their responses seemed genuine.

Who was your favorite artist or group at this year's jazz festival?

The responses here were across the wide spectrum of music that was found at this year's RIJF.  Some who received more than one vote included:

  • Billy's Band (3)
  • Bad Plus (2)
  • Beady Belle (2)
  • Blake Tartar (2)
  • Dr. Lonnie Smith with Mel Henderson and Ulysses Owens (2)
  • Timo Lassi Band (2)
  • Wilbirds & Peacedrums (2)

Others who received a vote included (in alphabetical order):

  • Richard Bona
  • Djabe
  • Al Foster
  • Gillespiana
  • Dave Liebman
  • Joe Locke
  • Carmen Lundy (at the Jazz at the Philharmonic)
  • Ola Kvernberg Trio
  • Stephanie McKay
  • Rochester Jazz at the Philharmonic
  • Boz Scaggs
  • John Scofield
  • Jacky Terrason
  • Sachal Vasandani
  • The Buddhahood
  • Kristian Blak & Yggdrasil

What artist of group would you like to hear at next year's RIJF?

This question brought a wide assortment of artists and groups in response as well, including some we've seen before at the RIJF and some who haven't been in Rochester for quite some time. Here they are in alphabetical order (there were no repeats):

  • Karrin Allyson
  • Jane Ira Bloom
  • Renato Braz
  • Capital Bones
  • James Carter
  • Ravi Coltrane
  • Chick Corea and Return to Forever
  • Dena DeRose
  • Allan Holdsworth
  • Keith Jarrett
  • Diana Krall
  • John Legend
  • Carmen Lundy
  • Pink Martini
  • Pat Martino
  • Sergio Mendes
  • Marion McPartland
  • Diane Reeves
  • Jake Shimabikuru
  • Aaron Staebell (local)
  • Scott Whitfield (West Coast trombonist)
  • Sex Mob
  • John Zorn & Masada

If you missed adding your voice to the poll itself, feel free to add your two cents in the comments below on this post and tomorrow's (I'd ask that you add it to the one that includes the questions you want to comment on).

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

Tell us about your RIJF...One week left

questionnaireA few weeks ago, I let you know about a survey I'd created to give us your thoughts on the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival to find out what you liked about the RIJF and where there was room for improvement in both the festival and in this blog's coverage.  The answers of a growing number of my readers have been recorded over the past few weeks and and I'll compile them and share them with you (and with the producers of the RIJF where appropriate) soon. You can fill the online questionnaire is here. Do so soon as I will only be keeping the link open until Sunday, July 27th. Please take a few minutes to fill it out!

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

Putting in the Pepto Bismol nights . . . John Nugent talks with City about RIJF

two guys reading newspaperRecently ran across the article resulting from a July 2nd interview that Frank DeBlase over at City Newspaper did with Rochester International Jazz Festival honcho John Nugent.  There's some interesting stuff in there on how they set the number of Club Passes each year (this year it was 3,200, which sold out early) and why the non-jazz acts are necessary (which I've explained elsewhere and don't add up to that many anyway). Frank even gives us his own tally of jazz vs. non-jazz at the end. 

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

So, what did you think about the 7th Annual Rochester International Jazz Festival? Take the poll....

I'm going to try something new and provide my readers another way to voice their thoughts.  So what do you think about the Rochester International Jazz Festival and our coverage here.  I have created a questionnaire for you to fill out and let us know what you thought after attending the festival. Your answers will be recorded and I'll compile them and share them with the readers of this blog (and the people at RIJF) in a few weeks. Let me know if you have any questions. The questionnaire is here.  Please take a few minutes to fill it out.

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

The question I kept getting asked on Jazz Street ... What have been your favorites at this year's RIJF?

RIJF M&T Bank logoTook me awhile to recover enough from nine days of too much beer and street meat, and too little sleep. Now that those are all digested, I might be able to look back on the Seventh Rochester International Jazz Festival with clearer eyes.  This may be one of several posts recapping 2008's RIJF and looking toward 2009.  Although not doubling like it did in previous years, the Rochester International Jazz Festival posted a record crowd of over 125,000 over its 9 days. It was great again seeing so many people having fun in downtown Rochester.

So I guess I'll start with the obvious...What were my favorites of 2008's Rochester Jazz Festival?  There was such a rich diversity of music that it's hard to confine my choices, but out of the 600 artists or so that played during the festival, I'll give it a go:

  • On Day 1, the Timo Lassy Band at the fantastic Nordic Jazz Now series.  Perhaps it is the first day excitement, but the set by this Finnish artist and his band was smokin. They started hard and didn't let up. While the NJN series did not offer as many things I felt compelled to see this year, I still think that it is a great addition to the festival and look forward as Nugent programs in series from other nations (apparently the next will be from the UK).
  • On Day 2, Stephanie McKay delivered the goods at High Fidelity and reminded me again of how the RIJF is a place to discover all kinds of music, not just jazz.
  • Also on Day 2, I need to add Dee Dee Bridgewater and the musical and spiritual journey I took with my lovely wife Dianna through her discovery of her roots in Mali.
  • On Day 4, Dave Liebman was an artist I had not been exposed to and he was a great find.
  • I just had a great time spending two sets with the good Doctor Lonnie Smith, Ulysses Owens and Mel Henderson aon Day 5.  Just can't help it with that B3 organ trio sound kicking out the grooves.
  • I had an absolutely great night of music on Day 6 with Dave Murray's Black Saint Quartet and the historic gathering of artists for the Rochester Jazz at the Philharmonic.
  • On Day 7, it was great to see Joe Locke bringing it home with his new band Force of Four and I discovered Blake Tartare by sheer accident.
  • Day 8 brought me another discovery—Billy's Band from St. Petersburg, Russia.

In many ways the above is a good representation of what makes the RIJF so satisfying musically. It's not just one kind of jazz or one kind of music, ranging from straightahead to "outsider" to R&B to offbeat.  I discovered some artists that I will now want to listen to and will soon be making a pilgrimage to the Bop Shop to start purchasing some of their CDs.

This year's RIJF was just a great time for me and I can't believe it's already over. Thanks to John Nugent, Marc Iacona, Jean Dalmath and the rest of the RIJF staff and volunteers for putting on another great festival of music.  I'll continue to do some other wrap ups as I think of them and will also continue with the listings and other regularly scheduled programming. What do you think?  Leave a short comment to let us know about your favorites (although we've heard enough from one artist's fans, if you know what I mean....) and watch the blog for a poll that I intend to add soon so you can let us know your favorites and who you'd like to see for the Eighth Annual RIJF next year.

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

It ain't over until the guy with the hat sings ... Another Rochester International Jazz Festival wraps

The last day of the Rochester International Jazz Festival was a bit light on the jazz with a large slathering of jam, but a satisfying end to the nine days of music, exploration, good friends and fun that RIJF has come to be for me.  After arriving at 4:30, I got into a line that started forming much earlier than usual (around 4:00 pm) for the 6:00 pm performance of Catherine Russell and had a couple of beers in line while people watching and talking with friends in line and walking by.

Catherine Russell album coverI missed Catherine Russell last year. She was one of the sleepers from the 2007 RIJF and they had moved her up to the bigger hall for 2008. Coming from a historic lineage (her father Luis Russell was a composer and arranger who was Louis Armstrong's music director for a long time; her mother is a bassist and vocalist who worked with Mary Lou Williams and Wynton Marsalis), she also takes a look back in her choice of songs of her father and those of others by Wynonie Harris, Fats Waller, and Alec Wilder among others, many of them on her new album Sentimental Streak. Russell's voice is strong and she's a real entertainer who made each of the songs come alive through her intros and, especially, through her eyes and expressions while singing them. One thing about Russell that stands out for me is that she released her first album, Cat, at the age of 50. For those of us still redefining ourselves at a late date in our lives, her success is encouraging (and also a testament to her amazing talent).

After a stop at Stromboli Express (future note: during the jazz fest, that's express only if you get a slice, not a stromboli), Ken, Seth and I strolled down east to catch at least some of Medeski Martin and Wood. The jam band groupies were out in force and it looked like a particularly crowded night on the East End, although there was a strangely large number of older folks like ourselves on the streets. When the crowd got to critical mass and the clock approached 10:00 pm (although now I wish we had been there when Chuck Campbell, who like MMW is known to the Bonnaroo crowd, sat in for a few songs), we decided to head on down to the Rochester Plaza Hotel for the final event of the 2008 RIJF, the song stylings of now-retired WXXI-FM announcer Mordecai Lipshutz, who always closes out the RIJF with a song at the final nights after-hours. OK, we hoped we'd hear some of the artists who were still in town. We were not disappointed.  The Sliding Hammers did a couple of short numbers on their 'bones and there was a fantastic set by the Soul Rebels with Bob Sneider that had the house jammin NOLA-Style. Almost thought we were going to do a second line to close out the festival (and perhaps they did over at the late-late show at the Flat Iron? Tom, let me know...). After John Nugent and some other local talent jammed for awhile, Mordecai finally came up in his signature straw fedora on after last call with presents for John Nugent, Marc Iacona, and the house trio for the after hours Bob Sneider, Mike Melito and Phil Flanagan—a Mordecai Lipshutz bobble-head doll! Mordecai then launched into a couple of songs, including the traditional RIJF closer We'll Be Together Again. And off we went into the night....well, early morning.

Look for a wrap up post soon and I hope to do a wrap up Da Jazz podcast with my friends and fellow bloggers Ken and Seth before too long (we did one other earlier in the festival, but decided not to posted it for your sakes...). Then it's back to all that jazz that is found here throughout the year.  I welcome the new readers who have subscribed and/or found Jazz@Rochester during this festival and hope you stick around and support jazz in Rochester throughout the year. I hope to be making some changes around here and doing a few interactive things to get your opinions, etc.

Some additional voices on the last day and wrap ups from our major media folks:

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

Jazz@Rochester calling in . . .

Click on the bar below to hear a live moblog from the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival in Rochester, New York. 

A short signoff from the beginning of the end...the final after-hours of the 2008 RIJF... (sorry about the sound quality)

Live Jazz@Rochester Updates from RIJF

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

Clap Hands and other ditties on Day 8 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

Day 8 at the Rochester International Jazz Festival was mostly a free floating experience. Ken and I met up and got a sandwich to eat from Java's, which gave us a respite from street meat for a day (although I don't really believe that the sauerkraut on my Reuben qualifies as a vegetable, which have been in short supply in my stomach all week). We sat at a table outside of Java's, people watched and listened to the great high school bands from Fairport and Spencerport.  Then we took a stroll down East Ave. (with a quick stop at Havana Moe's) toward Alexander to listen to the Skatalites. Although many of the original band from the early 60s are no longer with us, the band really kicked up the ska with a thick layer of horns. It brought back some memories from parties in college in the 1980s when ska was being resurrected by groups like The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat, Madness, and Bad Manners. Before their set was over, we began walking back down East.

Photo of Billy's BandThere was only one thing I really felt compelled to go hear and that was Billy's Band at Max at Eastman Place. Thanks to Jane deciding that sitting in the line that began developing soon after the first set for several hours was the way to go, we had great seats up front for the second set.  Billy's Band hails from St. Petersburg Russia.  Leader Vadim (Billy) Novik, simultaneously channeling Tom Waits and Raskolnikov, growled and spit out the biting words of Waits songs like Clap Hands and Blue Valentines and Russian songs (as I don't know Russian or all of Waits' songs, I can't tell you whether they were written by Novik, Waits or someone else. I wish Tanya had been with us to help translate...).  In between the songs, Novik told tales in broken English and continued the Waits schitck with cocks of the head and other mannerisms of the Bard of the Dispossessed. Like others writing about the performance of Billy's Band at Max last night (see below), I'll continue the comparison of guitarist Andrey Ryzhik to Harpo Marx, but in addition to the hair, the comparison is more apt than it seems. Like Harpo, underneath the silence and comic antics, Ryzhik was much smarter than he appeared. He would jump around and goof (I like how he'd see someone outside the window and turned with his bandmate Mikhail Zhydkikh to play for them), but when he needed to be there in the song or to make a change on the effects board or something else connected to the music, he was all business and intense concentration. Anton Matezius played a beautiful accordion, sang and also took a couple turns on hand drum to compliment the minimal percussion for the group (other than Novik's slapping bass), which was a single floor tom and cowbell played occasionally by Zhydkikh, who is also a talented sax player. I expect that Russians have a deep resonance with many of the underlying themes of Waits' music as they appear to be very popular (and have been for awhile) in Russia and in the Russian community in the States. Sure it was schtick, but it was really fun and satisfying schtick. This was one of the highlights of the festival for me and most who attended, who scarfed up their CDs.  Billy's Band has to be experienced live, but if you want to get a taste, check out videos of Clap Hands and Ice Cream Man.

After that we didn't need more festival and it was such a beautiful night, so we headed over to Abilene, the new bar near the Harro East for a nightcap. As the Park Avenue Band wrapped up their last set, we moved out to Abilene's great back yard patio and had our own after-hours, listening to reggae, and talking about the RIJF and the music scene in Rochester with Tom Kohn of the Bop Shop.  A good night.

Other voices out there in the 8th RIJF night:

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

Joe Locke brings it home and stumbling onto something "raw." All in Day 7 of the RIJF.

Force of Four photo Joined by our friend Tatanya, I stood in the line that formed early at Kilbourn Hall to hear Joe Locke & Force of Four play.  I've heard Joe Locke play here a number of times in my short time in his hometown, but knew that this night would be special.  In all the times he's played here, he had never played in Kilbourn. This was the first time and it was clear that it meant a lot to him. Being able to listen to Locke's vibes and his new band Force of Four in the acoustically fine hall meant a lot to us. Working a his tight new young band with Robert Rodriguez on piano,  Ricardo Rodriguez on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums seems to have been a wonderful learning experience for Locke and it showed as they played a number of originals from their new album Force of Four, which will be released on Origin Records in September, but was made available to his hometown festival goers early. As he was with friends, Joe talked and caught us up on his life. A telling comment Locke made reveals a lot about him and why he tries so many new projects, which this year has included working with Trio Da Paz, Columbian harpist Edmar Casteneda, and having his music arranged and played by a symphony orchestra with him as soloist —the guy is always about trying to learn and expand his musical vocabulary. He explained that is has been a heady year, with these projects as well as an appointment to the faculty of the UK Royal Academy of Music and winning 2008 "Mallet Player of the Year" Award from the Jazz Journalist Association (which I don't think he mentioned as he won it yesterday). But Joe didn't talk the whole set, he let his vibes do most of the talking in a set that ranged from joyous to haunting and left the notes from his four mallets ringing through the hall. When the final note of the "story" piece "Available in Blue," I overheard a woman behind me exclaim "God ... that was so beautiful." I'm looking forward to hearing this album and other projects as Joe Locke continues his education in jazz and music.

We headed over to the church to try out Beady Belle, the Norwegian group. Whoever wrote the entry for the band in Wikipedia describes their style as "jazz and acid-jazz inspired using upbeat and downbeat electronica roots, use of vocal harmonies, piano and strings." They are that and a lot more. They played a number of originals that had a lot of layers to back up the rich and beautiful voice of the lead singer Beate S. Lech. This was the band's first gig in its first tour of the United States. The full-house audience just ate them. The RIJF'ers that come to the Nordic Jazz Now series at the Reformation church tend to have open minds and are there to hear good music played by good musicians and, often, to open their ears to those who play it from across the pond from the colder climates. We've not seen a real musical dog in two years of these and we've not seen one that is the same as the other—showing the rich diversity of talent coming out of Norway, Finland , Sweden and Denmark. Beady Belle's music was rocking, soulful, interesting and played by a group of very talented musicians.  All of the songs were in English (although Lech went into a kind of Norwegian accent parody during one interlude). Here they are being a bit more jazzy and scatting in Germany.

Our upstairs neighbor Kristine had joined us after meeting her at Beady Belle. We intended to go hear Tierney Sutton in Max. However, I forgot that sometimes Max lets people in for the second set early to get them fed and liquored up before the show, so instead of the line snaking down Gibbs it is just let in and the line that forms are those who are waiting in case someone leaves (one in, one out). By the time we realized what was going on, it was too late. So Kristine and I took a chance and went over to Montage to catch Blake Tartare ("raw," get it?).  Blake Tartare is no Tierney Sutton (but saxophonist leader Michael Blake wouldn't want to be would he?), but it was one hell of a ride and another great stumble into music that I really loved hearing. By the crowd (quite a few of whom I knew), it was clear to me that this would be music more on the fringe. Blake Tartare is the latest project of saxophonist/composer Michael Blake, who fronts a quartet of young Danish improvisers: Soren Kjaergaard on Fender Rhodes and piano, Jonas Westergaard on bass, and Kresten Osgood on drums.  Their music ranged across the spectrums and highlighted each of them. The drummer Osgood was intense, looking like he just walked out of a frat house (with beer), but applying himself to his skins like his life depended on it. In their encore they engaged the house in whistling (in harmony) the melody from a pop tune that I'm too old to place working it to a crescendo of whistles, floor tom pounding and beer bottle tooting. It was a great show and had Tom Kohn from the Bop Shop ready to tie a toe tag on his festival as he was fully sated. I'm sure he has their CD and I may have to go get a copy.  For a taste of Blake Tartare, here they are in playing a outdoor pizzeria in Venice.

What are the rest of them saying? Here some other voices on Day 7:

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

"I'm sure John would have liked it ... it's harder." Day 6 of the Rochester Jazz Festival

I could only get one post out on Thursday after waking up (had been out a bit late, as you'll find later in this post...) and made that one the listings post for the next seven days, so I'll try to bang out one for Days 6 and 7, June 18th and 19th, this morning.

Wednesday night started out as it often has during past RIJFs, but less so this year—in Kilbourn Hall.  Tonight's menu for the RJF began with David Murray's Black Saint Quartet. I almost joined the crowd snaking around High Fidelity to catch a set of ukelele sensation Jake Shimabukuro. I opted for some hard-edged complexity of Murray's quartet instead.  The Black Saint Quartet also included Jaribu Shahid (a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago) on bass, Lafayette Gilchrist on piano and Malik Washington on drums. Playing tenor sax and bass clarinet, Murray's solos and playing were full of emotion, moving from soulful melodies to harder-edged bop, from what I can only describe as "plunking" on the bass clarinet to wild runs of dissonant notes that made your hair stand on edge. One thing I noticed that really set Murray apart from some of the sax players I've seen was the way he used vibrato in his playing, especially when he held notes and showcased his mastery of the circular breathing technique.  His playing sometimes was like hearing an artery pulse with blood. Gilchrist was a demon possessed at times on piano and Shahid seemed like an proud elder watching the two young players strut their stuff while laying it down and keeping it tight. Murray and his quartet play cannot be pigeonholed into any one "genre" and why should he?  His musical career has taken different paths than those taken by others and that has resulted in a broad and outstanding body of work.  After noting that he got tired of playing Coltrane's Giant Steps like all the other sax players back in the day, he did a rearrangement that makes that saxophone favorite his own (didn't catch the name, but my gut tells me it's "Murray's Steps").  He noted before playing that he's "sure John would have liked it ... it's harder." It was.... I had not heard much of Murray's music in the past and left Kilbourn wanting to check him out more. If you want to go much deeper into Murray and his music, check out the special project that the author of the Wall of Sound blog has put together.

After meeting some friends who were dropping in to see a show and giving them some guidance on their choices, I headed into Eastman Theatre to catch the Rochester Jazz at the Philharmonic.  Patterned after Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic series of concerts and recordings in the 50s and 60s, this was an all-star extravaganza of jazz, with rotating sets of incredible artists drawn from: Houston Person and Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Vincent Herring (alto sax), Nicholas Payton and Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Slide Hampton (trombone), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Cedar Walton and Eric Reed (piano), Peter Washington and David Williams (bass), Kenny Washington and Louis Hayes (drums) and Carmen Lundy (vocals). Like Jack Garner, highlights for me were the opener Unit 7 by Sam Jones, Freddie Hubbard's Birdlike (with Pelt, Payton, Alexander, Reed and Hayes all contributing blazing solos) and the show closer A Night in Tunisia. Rochester didn't make much of a showing for the JATP performance. Eastman was at best 1/2 full; more like 1/3 for part of it (a similar showing to that for Dee Dee Bridgewater's earlier performance at the festival. While individually stars, not everyone involved in JATP is that well known outside of jazz circles, but putting these individual artists together on the same stage could be described as historic. However, I think crowds are down in general due to a number variables that have conspired to dampen the festival's draw.—the less than wonderful weather, gas prices and their impact on airfares, and the economy in general.  People are hurting and coming to Roch for a festival can't be on the top of everyone's list.

I knew that the energy that this gathering had created would not be fully spent in the Eastman Theatre, so I headed over to the after-hours at the Rochester Plaza Hotel to see what would transpire. Met up with my blogging buddies. The place was already packed when Bob Sneider, Mike Melito and Phil Flanagan kicked off the first set and the JATP artists were filtering into the house, so I knew something was going to kick off.  And it did.  Jeremy Pelt, Eric Alexander, Kenny Washington and Peter Bernstein all joined in and had a rousing set. Finally got my chance to catch Jake Shimabukuro as he came up afterward and played a few tunes with Bob and the guys, starting with Over the Rainbow. The young man is impressive and so expressive on that little axe. He had a cadre of fans there who started chanting "Jake, Jake, Jake..." as he made his way off the stage and then sat down and soaked up the playing for a long time afterward.

As I was taking off the next couple of days, I decided to head over to Flat Iron Cafe to talk to owner Tom LaBue and see how his week had been going since my last stop by the late-late show over there. He'd had some good nights with artists coming by to sit in with Quinn Lawrence and his trio (most of which have been written about over on the D&C blog). Finally, around 2:30 am, I had a chance to get a Don Cisso cigar from Tom and start writing my post in longhand (I just can't lug around my way too heavy laptop) out on the Flat Iron's jutt into the Lyell & Lake intersection. Quinn Lawrence had a whole flotilla of local music students who were playing up a storm in there. None of the artists came by from RIJF that night while I was there (left after 3:00 am).

And now for the other voices I've found writing in and around Day 6:

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

A chance for students to play with the pros to learn the tricks of the jazz trade!

Professional musicians who are faculty at the Eastman School of Music and Eastman Community Music will be holding a jam session tomorrow (Saturday, June 21st) from 2:00-4:00 pm where they will jam with students and provide helpful feedback.  Faculty who are currently participating include Bob Sneider, Jeff Campbell, Rich Thompson, Mike Kaupa, Paul Hofmann, Howard Potter and others. You never know who might pop by! The jam session will be in Room 120 in the Eastman School of Music at 26 Gibbs St. There will be a sign-up sheet (first come, first served).  This great learning opportunity is sponsored by Java’s Cafe, Bernunzio’s Uptown Music and the Eastman Community Music School. Oh yeah . . . it's free!

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

What's up Doc? Day 5 at the RIJF...

As I set out in the preview post for yesterday's RIJF festivities, I came out to support those who ply the jazz trade in the Rochester area.  After a beer and a cigar at Havana Moe's, and some street meat on Gibbs, I started the evening out in the tent with the Bill Tiberio Band. I have a confession to make.  In the preview I completely blew it in setting out Bill and the band.  I've known Bill for awhile and have seen him play with the Bill Tiberio Group and Bill Welch Band. When I saw he was going to be playing in the tent on Tuesday, I just assumed that he'd be playing with members of Paradigm Shift, who in the past have usually been, with Bill, the "Bill Tiberio Group".  So when I got into the tent and saw Bill and his band setting up, it was quite a surprise when none of them (other than Bill, of course) were from PS.  Bill's got a brand new band (apparently this was one of their first gigs together).  So to give them their due, I wanted to make sure I listed who's actually in the band, which includes (in addition to Bill Tiberio on saxophone): Joe Chiappone (guitar), Geoff Smith (bass), Scott Bradley (trumpet AND piano), and Phil Lake (drums).  The group played well before a large and appreciative audience in the tent.

Headed over a little while after Bill Tiberio's set began to High Fidelity to catch some of another local group, John Viviani and Filthy Funk.  When I arrived shortly after their set began they were funking up the place and the place was packed full almost to the door. I was able to hear, but not see.  They were really hitting their stride, with Mike Cottone joining them and laying down some brass. 

Left HF and headed over to Christ Church to see Nate Rawls Band.  I assumed it would be his Big Band and was somewhat disappointed when I walked in and it was a quintet (including two percussionists) and a singer.  Additionally, there was that sound quality issue...Christ Church is too cavernous a space for the type of music that has been programmed into it (or perhaps there should have been more attention paid to the sound as it seems they have a bare minimum sound system in there).

Dr. Lonnie SmithHeaded back to the tent to catch the main event for the evening, at least for me, the Henderson-Owens 3 featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith. I had missed them when they played the Exodus to Jazz series awhile back.  I ran into Jeff Spevak on the way back, who raved about the 6:00 pm performance of ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro and as I wandered up Jazz Street the "word on the street" was that this was a performance not to miss. Caught in a bind as it will be difficult for me to make seeing him at High Fidelity today, I had to make a decision. 

The first session with the Doctor made that decision easy.  Dr. Lonnie Smith was on fire and had us in that groove that only his B3 can do for more than a hour (Akiko Tsuruga, Lou Donaldson's B3 player from the previous night, had been Smith's student, which explained a lot). He was full of piss and vinegar, parodying Nat King Cole in Misty and Stevie Wonder in You Are the Sunshine of My Life.  Sometimes he just seemed possessed by the groove and, at one point, needed to play those bass notes faster than his feet would go, so he pulled out his seat at the organ and got down on his knees to bang out the groove with his hands on the pedals. I've seen the Good Doctor several times and had never heard him sing as much as he did last night. Since I knew I would have to spend most of the set standing in line to catch the ukulele stylings of Mr. Shimabukuro, it was an easy choice to move up closer and see the second set with Dr. Lonnie Smith at 10:00 pm.  We were sitting on the side during the first set and could watch Smith's hands.  At the later set, all we could see was his head and his feet pumping out that bass line.  His shows are always fun and funky—last night was no exception.

I headed home satisfied and ready to get some shut-eye so my body doesn't shut down before the RIJF does.

Added image—June 19th: In an amazing feat of thoughtlessness, I managed to write the preceding words yesterday about the Henderson-Owens 3 without really mentioning two of the 3—Melvin Henderson and Ulysses Owens—and feel compelled to add something to this post now as their fantastic playing and interplay with the Doctor were the strong backbone of two absolutely satisfying sets of music that still left me wanting more. I've been hearing Mel's guitar with Paradigm Shift, the Doctor, and others since shortly after I arrived in Rochester in 2002, and always have loved his sound and the way he interplays with soloists. Mel also is a tireless supporter of live jazz in his hometown and I've come to value him as a friend. I've seen Ulysses Owens a few times with different groups. This young drummer is one of the best out there and watching him work the night before last with Dr. Lonnie Smith and their close bond as they played was a delight.  Owens will be here with his own group appearing at the exciting fall season of Exodus to Jazz series (and it is a major group, so watch for further information in this blog and elsewhere on this great fall season).

Some other voices on the festival:

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

No confusion over fusion . . . Day 4 for Jazz@Rochester

As the clouds started to rise up for the afternoon thunderstorm, I started the day out early at the 5:30 set of the Cindy Blackman Quartet. Blackman had received some advance press and there is always her connection to rocker Lenny Kravitz to raise the buzz a bit, but her early set at Harro East was not packed and I think that was a result of this buzz as well. More than one person said they didn't check her out because they thought the gig was going to be along the lines of jazz-rock fusion. Although Blackman and the members of her quartet—J.D. Allen on tenor sax, Carlton Holmes on Piano & Fender Rhodes, and George Mitchell on bass—played a set that ranged through a number of styles, their playing was firmly grounded in the jazz idiom and showed this group of youngsters have some great chops on their instruments.  Blackman's skills on the drums lived up to both the buzz and the video and recordings I had heard beforehand—she's a monster on the trap set (although her drums were giving her a bit of trouble during the first set, but kept the beat going for the most part with one hand while fixing her set with the other). Sometimes a piece just sounded like one long drum solo--but in a good way. The booms of thunder coming from outside were lost in those coming out of those sticks and skins.  Blackman was third strong African-American woman leading in this year's RIJF. As I'm married to a strong black woman, I like seeing more of that.

Came into Christ Church for the first time to catch Miguel Zenón, who had already started playing by the time I made it across from Harro East.  When I said in my preview post that the church would be an  "acoustically interesting" space, I must confess that I had actually heard music in Christ Church. It's a big, cavernous space and the sound they had set up was just not up to it.  While I loved what I heard, the sound was muddy and Zenón's blowing was lost in the mix at times.  Anyway, I had to cut out early to head over to David Liebman's second set.

David Liebman Quartet photoI got a great seat to see the Dave Liebman Quartet. Didn't know what to expect from this cat who has been around a long time, but whom I had somehow managed to miss in my aural meanderings through jazz. The Montage was packed, a few of whom were there for a second round, and the SRO crowd was very appreciative of Lieb's dynamic and challenging music.  His quartet—Tony Marino on bass, Marko Marcinko on drums, and Vic Juris on guitar—worked the interplay with Liebman's soprano and tenor saxophone. Marcinko stood out as he used all manner of noisemakers and all parts of his trap set in inventive ways. Although Liebman's writing and playing is sometimes on the freer side of jazz, this powerful and driving set was accessible and one of my standout performances so far this RIJF. One standout was a tune was Dimi and the Blue Men, which was inspired by hearing a popular West African singer's voice Lieb heard everywhere during a 60th birthday trip to Mauritania.  At the end, festival producer John Nugent came in with his sax and sat in with the quartet. Nugent was Lieb's student in Canada for a time.  This was the first time I had heard Nugent play outside of the after hours straightahead vein. That cat can blow....

One rant, though.  Montage needs to figure out some way to deal with the noise from those who are outside of the music room in the bar area during performances. Especially with challenging and dynamic music such as that of Liebman's group, the cascade of voices coming from the other side of the curtain made it hard to concentrate on the music for those sitting toward that end of the room (and there were quite a few of us there). There is no door so that isn't an option (and it would make it more difficult for the wait staff to get in and out, which is difficult enough with the crowds). RIJF house staff don't have to shut people down entirely, but they should take into account the type of performance and music and then try to keep it to a lower hum.

I walked back over to Swan Street to get in line for Lou Donaldson at 10:00 pm in Kilbourn Hall. Surprisingly enough, this was my first time in Kilbourn during the 2008 RIJF.  The line was already to Swan by the time I got there, but Seth and Jane were a bit ahead of me and saved me a seat.  Donaldson is 81 years old, but still a "player" in more than one sense of the word.  As is common with these cats who came up with all the greats (James Moody was another), Donaldson was full of stories and jokes.  He also has a few opinions on the place that straightahead and bebop have in the jazz firmament ("We play bebop ... very fast, very tricky ... not recommended for fusion and confusion musicians.").  At 81, Donaldson can blow and he's still fast and tricky. He mentioned coming to play Rochester often during the heyday of the Pythodd and other jazz clubs in town. Donaldson's quartet included two Japanese musicians—B-3 player Akiko Tsuruga, who Donaldson noted "of course by her name you can tell she's from Alabama" and drummer Fukushi Tanaka (he, of course, was from "Mississippi"). They were both monsters on their instruments—with Tanaka tearing it up in a 5-minute solo and Tsuruga making the organ sing as only a B3 can do. On guitar was Eric Johnson, who walked though the hall during one solo on wireless, and played a great foil to Donaldson's still speedy runs on tenor sax.

While I hesitated when asked "are you going over to the hotel?," the fatigue of the last few days got the better of me and I drove home to get some shut eye, so I can do the day job as well.

Some other voices can be found in the following places:

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

I wish I'd thought of that earlier....

You may notice in the right column that there is a new space with the heading RIJF Preview Posts with links to the posts that I created last week highlighting my "picks" (i.e., what I'm intending to see) during the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival.  Not that you care what I think .... but at least now they'll be easier to find.  Just wish I'd thought of it before the RIJF began.... 

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

Loosening up and rolling with the changes ... Day 3 of the Rochester Jazz Festival

Took in a movie to start the third day of the Rochester International Jazz Festival.  WXXI filmed some great bands in Rochester in the 1970s when they performed in a restaurant on top of Midtown Plaza. I caught a bit of Count Basie and his Orchestra. It would be cool if these were presented outside of the festival, if possible.

After leaving the movies, I was trying to decide what my next move would be.  Dianna had told me that if she was going to go see something it would be John Scofield, but it would be the later set, so I had planned on seeing Dharma Jazz in Max at 6:00.  I heard on the street (OK, it was Seth...) that one of that group's key ingredients had taken ill and would not be at the gig, so we all went over to Montage to catch Howard Alden. As Ron Netsky points out in City's Music Blog, Alden "is a keeper of the flame. No fuzz, loops, or wah-wahs for him, just fingers that can fly over the fretboard like nobody's business." Alden did the soundtrack for Woody Allen's movie Sweet and Low Down and ended up teaching actor Sean Penn how to play guitar so he could be more convincing (Alden joked that Penn was his most successful student).  Alden played a number of standards backed by a superb bassist Jon Burr and drummer Rob Garcia. I stepped out before the end and called my father from the bar area to wish him a happy Father's Day.

Although Alden ran late (he started late, too...) we made it to the church on time and saw Danish pianist Jacob Anderskov. Since I had not listened to Anderskov before, when he set down to play his set, I had a sinking feeling that his was going to be more of a new agey sort sound. That feeling was immediately dispelled. Anderskov built intricate soundscapes that interlaced often beautiful melodies with freer and discordant figures. While I was having some issues with fatigue that really took me out of the space I need to be in to really listen to such intricate music, I'd like to hear more of him when I'm in that place. Seth was transfixed by Anderskov's playing; Ken thought it reminiscent of Keith Jarrett's solo work.

After that the initial "plans" sort of went by the wayside and we improvised from there.  We couldn't get even close to the tent to see Alison Brown Quartet and were too late to see Faroe Islands favorite Yggrasil over at Christ Church, so we sat down in front of the Jazz Street Stage and took in JazzKamikaze. While they were excellent musicians, these Norsemen almost sounded a bit too 80s for us who went to college in the early part of that decade.  However, they were a lot of fun and had the crowd going pretty good (including "Festival Guy") until the sky began to open up.  Ken, Seth and I made it to our cars before the crowd knew what hit them and headed over to the after-hours since it was early so we could get a good table, have a beer, and possibly do a podcast.  Listened to our meanderings this morning . . . won't inflict that on you, although it was fun talking anyway.  We did hear some good music with Pat Labarbera, Howard Alden, and others sitting in. Yggdrasil was sitting right up front with members of his group, but did not play. Of course, festival producer John Nugent came in and sat in and brought up his partner in the Stockholm Jazz Festival who also plays sax, so we ended up having a Three Tenors thing going.  We didn't catch the last set, but I think the sax player from JazzKamikaze played as well as some others.

Other voices about Sunday night:

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

Rochester International Jazz Festival . . . Some other voices

I'm putting out a second post today of some of the other writing in and around the Rochester Jazz Festival surrounding the second day of the festival from local media.  I may add some from my friends and other sources as they come up, so check back if you'd like to read some other voices about the artists on Day Two:

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

Discoveries and journeys . . . Day 2 of the Rochester Jazz Festival

Rolling in Saturday morning around 4:00 am after going to the after-after-hours at the Flat Iron Cafe, by the time I woke up I had a limited amount of time to catch up my posting to where I was and get out of "preview" mode and into writing about what's going on now.  I just had to get that last post out about after hours clubs and events, and so ended up down to Jazz Street a bit later than I wanted. Waiting in line for Robin McKelle at the Montage, I realized I just wasn't likely to get in and, if I did, would not really enjoy the performance, so I left and went in search of "something else." 

Stephanie McKay photoOne of the wonderful things about the Rochester Jazz Festival is that you sometimes discover something just by accident. I found Stephanie McKay and what a sweet "accident" it was. I have a sweet spot in my innards for soul, funk and R&B and she just served it up with a powerhouse trio of musicians behind her laying it down ("Yo, Manny ...drop that beat!). McKay just tore it up and had all our butts moving with a powerful set. Her songs were personal, political, powerful and...funky. I discover as many talented artists in other areas than jazz at the RIJF. I wish my wife Dianna had been there to see the show as she is responsible for rekindling the fire I have for this music. After losing her mother a few years ago, she would have been moved by McKay's sharing from the stage that her mother had died a mere week ago and then launching into a beautiful song in dedication to her dedicated mother. Bought McKay's CD on the way out and look forward to hearing her new CD when it is released in July. To see what I mean, here's an "official" video and one that is more stripped down and personal. You can listen to more of Stephanie McKay on her MySpace page.

Meeting up with Dianna, we headed into Eastman Theatre to see Dee Dee Bridgewater's A Malian Journey and the opener Richard Bona Band. As the time for the performance neared, it was disappointing to see how empty that large hall was despite it being Saturday. Richard Bona and his band played a fun and diverse set of music that ranged across continents and genres. The dynamics of Bona's music and singing were at times astounding, such as with his opening number that started with ethereal flute like sounds coming out of his 5-string bass and, with the break, went into a more Afrobeat groove.  I like the way an article in AllAboutJazz.com described his style:

Dubbed “The African Sting," Bona's distinctive style blends a bevy of cultural influences that explores a polyrhythmic, pluralist society; Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Caribbean and Anglo-Saxon pop harmonies exist alongside jazz, bossa nova, afro-beat, traditional song and funk sounds . . . .

Bona got the audience involved with the Afro-Cuban sounds of O Sen Sen Sen. Bona and his band seemed to be having fun up there and played much longer than you'd expect an opener (I kissed any chance of catching the Bad Plus before he was done). 

Dee Dee Bridgewater photoComing on stage with her band in a shocking pink wig (which several audience members sitting close to the front also had on their heads), Dee Dee Bridgewater pulled the wig off to reveal her gloriously bald head and paid a compliment to Bona by saying she needed to do something dramatic to follow his set. Bridgewater and her band then launched into a powerful personal journey that she took to discover her roots in Mali and the music and inspiration she found along that trek.  She started that journey at its end, her jazz roots, with Mongo Santamaria's Afro Blue. Her band was from all over the world and included an amazing pianist Edsel Gomez, bass and musical director Ira Coleman, multi-percussionist Minino Gara, a wonderful and three Malian musicians (sorry but I don't have all of their their names, other than Cherif Soumano, who was fantastic on the multi-stringed kora—I don't want to just assume they are the same as on her album Red Earth: A Malian Journey). She was also joined two absolutely stunning Malian vocalists—Mamani Kéita and Kabiné Kouyaté, who is griot. Bridgewater's duets with these two singers were especially powerful and had Dianna in tears and shouting out approval. Kouyaté's singing hit you somewhere deep inside as it clearly did Bridgewater. It was clear that this was a deeply personal journey that Dee Dee Bridgewater was presenting and her expressive face, joyous dancing, and powerful voice told that story and well.  I just wish more people had come (and stayed through to the end) to hear it.

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

Want some more? Check out the after hours at the RIJF

flat iron imageThe jazz around town does not end after the 10:00 pm shows during the Rochester International Jazz Festival let out into the streets. There are an increasing number of venues that will be presenting some special local talent and, we hope, will draw some of the many performers playing during the festival to come sit in and jam into the wee hours.  So where can you go?  Here are some of the things I've heard about to date:

  • Of course, there is the "official" after hours jam session at the Rochester Plaza Hotel. This is where most of the artists stay while at the jazz festival. Bob Sneider and the "house band" of Mike Melito and Phil Flanagan play starting right after the shows let out and end up between 1:30 and 2:00 am. In addition to an occasional artist or their bands sitting (Wynton Marsalis came down and jammed for more than an hour last year), there is a parade of students who are taking a crack at playing before a live club audience.
  • There is an "after" after hours starting around 1:00 am down Lake Avenue at the Flat Iron Café at Lake and Lyell Avenues, with Quinn Lawrence and his Trio and other bands playing into the wee hours.  I ended up there last night after deciding I hadn't had quite enough jazz when I left the Rachel Z show at Montage. Her bass player Maeve Royce showed up and sat in with Quinn and his group last night.  Finally rolled out of there about 3:30 am.  Since it is just down the street, this is a  natural and while clearly an urban setting, the vibe can't be beat when the weather is good and the joint is hopping.
  • Havana Moes on East Ave. between GibbsJazz and Scio Streets, will be presenting a group of Eastman jazz students on Tuesday-Thursday, who will start playing around 6:30 pm and going until they all decide it's time to stop.  It will be free and, for you smokers, this is a bar in which you can smoke. It's also a place with a nice neighborhood feel and some great owners who will treat you right.  Who knows, someone might drop by and sit in here as well.
  • Trumpeter Rick Holland will be hosting an RIJF "afterglow" on June 18th with his Little Big Band. They''ll be playing 2 sets at Tasteology, 3400 W. Monroe (Pittsford Colony), Pittsford, NY, from 9:00 to 11:00 pm. added image (left out some major information—blame it on fatigue).
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

The rain didn't cool down the hot sounds of Day One of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

Day One of the Rochester International Jazz Festival went according to plan . . . well almost.  When I got downtown about 4:30, it was hot and humid and there seemed to be more people than I remember from previous years. The high school jazz band from School of the Arts was playing and lines were already forming for Kilbourn and Max at Eastman. However, in the venues themselves, things seemed somewhat lighter than I expected (with exceptions). 

I ran into friends and many of the the people I see every year at the jazz festival (and only at the jazz festival) and finally hooked up with Ken, Seth and his wife Christine, and Jane. According to plan, we took the step (I think unprecedented since we first met up in 2006) of not hitting the Kilbourn Hall concert first. Instead, we headed over to Harro East and caught Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet.  Riley was Thelonious Monk's drummer on such classics as Straight No Chaser and Monk's Blues. Although the crowd was lighter than I expected, he and his band played a set of Monk that simultaneously payed homage to the off-beat master while also putting a personal spin on Monk's music, especially in that the Septet has no piano, with the other instruments taking Monk's piano lines.  For me, Bemsha Swing, Bright Mississippi (on which the bass solo was killer) and Rhythm-A-Ning were standouts.

Timo Lassy Band album imageWe ducked into the Mondavi tent and caught a few minutes of the blues with Newfoundlanders Denis Parker and Scott Goudie.  As the rain clouds grew and the drops started to fall, we ducked back out and headed over to the Reformation Lutheran Church for the Timo Lassy Band, part of the Nordic Jazz Now series. It will be hard to top the smokin' set that the Finnish saxophonist and his bandmates laid down. Lassy doesn't wow with speed on the tenor and baritone sax, but by playing with emotion. From start to finish they were burning with a soul groove that reminded me at times of Horace Silver (there was a piano vamp in the second tune Early Move that made the connection for me).  Another highlight was the Sweet Spot at the end of the set, including some incredible piano by Georgios Kontrafouris. The drum solos were unique as Timo's band has two percussionists and there was some great interplay between them. Ten minutes before they finished I wrote the note "standing O" in my notebook and closed it up as I knew, of course, I would be right (it wasn't a great leap by the crowd's reactions during the set). When we walked in the church was hot.  It was hotter inside when we left.... That could have been the end for me and I would have been satisfied.

However, on the outside the rain had come and it was cooling down. With increasingly larger drops falling and some danger of lightning striking near by we headed over to the tent to hear DJ Le Spam and the Spam Allstars.  It wasn't long after they started that there was a large group of people dancing to the right of the stage and having a great time.  I spied José DaCosta from Exodus to Jazz and his wife leading the group in some rhumba and other moves. Although I'm sure it wasn't a pretty sight, I went over and joined them for a few minutes and said hello to Jose, who will be announcing his fall ETJ series lineup soon. The group's sound was a great melánge of jazz, hip-hop, Cuban and the other influences found in South Florida.

With more rain coming down we walked quickly toward our final destination. Here is where I diverged (OK Goudie and Parker were too) from the plan posted earlier.  I decided that I'd seen one jazz cat from the past and it was time for something new.  I had seen Rachel Z with her band "The Department of Good and Evil" at the Strath in August last year. She announced that she would be doing some "deep jazz" interpretations of rock-and-roll songs and then proceeded to do just that.  Her set at the Montage ranged from Neil Young's Heart of Gold, Depeche Mode, Alice in Chains, the Yeah-Yeah-Yeahs' Maps, to Bill Withers' Any Time She Goes Away, ending with Wayne Shorter's ESP.

I wasn't ready to stop there, so I parted ways with Ken, Seth and Jane, and went on my merry way to some more jazz (but more on that later). 

Here's some other takes on the first day from Ken, Seth, Jane:

Hope you all had a great opening night.  If you know of any more who are writing about the festival, please add them in the comments!  Let us know your thoughts in the comments, too.  Just click on the Comments link at the bottom of the post and follow the instructions.

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

All things must end . . . Day 9 of the Rochester Jazz Festival

RIJF logoWell, as the festival has begun and I need to start writing about what is happening NOW, I'm going to lay out the current plans for the last night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival (subject to change as were my plans for opening night). Here is how I'll be spending the 2008 RIJF's last day on earth:

  • 6:00 pm: Heading into Kilbourn Hall to catch someone I wished I hadn't missed when she appeared here at last years RIJF—Catherine Russell. From jazz to blues to R&B, from torches to juke joint honky-tonk, this woman's voice handles it all. She was one of last year's sleepers, so you'll want to get there early. You can hear some of her singing on her MySpace page and here's a video of her singing I Don't Care Who Knows at Joe's Pub in NYC in February.
  • 7:30 pm: If I'm not wandering the streets somewhere listening to the free stuff that will be starting up around the same time (just depends on my mood), I'll head over to the Reformation Church to catch the Sliding Hammers.  They've been here quite a few times and are always a favorite, but the only time I've seen them was at an after hours at the hotel last year. Two striking sisters from Sweden who have some major trombone chops.  Here's a couple of videos of them from a 2007 festival apparently at home (one and two).
  • 9:00 pm: Going to join the crowd for some Medeski Martin & Wood at the Chestnut Street Stage outside. I've seen these guys quite a few times, but enjoy how they put it down. Here they are doing their thing at Umbria last year. You can listen to a few cuts on MySpace.
  • 10:00 pm: If the crowd gets to be too much or I just want to get inside to have a sit down, I"m going to head into Max at Eastman Place for a dose of Hammond B3 with Barbara Dennerlein.  I've been hearing that she's a phenom on the B3, and it's just one of those instruments I can't get enough of (hence starting out with MMW). Check out this YouTube Channel, in which a fan(?) collects a number of videos of her playing in Ride the Dennerlein Wave.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Jumping off the jazz trolley a bit to spend some time with the teeming hordes ... Day 8 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

RIJF logoOn the penultimate day of the 2008 Rochester Jazz Festival (oooo...I've always wanted to use the word penultimate in my blog), I'm doing the traditional departure from the jazz and will join the throngs out on East Ave. for the big concerts. Huge crowds are not my thing and I've seen some whoppers (like spending a July 4th in Grant Park in Chicago with 1,000,000 of fellow Chicagoans). It's going to be a party inside as well, at least where I'm going:

  • 6:15 pm: Any band described as "Tom-Waits-influenced-romantic-alco-jazz-quartet from St Petersburg, Russia" is worth a listen in my book, so I'll do a shot of vodka and head over to Max at Eastman Place for Billy's Band for the early show. Check out the music and videos on their MySpace page. Perhaps two shots ....
  • 7:00 pm: I went to college in the early 1980s and worked in a record store when ska was making great inroads here in the U.S., so I'm stepping off the jazz train for a spell to catch the Skatalites out on East Ave. They were some of the originals in ska out of Jamaica. You can listen to the Guns of Navarone on their MySpace page and a video them playing Freedom Sound live.
  • 9:00 pm: I'll make a choice based on various factors (weather, fatigue, annoyance, some received intelligence about something I didn't know about) on whether to catch Third World, who will play on the Alexander Street end stage or go west on East at Chestnut and catch some Soulive, who I missed last time they were here.  On the other hand, I'm not the happiest when I'm in big crowds, so I may just head inside to see one of the other acts like MusicMusicMusic (that puts that song in my head, which I assume is not really in their repertoire, as their Myspace page will prove).
  • 10:00 pm: Another dose of Nawlins with the Soul Rebels Brass Band over at High Fidelity.  If you have a bit over 20 minutes, check out this video interview and performance and the tunes on their MySpace page.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Sliding into the last weekend, we slow down somewhat for a night on Day 7 of the RIJF

RIJF logoSome of the "revolving door" RIJF artists will returning to the stages at the Rochester jazz festival on Day 7, Thursday, including perennial RIJF favorites The Sliding Hammers (also playing on Saturday), Djabe (who are also playing on Wednesday), and local guy made good Joe Locke (although here with a new project):

  • 6:00 pm: Think I'll start out in Kilbourn with Rochester-raised vibeman Joe Locke and his new quartet "Force of Four."  I really enjoyed seeing the Joe Locke/Jeffrey Keezer Group in 2006 at the Montage and look forward to this new project. Although there's nothing on his MySpace page from the new album with Force of Four, it has a selection from several other projects Joe's done.
  • 7:15 pm: In between Joe and my 10:00 pm choice, I think I may actually catch Hungarian band Djabe out on Jazz Street, weather permitting (they're also playing on the 18th in the tent). They've been here how many times (at least twice, maybe more, but I'm writing this too late to go look back and count), but have only heard them play as I was passing by the tent. They've got a few cuts on MySpace. Beady Belle (a collaboration between two Norwegian artists Beate S. Lech and Marius Reksjø) at the Nordic Jazz Now series over at the Reformation Lutheran Church looks intriguing... Norwegian soul...who woulda thunk it? Some more of their music on MySpace.
  • 10:00 pm: I'm going to attempt to get in to see Tierney Sutton and her band at Max at Eastman Place. She's been at RIJF and in Rochester a few times in the past few years, but I've always missed her shows, which have received raves from a number of my friends who have managed to get to them.  Check out the dark version of Get Happy on her MySpace page, which showcases her amazing voice.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Do you think they stop playing while the RIJF is on? Of course not, so here are the jazz listings for the next 7 days!

So you don't want to stop listening to jazz, but you want to quit plunking down the $ for Club Pass venues and beer (well, you'll still have to pay for the beer)...what do you do? You head to one of the fine establishments across the Rochester metro area that will be presenting jazz (most of which do so during the rest of the year). There's even another jazz festival on Thursday and Friday in Webster. This set of listings does not include those associated with the Rochester Jazz Festival, which you can find, of course on the RIJF website. Sorry it's a bit late, but I'm kinda busy if you can believe it....

Thursday, June 12th

  • Julie Ketchum @ The Rabbit Room (Honeoye Falls), 5:30 7:00 pm
  • Shared Genes @ Webster Jazz Festival, Village of Webster's Memorial Gazebo Park, 6:00 pm
  • Matt Valerio @ The Grill at Strathallan, 6:00 pm
  • Dubblestuff @ Webster Jazz Festival, Village of Webster's Memorial Gazebo Park, 7:00 pm
  • Jazz Dawgs @ Bistro 135, 7:00 pm
  • Madeline Forster @ Rabbit Room Restaurant, 7:00 pm (I got it wrong, sorry folks)
  • Joe Santora and Emily Kirchoff @ Michael's Valley Grill, 7:00 pm
  • Metrovibe @ Bernunzio Uptown Music (on East and Swan), 7:00 pm (as you can see from the time signature, I really should have been doing something else...sleeping...these guys are playing NEXT Thursday at Bernunzio's)
  • Trio East @ Little Theatre Café, 7:30 pm
  • Artisan Jazz Trio @ Starry Nites Café, 8:00 pm
  • The Russell Fielder Quintet Open Session @ Merchants Grill, 8:00 pm
  • Swing Dance @ St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 8:30 pm
  • Dave Rivello Ensemble @ Village Rock Café, 9:00 pm
  • Salsa Dance Class @ Flat Iron Café, 9:00 pm
  • Salsa Dance Lessons @ Tapas 177, 9:30pm

Friday, June 13th

  • Bob Sneider with special guest guitarist Steve Brown Jazz Happy Hour @ The Grill at Strathallan, 5:00 pm
  • Webster Schroeder High School's Blue Notes Jazz Ensemble @ Webster Jazz Festival, Village of Webster's Memorial Gazebo Park, 6:00 pm
  • 78 RPM Big Band @ Port of Pittsford Park (Pittsford), 7:00 pm
  • Bobby DiBaudo Trio @ Bistro 135, 7:00 pm
  • Jim Nugent Trio @ Tournedos at the Inn on Broadway, 7:00 pm
  • Joe Santora and Emily Kirchoff @ Michael's Valley Grill, 7:00 pm
  • Kinetik-Flo @ Pazzo Cucina, 8:00 pm
  • Paradigm Shift @ Webster Jazz Festival, Village of Webster's Memorial Gazebo Park, 7:00 pm
  • Madeline Forster @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 7:30 pm
  • Dubblestuff @ Abilene Bar & Lounge, 8:30 pm
  • Fred Stone & Co. @ The Little Theatre Café, 8:30 pm
  • Steve Brown with Mike Kaupa Quartet @ The Grill at Strathallan, 8:30 pm
  • Mark Cassara 4-piece @ Bistro 135, 9:00 pm
  • Jazz Fest Afterparty hosted by Dubblestuff @ Abilene Bar & Lounge, 10:00 pm
  • After Hours Jam Session @ Flat Iron Café, 1:00 am

Saturday, June 14th

  • Brad Batz Group @ Pomodoro's, contact venue for time
  • Samuel Algarin Salsa Band @ Tapas 177, contact venue for time
  • Shared Genes @ Café Cibon, 1:00 pm
  • Chris Ziemba @ The Grill at Strathallan, 5:00 pm
  • Joe Santora and Emily Kirchoff @ Michael's Valley Grill, 7:00 pm
  • Kinloch Nelson @ Bodhi's Café & Lounge, 7:00 pm
  • Varnish Cooks @ South Bristol Cultural Center (Canandaigua), 7:00 pm
  • Madeline Forster 4-piece @ Bistro 135, 7:00 pm
  • Gap Mangione New Blues Band @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 7:30 pm
  • Shared Genes @ Mona Lisa Café, 8:00 pm
  • Mike Kaupa Quartet @ The Grill at Strathallan, 8:30 pm
  • Steve Greene Trio featuring Tina Albright @ Little Theatre Café, 8:30pm
  • Nora Bursie @ Clarissa's, 9:00 pm
  • East End Boys @ Havana Moe's, 9:30 pm
  • After Hours Jam Session with Quinn Lawrence Trio @ Flat Iron Café, 12:00 am

Sunday, June 15th

  • Bill Slater @ The Lodge at Woodcliff, 11:30 am
  • Musicale Sundays @ Artisan Works, 12:00 pm (call or check out their website for artists)
  • Hard Logic @ Abilene, 2:00 pm

Monday, June 16th

  • The Rick Holland Evan Dobbins Little Big Band, Tasteology, 8:00 pm
  • Madeline Forster @ Abilene, 6:30 pm
  • Dixieland Evening with Gene Langie's Beale Street Bandwagon @ Green Lantern Inn, 1 East Church Street, Fairport, 6:30 pm
  • The White Hots @ Little Theatre Café, 7:30 pm
  • Big Apple Mondays Swing Dance Class and Live Jazz with Quinn Lawrence Trio @ Flat Iron Café, 8:30 pm

Tuesday, June 17th

  • Joe Santora and Emily Kirchoff @ Virtu, 6:30 pm

Wednesday, June 18th

  • "RIJF Afterglow" with The Rick Holland Evan Dobbins Little Big Band @ Tasteology, 9:00 pm
  • The Westview Project @ Little Theatre Café, 7:30 pm

We've compiled these listings from information obtained from the performing artists themselves and other sources. Please forgive me for any discrepancies with reality; feel free to let me know what the problem is, and I'll get the corrections up on the site as soon as possible. Any list items that contain an Added image or struck-through text reflect corrections implemented after initial publication of this post. Email subscribers should check the listings post online for updates or revisions before making decisions based on the information in this post. For additional information regarding a particular performance (where I haven't previewed it in a separate post in advance), you may want to check the artist or venue web sites listed in the right panel of this weblog. If you go out to hear a performance listed here, feel free to drop a comment to this post about how it went. I want to hear from you!

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

A reprise, some wild flowers and Sacred Ground . . . Day 6 of the 2008 Rochester Jazz Festival

Big Chief Bo DollisOn Wednesday, June 18th, the sixth day of the Rochester Jazz Festival, I anticipate that my energy will begin to wane. If you're looking for more local flavor, check out Saxology, the New Energy Jazz Orchestra, or the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra (and of course, the high school bands). The lineup has a lot of choices, but my course is pretty well defined:

  • 6:00 pm: I'll kick off Thursday in Kilbourn Hall with the David Murray Black Saint Quartet, which will be kicking off it's own Sacred Ground Tour with their appearance in Rochester. Here he is live at the Jazz Standard last year playing a recent composition Banished.
  • 7:15 pm: Ever since I saw Wild Tchoupitoulas with the Neville Brothers opening for the Rolling Stones back in the early 80s, I've been fascinated with the Mardi Gras "Indian" tribes in New Orleans. If I can, I'm going to try to wander over to the Harro East to catch a bit of the Wild Magnolias with Theodore Emile "Bo" Dollis, longtime chief of the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indian Tribe and a great singer in that NOLA tradition. Here they are taking the stage in NOLA in May. They'll be playing at 5:30 as well, so I may catch them then and shift.
  • 8:00 pm: Will have to cut out early and head over to the Eastman Theatre as I'm not going to miss RIJF's celebration of Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic series of concerts and jam sessions. Just look at this lineup: Houston Person and Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Vincent Herring (alto sax), Nicholas Payton and Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Slide Hampton (trombone), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Cedar Walton and Eric Reed (piano), Peter Washington and David Williams (bass), Kenny Washington and Louis Hayes (drums) and Carmen Lundy (vocals).
  • 10:00 pm: Depending on how late the JATP show lets out or how much I'm enjoying it, I'll try to get in over at Montage to catch the duo of Taylor Eigsti & Julian Lage. In his early 20s, Eigsti has 2 Grammy nominations under his belt and both of them have played with heavy hitters. You can check out some of their sound on MySpace. I think that the intimate space in Montage will be good for the interplay between Eigsti's piano and Lage's guitar, as shown in this video.  However, I may just bask in the glow of the JATP performance and head for the bed.  Gotta get some sleep somewhere in this week.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

From some local friends to a visit to the Doctor to a ukelele god . . . all in Day 5 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

RIJF logoLots of local friends playing on Tuesday, June 17th, Day 5 of the Rochester Jazz Festival. While there are certainly some others worth checking out, including Slide Hampton and Jacky Terrasson, Of course, there's also Gillespiana: A Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie conducted by Jeff Tyzik with special guests Jeannie Bryson (Dizzy's daughter) singing, Byron Stripling, trumpet and Gerry Niewood on saxophone a 21 piece Jazz Orchestra. The reason Jazz@Rochester is out there is to support the local scene, so I'll start out that way and perhaps catch some other interesting entries along the way:

  • 6:00 pm: I will begin my trek around to hear some local sounds with the Bill Tiberio Band playing in the Mondavi Tent. Bill's band usually is Mel Henderson, Gerry Youngman and, I think this time Sean Jefferson on drums, otherwise known as Paradigm Shift. At some point, I'll head over to catch John Viviani & Filthy Funk, who will be funking up the place at High Fidelity starting at 6:30. Perhaps then I'll duck out to check out the Nate Rawls Band at Christ Church sometime after they begin at 6:45. I haven't had a chance to catch Nate yet.
  • 7:30 pm: I may hit Wildbirds & Peacedrums at the Nordic Jazz Now series for a little while, just because they're different.
  • 8:30 pm: Got to go see the Doctor, that would be the good Dr. Lonnie Smith and his amazing Hammond B3 appearing in the Big Tent with the Henderson-Owens 3 (that would be local guitarist Mel Henderson and drummer Ulysses Owens). They recently appeared together at the Exodus to Jazz Series and I posted a video of them from an earlier ETJ date awhile back.
  • 10:00 pm: Well, I can't pass up checking out Jake Shimabukuro and his ukes at Montage. Nugent and others have said that it will be one of those shows that just puts you back on your heels. If I miss him on Tuesday, he returns on Wednesday at High Fidelity. Here's Shimabukuro playing George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps (join the 2.5 million who've already seen it). If the line's too long, I'll head back over to the tent to see the Doctor again.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Day 4 of the Rochester Jazz Festival has a lot of sax appeal

RIJF logoMonday night, Day 4 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival shapes up for me to be a wide range of flavors, but most of them in the form of saxophone. While I'll take a break listening to Cindy Blackman in the middle, the rest of the night is sax-drenched. Not that I'm complaining....  Here's my Monday plans, with a little extra thrown in to help you decide if you want to join me (added image I discovered tonight [6/15] that the times for these were screwed up . . . well one is screwed up . . . so I have to reconfigure the choices to make it work. The new lineup for me is as follows):

  • 5:30 pm: If I can get in after the article in the D&C, I'll try to catch the Cindy Blackman Quartet over at the Harro East, if only for the rare experience of a woman hitting the skins, but even rarer is a woman who has the chops to play with likes of Jackie McLean and Sam Rivers, as well as Lenny Kravitz and Joss Stone, and looks to Art Blakey and Tony Williams for inspiration. You can listen to some cuts on her MySpace page and check out the videos on YouTube to see and hear her in action. 
  • 8:00 pm: I'll head over to the Montage for David Liebman. His music has been described as "ranging from jazz standards to Puccini arias, original adaptations from the John Coltrane and Miles Davis repertoires, original compositions in styles ranging from world music to fusion, always maintaining a repertoire that balances the past, present and future." His site has a number of videos of him and the group playing live, so I'll send you there to check him out. Of course, he's on MySpace.  He also blogs in his newsletter Intervals. (this is the one I messed up on the time, requiring a complete rejiggering added image [6/16] Now I'm really confused. The RIJF's update email has Liebman listed at 6:00 and 10:00 pm tonight, so perhaps I didn't screw up originally--I had him at 10:00-- but the printed program has him at 6:00 and 8:00 pm, which was what caused the change above. Now you're on your own.  The choices are still there, but timing will be key. Added later: They've cleared it up; the second set is at 10:00 pm).
  • 8:45 pm: Perhaps I'll cut out of Liebman early and head over to Christ Church to catch the Miguel Zenón Quartet. A founding member of the SF Jazz Collective, Zenón is one of the saxophonists to watch out there and this will be a great chance to hear him in the intimate and acoustically interesting setting of Christ Church.  There are quite a lot of cuts on his MySpace page and here is a video of him and his quartet at the El Nuyorican Cafe in NYC (which will lead you to more...).
  • 10:00 pm: Got to catch the old cats of jazz when they come to town, so I'll be trying to see Lou Donaldson Quartet when he brings his soul grooves to Kilbourn Hall. Read a 2006 interview on AllAboutJazz.com. He's got some videos, like this one from a festival in Atlanta and another one from a bit further back in the day (1994).
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday .... Jazz@Rochester's Day 3 at RIJF

John Scofield photoHere's how I'm scheduling my Sunday of the first weekend of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. The RIJF has put together a lot of information for you with the [listings] (and I'm linking to them in every choice below as a place to start) and City and the Democrat & Chronicle are also hard at work putting together special sites (here and here) and stories together for the festival and its artists (in fact, today they published a great writeup by Jeff Spevak and Anna Reguero on tips and tricks to making the most of the jazz festival). There will be a lot of sources of information from now through the end of this marathon session of jazz to help guide you through the festival. I'll point as many of them out to you that I find. If you want to join me on Sunday, then here's where I'll be (...I think):

  • 4:00 pm: I'm going to try to get downtown early on Sunday and try to catch some of movies being shown at the Eastman Theatre. In 70s, WXXI recorded a series of classic jazz performances at Midtown Tower and the Eastman Theatre for its "At the Top" series. The series of films will be hosted by Tom Hampson of WXXI AM1370’s Mostly Jazz show. Tom will be presenting a selection of these vintage concerts, featuring The Modern Jazz Quartet, Stephane Grappelli, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Bill Watrous, Count Basie and Oscar Peterson & Joe Pass from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Free, with donations accepted on behalf of the Eastman Jazz Scholarship Fund.
  • 6:00 or 6:15 pm: Keeping the "International" in the festival, I think I'll head over to Max at Eastman Place to catch Dharma Jazz at 6:15 pm. If you'd like to hear before you stand in line, you can listen to excerpts of their music and see a video of them playing. I may change my mind and catch Howard Alden over at Montage at 6:00 instead; just a matter of my state of mind and, usually, who I happen to be hanging with. If you're a fan of local trumpeter Mike Cottone, he'll be sitting in with the John Beck Quartet over at the tent.
  • 7:30 pm: Head over to the Reformation Lutheran Church to hear pianist, composer & leader Jacob Anderskov for some down home Danish sounds. Check out some of his music at his site and his page on Myspace. There is also a profile on the DanishMusic.info
  • 10:00 pm: John Scofield Trio, what else? Like last year with Trio Beyond, he's appearing at Kilbourn Hall with some real powerhouses—Steve Swallow on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. Although we've seen Scofield a number of times at the RIJF in the past few years, this one is going to be a treat. In addition to his profile on the RIJF site, here's his profile page on AllAboutJazz. There's also this video of this trio from 2004 (there's much more there).

By the way, in case it hasn't been clear, in these posts I'm communicating personal choices and, sometimes, perhaps making a case (by giving you some additional information) for going out to hear something that may not have occurred to you. This blog isn't supposed to be Downbeat and I'm not trying to be a "taste-setter." My primary goal while at the RIJF is to hear a lot of music; have a lot of fun; hang with my wife, friends and fellow bloggers; see some old "festival buds;" and try to communicate some part of this incredible experience to you. I only want to encourage you to explore it yourself and have a blast.

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

What's in store for Jazz@Rochester on Day 2 of the RIJF? What else?

RIJF logoOK, it's time for Day Two. On Friday Saturday (I better get some more sleep before Friday....) there is another smorgasbord of jazz and other music (the Buddahood are a lot of fun) for the first "weekend" day of the 2008 RIJF.  Here's where my initial leanings will take me on Friday Saturday:

  • 4:30 pm: More high school jazz bands and a wee bit of beer to start off the weekend (or I may catch the Smugtown Stompers as they cruise the Genesee on the Mary Jemison at 2:30 or 4:00).  This choice will be decided by what I decide to do at 6:00 pm.
  • 6:00 pm: I think I'll probably choose the beer and wait in line for the Bad Plus in Kilbourn Hall.  This will not be my first time hearing these guys, but their sets have always been different with surprises I wasn't expecting waiting behind the curtain. The Bad Plus actually are also bloggers and have a great blog, Do the Math.  Catch a few cuts, including some from the new album Prog on their MySpace page. You can get your fill of YouTube of them playing through these Google Search results.
  • Between the end of Bad Plus and going over to Eastman Theatre, I may try to catch a bit of the Dave Samuels Carribbean Jazz Project over at Harro East or the Kris Davis Quartet at Christ Church.
  • 8:00 pm: Dee Dee Bridgewater will be bringing her Malian Journey project to the Eastman Theatre, mixing up a stew of African music and its direct descendant jazz. Dianna and I are both looking forward to this one. You can catch a French TV performance from last year and the Mongo Santamaria tune Afro Blue off the Grammy-nominated Red Earth: A Malian Journey on her MySpace page. Check out Netsky's profile of Bridgewater in City. Bassist Richard Bona and his band will be opening.
  • 10:00 pm: Hope to rush over to catch Robin McKelle at the Montage.  Robin is from Rochester and has appeared at the festival and other venues before, but this will be the first time I've heard her.  I listened to some of her stuff, including her new album Modern Antique (thanks to her label), which is already out on Blue Note in France (and has been the #1 jazz album there) and will be released in the States in August, and would like to hear her live.  You can hear her and her band in this Blue Note video with Abracadabra, one of the cuts off the album and, of course, on her MySpace page.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Day One . . . Some things change, some don't . . . Jazz@Rochester's plans for opening day of the RIJF

RIJF logoThe opening night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival blows into town next Friday offering a good taste of the programming in store for the nine days to follow. There's the big name draw at the Eastman Theatre, Frank Sinatra, Jr.; returning artists like Al Foster, Timo Lassy (we saw him last year with the Five Corners Quintet) in the now institutional Nordic Jazz Now series, and Rachel Z; and some new names (at least new to us) in jazz and other "affiliated" genres of music, like Ben Riley's MONK Legacy Septet, Amina Figarova Sextet, the Blue Vipers of Brooklyn, the Spam All Stars, Denis Parker & Scott Goudie "Rowdy Blues," and the Downchild Blues Band. Thrown in with this is a wider selection of local artists, this night including Gap Mangione, who will open for Sinatra, the Dave Rivello Ensemble, and the Rochester area high school bands who kick the evening off every night.

RIJF street scene 1So how do I plan for the RIJF? Over the next several days, I'll share my "planning" in this blog. The goal for me is to hear as much music as I can during those nine days and, if possible, hear something new and challenging, catch those who are returning who I really enjoyed in past years, and also catch those artists or sets that I know I just can't miss. The people at the RIJF have promised me a media pass again, which will allow me to attend some of the shows in the Eastman without breaking the bank, but I'll be focusing on the Club Pass venues as I usually do.RIJF street scene 2

Planning an evening at the RIJF can be quite a dance, which always starts with choices for the 6:00 and 10:00 pm slots and then gets filled in with in-between stuff. There will be changes as one of the great things about this festival is it's immediateness--all of the venues are near each other and there is a sort of "crossroads" on Jazz Street (Gibbs during the rest of the year) and in line where people often end up talking. You'll be heading to your next "scheduled" stop and you'll hear from your friends or one of the many people who you only see during the RIJF that "so and so" they just saw in "club X" was fantastic and can't be missed, which may lead you to a change in direction. So what's my plan? If you care, here goes. My Friday is shaping up a bit odd (at least in comparison to my usual approach):

  • 4:00 pm: Come over early and watch the whole thing come together. I have been coming early for several years to watch the amazing way that Artistic Director & Producer John Nugent, Marc Iacona, Executive Director & co-Producer, and their staff and volunteers bring Gibbs to life as "Jazz Street" in the span of a few hours, when it will hopefully be teeming. I'll get to hear some of the best high school jazz bands in the country strut their stuff while sitting and having an early "dinner" and, I hope, a beer (if they get it open in time).
  • 5:30 pm: Head over to the Harro East to catch Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet. Riley played and recorded with Thelonius Monk in the sixties and he and Don Sickler have come together to present Monk's music without a piano, but with the piano part spread among the members of this septet. In addition to the RIJF's writeup about Riley (I encourage you to check these out as they're often very good and provide links to additional information), check out this review of a set at Birdland from last year on AllAboutJazz.com and this video of an excerpt from Monk's Bemsha Swing to see why this might be a good choice if you're into Monk or even if you don't know him from Adam.
  • 6:45 pm: Especially if I'm digging Riley, I don't want to cut out too soon, so I've decided to forgo a 6:00 pm Kilbourn Hall performance, as is my tradition at the RIJF. Instead, I'm thinking on heading over to the new Christ Church venue to catch the Dave Rivello Ensemble, whose been gigging at East Rochester's Village Rock Cafe for awhile. I've heard good things about Dave Rivello's compositions and their playing, but haven't had a chance to catch them yet, so I'll finally do that and see the new venue as well.
  • 7:30 pm: Catch my first Nordic Jazz Now series show with Timo Lassy Band from Finland. Timo's sax was a treat last year with the Five Corners Quintet and I'm looking forward to hearing him with this new group. Here's Timo's MySpace page, with some cuts off his albums, and a video or two of the Timo Lassy Band.
  • 8:30 pm: Time to get my dance groove on (it's not a pretty sight) with the Latin Grammy nominees DJ Le Spam & the Spam Allstars in the big tent. I love the intersections between different genres of music and this group from Miami appears to revel in being in many of them all at once. Perhaps they can get the usually sedate Rochester crowds up on their feet. Their site has some cuts, as does their MySpace page, plus you can check out this interview with DJ Le Spam.
  • 10:00 pm: After a taste of the Blue Vipers of Brooklyn, perhaps while in line, I'll likely head into Kilbourn to catch the Al Foster Quartet. Haven't heard much of Foster other than his work with Miles, but what I heard on Foster's page on MySpace and this 11 minute excerpt of Foster's set from the Novi Sad Jazz Festival in 2004 make it clear that I'll enjoy it. It will be a good end to the evening . . . if it is the end.
  • After Hours: There may be several choices, but I'll focus on these in a separate post. When you're a nutjob like me, this festival is a long haul, so I may need to conserve my energy the first night out Friday.

That is what I love about this festival.  I'm getting a whole lot of a whole lot of music here, all within the span of a few hours and a few blocks.  So, what do you think? Who are you going to go out and hear? Let us know in the comments....

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

And away we go! My RIJF coverage begins with a look elsewhere....

While I hope you all come here often during the Rochester International Jazz Festival, which starts running next week (June 13-21), to see whether I'm still able to form coherent sentences and check out some of the special stuff I hope to have on these pages, there are going to be lots of other sources in town to get RIJF content.  Some of them, like the City Newspaper, have already begun their jazz festival content and others, the Democrat & Chronicle, aim to begin it soon. I'm just one person (although I may have some help--at least my lovely wife Dianna), I have a day job (yes even during the festival) and I do want to have some fun and, most importantly LISTEN TO SOME MUSIC. This blog is not really a paying gig (yet), other than some karmic rewards and getting to know a lot of the great people associated with jazz and music in Rochester.  RIJF Logo

As I reported in April, City has put together a Rochester International Jazz Festival Guide that includes short profiles of all of the artists and the festival itself, written by Ron Netsky and Frank De Blase. They've just started adding some additional short articles, interviews and other content like a profile of Dee Dee Bridgewater and an interview with the Bad Plus. For those of you who are new to jazz, check out Netsky's article on How to get into the music, which is a short guide to "accessing" the RIJF. I read today that the D&C will be kicking off their coverage this weekend. I think that the changes they've made in the last year have made it more likely that more of the links will be persistent, which I need to leave a link. I encourage you to check their coverage out, especially the photo and video collections and other special coverage. I'll link to it if I can.

Of course, there are other bloggers who will be at the festival most nights and writing about it in their blogs. Seth and Ken will be there and we hope to continue our "tradition" started last year of doing an occasional "Da Jazz" podcast.  We hope that Jason Crane will be joining us from time to time.  Perhaps others to be introduced here later?

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

Listen to jazz . . . win RIJF tickets

Jazz 90.1 logoJazz90.1 announced on the JazzList that the station will be giving listeners a chance to win Rochester International Jazz Festival Club Passes and tickets to RIJF Eastman Theatre shows, including Dee Dee Bridgewater, Frank Sinatra Jr., Boz Scaggs, Al Green, Gillespiana and Rochester Jazz at the Philharmonic. They suggest you start now and listen every day until June 19th for your cue to call the station and win.

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

Only three weeks left! RIJF Store is opens on Jazz Street . . .

RIJF LogoThe Official Ticket Shop of the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival opened on Wednesday May at the corner of East Ave. and Gibbs St. (also known as "Jazz Street") downtown.  Before the RIJF starts, the hours will be Monday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm and Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. They'll be closed on Sundays and holidays including this Memorial Day holiday (and the weekend).  During the festival, the store will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. nightly.

The Store is the place to get a Festival brochure and schedule, purchase Club Passes and tickets for the RIJF’s Eastman Theatre concerts (check out the RIJF website for discounts for newsletter subscribers on 3 of these concerts). The service charge for Eastman Theatre tickets purchased at the shop is only $1 per ticket (as opposed to much more on Ticketmaster).

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

City Newspaper has its Jazz Fest guide up

Ron Netsky and Frank De Blase over at City Newspaper must have received advanced notice of the lineup for the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival as City published its 2008 Jazz Fest Guide on the same day the lineup was issued as they've prepared a boatload of special content to help guide you through the RIJF. Each day of the festival gets a special page with the schedule and short pieces about each of the artists written by Frank or Ron (here's the one for June 13th, the first day), with links to their website if available.  There is also a master list of the artist biographies in one place.  They're even helping out-of-towners find us and get information on where to stay and eat.  This is in addition to the fine work that the RIJF does in linking to information on their site.

Since Jazz@Rochester is not my job and only one of my blogs (although it's a lot more than a hobby now), I appreciate that the more mainstream media is providing such comprehensive content to help people organize their festival and know more about the artists. We out here in the blogosphere can concentrate on going into more depth or providing some additional perspective.  Thanks guys....

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

Rochester International Jazz Festival Lineup Announced!

RIJF 2008 LogoHere it comes again! About one hour ago, the lineup for the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Festival, the Seventh Edition, went live on the RIJF's site. Being the nutcase I am, I took my lunch early to check it out and get a link up on the site. As usual, the lineup includes a wide variety of music and musicians ranging from across the spectrum of jazz and other genres. Headliners this year include: Frank Sinatra Jr. & His Orchestra, Dee Dee Bridgewater with special guest Richard Bona Band, Boz Scaggs, and Al Green.

The RIJF staff does a good job getting information up there and providing links to the artists, etc., so I'm not going to go into much detail here now. Some of the broad themes I'm seeing are:

  • A number of artists and groups are returning from previous edition(s) of the RIJF (for example, Joe Locke, Tierney Sutton, Yggdrasil, Sliding Hammers, The Bad Plus, Medeski Martin & Wood, Rachel Z, John Scofield, Eric Alexander, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Cedar Walton).
  • It appears more local talent will be heard around Jazz Street (including Ben Britton Band, Bill Tiberio Band, Dave Rivello Ensemble, Henderson-Owens 3 Featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith (the Doctor is as good as local...), Herb Smith, John Viviani & Filthy Funk, Mike Cottone with the John Beck Quartet, and Trio East).
  • The popular Nordic Jazz Now series returns at the Lutheran Church Of The Reformation.
  • All the familiar venues return, with a new Club Pass venue at Christ Church on East Avenue being added.

I aim to have special coverage of the RIJF between now and June 13-21st and barring illness or threats of termination at the office, will be there all nine days live blogging when I can, moblogging, and pointing you to the community of blogs and other coverage of the festival. Just watch here for more as we develop Jazz@Rochester's plans for this year's RIJF.

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

Here it comes again! Club Passes for the Rochester International Jazz Festival will be available on November 2nd

As previously announced, the Rochester International Jazz Festival will return for its 7th edition in 2008 from June 13 to 21, 2008. The RIJF is quickly becoming one of the premier jazz festivals in the country and increasingly worldwide. Attendance in 2007 topped a record-setting high of 121,000. Club passes for the festival, which get you into many of the venues. In 2008, the Festival will present more than 240 concerts featuring a diverse and international lineup of legendary Grammy award-winning artists and critically-acclaimed jazz and contemporary groups and emerging artists. The lineup and schedule for the Festival's Club Pass Series, the Senator Jim Alesi Eastman Theatre series, and free concerts on outdoor stages will be announced in April 2008.

According to a press release released today, Club Passes will go on advance sale on Friday at 10 a.m. at the special holiday discount price of $105 + $4 service charge, good through December 31. The Pass increases to $115 plus $4 service charge January 1 through March 31, and $125 plus $4 service charge April 1- May 31, and $135 plus $4 service charge June 1 through the end of the festival if any passes remain. The Club Pass sold out last year just before the festival began. A limited number of passes is available. Club Passes may be purchased online at www.rochesterjazz.com, at any Ticketmaster/Ticket Express outlet or online at www.ticketmaster.com. There will be more than 150 Club Pass concerts, including those at the new Club Pass venue for 2008--Christ Church on East Avenue.

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