25 posts categorized "XRIJF 2010" Feed

I had a great time and heard some fantastic music ... but what do YOU think about XRIJF 2010?

XRIJF logoAs I noted before, I've given up doing a wrap up post on the 2010 edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival—too much water under the bridge after catching up at work and home following the nine days of the festival and 35 acts I saw while attending the XRIJF this year. I expect you all don't really want to hear much more from me about it, but we'd like to hear what you think. To that end, I've used Google Docs to create a short survey to get the thoughts of the readers who attended one or more days of this year's festival.

So, now that you've had some time to digest, please share your thoughts and comments on the 2010 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on the Jazz@Rochester 2010 XRIJF survey. I'll be publishing some responses and will share them with the folks at XRIJF (I am not associated with the festival). So please click on the link above and share what you think. No personal information is being recorded when you leave your comments.

Oh, and I hope you're having a wonderful and relaxing 4th of July holiday weekend.  See you next year on Jazz Street!

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

I haven't forgotten, I'm just too tired and "digesting" ....

XRIJF logoI have been meaning to write a wrap up post about the end of the 2010 XRIJF since Sunday, but just can't muster the time and strength after getting home from work. That's still the case, but wanted to let you know. I'm sure no one is hanging on my final words....

For the time being, check out what some of the mainstream media had to say/show in their coverage of the 2010 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

  • The Democrat & Chronicle's coverage starts with their Jazz section online. There you'll find the stories appearing in the paper. There's also the Arts Blog, where you'll find posts by Jeff Spevak and Anna Reguero during the fest (both were on Twitter as well). A highlight are the photo essays and multimedia projects done by D&C photographer Will Yurman, this year called JazzTales.
  • Rochester City Newspaper has it's Jazz Blog, where you'll find the reviews of various shows seen by Ron Netsky, Frank De Blase and other City writers.
  • This year WHAM Channel 13 has a "Jazz Lounge" where they'll be collecting their XRIJF coverage and has some video, including an interview of saxophone phenom Grace Kelly and other stories.
  • You may also want to check out D&C music writer Jeff Spevak's June 21 wrap up, including his thoughts on the joy of Twitter on the Critical Mass blog on his personal website.
  • If you'd like to see the "official" photos from the festival, check out the XRIJF's own festival photo page.  Glad my Xerox photo was not very flattering ... won't have to pay to get a copy now (I seem to remember the chipper young girl telling me it was free....).
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Random notes from my floating penultimate night at XRIJF

XRIJF logo I followed my itinerary pretty closely last night, departing only on Jane Monheit and picking up one of the performers I'd scheduled for the last night. When I arrived on "Jazz Street" at 4:15, the line for Jane Monheit at Kilbourn Hall already was snaking around to East Avenue. I knew that to see her at 10 I might need to blow the chance to see others I had on my list to get in line for Monheit. As I'd seen her before, I decided to take another trip. It was another varied night at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Started out with Little Red Suitcase. This Danish duo of Johanne Borchert on piano, accompanied by Elena Setién on keyboard, accordion (with sticky keys), violin and effects, was a quirky little treat to start the evening out. Well, neither are Danes—Borchert is German and Setién is Spanish—but that doesn't matter. Their songs were small and somewhat off-the-wall, delivered by Setién in a sing-song style that seemed to deliberately misplace some notes, with Borchert sometimes bringing in harmonies. The room seemed to big for their intimate style. Toward the end of the set they both stuck their heads in the open grand piano and began singing, trying to get the sympathetic strings to hum (the room may have defeated that as I only heard a faint sympathetic echo), and ending that with what sounded like a bird fight with two cheap flutes.

Moved from there over to Abilene for some gut-bucket blues from Bryan Lee and the Blues Power Band. Lee delivered what was advertised, which brought me back to some of the sounds from my former hometown Chicago, and I enjoyed some great Abilene beers and a pulled pork sandwich from Beale Street Cafe.

Went across the festival to Christ Church to catch Gwyneth Herbert's second set. She filled that great space with a beautiful voice and her sparse band (they had been advertised as a quartet, but came as a trio, with Herbert playing a number of instruments in addition to her voice, noting that we were "getting our money's worth" despite the mistake. Her songs were catchy, more pop singer-songwriter but, again, quirky. I really enjoyed them, especially the one that told the story of a group of Surrey women who, spying an approaching French invasion fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, went to the top of the cliffs overlooking the ocean and raised their frocks to reveal the red undergarments that women of that region of England wore at the time. The French, seeing the red, took these 50 women as a large contingent of Redcoats and turned tail. Her song was a folk song of a sort, but it sounded thoroughly modern as well.

Didn't do a 10pm, just wondered around for awhile. At 11pm, I wandered by Eastman Theater, just as Jeff Beck began his second show. Although I knew it was a long shot as the show was nearly, if not completely sold out, I went in to see if I could get in with my media pass to take a look. No go. Sounds like it was a great show from those I've read elsewhere and it was surely a great success for the festival.

Now I get ready to head out soon for the final night. I already feel like I've heard enough outstanding music that I can go and not hear anything tonight and feel like this has been great festival for me. 

Well, for one last time, see you on Jazz Street!

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

Tomorrow's the end of the Xerox Rochester Jazz Festival ... Really?

XRIJF logo No time to write much today. Hit all my "itinerary" and filled my Thursday with outstanding music at every stop. A highlight was the Danish "super group" of Palle Mikkelborg with Marilyn Mazur, Helen Davies, and Mikkel Nordsoe at Reformation Church, who sewed incredibly beautiful tapestries of sound (Jeff Spevak wrote more here). Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's second set was on fire, with the band fully instrumented (there had been a missing bass in the first set). Well, gotta go.

See you on Jazz Street!

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

XRIJF Day 6... not only my car battery is dead (tired), but I'm happy!

When I got back to my car at nearly midnight, since Steve Turré Quintet (well his regular quartet, plus special guest Texas tenor Billy Harper) played well past 11:30 pm, the battery was dead as a doornail. I've also been slowing down a bit as I try to maintain a schedule of going to work each day and out to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in the evenings. Because I spent the morning getting my car jumped and out of the East End garage, I just haven't the time to write much. Here's some random notes from my sixth night at the festival.

XRIJF image Mixing sax player and chanteuse with equal measure and a lot of cuteness, Grace Kelly was a big crowd pleaser (the line for the first set was all the way to Broad Street and many were turned away; same for the second). But once you get past the wow! factor of the amazing amount of talent Kelly has on her instrument, as a singer and as a composer (and how long and with whom she has grown up as a player), and at the ripe old age of 18, the wow wears off a little and the room she has to grow becomes more apparent. But who would expect her to spring from the head of Lee Konitz, et al fully formed? She's an accomplished performer and has been for quite a few years. Kelly  will definitely be a talent to watch grow, but the soul and emotion that I heard in Billy Harper's playing and elsewhere this year just wasn't there yet.

I love listening to music that takes me out of my comfort zones and Eivind Opsvik's Overseas group did just that, creating an intricate mesh of sound that was modern, yet also had elements of monster movie theater organ and other odd influences. I especially liked Opsvik's composition Nineteen to a Dozen.

XRIJF imageFinished up the night with Steve Turré's trombone and conch shells. I saw Turré perform at Milestones a few years back and he is a master at his instruments (both marine gastropod and brass). I was so tired I almost didn't go, but thought better of it. I saw a weather change begin to throw drops around, so I got a beer and a sandwich and got under Eastman's big awning to wait for his Kilbourn Hall show.  So glad that I did. His special guess Billy Harper on tenor and his regular quartet of Xavier Davis (piano), Corcoran Holt (bass), and Dion Parsons (drums) formed a tight fit with Turré's trombone and conch playing. Turré is always trying to make sounds; he's almost OCD up there, comping by picking up one conch shell or another to get just the right sound out of it, or one of several cowbells with different ringers to get just that right amount (no, no one yelled "more cowbell!"). Unlike the first set where I read that he only played the shells a couple of times, Turré worked them in a lot in the long second set, beginning with the first on the play list, the cut A Light Within from their new CD due out in August.

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

Random notes from the fifth night of XRIJF ...

XRIJF image Here are some random notes from my fifth night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. Attended a media event for the 2010 Copenhagen Jazz Festival, July 2-11. Rochester has three artists from Denmark appearing at this year's festival: Palle Mikkelborg, Helen Davies, Marilyn Mazur and Mikkel Nordsoe (Mikkelborg & Mazur have not played together since playing on Miles Davis's Aura in 1985, which was written and produced by Palle as a tribute to Miles), Little Red Suitcase, and Ibrahim Electric. All of these artists are on on my pick posts, so see those for Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the left panel for more information. Artistic Director Kenneth Hansen came to town yesterday to promote the Danish festival here. Rochester's festival was one of three at which they're promoting the Copenhagen festival this year. The other two are Berlin and London (pretty good company). The Copenhagen festival includes some of the other artists you're seeing here, including the headliner last night Herbie Hancock (Mr. Hansen was scoping out the show in the balcony with the media last night). There are over 1,000 performances over 10 days in all sorts venues around the city of Copenhagen. Hansen said that if you toss a stone over your shoulder, chances are you'll hit a concert.

Guitarist Russell Malone was my first stop. Enjoyed the set and loved his ballad playing. I got a chance to hear some of my friend Jimmie Highsmith Jr.'s set on the Jazz Street Stage (and some more after leaving Herbie); looked like he was having fun and it was good to see him playing for a big, appreciative crowd in Rochester, a city to which he has given so much.

Headed into the Eastman Theater to see Herbie Hancock. In addition to the fewer seats that Eastman's recent renovation left, the ticket sales for the headliners appear to have been improving. The theater was nearly full. In past years, media could usually sit up fairly close on the wings. Not this year. Most of us were up in the nosebleeds of the upper balcony. Fine by me. Herbie Hancock and his band of stars played for 2-1/2 hours straight through without a break. This was the first stop on a world tour for his album The Imagine Project, which is due out next week. The band included Lionel Loueke on guitar, Tal Wikkenfeld on bass, Vinnie Coaluita on drums, and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes (all of whom sing, except Vinnie), and singer Kristina Train. The first part of the set included a number of Herbie's greatest hits, some of them mashed up with other music or together. The second part premiered songs from his new Imagine Project album. While I enjoyed listening to all of it, and expect as we were the first outing on the tour that some of it was a bit rough, I have to echo Ron Netsky, who wrote in his review on City's blog that "[t]he trouble for me was that Hancock's band was transformed into a very extravagant cover band with a hell of a pianist." I think the album will be wonderful with its worldwide mashups of music and musicians. I'm not sure how it translates to a concert. However, most people in the Big House loved it without reservation. I think that part of it for me is that I'm always somewhat ill-at-ease at "big time" concerts by major artists, opting usually opted for smaller, more intimate spaces and clubs in my live music consumption. That was at play last night, too.

Tonight, although, I may switch up the order, but I think we're back to the usual swing of things. See you on Jazz Street.....

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

So much music, so little time ...

Trombone Shorty Updated:Didn't have time to sum it up the fourth or fifth nights of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Check out the tweets and short posts for Day 4.  In short, I made a few detours and then got some much needed sleep.

Tonight (June 15) it is Russell Malone and Herbie Hancock's new Imagine Project coming to the Eastman. Perhaps some Sicilian Jazz Project...a bit depending on when Herbie let's out. (update: Herbie played until after 11pm, so missed the end).

Just no time to write in between working full time and going to hear music, so read the tweets and my posts. 

See you on Jazz Street!

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

XRIJF Day Three... Your "citizen critic" on the job

My posts from yesterday pretty much tell you where I was at (I actually followed my itinerary to the letter). Sunday night at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival was one of the overall best nights of music of the festival so far. Chuchito Valdes is a monster on the piano in Cuban and any other musical genre, most of which he incorporated into the first set that I saw (and the first 1 hour line I was queued in). He went from a fiery mambo to a slow and introspective Someone To Watch Over Me. He got over that and exploded again with a version of Old Devil Moon. His trio mates were also top notch and in sync with Valdes throughout. As I left for my next stop with Valdes finishing his encore, I was wondering "now how is someone going to top that?" 

XRIJF Photo of Charnett MoffettCharnett Moffett did just that, although I guess I shouldn't say "topped" as the two sets were as different as can be. Both are just incredible monsters on their instruments. Moffett spent 3/4 of his second set playing solo bass, bringing his band mates (a bit more than a trio) out at a trickle starting with sitar (someone correct me if it was not actually a sitar) and ending with piano and trumpet. That he held that audience in their seats for that amount of time with only him and his bass was a tribute to the excellence and intensity of his playing. Toward the end of the set, while he was blistering his fingers and our ears on electric bass with his band mates, the intensity may have reached critical mass and ignited a flame somewhere in Harro East as a fire alarm started to ring, repeating every few seconds. While everyone looked around to see if someone with apparent authority was telling them to head for the doors, and some sniffed for smoke, no one left their seats. Moffett kept playing, incorporated the alarm into his playing, mimicking it and pausing to catch the intervals between its peals.  Jeff Spevak described the reaction of this "citizen critic" in his recap of last night in the D&C (OK, maybe I was a bit exuberant, although by the time I saw Jeff last night it may have partly been the beer....).

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba were a great change of pace in the SRO crowd that fit into the Big Tent. The Malian master of the ngoni (a small, banjo precursor) and a large ensemble of players cut through the chatter and noise of the Tent with their intricate patterns of notes, singing and, of course, beats. I was glad I was on my feet as I had a lot of trouble keeping them from moving.

I then opted to quiet down and see bassist Katie Thiroux's set at Max. While a great bass player with a sweet voice, Moffett was a hard bass act to follow. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed her choices of tunes to play and the fact that some were picked from odd places, including a couple transcribed from YouTube.

Headed out into the night and home feeling that good feeling I get after I've just soaked up some great music. 

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

Day 2 at XRIJF: Meetup that wasn't and other notes

As I noted in my pick post for Saturday, I was going to meet with a few alumni of the University of Chicago (I am the contact/president of the regional alumni club) early and possibly escort them to one or more sets at the festival. For various reasons, the meetup didn't happen. I got a chance, while waiting for the few that might show, to hear more of the great high school jazz bands that play on the Jazz Street Stage early. The audience is very supportive (and one might expect that as many of them are related to those on stage), but everyone enjoys them. Buffalo's Academy of Visual and Performing Arts was a standout for me as their choice of music and playing was so much different from the rest.

The first set on my itinerary was the Terry Clarke Trio was wonderful, with Greg Osby on saxophone and Don Thompson on piano and bass, alternatively.  His most recent album, It's About Time (Blue Music Group), won best traditional jazz album last year in Canada's Juno Awards. The interplay between them sometimes seemed like they were one instrument, with interspersed solos of great sensitivity. Again, Xerox is a great hall for trio work.  Followed up that with some of Torben Waldorff's group at Nordic Jazz Now in the Church of the Reformation. In addition to Seamus Blake's great sax work (which I've enjoyed before when he's come with his own band and others to Exodus to Jazz), I enjoyed the Waldorff's guitar, which was full of clean lines and not focused on the wow factor and overplaying that sometimes accompanies guitar-led groups. Waldorff was stepping back and letting the others shine. Walked through the increasing rain over to Christ Church to catch Brass Jaw. Although there was a distraction sitting a bit too near, the playing by these 4 Scotsmen on saxes (alto, tenor and baritone) and trumpet were deep into the jazz tradition, but had a new take on it. They used the soaring space of Christ Church to great effect, moving in and around each other as they took solos, pointing their horns in different directions, and on some songs just getting off the stage and walking throughout the church while playing. The notes careened around the space (especially those of trumpeter Ryan Quigley) like Super Balls, bouncing into your ears from different directions and sometimes all directions. As Ron Netsky notes in City's Jazz Blog, "[t]hey took the audience on a journey from straight-ahead to avant-garde and back, and we stuck with them every step of the way." Finally, sloshed over to Abilene to check out the Blaggards. While I meant only to have a beer, listen and check out the space a bit, I met some friends and ended up staying until the set of this group, described by Jeff Spevak on Twitter (yes, Jeff is on Twitter) as "drunken irish texans, ... going supernova on beer-waving jazzbos ... Pogues, meet social distortion." Pretty apt description. The Abilene space (the bar is one of my favorites in town) is a great addition to the festival, in my opinion. They've definitely got the best beer selection in the festival (in the bar). While walking from place to place I heard locals Filthy Funk with the powerful voice of Black August's Danielle Ponder just killing it on the Jazz Street Stage. Frank DeBlase thinks she may have helped open up the heavens just after they concluded their first set.

For many other attendees, the fest was all about Catherine Russell and the second night appearance of the boys from St. Petersburg, Billy's Band, who completed two more sets in Kilbourn Hall on Saturday, bot of which held their audiences in their seats for the entire set (which is unusual in this festival as there are sometimes tight timeframes for those of us who like to squeeze too much into each night).  Will Yurman's first multimedia essay (for June 11) is about the latter.

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

I may have strayed from my path, but no regrets on XRIJF opening night

XRIJF Jazz StreetIf you follow my path across Twitter, Facebook and here, you'll see that I took some detours on the first night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. And yet, it all worked out. Microcosm of life. You make choices. The ones I made last night were right for me, although I wished I could have been 2 (or 3) places at once. Jeff Spevak came to a similar conclusion over at D&C's Arts blog.

Like last year, I started off tweeting and posting like a fiend. I soon discovered that I spent too much time focused on the little iPhone screen down between my legs (to avoid annoying people nearby) and too little listening and enjoying the music in front of me and the people around me. Trying to get to 4 performances in one night when you have so many good choices in front of you is just crazy and cannot be sustained. I'm going to slow down so I can hear the music, smell the barbeque, and enjoy friends' (and I hope my wife's) company.

There's lots of coverage around and I'll try to point you to them from time to time, like the video from the D&C that gives you a great montage of the wide range of offerings on hand during opening night..  See you on Jazz Street!

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

The more voices the better... Other XRIJF coverage

XRIJF Jazz StreetWhen I started writing about the Rochester International Jazz Festival in 2005 on this blog's predecessor (it's still out there), there wasn't much coverage of the festival in the local mainstream media—a few stories and some headliner interviews, etc.

With its success and the growing crowds, the festival is being covered widely—much more locally, but also nationally and internationally. It's a testament to the success of the festival itself and why it is becoming known as one of the top jazz and music festivals in the U.S. Check out other XRIJF coverage by our mainstream media outlets at:

  • The Democrat & Chronicle's coverage starts with their Jazz section online. There you'll find the stories appearing in the paper. There's also the Arts Blog, where you'll find posts by Jeff Spevak, Anna Reguero, Stuart Low and others. One highlight are the photo essays and other multimedia done by D&C photographer Will Yurman (here's last year's multimedia project).
  • Rochester City Newspaper has it's annual Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival Guide. There are listings for each day with links to the bios they've prepared (many of them are the same you'll find on the artist's page on the XRIJF site, with links to artist sites). Or you can look at all the artist bios in one place. City's music writers will all be blogging from the field as well.  I think it will be on the Music Blog.
  • Freetime Magazine has a bit different take for their XRIJF Guide. You can click on a venue and they've listed all of the artists who will be appearing there with times, etc.
  • This year WHAM Channel 13 has a "Jazz Lounge" where they'll be collecting their XRIJF coverage.

I'll try to link out to other coverage from national as well as local blogs and other sites as I come across them (please feel free to make them known to me).

All this other coverage feels a bit liberating. I've already given you my preliminary "itinerary" for the festival.  I will likely be working at my day job throughout the festival, so I just can't do the daily sum up posts I've been doing in past years. My coverage here will focus on images, short posts and moblogs "from the field," and possibly some short video interviews. I'll be tweeting, of course and, if you're on Twitter, you can follow the tweets of various XRIJF artists who are on Twitter on the list I've created. The posts here and some tweets will end up on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page as well.  Please feel free to join in on these conversations!

Mostly, I'm going to concentrate on having some fun, hanging with my old "jazz fest buddies," and trying to communicate the experience to you best I can.  See you on Jazz Street!

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

Jazz@Rochester's picks for last day of XRIJF (June 19, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetA Brit, a Finn and some guys from Denmark...That's my last night. Putting the "International" into the Rochester International Jazz Festival. A musical explorer like myself revels in this stuff. As I suggested in the "Intro" post, while there were a lot of "repeats" for me and less "must sees," which on first blush might make me think that this year's festival was lacking, after picking my itinerary I'm not so sure that I won't come out the other end feeling that I've made some great discoveries. I'll let you know, of course.

A couple of recent XRIJF developments to point you to. The festival is now smartphone ready. They now have a mobile site that will be very handy (including for me...) during the festival. With help from a local company they're even going to have QR Codes around for those of you that are using QR scanners to get info about the festival. It's automatic if you access rochesterjazz.com from a smartphone, but if you want, check out the particulars. Additionally, This year's festival will feature a new courtyard entrance to the Verizon Wireless Big Tent complete with a living wall garden, and tables and benches for enjoying food and relaxing. The garden, created by Waterford Tilling, is called Sustainable with Jazz—A New Environment with Music.

So, at long last, here are my picks for the ninth and final night of the 2010 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Saturday, June 19th:

  • Gwyneth Herbert Quartet @ Max of Eastman Place, 6:15 pm. A singer that crosses between jazz vocalist and singer-songwriter, Ms. Herbert's voice is strong and her choices of songs intriguing. I would prefer to see her in the more intimate surroundings of Max tonight than on the 18th. There's a lot to see and hear out there on her website, MySpace page, and a launch site for a new album to start. You can also check out her singing live on videos of her singing I Want You Back (a Michael Jackson tribute) last year, her first gig in Paris in 2008, and a festival gig in Poland in 2006.
  • Mikko Innanen & Innkvistio @ Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 pm. I missed Mikko with the band Delirium at last year's XRIJF, so would like to run over and try to this major player in the Finnish jazz scene. Although I know little about Innanen and his music (pretty much what I'm linking to here), he seems to be an artist who stretches himself while still firmly rooted in the jazz tradition's forms for saxophone. A couple of videos sort of show this: One from a 2007 club date in Finland and another that is more out there. More on Inannen's website and the band's MySpace page.
  • Ibrahim Electric @ Montage, 10:00 pm. As with some other years, I will close this one out with a offbeat Danish group that typifies this festival. Described by one of their YouTube video uploaders as a "hammond-surf-jazz-afro trio", this group sounds like it will be a lot of fun to end to my festival this year. There is a MySpace page, a press package (PDF), but you should check out the videos of them playing to get an idea of the intensity of their live shows, such as the "highlights reel" from a recent appearance at the Copenhagen JazzHouse and one of them doing Borat, also in Copenhagen. Looks like the Montage will close XRIJF for me with a heavy groove.

If my quirky choices above don't yank your crank and you're craving some of that more straightahead sound (and this year it is in pretty short supply) you may want to catch the Scott Hamilton /Harry Allen Quintet (Kilbourn Hall, ESM, 6:00 & 10:00 pm). While this is likely to be a great show, I've heard Harry Allen recently and was just not feeling it this year. Or try one of the many other choices, including Smash Mouth or Tinted Image on the outdoor stages.

In addition to the great high school jazz groups that appear on the Jazz Street Stage starting around 3:45 pm, other Rochester-area jazz artists (most of whom have a link on my page for local artists) and Eastman School of Music event that will be occurring on Saturday include:

  • Kids Jazz Jam Session & Workshop with Bob Sneider & Friends @ Eastman School of Music, Room 120, 2:00 pm. Started last year, I think, kids are encouraged to bring their instruments and jam on standards with Bob and other artists and ESM faculty. Suggested repertoire for this year is: Tenor Madness, C Jam Blue, Rhythm Changes (Oleo), St Thomas, So What, Autumn Leaves, Blue Bossa, Straight no Chaser, Mr. P.C, and others.
  • Rochester Metro Jazz Orchestra @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, 6:00 pm.
  • The Lawnmowers @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm.
Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 19th. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter (check out the latest of my Twitter posts in the left panel). I've also created a Twitter list of jazz artists/groups appearing at this year's XRIJF. I'm adding them as I go along with these posts. Let me know if there are any I've missed.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Jazz@Rochester's picks for XRIJF Day Eight (June 18, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetIt's the penultimate night of the festival and by this time I'm running on fumes. My choices below are both affected by that and should be taken with that in mind. This evening is complicated somewhat by scheduling and by the presence of the major free shows.

Here are my picks for the eighth night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Friday, June 18th:

  • I may start out this evening catching some local talent first (see below) and then head on over to the Xerox Auditorium for ....
  • Little Red Suitcase @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 6:30 pm.. This duo mixes improvised music, cabaret and theatre live on stage. The JazzWrap blog described Little Red Suitcase in a recent post The Intersection: Little Red Suitcase, writing:
    With the abstract, quirky beauty of Robyn Hitchcock mixed with the delicate romanticism of Blossom Dearie, Jane Siberry and Kate Bush and a last dash of early Kronos Quartet, Denmark's, Little Red Suitcase is a blast of refreshing cool air in 2010. Hard to categorize, Little Red Suitcase span the spectrum of jazz, alternative and avant garde. Utilizing unfamiliar song structures and vocal dynamics, the duo layer their music with delicate touches of both improvisation and straight forward emotion--all resulting in an amazingly interesting and different listening experience.
    Although I'm sure they're quite different, I am connecting Little Red Suitcase in my mind with midaircondo, also a female duo who layered their sounds and used visual and other elements as well. Not sure whether they're here as a duo or with a band as seen in video from last year's Copenhagen Jazz Festival (there's also a video of them as a duo from the same festival). There is a website (although it appears to be a bit under construction) and the MySpace page to hear some of their music.
  • Bryan Lee & The Blues Power Band @ Roots & Americana Stage at Abilene, 7:45 pm. Like other years, my last couple of nights of the XRIJF often mix up the genres and moods. Moving from Little Red Suitcase to Bryan Lee may cause some cognitive dissonance, but I look forward to hearing this bluesman from NOLA who loves that Chicago blues sound. I've probably seen him before, in Chicago, but when is lost in the mist of time. Lee and the band are also playing in the Big Tent on Saturday. You can find out more on his website and his MySpace page. I've selected a video of him playing Killing Floor in a Wisconson club and at Teddy's Juke Joint in Zachary, LA.
  • Booker T & the MGs @ City of Rochester East Ave. & Chestnut St. Stage, 9:00 pm. It's Booker T & The MGs and I'll have a bit of time on my hands. I'll hang with the crowds for a bit, unless there is a major line building for ....
  • Jane Monheit @ Kilbourn Hall, ESM, 10:00 pm. I'll end Friday (if I don't go to the after hours) with this singer. Like an earlier group, I saw her sing at Montage a few years ago and will enjoy catching how she's developed since that time. Some standards (or something else, perhaps?) in Kilbourn Hall will get me all relaxed before heading out into the night. Ms. Monheit, as a popular jazz singer these days, has quite a lot of material out there to help you get to know her better, including her website, MySpace and Facebook pages, and of course videos. I've selected a duet with John Pizzarelli on Legends of Jazz last year, and a longer one from 2008 with her singing I Wish You Love & Twisted. Finally, I found a podcast interview of Monheit from last year. There's much more out there, of course.

You might want to catch a show by Joyce Moreno (Max at Eastman Place, 6:15 and 10:00 pm) or the Nils Landgren Funk Unit (City of Rochester East Ave. & Chestnut St. Stage, 7:00 pm opening for Booker T) if you missed them before. Others you may want to catch include Brad Shepik (Montage, 6:00 & 10:00 pm), Gwyneth Herbert Quartet (Made In The UK Series, Christ Church, 6:45 & 8:45 pm), and perennial RIJF favorites Djabe (Verizon Wireless Big Tent, 8:30 & 10:00 pm). Unless you have tickets, by the time this publishes it is unlikely you'll be getting tickets to headliner Jeff Beck (but give it a try if you must). Rochester does love it some guitar gods....

In addition to the great high school jazz groups that appear on the Jazz Street Stage starting around 4:30 pm, other Rochester-area jazz artists (most of whom have a link on my page for local artists) and Eastman School of Music events that will be occurring on Friday include:

  • Herb Smith @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, Noon
  • ECMS Latin Jazz & Saxology with Jose Encarnacion @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Gap Mangione Sextet @ The Rochester Club - Viva Italia Series, 6:00 & 10:00 pm
  • New Energy Big Band @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Po Boys Brass Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 7:15 & 9:15 pm
Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 18th. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter (check out the latest of my Twitter posts in the left panel). I've also created a Twitter list of jazz artists/groups appearing at this year's XRIJF. I'm adding them as I go along with these posts. Let me know if there are any I've missed.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Jazz@Rochester's picks for XRIJF Day Seven (June 17, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetWe head into the home stretch with a wide variation of music on the sixth night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. We range from a Cuban mix, to Brazilian bossa nova and samba, to a Danish "supergroup," and ending with an edgy and fun groove (or at least it was the last time I saw the group). There's so much on my plate that I'm not sure that I will hold out for it all, but it is a night that has a number of artists who are new to me, but who I look forward to hearing live for the first time.

Here are my picks for the seventh night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Thursday, June 17th:

  • Pablo Menéndez & Grupo Mezcla @ Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 pm. As I stated earlier, I love Cuban music and this will give me a chance to hear some from an artist that has moved Cuban sounds in a different direction. Menéndez, son of blues and jazz singer Barbara Dane, moved to Cuba from Oakland, CA, in 1966 at the age of 14 to attend the Escuela Nacional de Arte and then stayed on there. His music with the septet Mezcla has been described as "funky Yoruba, Afro-Cuban, salsa, bebop fusion...." More on Menéndez & Mezcla at the website, a profile from the website Cubania!. A short clip from the Smithsonian on Latin Jazz includes his playing, but I found a longer "vintage" clip from 1998 of a concert in Old Havana and more recently live in San Francisco.
  • Joyce Moreno @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 6:30 pm. In addition to musica cubano, I also love to listen to the sounds of Brazil, especially bossa nova and samba. Verve's Getz/Gilberto album is one of my summertime (and sometimes winter) favorites. Joyce (who now goes by her full name Joyce Moreno) has left her imprint on this music and the music of her country for more than 40 years. Read more about here on her website. If you read Portuguese, then check out her blog otras bossas. This performances of the song Feminina and A Felicidade should give you a good idea of what you're in store for you if you hit her set.
  • Palle Mikkelborg @ Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 pm Presented in cooperation with the Copenhagen Jazz Festival Experience, this is not just Palle Mikkelborg, but an all-star group of Danish musicians, including Mikkelborg, Marilyn Mazur, Helen Davies and Mikkel Nordsoe. Trumpeter and composer Palle Mikkelborg has been integral to jazz in Denmark since beginning his career in 1960. Mikkelborg worked with Miles Davis (on the Grammy-winning album Aura), Gil Evans, George Russel, Jan Garbarek and many others. Marilyn Mazur gained her fame as the percussionist for the Jan Garbarek Group, but also has worked with Gil Evans, Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis. She also has a MySpace page. Harpist Helen Davies is known as a folk artist and improviser and has appeared with Mikkelborg on a number toors. Guitarist Mikkel Nordsoe has been performing in the Danish rock/jazz fusion scene for more than 30 years. Can't really show you any video of the group (although all of the sites above should have some music to hear) as the XRIJF will be the first stop on their "common musical journey" as noted in this press release from XRIJF (PDF).
  • Get The Blessing @ Made in the UK Series, Christ Church, 8:45 pm. This band started in 1999 as an Ornette Coleman tribute band and are now "heavyweights on the contemporary jazz scene" in the UK. This is their first trip to the U.S., where they'll be playing Joe's Pub in NYC the night before coming up to Rochester. The only video I could find is on their website, and they're also on Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook. I hope I can catch most of their set before moving on to ....
  • Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey @ Montage, 10:00 pm. Have seen these guys more than once, but not recently and would like to see how they've developed in the past few years. This is a jam band (they've opened for Phish) that is known to play Monk, Abdullah Ibrahim, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Louis Armstrong. Their latest project is re-imagining Beethoven's Third and Sixth Symphonies with a 50-piece orchestra (recently premiering in Bartlesville, Oklahoma (they're from Tulsa), which is about pretty close, within 100 miles, from where I was moving my parents from last month. In addition to their website, they are also on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Found a recent video of them live in Amsterdam in March, which will lead you to many more.

Others you might want to catch if my picks don't seem to fit include:

In addition to the great high school jazz groups that appear on the Jazz Street Stage starting around 4:30 pm, other Rochester-area jazz artists (most of whom have a link on my page for local artists) and Eastman School of Music event that will be occurring on Thursday include:

  • Bob Sneider @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, Noon (why Bob would be up by noon after a week of late nights at the after hours, I don't know...)
  • ECMS Jazz Combo led by Howard Potter @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 17th. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter (check out the latest of my Twitter posts in the left panel). I've also created a Twitter list of jazz artists/groups appearing at this year's XRIJF. I'm adding them as I go along with these posts. Let me know if there are any I've missed.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Jazz@Rochester's picks for XRIJF Day Six (June 16, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetThe preparations for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, which begins in just 4 days, became more visible today as the Verizon Wireless Big Tent was erected in its usual place across Main from the Eastman Theater. The XRIJF also released it's Festival Goers' Guide, with some details on the particulars, another sign it is just around the corner. I have three more posts after this, so will be right up to the wire in doing these previews. My time out of town cut it a bit too close this year....

Here are my picks for the sixth night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Wednesday, June 16th:

  • Steve Turré Quartet @ Kilbourn Hall, ESM, 6:00 pm. I saw Turré at then Milestones (or perhaps whatever the next incarnation) a few years back and wasn't able to stay for the whole set, so will enjoy hearing this great trombonist (and shell blower) play at Kilbourn. His playing is so much more than the conch. Turré is one of the top trombone blowers in the jazz world. You can get some more background on him at his website and in this interview (albeit a bit dated) on the Online Trombone Journal I selected a video of a Turré solo with the Quartet, which will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
  • Eivind Opsvik Overseas @ Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30. Opsvik is more a New Yorker than I am having lived in NYC for the past 10 years, but his roots are in Norway. I took a listen to some cuts on his MySpace page and will head over to the Church to check out his Overseas project. You can find out more by visiting Opsvik's website, Myspace page, and check out the video of a cut the Overseas CD release party.
  • Depending on the likelihood of a line at my next stop, I may drop in on Das Contras at the Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent for a bit after leaving the Church
  • Grace Kelly Quintet @ Montage, 10:00 pm. OK, this girl (have to call her that, she's not old enough to be in the Montage any other time) has some serious chops on saxophone (that would include tenor, soprano and alto), as well as piano, some clarinet, flute, drums, and bass. She recorded an album in 2008 with Lee Konitz, for gawds sake at the ripe old age of 16. That disc was named one of the best CDs of the 2000s (not 2008, the 2000s...) in Downbeat. Oh, and she sings as well?!. Find out more about this prodigy and listen to some of her playing on her website, MySpace page, a profile in JazzTimes and a blog post by Ted Gioia on Jazz.com. Found a video of her with the Quintet from the Saratoga Jazz Festival last year (oh, and by the way, she wrote it) and a "Highlights" video. She tweets (not on the sax), too.

Others you might want to catch if my picks don't seem to fit include:

  • The headliners John Pizzarelli with the Woody Herman Orchestra directed by Frank Tiberi @ Kodak Hall At Eastman Theatre, 8:00 pm.
  • You'll also have yet another chance (an unprecedented, I think, third night) to see Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue @ Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 & 7:15 (see links in the post for the 4th night).
  • Pianist John Taylor @ Made In The UK Series at Christ Church, 6:45 and 8:45 pm.
  • The Rochester/Roland All-Star Accordion Jam! @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 9:00 pm. The name itself makes me want to go to this. I still may, but just too much vying this night.
  • If you're into some great, high-energy punk bluegrass, check out the Hackensaw Boys at Abilene, 7:45 and 9:45 pm. I saw them at Milestones a few years back and they're a lot of fun and some great musicians.

In addition to the great high school jazz groups that appear on the Jazz Street Stage starting around 4:30 pm, other Rochester-area jazz artists (most of which have a link on my page for local artists) and Eastman School of Music event that will be occurring on Wednesday include:

Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 16th. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter (check out the latest of my Twitter posts in the left panel).
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Jazz@Rochester's picks for XRIJF Day Five (June 15, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetI think this is a first for me for the Rochester International Jazz Festival.... According to my "itinerary" found in these pages so far, it is not until this, the fifth night, that I enter the Kilbourn Hall venue. Kilbourn is usually where I start my festival and return often as this venue usually has some of my "must sees" for the festival. There's some great talent in there this year, but I've seen many of them, so have opted elsewhere. This is also the first night I'm going to the Kodak Eastman Theater to see a headliner.

Here are my picks for the fifth night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Tuesday, June 15th:

  • Russell Malone Quartet @ Kilbourn Hall, ESM, 6:00 pm. I'll get a beer and get in line and it will be just like old times. I'm looking forward to hearing Russell Malone as I've heard good things about his playing. Malone has played with a lot of people, including the B3 organ jazzman Jimmy Smith, Ron Carter's Golden Stryker Trio, a long period in Dianna Krall's touring band, and a stint with Ray Connick Jr's Big Band. Here's his website on Verve, which focuses on his most recent work. I also found a video of Malone and his Quartet at Smoke in NYC last year to give you a flavor of his playing.
  • I'll probably catch some of my buddy Jimmie Highsmith Jr's first set at the festival on the City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage and a bite to eat (and another beer) before heading over to the Big House for ....
  • Herbie Hancock @ Kodak Hall At Eastman Theatre, 8:00 pm. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Herbie Hancock's show will be focused on his latest experiment, the Imagine Project where Hancock travels the globe with a camera crew playing with musical stars from around the world. Of course, Hancock won the Best Jazz Album Grammy Award in 2008 with his recording of songs by Joni Mitchell songs, The River: The Joni Letters, on which a number of great Joni Mitchell songs were given treatments with Wayne Shorter and a host of other guest artists. You can find out more about Herbie Hancock through his website, MySpace page. National Public Radio's Patrick Jarenwattananon wrote a "teaser" post on the Imagine Project on their blog A Blog Supreme, which includes a video that itself features Seal, Pink, Jeff Beck, Konono No. 1, Lionel Loueke, Ceu, Dave Matthews, Lisa Hannigan, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Chaka Khan, Tinariwen, The Chieftains, Marcus Miller, Wayne Shorter, Oumou Sangare, Juanes, James Morrison.The Imagine Project is set to release shortly after the XRIJF on June 21st. Hancock is a chameleon and with each project reinvents and tries something new. I'm looking forward to what he's bringing to Rochester.
  • Sicilian Jazz Project @ Viva Italia Series at the The Rochester Club, 10:00 pm. I really enjoyed these guys last year and intend to break my rule and go hear them again this year (I also want to check out the new venue at least once). If they do it again, I may miss the march into the venue with the Sicilian fisherman working chant, but the musicianship and cross-cultural sounds of Michael Occhipinti is worth a second listen. But don't just take my word for it. You can check them out on the Project's website, MySpace page, Facebook page, and in a video of them performing the song Favi Amari live in (where else?) Modica, Sicily/

2010 Jazz in Sweden artist Samuel Hllkvist and his group Samuel Hllkvist Center will be playing at the Church of the Reformation at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. You might also check out the Canadian Francois Bourassa Quartet at 6:30 or 9:00 pm in the Xerox Auditorium. I'd also like to hear some of Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys if I can get over to Abilene.

In addition to the great high school jazz groups that appear on the Jazz Street Stage starting around 4:30 pm, other Rochester-area jazz artists (most of which have a link on my page for local artists) and Eastman School of Music event that will be occurring on Tuesday include:

Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 15th. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter (check out the latest of my Twitter posts in the left panel).
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Jazz@Rochester's picks for XRIJF Day Four (June 14, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetThe weekend over and a whole week of live music and late nights begins while trying to juggle with a full schedule at work. This year I may not even be able to take some time during the festival to recharge. It can be a bit of a slog, but on Monday I still have some of the energy gained during the weekend (unless I hit a bit too much of the after-hours, that is ....). Sometimes I feel I'm getting too old and then I look at all the folks who I see every year, every night.... 

Here are my picks for the fourth night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Monday, June 14th:

  • Hilario Duran Trio @ Max of Eastman Place, 6:15 pm. Hilario Durán is ranked as an important contemporary Cuban pianist and arranger. His Latin Jazz Big Band album, From The Heart, which featured Paquito D’Rivera, was nominated for a Grammy in 2007, and he won Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year Juno Award in 2005(Canada's Grammies), his third since coming to Canada from Cuba. Durán has also been bestowed the Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award, also in 2007. If he comes with his current trio, he will be here with Roberto Occhipinti on bass and Mark Kelso on drums. Find out more about Durán and his music at his website, MySpace page, and in this video of a recent performance of the Trio.
  • Viktoria Tolstoy @ Nordic Jazz Now at the Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 pm. As this singer is a pick on a number of other lists, including John Nugent's, I'm going to check her out since she's giving me two chances (also appearing on Day 3), but opting for the more intimate surrounding of the Church of the Reformation on Day 4. Now she's related to the great Russian writer, but Viktoria's actually Swedish born near Stockholm in 1974. Learn more about Ms. Tolstoy on her website, in a profile at AllAboutJazz.com, and watch her singing a cut from her album Pictures of Me on the Nyhetsmorgon TV program in 2006 and a more recent jazzed-up rendition of Peter Gabriel's Kiss That Frog live.
  • Robin McKelle @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 9:00 pm. I've missed several opportunities to see this singer when she's looped back to her hometown, Rochester, and here's another chance. However, I may not be ready to hear two vocalists in a row so it may have to wait until she comes to town again. You can get to know more about Ms. McKelle by visiting her website, her MySpace page, her Facebook page, and watch this Blue Note France video of her singing Abracadabra. If not Robin, then I may stroll over to Christ Church and the Made in the UK Series for the Ryan Quigley Sextet at 8:45 pm. You can find out more about this Scottish trumpeter (who also hangs with fellow UK Series performers Brass Jaw) by checking out his website, listen to some of his music on MySpace, and captured live in this video of a performance in a Wakefield jazz club last year (unfortunately, the sound is pretty poor). 
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue @ Verizon Wireless Club Pass Big Tent, 10:00 pm. As I get back into the work week (yes, I have a day job...) after a long weekend of music and likely late nights, I'll need a bit of a pick me up at the end of the evening and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews' mix of rock, funk, jazz, hip-hop and soul, which he has named "supafunkrock" may be just the ticket. Trombone Shorty's live shows are pretty are rumored to be intense, so we'll see if anyone is left sitting in the Big Tent by the end of this show. It's not the "second line," but this resident of the Treme neighborhood (you may have seen him do some cameos on the HBO show of the same name) will be funking up the house with that big brass sound (he also plays trumpet). You can get some more on this young artist by checking out his website, his MySpace page, on Twitter, and of course on YouTube, where you can see him showing his trumpet chops "trading fours" with Wynton Marsalis at the New Orleans House of Blues last year (a multi-parter here, here, and here) and showing the intensity of their live show with video from a show at the Minnesota State Fair from last year and blowing on American Woman in San Fran, also last year.

Others you might want to catch include the next artist in the new Viva Italia Series at the new Rochester Club venue, Giorgio Ferrera Quartet featuring Mirko Guerrini or the amazing guitarist Stanley Jordan.

In addition to the high school jazz groups that appear on the Jazz Street Stage starting around 4:30 pm, other Rochester-area jazz artists (most of which have a link on my page for local artists) and Eastman School of Music events that will be occurring on Monday include:

Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 14th. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter (check out the latest of my Twitter posts in the left panel).
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.

Jazz@Rochester's picks for XRIJF Day Three (June 13, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetHere are my picks for the third night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Sunday, June 13th. The first Sunday night is going to be one of discovery as I'm unfamiliar with most of the artists performing. It's not who you know, it's who you don't know as the RIJF folks are always saying.

My plans are for the third day of the XRIJF to proceed as follows (however, on nights like this, my actual itinerary will be influenced by what I hear in the crowd, my friends, and even my level of fatigue):

  • Listen to the high school jazz bands while getting a bite to eat (and beer, of course).
  • Chuchito Valdes @ Montage, 6:00 pm. I love Cuban jazz and will always opt for it when presented a chance. I hope to see more artists from Cuba now that the blockade of Cuban music has been lifted (or has it?). Chuchito Valdes, son of Chucho, grandson of Bebo, led the seminal Cuban group Irakere founded by his father for a couple of years. I've found a recent article on Chucho in JazzTimes that provides some insight into his music and family, and a video of an encore performance of Besamé Mucho from 2007. Listen to more of his music on Chuchito's MySpace page.
  • Charnett Moffett Trio @ Harro East Ballroom, 7:15 pm. I may catch the last part of Moffett's 7:15 set. His first name is an amalgam of his father Charles Moffett Sr. and Ornette Coleman, whose trio the elder Moffett was a member. Learn more about Moffett at his website and hear his percussive style of playing in this video of Moffett performing off his most recent CD The Art of Improvisation.
  • Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba @ Verizon Wireless Club Pass Big Tent, 8:45 pm. I love African music and have been to several concerts where the Malain kora was featured. Now it's the ngoni's turn. As with Mamadou Diabate, the kora master, Kouyate is using traditional instruments and carrying on the tradition, while also making the modern and even rocking out a bit. You may want to bring your dancing shoes to this as it's in the Big Tent, not the seated audiences of Kilbourn Hall. You can sample some of Kouyate and Ngoni Ba's music on MySpace and in this video made during a recent appearance in Timbuktu. He's even got a Facebook page.
  • Katie Thiroux Trio @ Max of Eastman Place, 10:00 pm. I'll close out Sunday evening with the quieter sounds that usually emanate from the Max at Eastman stage, although with Katie Thiroux that's not a foregone conclusion. There have been a number of young, female bassists with excellent chops coming on the jazz scene recently. Esperanza Spaulding appeared here at RIJF a couple of years ago; Linda Oh hasn't been here yet but has been generating some buzz. I've not heard Ms. Thiroux before, but look forward to her set. As a relatively youngster (born in 1988), she has a pretty extensive Internet presence to explore her sounds. You can learn more about her on her website and Myspace pages, and this video of Take the 'A' Train. As a bassist and singer, Ms. Thiroux has been a known quantity since high school.

The new series of Italian artists at the new Rochester Club venue on East Avenue (I'm sure some of you have been to a wedding in their space) will swing into the festival with the Antonio Ciaccia Trio. Ciaccia is well worth hearing and I would have tried to work him in if I hadn't heard him at a previous RIJF. You might also want to catch the two Russian offerings: Dmitry Baevsky Quartet at 6:30 and 9:00 pm in the Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza and singer Viktoria Tolstoy (yes, that Tolstoy... she's his great-granddaughter) at 6:00 and 10:00 pm in Kilbourn Hall, ESM. She'll also be appearing at the Church of the Reformation on June 14th.

In addition to the high school jazz ensembles, other local jazz artists who will be appearing include: Jack Allen Big Band at the Verizon Wireless Club Pass Big Tent and the Eastman Jazz Performance Workshop Honors Unit 1 at the City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, both at 6:00 pm. Again, the Smugtown Stompers will play at 2:00 pm on the Mary Jemison boat on the Genesee River.

Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 13th. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter.

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

Jazz@Rochester's picks for XRIJF Day Two (June 12, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetHere are my picks for the second night, June 12 of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival...well, sort of. One of the other hats I wear is President or Regional Contact for the University of Chicago Alumni Club of Western NY and Ontario, CA. I'm trying to put together a meet-up for alumni on the second night. It's an informal one and the folks who attend will mostly be left to their own devices, but it will require that I be around to meet and greet, etc. So the listings below are who I may end up hearing, depending on a number of variables. If you go, let me know how it went.

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the XRIJF artist page. Check out the rest of the links for more information on the artist.

On June 12th, my plans are for the second day of the XRIJF to proceed as follows:

  • Listen to the high school jazz bands while waiting for the beer guys to set up and start selling. They start around 3:45 pm.
  • Terry Clarke Trio @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 6:30 pm (and at 9:00 pm).The Canadian drummer was a founding member of the acclaimed big-band, Rob McConnell's Boss Brass and recorded and toured with that band for 25 years and helped defining its sound. After more than 40 years and 300 albums as an A-List drummer, Clarke went out on his own to concentrate on jazz. His Blue Music Group release It's About Time won the 2010 Jazz Recording of the Year Juno Award (Canada's Grammies). The recording features saxophonists Joe Lovano, Greg Osby and Phil Dwyer, guitarist Jim Hall and bassist/pianist Don Thompson.

  • Torben Waldorff Group @ Nordic Jazz Now at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 7:30 pm (also at 9:30 pm). Another strong guitarist, this time from Denmark (although Waldorff also plies his jazz in NYC, seen in this video from the 55 Bar in the city). Again, I try to hit the Nordic Jazz Now gigs at the festival as a matter of course as I'm always pleased with the result. Waldorff should not disappoint as he has garnered nternational critical acclaim for his previous CDs on the ArtistShare, Afterburn and Brilliance, and has recently released another varied set on American Rock Beauty (also ArtistShare). Check out more on Waldorff's website and MySpace page.
  • Brass Jaw @ Made In The UK Series, Christ Church, 8:45. Members of this group of brass blowers from Scotland were involved in the press conference announcing the lineup for the festival in March, live from Scotland. One of their members is the main man on my XRIJF Twitter list at the moment. Here's them playing a cut from their latest at the Gateshead Jazz Festival in a chapel, so it will be a pretty good idea of what you're going to get at Christ Church in Rochester. You can also learn more about the Jaw inon their website, Facebook page, and MySpace.
  • May stay and support locals Filthy Funk @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage at 9:15 as they get drowned by the Los Lonely Boys on the Chestnut St. Stage and also check out the Irish rock of The Blaggards at Abilene at 9:45.
  • Since it's not a school night, I may head over to the XRIJF Jam Session with Bob Sneider Trio (also known as the "after hours") after 10:30 pm with those stalwart University of Chicago types that want to stay out. You never know what you'll hear or who you'll see there, but even if the "magical moments" when artists join Bob, Mike Melito and Phil Flanagan on the stage don't happen, if you're with friends you'll have a good time regardless.

There are some other great artists that you really shouldn't miss if you haven't caught them before. Catherine Russell, who performs at Harro East at 5:30 and 7:15 pm, is a must hear for her usually eclectic selection of blues and jazz songs, usually from the 1920s and earlier. The Delta blues of singer-songwriter and guitarist Keb' Mo was also high on my list, but will probably have to catch him somewhere else. I saw Somi, who will be appearing at Max at Eastman Place at 6:15 and 10:00 pm, a couple of years ago and enjoyed this singer's mixture of African, soul and other musical styles.

In addition to the excellent high school bands and Filthy Funk, local artists appearing on June 12th include the Jazz Contingent Big Band in the Verizon Wireless Club Pass Big Tent at 6:00 pm, the ECMS Jazz Combo led by Mike Kaupa on the City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage at 6:00 pm. The Smugtown Stompers will also appear at 2:00 pm on the Mary Jemison Boat on The Genesee River.

If you're alumni, student or the parent of a student at the University of Chicago, and are not on the mailing list for alumni events in our area, please feel free drop me a line through the email address in the left panel and I'll contact you with details for our meetup, such as they are, and put you on our email list for future events.

Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 12th.

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

Jazz@Rochester's picks for XRIJF Day One (June 11, 2010)

XRIJF Jazz StreetThis is one of nine or more posts I'll be writing prior to the start of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. As I noted in the kickoff post for this year's coverage, I encourage your thoughts on each night's choices and your own choices. The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the XRIJF artist page. Check out the rest of the links for more information on the artist.

On June 11th, after showing up early to catch the final preparations at beginning of the festival, my plans are for the first day of the XRIJF to proceed as follows:

  • Listen to the high school jazz bands while waiting for the beer guys to set up and start selling (I may not get one before heading for the first venue... but they have beer there).
  • Billy's Band @ Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 pm. These guys from St. Petersburg, Russia, were at RIJF two years ago and I had so much fun listening to them I think I'll catch them again in this larger venue. It's not surprising that a Russian can channel the angst and grittiness of singer-songwriter Tom Waits the way bassist and leader Billy Novick does in both English covers of Waits and in Russian originals. They're incredible musicians to boot. That these guys describe their style as "Funeral Dixieland with an Infinite Happy End" (or the "Romantic Alco-Jazz" in their website heading) is about all you need to know. Check out a video of Billy's Band doing Waits' Chocolate Jesus in Toronto shortly after their appearance here in 2008 to get a flavor of their lunacy. They'll also be performing at 7:15 on the 11th and twice in Kilbourn Hall on June 12th.
  • Lynne Arriale Trio @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 pm. As I've seen them before, I may leave Billy's Band a little early to head over to the Xerox Auditorium to catch Lynne Arriale. I've been listening to Arriale for quite awhile and look forward to hearing her live. She has been critically acclaimed as having a "singular voice as a pianist, leader, composer, arranger and for “putting the heart back into jazz” (London Times). In recent years, she has performed with a number of great artists, including: legendary saxophonist, Benny Golson; Grammy winning trumpet/flugelhorn player, Randy Brecker; bassist George Mraz; trumpeter Roy Hargrove; Rufus Reid; Buster Williams; and Eddie Henderson. You can hear some cuts from the new album Nuance on Arriale's website as well as more about her. Additionally, here's a video of a trio performance from 2005 and a more recent interview (Part 1 and Part 2).
  • Hazmat Modine @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, 7:15. I'll try to catch some of the latter part of this blues and roots group from New York while I replenish fluids and get something to eat. I've heard some good things about them and their eclectic musical tastes. Will be a good juxtaposition to the mostly straight ahead trio jazz I'm leaving. Their new CD has special guest appearances by Natalie Merchant, the Kronos Quartet, and the Gangbé Brass band from Benin (I told you their music was eclectic). More on their website and MySpace page, as well as in a number of available videos on YouTube.
  • Haven't quite decided moving on for some of the down-home cooking of the Sauce Boss (I'm not kidding, he cooks and feeds the audience while he plays slide guitar swamp blues) (@ Verizon Wireless Club Pass Big Tent, 8:30 pm) or heading over to the new venue next to Abilene for Earl Pickens & Family (Abilene Roots & Americana Stage, 7:45). May depend on how long the lines are. I may even duck into Eastman Kodak Theatre to catch a bit of Gladys Knight.
  • Oberg/Petrescu Quartet @ Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 9:30. Swede Andreas Oberg's guitar playing with the quartet of pianist Marian Petrescu will sound fantastic in the Church of the Reformation. Almost everything I've heard in this ongoing series of Nordic Jazz Now performances has been very good or at least challenged me (and I like a challenge). This group will be playing Dizzy's in New York City just before coming to Rochester. Check out the videos, including this one, of their set at the Jazz Standard in NYC in June last year, during which their Resonance Records release Thrivin': Live at the Jazz Standard and Six String Evolution was recorded. Will be a good (and a bit early) end to the first evening (it's a school night and I have to pace myself...).

There are some other great shows that you really shouldn't miss (I have heard them play recently, so they're not on my dance card). Mose Allison (Kilbourn Hall at 6 and 10pm) is a returning artist and I've seen him more than once, so I'll sit out Kilbourn on the first night.  I saw the Jeremy Pelt Quintet (Montage at 6 and 10 pm) back in February this year at the excellent Exodus to Jazz series of club dates at the Radisson so have opted for something else. In addition to the excellent high school bands, local artists appearing on June 11th include the Dave Rivello Ensemble (if you haven't heard this larger band that plays Dave's excellent compositions and other great large ensemble jazz, you should check them out) (@ Verizon Wireless Club Pass Big Tent, 6:00 pm) and ECMS Jazz Combo led by Bob Sneider (@ Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm).

Well, there you go. Sure, it's not all jazz, but that's not all I listen to (I have infinite dimensions....OK, at least 2 or 3). Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 11th.

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

The 2010 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival: Guess it's time to begin Jazz@Rochester's coverage ....

XRIJF Jazz StreetThis post kicks off a number of posts that will be published over the next couple of weeks highlighting each night of the 2010 Edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, which is quickly approaching on June 11th to 19th.

As there is a wealth of information on the festival's own site about lineup of artists each night (as well as coverage elsewhere), I'm again going to focus these posts on the artists or groups I am planning to catch each day (partly it serves as a way for me to organize my own thoughts and schedule). Where available, I will try to provide some additional links to learn more about my picks and their music and mention some of the other available possibilities if you're finding my choices odd. During the festival itself, as I did last year, I'll add links to others who are covering it in the local mainstream media and blogger community.

Of course, as anyone who has been to the festival will confirm, you have to be flexible as you make your way through its nine days—the inevitable changes will sometimes lead to new discoveries or musical moments you will never forget. John Nugent, Music Director at XRIJF, has been using the phrase "...it's not who you know, it's who you don't know" to describe what he and fellow festival producer Marc Iacona are trying to do with XRIJF. I even bought the T-Shirt last year as I think it is a spot on description. Nugent programs in a wide variety of jazz and other music genres to draw a wider and more diverse audience. While it often leaves the "jazz police" scratching their heads as to why it is called the "Rochester International Jazz Festival," it is always an enjoyable voyage of musical discovery for me. If there was just straight ahead jazz presented, you'd have a couple of thousand people milling around for perhaps a night or two, but not 120,000+ (it will clearly top that this year) on the streets of downtown Rochester for 9 days. Some of those people who are listening to the wide variety of music will catch some of the majority of the shows that are jazz and come away with a desire to hear more. That's how you strengthen the jazz listening community throughout the year.

I have first heard scores of artists at the RIJF over the past 7 years (it had been going on several years before I arrived in Rochester), artists who I continue to listen to and who I likely would have never heard of otherwise. For people like me who hit "Jazz Street" (which Gibbs Street between East and Main is renamed each year) on all nine nights of the festival, it is a constant state of movement between venues, sometimes taking an unexpected detour to accompany friends to what they had on their list or sometimes because the line for the venue on my list is too long and I'll likely not get in. In each of these cases I often find out that it was the better choice anyway. That has happened time and time again.

The timing of the Club Pass shows allow you to hear up to 4 separate acts a night, 2-3 if you opt for one of the big shows at Eastman (or more if you go to the after hours).  What's great about XRIJF is you can come in for one, as many as you can fit, or just come down and sit in the evening air catching some of the free shows and great local talent in the outdoor venues. There will be a large number of local artists playing this year and, as every year, the very talented jazz bands from some of the areas high schools.

If you're on Twitter, you can follow my tweets during the festival (or follow me now) and add your commentary through replies. I am also trying to collect XRIJF artists who are also on Twitter into a Twitter list. Not much there now as I've got to find more artists (only one right now really is a major tweeter). As I have with past jazz festivals, I may try some moblogging (although admittedly, if I do, I have to work on the content) and other avenues of communication as well.

A number of the next posts (except for Wednesdays) will be setting out my initial stab at an itinerary through each of the nine nights of the XRIJF. Take them as you find them. I'm not a musician or an expert in jazz (although I play one on the Internet) and I like to challenge my listening by checking out some very eclectic sounds.  You may find more of that this year, as RIJF has programmed a number of artists who have been to the festival before and I'll usually opt for something new (although there are exceptions). I encourage you to add comments to the post for each night about your picks, what you think of mine, etc.  See you on Jazz Street....

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

You'll have to pass on the Club Pass at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

XRIJF logoIn an omen of another possibly large jump in the number of people coming out for the nine days of live jazz and other music at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, the Club Pass sold out on Thursday. This is the earliest point that that the Pass has sold out; the last two years it sold out just days before the festival, which this year runs from June 11-19, began its nine day run.

The Club Pass is the best way to experience the festival as it provides you entry into hundreds of performances. As you might expect I use mine to the hilt (and get it soon after it goes on sale in November). Don't despair. You can still buy individual tickets for performances you want to see in the Club Pass venues (and for many of the performances in Eastman) and there are still a lot of great free music by local and other acts to be had.

That it sold out so early seems to support the the approach taken by XRIJF jefes John Nugent and Marc Iacona—growing attendance by bringing in people who otherwise are not jazz listeners through eclectic programming that presents a wide variety of jazz and other music. While this leaves some scratching their heads or muttering "that's not jazz!" while harrumphing to the next venue, if it was all jazz, you wouldn't be seeing 120,000 people on the streets of Rochester in mid-June. The fact that the Pass sold out so soon is proof to me that some of those who come for the free or "non-jazz" programming may have caught some of the "jazz" programming and decided it was worth plunking down some hard earned dollars to hear some more. That's growing the audience for jazz in general (and I hope for live jazz). If they're from out of town, it means that more of them are staying overnight and leaving some more of their doubloons in Rochester.

This development leaves this veteran XRIJF attendee (all nine days, baby!) with one question... is it going to lead to making it even more difficult to get into the venues? It might and for certain acts you may very well need to get to the venue quite early to secure a place. However, in my experience there are two factors that, I hope, will mitigate this possibility. First and foremost is that when you are barred by crowds or otherwise from getting in to hear an artist you'd put on your list, it can lead to you discovering another artist that you may not have found otherwise. Some of my most memorable musical experiences at the Rochester Jazz Festival have been through this serendipitous manner of discovery. Additionally, there are more venues and options this year (more about that as I start my coverage of the XRIJF soon). Of course, the proof will be in the pudding...

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

Jazz festival sponsor Xerox brings jazz "Idol" to Rochester in Jazz Star contest

One of the interesting new things that came out at the recent press conference announcing the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival  that will run from June 11-19 was Xerox's announcement that it was building on the momentum of the festival to present a jazz music competition in the "American Idol" vein called Jazz Star: The Search for a New Sensation. The proceeds from the talent show will raise money for Biz Kid$ Rochester, a city youth program that includes a camp where kids, aged 10-18 build their own small businesses.

XRIJF logoXerox is looking for local jazz artists and groups upload an up to 50 second video of their performance of jazz on the RochesterJazzStar.com site.  Videos must be received by midnight April 30th. Once the video is up on the site people will be able to vote for their favorites. The top 10 artists/groups will be interviewed on CW-16, WHAM-DT.  Top five finalists will be selected by another round of voting and each of these five will perform at the Grand Finale performance on June 9th, two nights before the opening sax solos of the 2010 XRIJF. During this finale show in the Xerox Auditorium, the top 5 will be reduced to 3 and a winner will be selected before a live audience of 700. The winning artist/group will receive eight hours of professional studio time at a local professional recording studio to record a demo, a designed CD cover and the option for their song to be uploaded to Amazon.com and/or iTunes for one year. In addition to that, there's the $2,000 in cash to motivate the aspiring jazz artist/group.

While I'm not much for Idol or talent shows in general, this might be fun and interesting. Right now no videos are up yet, but the site notes that they are starting to receive submissions. So check back and vote early and vote often (I'm from Chicago, what do you expect? I guess you'll have to check the rules before you do that...).I'll keep you updated as things develop....

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

XRIJF announces 2010 festival lineup

At the press conference announcing the 1000 artists and almost 300 separate performances coming to Rochester on June 11-19 for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.


XRIJF announces 2010 festival lineup

UPDATE: Here's the lineup on the XRIJF site. Of course, there will be more here over the next few months as the festival gets closer.

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

Two new venues and music series announced for the 2010 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

XRIJF logo The producers of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival announced Friday that two new venues are being added for the Festival’s Ninth Edition in 2010, running June 11-19, bringing the total number of Club Pass venues to eleven and allowing them to present 180 Club Pass shows. The new venues, both within walking distance of other Club Pass venues, are:

  • The Abilene Bar and Lounge at 153 Liberty Pole Way. Abilene will host the Roots and Americana Series, featuring artists performing roots and American music. The series at Abilene will be held Friday, June 11th through Saturday, June 19, 2010, with two concerts nightly at 7:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Shows will be held in a tent adjacent to the building that has capacity for 400 people. Abilene is situated close to two other festival Club Pass venues, the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, home to the festival’s Nordic Jazz Now Series and the Harro East Ballroom is located just across the street from Abilene’s door. Entry to the Abilene sets will be by Club Pass or individual tickets that can be purchased at the door.
  • The Rochester Club Ballroom at 120 East Avenue. The Ballroom will host a Viva Italia Series, featuring native Italian and Italian-American artists. The series at the Rochester Club Ballroom will be held Sunday, June 13th through Friday, June 17th, with shows at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. for a total of 12 concerts. The Rochester Club Ballroom has a capacity of 220 people and is located at 120 East Avenue between Gibbs Street and Swan Street near the XRIJF box office. Entry will be by Club Pass or individual tickets.

These are good additions to the line-up, both in location and to bring additional venues online to serve the growing attendance (and apparent growing popularity of the Club Pass). Since opening in 2008, Abilene has become one of the top places to hear live music in the city, especially for Americana and roots music (it's one of my favorites ... yes, I listen to something other than jazz). Owner Danny Deutsch is already planning for the festival and will likely put together a great lineup. Charyleah Cordone, owner of the Rochester Club Ballroom, notes that they are "working with the chef to develop new and unique menu offerings especially for festival-goers."

The artist lineup for the overall Club Pass series will be announced in spring 2010. Club Passes on already on sale, right now at a special holiday price of $115 (plus a $4 service charge), which is a savings of $35 off the regular price. This advance discount price is good until midnight EST January 1, 2010, when it increases to $135 (plus the $4 service charge until 10 AM EST Friday April 2, 2010, when the price increases to $150 plus $4 service charge until sold out. Club Passes may be purchased online at the XRIJF website or through Ticketmaster.

  • Jeff Spevak's article in the D&C.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester. © Gregory V. Bell. All rights reserved.