36 posts categorized "XRIJF Picks" Feed

How about some lunchtime jazz? Our 2015 XRIJF jazz starts here (at the Central LIbrary)

JazzStartsHere_2015As in past years, the XRIJF will be presenting a Jazz Starts Here series of noon concerts at the Central Library of Monroe County with great local jazz for you to eat with your lunch. 

Here's the lineup for this year's Jazz Starts Here:

I believe that performances will be in the Dorris Carlson Reading Garden, which is a great space to sit, eat your lunch and listen to some great jazz from some great local artists and groups (if I'm not right, or if it rains, the concerts will be Kate Gleason Auditorium for bad weather).All concerts will be at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County. The Central Library is located at 115 South Avenue in downtown Rochester, phone: (585) 428-7300. All shows are free. No tickets are required.

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

Hear that? Or this? Or something else at the 2015 XRIJF

XRIJF logoAs I noted in my "introduction post" recently, I am sharing a complete list of the artists I'm thinking about checking out during the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, rather than separate posts on each of the dates as I have done in past years. I encourage you check out the full line up for each date on the XRIJF website as the XRIJF have provided much more on the artist pages to help you decide on who you want to hear.  For the most part, I think that one can see all of my main choices in a single night, but I've also included "maybes" that I also want to hear but couldn't likely fit in. 

This is my first pass, but not necessarily my last....

Friday, June 19

  • Cecile McLorin Salvant
  • David Gibson Boom!
  • Kavita Shah
  • Music Music Music
  • Maybes: New Mastersounds (I have heard that these guys channel The Meters ... I have Cissy Strut as a ringtone ... I may have to check them out)

Saturday, June 20

  • Dontae Winslow & Winslow Dynasty
  • The Splendor
  • Eric Revis Trio
  • Maybes: Jeremy Pelt Quartet & Andrew McCormack Quartet

Sunday, June 21

  • Joey Alexander
  • Kneebody
  • Nils Berg Cinemascope
  • Maybes: Jane Bunnett and Maqueque & New West Guitar Group

Monday, June 22

  • Joe Locke "Love is a Pendulum"
  • Trio Red
  • Eivind Opsvik Overseas
  • Maybes: Harkness Herriott Duo & Kat Edmonson

Tuesday, June 23

  • Fred Hersch Trio
  • Moutin Factory Quintet
  • Julia Hulsmann Trio
  • Maybes: Cloudmakers Trio

Wednesday, June 24

  • Antonio Sanchez & Migration
  • Ignacio Berroa & Hilario Duran Afro Cuban Jazz & Beyond"
  • Omer Avital Quintet
  • Maybes: Mitch Frohman Latin Jazz Quartet

Thursday, Jun. 25

  • Bill Charlap @ Lyric Theatre
  • Dave Douglas & High Risk
  • Ali Jackson Trio
  • Maybes: Halie Loren & Theo Croker

Friday, June 26

  • Yellowjackets
  • Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra with Ingrid Jensen
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet
  • Maybes: Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio (loved them last year and want to hear what this new group does after a year under their belt)

Saturday, June 27

  • Renee Rosnes Quartet
  • GoGo Penguin (Nugent keeps saying this group is one of the "sleepers" so got to check them out).
  • Katie Ernst "Little Words"
  • Maybes: Artstdir & Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (his live shows are just too much fun...)

Please add a comment below or on Facebook or Twitter to let us know who you are looking forward to during the XRIJF!

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

An introduction to Jazz@Rochester's 2015 XRIJF coverage ....

XRIJF logoI have already written about being in a quandary about how Jazz@Rochester will cover the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival this year. Now that I've had some time to digest the rich smorgasbord of new and familiar artists who are going to be playing during this year's XRIJF, I'm ready to get started.

In my "quandary" post, I noted that the XRIJF had really stepped it up this year in their artist pages for the festival, regularly including links to the artists websites, and to their music on YouTube videos, Soundcloud or Spotify. These links have also been incorporated into the new Discover functionality in this year's XRIJF App for iPhone and Android. In prior years, these pages often seemed more or less slapped together and I often found myself filling in some of the missing material, at least for the artists that I had picked to be in my posts of Picks for each day of the festival, to give my readers something more to go on in choosing who they would be hearing during the festival.

This year, I will share a complete list of the artists I'm thinking about checking out during the festival (soon) and then I'll pick out some of them to delve into a bit more deeply, adding some more to what is available on their XRIJF artist pages. As I write them, if you want to check them out, you'll find them by clicking on the XRIJF Picks category in the middle column.

I want to make a couple of things clear here in this post about these picks:

  • My XRIJF Picks, for the most part, reflect my very eclectic approach to music in general and jazz in particular. I want to expand my ears and the XRIJF gives me a great opportunity to find new sounds and new artists and, more importantly, to hear them live. Most will fit within the "jazz" genre, but any who know me and follow this blog should be aware that I define that genre pretty broadly. As I noted before, there are not as many "bucket list" artists at this year's festival, artists who I must hear. This frees me ... I love that. As festival music producer John Nugent always says, "it's not who you know, it's who you don't know...."
  • My Picks this year will not include any of the great local artists and groups who will be appearing during the 2015 XRIJF. I want to make it clear why. I go to gigs and support local jazz artists throughout the year in this blog and I will be checking out as many of them as my schedule will allow (and the above mentioned freedom will allow more of that this year). I will also have coverage of the local acts who are at the XRIJF and continue my Wednesday posts listing the live jazz that will continue to be heard outside the confines of the XRIJF footprint during its nine days. However, the XRIJF offers me a unique opportunity to hear music from artists and groups beyond the Western New York area. I encourage you to check out as many of our amazing local artists during the festival and then continue to go out and here them after it is over.  

Let us know what you think about the lineup and whatever else you want to discuss about the coming XRIJF in the comments below, on other posts as I publish them, or on Twitter and Facebook. I've also started an Instagram account and, while there's nothing there today, I will begin adding images to it soon. I’d love to have a conversation with you here, there … or you can talk amongst yourselves!

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

All the picks posts for the 2014 XRIJF in one place....

“XRIJFI thought I'd add this feature post at the top of the blog to guide you to my previously published posts for each evening of the XRIJF. As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes in music. I may play a jazz blogger on the Internet, but I have a wide range of musical interests and a hunger to hear new sounds and stretch. They are generally possible to hear in one night (that would be with an emphasis on "generally"...you may have to miss part of one to make another and there are some where you just have to make a choice). In each post, I try to add some additional links, especially to video of the artists performing to give you a taste of their art so you know what you're getting when you go to hear:

There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings and make your own decisions.  Let us know what you think in the comments to this or the individual posts, especially if you saw one of the picks.

If you want to check out some of the "back story" from the artists at this year's festival on Twitter, you can follow their tweets on a separate page of the blog where I've embedded the Jazz@Rochester Twitter "stream."

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

A two-fer mega-post as XRIJF arrives ... what I'll be hearing on June 27th and June 28th

“XRIJF

Well, it's here! I have a couple of hours before heading downtown to Jazz Street. Beautiful day here in Rochester, so why am I here inside writing? To record my picks for Friday and Saturday, the last two days of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival for you my readers, of course!

On Friday, June 27th, the eighth night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to get to the Club Pass gigs of the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Bill Frisell's Guitar in the Space Age: Bill Frisell comes to the jazz festival here quite often, but every time he comes he brings a wildly different project. It's always like he's a completely diferent artist each time he comes. So, I'll be heading out to Kilbourn to see him for maybe the 4th time at XRIJF. Based on what I've read, the quartet he's bringing will be mining the guitar that is the formative clay of Frisell's playing, including that of: jazz legend Charlie Christian; rock and roll's Chuck Berry, Duane Eddy, Link Wray and The Wrecking Crew; surf music icons Dick Dale, The Ventures and The Astronauts; folk's Pete Seeger; and country music stars Chet Atkins, Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant and Merle Travis. Frisell was born in 1951 ... can you tell? May have to get there early to get a good seat given all the guitarists in town who will likely be there... 
  • The Wee Trio: This trio has been here twice (in 2010 at MCC and 2012 at Roberts Wesleyan) and I had to miss them both times. Instead of a piano, The Wee Trio replaces it with vibes and a marimba. They range from standards to reimaginings of Nirvana songs, from straight up to sideways. Just the way I like it.... Here's a couple of videos, one of them playing The Oracle and another live performance from one of my favorite Chicago jazz clubs, the Green Mill (a bit of static at the beginning goes away). By the way, the Wee's drummer Jared Schonig used to hold down the beat with Rochester's own Paradigm Shift.
  • The Deciders: Despite City's mis-labeling them (as of this writing) in their guide as a rock band from Boulder this The Deciders is from Norway and is anything but, belonging more to the tradition of Sun Ra (without the spaceship) than to covers of blues and southern rock. As anyone who has read this blog for awhile will know, I like to open my ears and this group of musicians will do that from me.  A writer for the Irish Times calls them a "big, blowsy outfit, with plenty of chops and energy in spades." For a pretty big taste and confirmation of that here is a video of them from the 2012 MoldeJazz festival, and another of a set (I think, it's 23 minutes) from Victoria (probably B.C., Canada). 
  • Ibrahim Electric: We caught this Danish group when they were at the festival in 2010 and I am ready for more. Ibrahim Electric drives hard and breaks things, like barriers between genres, mixing jazz, rock, surf, afro-pop, soul and funk. Here they are with Rain Man, or this set from jazzahead2014's Danish Night.

This night's choices were hard as I would have liked to pull in the Rufus Reid Trio, but again have opted to branch out from the familiar as much as possible. Also Ester Rada (see below), opening for Marcus Miller Band outside.

On Saturday, June 28th, the last night of the XRIJF, sniff... sniff, I'm going to try to hear the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Newport Jazz Festival: Now 60: Celebrating the 60 years that the Newport Jazz Festival, the first annual festival in the U.S., this cast of players is traveling the circuit. Directed by Anat Cohen, who was here last year, it includes Karrin Allyson, Randy Brecker, Mark Whitfield, Peter Martin, Larry Grenadier,and Clarence Penn, all of who are stars in their own right.  Although I've yet to make my way over to Rhode Island for the festival itself, I have shared the great streams of the concerts that WGBO and National Public Radio do each year. Maybe for the 61st?
  • Ester Rada: This Israeli born fits this festival so well, mixing all sorts of influences from across the world from Ethiopian jazz of Ester Rada's heritage to neo-soul, funk and R&B. Plus the music that I've heard just makes you want to move. Her performance is going to be a party in the Big Tent (or on the street on Friday) if she brings it like she does on this live cut of Bad Guy from the Barby Club in Tel Aviv.
  • Cyrille Aimée: Depends on my mood, but by the end of the festival I'm usually ready to kick back and end it on a mellow tone (and that may be necessary given my previous pick). Max at Eastman Place is a space for that. If it goes the other way toward the more driving and intense side, I'll end with The Deciders at Montage, which is the space for that (although that's only if I don't see them Friday). The Washington Post describes Cyrille Aimée's voice as "like fine whiskey--oaky and smooth, with a hint of smokiness." When I saw her at the MAG awhile back she was touring with a Brazilian guitarist. This year she'll probably be appearing with the band on her new album It's A Good Day, with bass, drums and three guitars to cover her main influences of gypsy, jazz and Brazilian music. Here's a recent video of a live performance and one from 2012 singing Caravan with her Surreal Band at Birdland.

There are only 3 above as it is highly likely that I will miss one of my Friday picks and there is usually a few repeats, in different venues, between Friday and Saturday of the festival.  If that's not necessary, I might get over to the Lutheran Church to see Susanna. The last night will be a fluid night.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...usually). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 27th and June 28th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.

Well, it's been a great ride figuring out my 2014 XRIJF with you... I'll see you on Jazz Street (where I'm heading as soon as I hit the Enter key...).

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

The music I wanna hear on June 26th of the XRIJF ....

“XRIJF

As the excitement builds for the start of the festival tomorrow, I decided that I should pull out as many of the stops as possible to get these "pre-festival" posts out before the Rochester International Jazz Festival begins (tomorrow), as all bets are off once it gets underway. We'll see about tomorrow... but you get one tonight at least.

On Thursday, June 26th, the seventh night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to get to the Club Pass gigs of the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Manuel Valera: Although I would love to see pianist Manuel Valera with his band New Cuban Express (I would love to see a new Cuban series someday at the XRIJF... hint, hint...), he will be playing solo piano at XRIJF in Hatch Hall. As Howard Mandel, jazz writer and President of the Jazz Journalists Association notes about Valera, it is an "unalloyed pleasure to to discover a young man so accomplished that his potential seems boundless" I have to agree. For a taste, here is Valera working solo (apparently at home) on John Coltrane's Giant Steps.
  • Phaedra Kwant: Described as a "musical chameleon," this Dutch bassist, singer, lyricist and composer tries to "create my own musical signature by using less conventional forms of compositions, sounds and arrangements", combining her virtuosic grooves with melodic lines and leaving "sufficient room for improvisation." Here she is at Dizzy's Rotterdam (albeit a few years ago) for a taste.
  • Anders Hagberg Quartet: There are not a lot of flautists out there plying the jazz trade and Anders Hagberg is one of the best (along with the soprano saxophone) on the international scene. In addition to his own projects such as the Quartet, Hagberg toured worldwide with groups such as Mynta, Yggdrasil and the New Jungle Orchestra and worked with master percussionist Marilyn Mazur (who was last here in 2010 with trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg). For a taste, here is Hagberg on flute playing the song Zawinul and also some amazing sounds playing Caravan on the contrabass flute. 
  • Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: And now for something completely different ...brass sounds from my former home town, Chicago. In the 90s, this group of 8 brothers brought together their musicianship (a trait throughout their whole family), their jazz roots and a hip hop sensibility, and made a living busking on the streets of Chicago for many years (first time I heard them was on the streets of Chi-town). The Hyptnotic Brass Ensemble will be a fun show and they are unlike any other brass band you've heard. For a taste, check out this live performance of Planet Gibbous outside a subway station in Times Square.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...usually). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 26th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.

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

XRIJF, Day 6: Only three more days of the festival to go, will I make it? Stay tuned...

“XRIJF

So, I was getting a bit worried about pounding all these posts (and others I have in the queue) before the festival starts on Friday and then
"discovered" (again) that being in this situation is not a new thing for me. Last year, I gave up and posted only ONE post with my picks instead of the nine I've committed to this year.  Serves me right for not looking at last year to see what precedents I may have set .... But now I'm committed now (or should be)!

So, on Wednesday, June 25th, the sixth night of the XRIJF, I've picked the following artists to try to get a listen to (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Mike Stern/Bill Evans Band featuring Steve Smith and Tom Kennedy: While I don't always go for the fusion side of jazz, I enjoy it when played by great musicians. Stern, Evans and the rest of this band are top shelf. I've been reading about Stern's guitar playing and now I want to hear it. For a taste, here they are live at the Duketown Festival in 2013
  • Warren Wolf & The Wolfpack: Although I wasn't familiar with Warren Wolf but in getting cuts for my 2014 Spotify playlist (see the middle column of the blog), found some tracks and really dug them. You can check Warren and the Wolfpack out on this video from a live gig at his alma mater Berklee College of Music in Boston, brought to us by radio station WBGO.
  • David's Angels: This Swedish/Danish group is another genre-busting group, which is not uncommon in the Nordic Jazz series at XRIJF.  As you might have guessed from some of my previous picks this year and over previous jazz festivals, while I love jazz (and straightahead at that) my ears are not slaves to any genre. Here is a video of David's Angels performing their song Visions in Sweden. 
  • The Brain Cloud: While they sorta had me with the name of the band, I love Western swing which is a loose definition of this NYC band's genre. The name Brain Cloud name apparently comes from an old Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys song that goes "My brain is cloudy, my soul is upside down...," which you can take a listen to in the Brain Cloudy Blues.

As you can see by the number of picks, I am unlikely to get to see all of these. Geez, I also would have loved to catch Diane Schuur and the Brian Kellock & Tommy Smith gig, but at least at this juncture, I'm sticking with the "who you don't know side" of XRIJF (but who knows...?). As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 25th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.

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

XRIJF 2014: Of course there is some "homespun" talent at the festival

We have a lot of jazz and other musicians conveniently located right here in Rochester and they will be out in force again this year. The number of local artists (and artists who hail from around here) playing the festival has increased over the years.

This year, you'll find the following locals gracing the Club Pass and other stages, including (to save space, I'm listing them here alphabetically and the links will take you to their XRIJF artist page, providing times and venues):

During the week, there are the noontime concerts at the Rochester Central Public Library downtown. Listed below alphabetically; click on the link to find out when:

And of course there are the great High School Bands we all love to listen to while we get our first beer and get in line (or just sit on Jazz Street and the other venues and chill). Listed below alphabetically; click on the link to find out when your favorites be playing the Jazz Street Stage:

Eastman School of Music has a list of their faculty and students playing the XRIJF, too (many of them also listed above).

I apologize if I missed any (and feel free to point it out so I can amend). You can find out information on a number of these artists on this blog by checking out their sites linked to from Rochester Jazz Artists Links button at the top of the page. Remember that you can go hear many of these artists throughout the year, so if you miss them at XRIJF (as I will on many, I'm afraid....), you can likely catch them later.Just watch my listings posts published every Wednesday or, if you prefer to be notified by email, put your email address in the box in the middle panel, follow the instructions, and you'll get all the posts to this blog.  You can check tomorrow and next Wednesday for those playing elsewhere around ROC during the XRIJF.  

In addition to the above, the nightly late nigth jams at the State St. Bar & Grill at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, which in addition to Bob Sneider and the guys usually includes local students and others who sit in for a tune or two before the XRIJF artists step up to the stage for a jam. There will likely be some other performances around the "footprint" of the XRIJF that are not part of the XRIJF as well.

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

XRIJF, Day 5: From Cannonball to creole, the XRIJF is a smorgasboard of sound ....

“XRIJF

Some hard bop, perhaps some Creole flavors, a bit of stew from a group of Norwegians and Poles. This is on the menu for me on June 24th of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

On June 24th, the fifth night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to hear these picks (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues):

  • Louis Hayes & The Cannonball Legacy Band: One thing I've noticed about this year's festival is that fewer of the old lions of jazz are present. While that is not unexpected given the age of those who blazed trails in jazz or worked with Monk, Coltrane, Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderly and other players who did. Louis Hayes, who kept time with those four and so many others like them will bring his group that pays tribute to the music of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, one of the most popular jazz groups of the 1960s-70s. Although from 2008, I'm sure this video of a performance in Brazil will give you a good idea of what you'll be in store for in Kilbourn Hall. I believe the current lineup features some heavy hitters as well, including Vincent Herring on alto, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Rick Germanson on piano, and Dezron Douglas on bass.
  • Etienne Charles: Born in Trinidad, educated in Florida and New York, trumpeter (and steel drum and cuatro player) Etienne Charles is an artist that works a lot of musical influences into the gumbo of his sound, such as on his most recent CD Creole Soul, but can also hold it down, such as the hard bop of this smoking In the Winelight at B Sharps Jazz Club in Talahassee, FL.  Not being as familiar with his work before this, I'm looking forward to his set and hearing more of it later.
  • Jacob Young's "Forever Young": This group formed with guitarist Young, a Norwegian American, saxophonist Trygve Seim, and the members of the Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski's trio, releasing an album on ECM. If you want to get a taste, check out ECM's Forever Young site. Apparently the first two cuts have a more Brazilian influence.

As you can see, I've only got three picks for this night.  I'm leaving the last as a wildcard, although possibles include Peter Bernstein & Friends, Blind Boy Paxton, or 'dose of 'bones with the always fun Bonerama who have appeared at the festival numerous times. On the other hand as I will have a few more days to go before finishing, this may be the day I go home to sleep early.... nah!

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 24th and make your own decisions.

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

XRIJF, Day 4: Monday of the festival is a heady brew of jazz ....

“XRIJFOne of the things about this being my blog rather than a news outlet is that I am not trying to pick the best for the most. My readers (at least those whom I've met) are all over the board on the types of jazz that they love. I cannot make picks that will make them all happy so I'm just going pick some of the Club Pass gigs and others that I'm hoping will make me happy. On June 23rd, the fourth night of the XRIJF, it'll make me very happy if I can hear these picks (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues):

  • Vijay Iyer: He's playing with his trio in Kilbourn on Monday (and in Hatch solo on Tuesday). One of my favorite jazz artists these days, Vijay Iyer is one of the most innovative and interesting jazz pianists around. I'll head to get in the Kilbourn line early for this one. You can read all about why in Jeff Spevak's great profile in the D&C, but I just want to make sure that I hear him play.
  • Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio: After winning the Thelonius Monk Institute Jazz Saxophone competition, this young woman has been tearing it up in New York and elsewhere. If you don't believe me, then listen to this set at the Berklee College of Music, presented by WGBO.
  • Nels Cline & Julian Lage: These two guitarists are eclectic and innovative and I'm really looking forward to seeing them play together. Wilco guitarist Nels Cline's website's page on his collaboration with Lage says their set will feature compositions by both players, noting that "[t]hose familiar with Cline's work may be surprised to hear him play without effects pedals or looping devices; those familiar with Lage's work may be surprised to hear him play totally 'free' improvisation." A taste of them playing is available on Soundcloud. The Little Theatre space should be a great venue for this gig as well.
  • Kari Ikonen Trio: As Kari Ikonen's website puts it, this trio "cooks with the best European ingredients, the art of Afro-American cuisine and finest Oriental spices. . . . Chef Kari Ikonen and his team serve up a menu that combines his own creations with fresh interpretations of traditional Armenian dishes and classic recipes from cordons bleus like Coltrane or Shorter."  I'll take an order of that... Here they are live in a video of the Trio from last year.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 23rd and make your own decisions.

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

XRIJF, Day 3: Opening your ears to who you don't know on June 22nd ...

“XRIJFOne of XRIJF Music Producer John Nugent's sayings that I subscribe to wholly is "it's not who you know, it's who you don't know" (even have the t-shirt).  Opening your ears to who you don't know, at least for me, leads to new music I want to hear more of. I've started many relationships with new music at the jazz fest.  In that spirit, I'm going to try to get out to hear these picks for Day 3, June 22nd, of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

  • Cécile McLorin Salvant: Like Gregory Porter last year, Cécile McLorin Salvant has made a big splash on the jazz scene in the past year.  I missed her concert in Buffalo at the Art Love Jazz series at the Albright-Knox Gallery and heard that it was fantastic. Check out her performance and interview on WNYC
  • Benedikt Jahnel Trio: This trio with a "Zen groove aesthetic" will sound great in the Max at Eastman venue and what I've heard from their recent ECM recording tells me this may be the show I see at the end of the evening to chill. Check out more on the group's site.
  • Harris Eisenstadt Golden State: While I love straightahead jazz, you may notice that I can tend to pick some of the groups that may challenge your ears a bit. I'm happy that some groups at XRIJF this year that will expand our horizons a bit. Harris Eisenstadt's Golden State project is one of those groups. Just wish that fellow Chicagoan and AACM alum Nicole Mitchell, who was a member of the group at its inception, was going to be along for the ride as I didn't get a chance to hear her when I was living in Chi-town.  Eisenstadt made a short video about the project.
  • Hot Club of Detroit: Love me some Gypsy jazz al la Django. Hot Club of Detroit eschews percussion, but I'm intrigued that on their most recent disc Junction they have brought in saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who is better known as a member of the iconoclastic Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Don't know if he'll be with them at XRIJF, though. Here's a video to give you the flavor.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes. There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the XRIJF listings for June 22nd and make your own decisions.

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

XRIJF, Day 2: What I'll be trying to hear at the festival on June 21st

“XRIJFAlthough there is no way I'm going to get to all of these, here are my picks for Day 2, June 21st, of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

  • Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet: Jason Marsalis is a member of the great Marsalis clan with vibes... what more do you need?   Here's a live cut at Dizzy's in NYC oYoutube.
  • Flat Earth Society: On their website, the FES notes that "To attempt to describe the music of Flat Earth Society is an impossible (and pointless) task."  I may be different than the average jazz Joe, but I like that. You can hear some Zappa in these guys (they even say so...). It should be a fun mixture of jazz, rock and humor. Here's a video (and there are some cuts available on their site.
  • John Escreet: Hopefully pianist Escreet bring his current CD's group of Evan Parker, John Hébert and Tyshawn Sorey on his date here. Looks like Escreet is going to be doing a duo date with Tyshawn Sorey, based on his website, but with those two, it should be great.  Here's a video from the new group (although not the duo...).
  • Snarky Puppy: This 2014 Grammy winner group is a large ensemble with a mix of jazz, funk and world music. Snarky Puppy should be a great show and one that XRIJF producer says is a must hear.
  • Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio: Sunna and I met on Twitter way back and it was great to finally hear her in person last year. Sunna Gunnlag's trio will fill the Lutheran Church space with beautiful sound.

As always, these picks reflect my own, somewhat weird, choices. There are so many choices each night, so make your own decisions. 

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

Listen to 2014 XRIJF artists while you read Jazz@Rochester....

Spotify-logo-primary-vertical-dark-background-rgb_300pxI've set up a Spotify playlist with selected cuts from a number of the artists who will be playing at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (those who I could find on Spotify, that is). Many of them are my picks for trying to hear this year.  I've tried to find cuts from recent work where available (or in the configuration I expect that the artists will appear at XRIJF). 

Listen to a cut to check out an artist you're thinking about hearing; play the list to get a feeling for just how eclectic XRIJF will be (and I'm only just touching the surface). I'll try to add others as I find them or other Spotify users let me know about some more or a cut that highlights the artist more effectively. You can check out the existing playlist for local artists right below if you'd like too.

You can find a box in the middle panel and click on the play button to play while you read (don't leave the page or it will stop, so you may want to open other pages you read in a new page). Or download Spotify and click here (Spotify URI) to add the playlist to your own Profile. Happy listening!

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

XRIJF, Day 1: The skinny on my jazz festival and some picks for Friday, June 20th

“XRIJFIf you are trying to hear as much music as possible while at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (June 20-28), you can't really go wrong as there is great music everywhere. Free on the street, in Kilbourn Hall and Eastman Theatre, and in the Club Pass venues—there is music everywhere!

If however, like me, you have picked out the music you'd like to hear beforehand, you are bound for frustration if you try to hear too much each night (and there is SO MUCH I want to hear!) as you run between venues, stand in lines, and also try to get the odd beer or street food along the way. Maintaining that kind of pace (4-5 concerts a night) for 9 days can be done, but it takes a toll (and a spreadsheet...). Like those folks you see at concerts spending most of their time holding up and watching the pixelated video image of the performance on their camera or tablet, you may end up missing out on the magic taking place right before your eyes and ears. It becomes work. As Jazz@Rochester is not a job but a passion, over successive jazz festivals, I've moved away from the the frenetic pace (although admittedly mine will be more than many). I am at the festival to listen to some great music, get introduced to some new sounds, and have a good time. Somewhere in there I hope to connect my readers to what's going on there, the artists and the general "conversation" around the XRIJF through this blog and the other places you find Jazz@Rochester. 

I have some initial choices for each night, but I leave it open to the endless shifting variables of each evening to determine my final choices and always leave my mind open to changing my plan. On some days it might be possible to hear all of them (or at least portions of some) without bending the rules of space and time, but like I said ... these are just a first cut. What I'll be doing in this and eight other, much shorter, posts is letting you know what I'd like to hear each night. I'll link into XRIJF's page on the artist or group, if it is useful, and link to other sources to learn more about them and their music.  I have pretty eclectic tastes so not all of them will be jazz (and that's OK...), but like the festival, most of them will be. I'll expect that you'll follow the link to get the information about venue and times, or you might just pick up the XRIJF app for your smartphone to help with that.

So, at last, now my "picks" for June 20th of the XRIJF are:

  • Roy Hargrove: His first show at the Harro East will a great kickoff to the 2014 XRIJF as I believe I saw him at one of the earlier RIJFs after arriving in ROC in 2002. 
  • Partisans: UK group Partisans is opening up a US tour here and based on what I'm hearing on a Youtube playlist I found (and their site) will be an intense set, especially in the setting of Christ Church.
  • Sun Trio:  From Finland, Sun Trio had me when I read the quote in their bio from All About Jazz approximating their style to British artist David Hockney (but I'm weird that way...). We'll see if I agree with that assessment, but it fits my bill of checking out some new sounds (and I've usually enjoyed the Finnish groups that Nordic Jazz Now has brought to the Lutheran Church). You can check them out on their website or this trio cut I found on YouTube
  • Akiko Tsuruga Quartet: Anyone that reads this blog regularly knows I have something for B3s and the organ trio groove and Akikio Tsuruga and her quartet can cook (here with Lou Donaldson). 
  • Holophoner: This is a group including trumpeter Eastman alum Mike Cottone with six other young jazz musicians who met in 2012 after being selected to attend the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Performance in LA. The group performed throughout the globe as part of that Institute experience Here is a full live performance of Holophoner did at the Blue Whale.  

The above are the gigs I've selected for myself for Day 1, but of course there will be a lot of other great music out there that I might be sorry I missed (or may end up at ... who knows?).  There are also the great free shows on Friday the 20th, including jump jive with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, local artists (who will be profiled in a separate post) and the high school jazz bands that get us going at the beginning.

 

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

Picky, picky, picky ... a look at Jazz@Rochester's 2013 XRIJF

What's Different This Year?

XRIJF logoIn the past I've gone into much detail, over numerous posts, about my pickes for each day of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. I worked pretty hard on those posts as, earlier in the festival's history, there was very little coverage in the mainstream media and, for the artists I thought were notable or was planning to hear, I wanted to provide my readers with more information than was being provided by the festival's own site and other sources.  In addition to the fiasco of last year where in the end I had to do a "mea culpa" post in my utter failure to meet my own goals on the picks, the XRIJF and local media have really stepped up their game over the past few years (and especially this year). Moreover my traffic stats for those posts shows that they were not exactly burning up the interwebs in popularity (thus confirming my own feeling that "who'd care what Greg Bell is planning on hearing anyway").  So this is the only post on my picks this year before the fest.  I am not going to do any wrap up posts for each night of the festival either. Why?  One because over the past couple of XRIJFs I increasingly have changed focus during the festival to listening to the music and having a good time with my many friends and "jazz buddies" (the folks I only see during this nine days in June). Another factor is that while I will be taking half days from work during the festival, my workload at the day job is going to need more of my time than anticipated.

Jazz Street imageSo, what can you expect during th festival? I hope there will be more shorter posts from "the field" during the festival as the above measures will free me up.  There will be a lot on the Jazz@Rochester Twitter feed as I retweet those posts by XRIJF artists and fellow festivalgoers that I think others might want to see. There will be different stuff on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page. If my readers let me know that they've uploaded a video, I'll add it to the Jazz@Rochester YouTube channel.

Well, here's what I hope to try to hear during the festival.  Using the XRIJF's iPhone (and now Android) app to set up my "wanna sees" for each day and sending myself an email with the picks, I have listed them below. I may or may not be able to work them all in, but the ones listed should be possible (at least for a portion) and there are some that are not even jazz (oh no!). There are usually several others that I'd like to hear each day that are not on the list (but still may be later as my picks "evolve"). Please let us know what you're looking forward to in the comments. 

Finally, the Picks...

Friday, June 21

  • Christian McBride's Inside Straight @ Kilbourn Hall
  • Nikki Yanofsky @ Harro East Ballroom
  • Trondheim Jazz Orchestra @ Lutheran Church of the Reformation
  • Noah Preminger Quartet with Ben Monder @ The Rochester Club
  • Patricia Barber @ Max at Eastman Place

Saturday, June 22

  • Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio @ Kilbourn Hall
  • Terell Stafford Quartet @ Montage
  • YolanDa Brown @ Christ Church
  • Delbert McClinton @ City of Rochester East/Chestnut Stage

Sunday, June 23

  • Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band @ Kilbourn Hall
  • Rafael Zaldivar @ Max at Eastman Place
  • BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet @ Harro East Ballroom 
  • Christian Wllumrod Ensemble @ Lutheran Church of the Reformation

Monday, June 24

  • Alfredo Rodriguez Trio @ Kilbourn Hall
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet @ Xerox Auditorium 
  • Geoffrey Keezer @ Hatch Recital Hall
  • Eric Alexander/Harold Mabern Quartet @ Montage

Tuesday, June 25

  • Anat Cohen @ Xerox Auditorium
  • Eero Koivistoinen Quartet  @ Lutheran Church of the Reformation
  • David Byrne & St. Vincent @ Eastman Theatre (college in the early 80s... what can I say?)

Wednesday, June 26

  • Gretchen Parlato @ Kilbourn Hall
  • Soweto Kinch @ Christ Church
  • Trio Globo with Howard Levy @ Xerox Auditorium
  • Goldings-Stewart-Bernstein @ Montage

Thursday, June 27

  • Ravi Coltrane Quartet @ Kilbourn Hall
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa's GAMAK @ The Little Theatre
  • Carmen Souza @ Max at Eastman Place
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ Harro East Ballroom

Friday, June 28

  • Gregory Porter @ Kilbourn Hall
  • Phronesis @ Christ Church
  • Youn Sun Nah @ Ulf Wakenius @ Lutheran Church of the Reformation 
  • Hilario Duran Trio @ Max at Eastman Place

Saturday, June 29

  • Kurt Elling @ Kilbourn Hall
  • Torben Waldorff  @ Lutheran Church of the Reformation
  • Tim Berne Snake Oil @ Montage
  • Gwilym Simcock @ Christ Church
  • Monty Alexander's Harlem-Kingston Express @ City of Rochester East/Chestnut Stage

I will also be taking numerous side trips throughout the festival to hear our own local Rochester artists and groups who are playing (there will be a separate post later about that) and the great high school bands that  are playing throughout the festival (great for listening while in line at Kilbourn Hall).  

See you on Jazz Street!

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

Jazz Around Town: I won't be, but plenty of jazz going on and coming up....

XRIJFSnaps
Image: XRIJF

I won't be around town, that is... heading out soon for another trip to Kansas (hopefully free of tornadoes) and some time in Chicago for my 30th Reunion at the University of Chicago.  So what's going on around here?

"Snaps," the first retrospective of images from the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival opens tomorrow, May 23rd at the Center at High Falls Fine Art Gallery downtown. The exhibit features almost 200 select works of 13 photographers who have covered the festival from 2002 to 2012 , including: Frank DeBlase, Jim Dolan, Mark Druziak, Tom Flint, Tom Frizelle, Tim Fuss, Garry Geer, Kelli Marsh, Peter Parts, Michael Riebesehl, Fred SanFilipo, Don Ver Ploeg and Kelley Yost. More here.  "Snaps" runs though June 30th and is free and open to the public. The Center at High Falls Gallery located at 60 Brown's Race in Rochester, NY is open Wednesdaythrough Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 12 noon to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. It is closed Monday and Tuesday.

I'm going to the opening tomorrow, I hope, along with the Art Loves Jazz benefit at Artisan's Loft too (I managed to procrastinate on tickets and the online purchase option was eliminated while I was trying to checkout).  No I don't get free tickets... It's a benefit for Jazz 90.1. Hope to see you there! Update 5-23: Unfortunately, something came up and I'm going to miss both, but the images and jazz (and, I hope the benefit in $ to Jazz 90.1 radio, will go on).  

So, here are the live gigs I found in and around Rochester over the next 7 days, plus some things coming up in the near future:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

  • Jon Seiger All-Stars Trio @ Market Cafe at Wegmans on Calkins Road, 5:30 pm
  • The Swooners @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 5:30 pm
  • NightTrane @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Deborah Branch @ Lemoncello, 6:00 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Roncones, 6:00 pm
  • Mike Kaupa Duo Project with Mike Conrad @ Monroe's, 6:00 pm
  • Art Loves Jazz (Benefit for WGMC Jazz 90.1) @ Artisan Works, 6:30-9:30 pm (tickets, if available at the door)
  • EROS Guitar Duo @ The Rabbit Room (Honeoye Falls), 7:00 pm
  • Djangoners @ The Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm
  • The Joe Santora Trio with Cabo Frio's Curtis Kendrick & Emily Kirchoff @ Michael's Valley Grill, 7:30 pm

Friday, May 24, 2013

  • Mark Cassara Band @ Bistro 135, 5:30 pm
  • The Music of Ferrante & Furioso @ Yummy Garden Hot Pot (Brighton), 5:30 pm
  • The Westview Project @ The Mendon House (Mendon), 6:00 pm
  • Brent Bond @ Pane Vino Ristorante, 6:30 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Pultneyville Grill (Williamson), 7:00 pm
  • The Swooners @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 7:30 pm

Saturday, May 25, 2013

  • Eastman Community Music School Honor Recital by Conrad Ziarniak, jazz saxophone @ Hatch Recital Hall, ESM, 2:00 pm
  • The Music of Ferrante & Furioso @ Yummy Garden Hot Pot (Brighton), 5:30 pm
  • Madeline Forster @ Bistro 135, 6:30 pm
  • White Hots @ Pultneyville Grill (Williamson), 6:30 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Jasmine's Asian Fusion (Webster), 6:30 pm
  • Roses and Revolutions @ Pane Vino Ristorante, 6:30 pm
  • Ryan T. Carey/Tony Padilla Duo @ Lemoncello, 7:00 pm
  • Special Blend @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 7:30 pm
  • Annie Wells @ Litttle Theatre Cafe, 8:30 pm

Sunday, May 26, 2013

  • Rhythm Dogs @ Schooner's Riverside Pub 70 Pattonwood Dr., Rochester, 3:00 pm
  • Bill Slater @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, call for info

Monday, May 27, 2013

  • Sofrito @ Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

  • Tinted Image @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 5:30 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Charlie Mitchell Group @ Flipside Bar & Grill (Rochester), 8:00 pm

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

  • Big Band Dance Spring Series @ Charlotte Beach, Roger Robach Community Center, 6:00 to 9:00 pm
  • The Swooners @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Mic Gillette, formerly of Tower of Power with the Aquinas Jazz Ensemble, Greece Jazz Band and the Viavattines @ The Aquinas Institute Auditorium, 1127 Dewey Ave., Rochester, 7:00 pm (see here for more info)
  • Margaret Explosion @ The Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm
  • Vince Ercolamento & Joe Chiappone Jazz Quartet @ Murph's, 705 Titus Ave., Irondequoit, 8:00 pm

Heads Up ... Look for these Jazz Gigs and Special Jazz Events in the Future

  • Fairport Canal Days does its own local jazz festival with Paradigm Shift, John Nyerges Quartet, Mike Melito Quartet, Jeff Mcleod Organ Trio, Westview Project, Sofrito Latin Jazz Quartet, Jimmie Highsmith Experience, Dave Mancini Quartet, John Seiger & The All Stars, Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra, Mighty High & Dry, and the Bill Tiberio Band @ Fairport Canal Days (Fairport), Friday, May 31st through June 2nd (see the Find It In Fairport site for more info, and watch here for more as well)
  • Bop Arts presents The Mack Goldsbury Quartet @ Lovin' Cup Brews & Bistro, Sunday, June 2d, 8:00 pm
  • International Society of Bassists Convention @ Eastman School of Music (in addition to the concerts below, there may be others open to the public, so check the schedule)
  • International Society of Bassists Concert: Eastman alumni Brett Shurtliffe, Yung-Chiao Wei, and Ron Carter with Russell Malone & Donald Vega @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Tuesday, June 4th, 8:00 pm
  • International Society of Bassists Concert: Thomas Martin; Jazz Bass Supergroup “Talking Hands” with John Clayton, Rufus Reid, Lynn Seaton and Martin Wind @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Wednesday, June 5th, 8:00 pm 
  • International Society of Bassists Concert:  Diana Gannett performs new works; Chuck Israels, bassist with the Bill Evans Trio, pays tribute to a master of bebop with “Oscar Pettiford Octet and Beyond” @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Thursday, June 6th, 8:00 pm
  • International Society of Bassists Concert:  Orchestral and chamber music bassist Szymon Marciniak and Grammy-winning Dave Holland @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Friday, June 7th, 8:00 pm
  • Michael Formanek Quartet with Tim Berne, Craig Taborn and Gerald Cleaver @ Bernunzio Uptown Music, 122 East Ave., Rochester, Friday, June 7th, 10:30 pm 
  • International Society of Bassists Concert: Joel Quarrington, new principal bassist of the London Symphony Orchestra, and Victor Wooten @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Saturday, June 8th, 8:00 pm
  • Groove Juice Swing presents Stompology Swing Dances with the The Careless Lovers (Seattle, WA), Friday, June 7th, 8:00 pm; The Low Down Sires (Asheville, NC), Saturday, June 8th, 8:30 pm and June 9th, 7:30 pm
  • Tessa Souter with John Nyerges Trio @ Lovin Cup, Saturday, June 8th, 9:00 pm
  • Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Friday, June 21st to Saturday, June 29th

If you go out to hear a performance listed here, feel free to drop a comment to this post to let us know how it went (see the Comment link at the bottom). I want to hear from you! Please share the post with your friends who love jazz.

We've compiled these listings from information obtained from the performing artists themselves and other sources. The aim is to give you a one-stop place to find all your jazz in Rochester.The aim is to give you a one stop place to find all your jazz in Rochester. Only start times are listed, visit or call the venue for more details (the websites for many of the venues are in the right panel). Please forgive any discrepancies with reality and feel free to let me know what the problem is, and I'll get the corrections up on the site as soon as possible (click on the "Contact Us" button above). If you go out to hear a performance listed here, feel free to drop a comment to this post to let us know how it went. I want to hear from you!

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

End of the XRIJF road for another year ... Can you believe it?

OK, I'm sated...my ears are full.  I've put on some poundage with beer and street food. I always reach a point (and I think I even reached it earlier this year) where I've heard so much fantastic jazz and other musics and been exposed to so many diverse musical talents at the Rochester International Jazz Festival that I just float around, going where my whims or some other compelling force (such as poutin last night at Abilene). Reached that point maybe Thursday?  Floating is the best way to get at the heart of this festival where it is, as John Nugent says, "not who you know, but who you don't know." 

image from www.jazzrochester.comStarting out, I plan on incorporating "where you don't know" into it by finally getting into what I have heard is the nearly perfect acoustics of Hatch Hall to catch pianist Joanne Brackeen play.  Consistently listed as one of the top jazz pianists, I have had albums of hers in my collection since the 80s. Hadn't had a listen in quite a while, so pulled out her Snooze LP from the 1970s (with Cecil McBee and Billy Hart) to get reacquainted. As I had remembered, Brackeen plays with lightning speed and authority, her interpretations full of both jagged complexity and lyrical beauty. 

Then I think I'll take in one more UK artist in the Made In the UK series at Christ Church with the Arun Ghosh Quintet. Clarinetist Ghosh incorporates his South Asian roots in a heady mix with jazz and other musics.  I've loved this mix in other artists such as Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa. Here's a video of him performing Aurora from his CD Northern Namaste.

Other than those, I'm floating again.  If I find myself needing a shot of straightahead, I'll head over to Xerox Auditorium for the wonderful Victor Goines Quartet or to Rochester Club for Mario Romano Quartet Featuring Pat LaBarbera. I'm also intrigued by the band Locarno, who will be playing in the Big Tent. Growing up in Southern California (@30 miles north of San Diego), the love of the music of Mexico and Latin music in general have been a constant. I'm not familiar with this project of Canadian band Paperboys' frontman, Tom Landa, but for me the music, described as "part Mexican but with strong doses of Cuban Son, Folk Music, Pop and Funk" cannot go wrong. Listening to their Una Mas y Ya Nos Vamos album on Spotify right now and loving it. Here's a YouTube video of Locarno performing last year in Vancouver.

We'll see.... (I do keep saying that, don't I?).  It's been a great festival! Hope you all had as great a time as I did....

 

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

Penultimate choices ... Day 8 of XRIJF

image from www.jazzrochester.comI'll start the evening in a typical way, arriving early to monitor the line for Kilbourn and, hopefully, getting into it before it turns the corner so I can catch the early show for Roy Haynes and the Fountain of Youth Band. Each year there is usually at least one of the great lions of the jazz of the 40s, 50s and 60s, who come to XRIJF and are usually on my bucket list. Roy Haynes is one of them. In over sixty years of playing, Haynes has played with everybody (too many to lis in a wide range of styles ranging from swing and bebop, to jazz fusion and avant-garde. For more on Haynes, see my Pick post.

image from www.jazzrochester.comAt the other end of the evening at 10:00 pm, I'm thinking that I'll catch The Music of Gil Evans with Ryan Truesdell. Ryan was given access to a number of newly-discovered, never-before recorded works of jazz composer Gil Evans and has been raising money and recording a CD in celebration of Evans' 100th birthday, which was released in May of this year. The Gil Evans Project people contacted me awhile ago to help with promoting the ArtistShare project that raised money for the recording. I love the music that Gil Evans did with Miles Davis and others, such as the landmark Columbia recordings with Miles Davis of Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, as well as his contributions to the breakthrough Miles album Birth of the Cool. Ever since I heard about the project I have been interested in the outcome and so will get the live experience of it tonight (and perhaps the CD).

In between, perhaps Jean Michel Pilc in Hatch (still trying to get to this venue that I've heard so much about), or Italian saxophonist Marco Pignataro at the Rochester Club, or just float a bit and soak up the crowds. We'll see....

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

It's going to be one of those "it's who you don't know days" ... Day Seven of XRIJF

Thursday night, Day Seven of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, the last night before the wrap up maelstrom of crowds that is the last two days of XRIJF (is it here already).  While the offerings are great, there were none that were "must sees" on my list. This shouldn't be looked at as me saying "there's nothing good on Thursday!", rather it's just going to be one of those "it's who you don't know" days at the festival. As I've said before, that situation often leads to discovery.

MeinkilbournlineToday, I'm intrigued by Colin Stetson, who I think I recalling John Nugent advised us at the press conference in March would be a standout. Just deciding whether to go to the early or late show at Kilbourn.  If I choose late, then I may finally make it into Hatch Hall.  As I've walked the XRIJF site I keep running into acquaintenances who ask whether "you've been to Hatch" and then extol its acoustic perfection. I am planning on going on Saturday to see Joanne Brackeen, but today could end up there early to see Eastman professor and pianist Harold Danko, who has played with a number of well-known artists from a long association with Chet Baker to Gerry Mulligan, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Lee Konitz and Woody Herman. I've seen him perform around Rochester a few times and always loved his solo piano. I'll also make a point to get out to see Terje Rypdal & Bergen Big Band at Xerox Auditorium (I think Thursday will work better for me, but they also appear at the Lutheran Church on Friday). The rest is up for grabs, including the possibility of finally getting over to Abilene (I love the scene there and the joint itself during the rest of the year) to see Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. I may also start with Stetson, which could result in a different mix.

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

How's this for diversity in my ears? Day 6 at XRIJF...

Since I fell down on the job of getting all my picks published, I'm admitting complete and utter defeat and will just be writing a short note going forward about the artists I'm aiming for each remaining day of XRIJF.  Of course, like every night of the festival, this is a "rough sketch".  This year more than most I've been "floating" a bit, diverging from my laid out plan due to who I hear about on the street or just because it feels right.

XRIJF image

After a break from the Kilbourn line yesterday (yeah, I know, Benny Green was a Pick...), I return to catch Eliane Elias Brasiliera Quartet at 6:00 pm. Love the Brazilian music. Here's a live concert clip from 2009.  On the other end of the evening at 10:00 pm, I'm going to hit Kneebody at Montage. They were described in the New York Times a couple of years ago as "a band that inhabits the borderland abutted by post-bop, indie-rock and hip-hop, without seeming to give much thought to the border." The hard edge of this group will be just the thing at the end of the night of Day 6 as my energy needs a recharge. Here's a video of them playing their composition Teddy Ruxpin from 2011.

XRIJF image

In between those two very different bookends, I'm not planning anything, but will float as my ears (and stomach as I'll need to eat somewhere in there...) take me. Mostly like it will some of FFEAR (Forum for Electro-Acoustic Research) at the Lutheran Church and some of Rich Thompson's Generations Trio at Xerox Auditorium, and a host of other possibilities in between. Oh, and possibly a line for Kneebody, which could impact the rest. We'll see...

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Benny Green Trio

Tuesday, June 26th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

From many of my picks so far you may have begun thinking that my ears have no place for straightahead—au contraire—my ears just like a wide variety of jazz and other music and that's precisely what is presented at the XRIJF. I love jazz trio music and pianist Benny Green is one of its masters. Green has been hailed as one of the most exciting, hard-swinging, hard-bop, pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. A student of the history of Jazz piano, the Green mentions Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Phineas Newborn, Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson as some of his main influences. 

Benny Green jazz pianist
Photo Credit: Tom Haynes
Born in New York in 1963, Benny Green grew up in Berkeley, California, and began classical piano studies at the age of seven. Influenced by his father, a tenor saxophonist, his attention soon turned to jazz. As a teenager he worked with Eddie Henderson and experience with a big band in a 12-piece group led by Chuck Israels. After graduation and some freelancing in the Bay Area for a year, Green moved to New York in the spring of 1982, where he met pianist Walter Bishop Jr. After a short stint with Bobby Watson, Green worked with Betty Carter between 1983 and 1987. Afterwards, at the age of twenty-four, Benny Green he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers band. He remained a Jazz Messenger through late 1989, at which point he began working with Freddie Hubbard's quintet. In 1993 Oscar Peterson chose Benny as the first recipient of the City of Toronto's Glen Gould International Protégé Prize in Music. That year, Green replaced Gene Harris in Ray Brown's Trio, working with the veteran bass player until 1997. From 1997 on, Benny resumed his freelance career, leading his own trios, accompanying singers like Diana Krall, and concentrating on solo piano performances.

Benny Green has recorded 10 albums and appeared on a guest performer on over one 100 recordings. In 2011, Green released a Trio album, Source (affiliate link), with Kenny and Peter Washington, his first recording with a trio in 10 years. The year 2011 also marked the premier tour of a long developed project, Monk's Dream: Fifty Years Fresh, paying homage to the legacy and the man that is his first and most significant musical hero, Thelonious Sphere Monk.  He's set to release a new CD Magic Beans soon.

In addition to his page on the AMS label, Benny Green has a Facebook page that you might want to check out.  Listen to the Benny Green Trio on NPR station WGBO's JazzSet presenting Monk's Dream: Fifty Years Fresh' In Concert. Watch the Benny Green live at Yoshi's Oakland with Peter Washington and Kenny Washington on May 28, 2010:

There is a video of what appears to be a whole gig for German television, although it appears to be from awhile ago (based on the mustache, the mid-1990s?) and in the comments identifies Green's bandmates as Carl Allen on drums and Ben Wolfe on bass (Wolfe comments himself saying it was a special date):

Check out my other picks for the 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter. Use the hashtag #XRIJF so others can follow your tweets. I've also created a Twitter list of jazz artists/groups appearing at this year's XRIJF (there's a feed in the middle panel).

 

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Sunday, June 24th, Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza @ 6:30 & 9:00 pm

I have heard Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey more than once, once in an odd pairing with Al Dimeola at Water Street and a couple of times at the jazz festival. There is no Jacob and no Fred, but their music is an odyssey and I love exploring it each time I hear them. They've opened for jam band "gods" Phish, but also are known to play Thelonious Monk, Abdullah Ibrahim, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Louis Armstrong. Each member of JFJO is a consumate musician and their intensity and seemingly telepathic communication on stage sometimes leaves you there sitting, slack-jawed. 

Jfjo_xrijf2012You never know what these guys are going to do. I don't think they've played the same thing twice in the 3-4 times I've heard them. I'm thinking they will bring at least portions of their latest project The Race Riot Suite to this year's festival. For their 21st album, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has reached into a dark part of their hometown Tulsa’s history. The piece waswritten, arranged and orchestrated by Chris Combs, and is a long-form conceptual piece that tells the horrific story of the 1921 Tulsa race riot during which, as set out on the site's page for the album "[t]he oil-elite, civic government and local press colluded to take advantage of a racially tense climate in Jim Crow-era Oklahoma, resulting in the death of hundreds of black Tulsans and the destruction of an entire city district." Through jittery, propulsive rhythms and melodies, the Suite is intended to be an onlooker’s journey through that night that nearly destroyed the one of the country’s most thriving black communities. The band cites influences as diverse as iconic jazz and classical artists like Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Ludwig van Beethoven and Gustav Mahler, as well as, modern artists, including Radiohead, The Dirty Projectors, Fight the Big Bull and Animal Collective in the conception of the recording. Time Out New York said that "12-part suite pinballs between majestic melodies, free improv and ragged New Orleans rhythms, sometimes all within the same song…expect a heavy dose of history, but an even heavier dose of forward-looking, down-home jazz." If they are doing this piece at their show on, in addition to the permanent line-up of Combs (lap steel), Brian Haas (piano), Josh Raymer (drums) and Jeff Harshbarger (bass), the quartet may a horn section.

Here's a link to a Downbeat article on the project, Meditation on a Riot. The JFJO have also linked to a video of them performing a Prelude from the piece in October 2011 (there are tons more videos of them playing on their site):

Check out my other picks for the 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter. Use the hashtag #XRIJF so others can follow your tweets. I've also created a Twitter list of jazz artists/groups appearing at this year's XRIJF (there's a feed in the middle panel).

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

XRIJF mea culpa ... I give up!

IMG_1356I have a confession to make here. I had this grand plan (even wrote it out) about how I was going to get through a bunch of posts for individual artist picks through the last few weeks before the XRIJF began. While I like how they've turned out so far, the production output has been "not so much."  Even today, despite having taken the day off to do some more pick posts, I made the mistake of checking my work email and had to do some final work on a project that I thought I finished yesterday before turning to Jazz@Rochester and preparing for the beginning of the festival (I'm heading out of here in just a couple of hours to head downtown). My approach this year was way too optimistic given my current workload of getting enough of my pick posts out before the XRIJF started.  I'll still get some more picks out while the festival is going on, but my focus is changing to enjoying the festival with my friends and the rest of you. I'll focus on my "must sees".  

Although I've received some great feedback on my new approach, I'm sure you all won't be too worried about getting my "picks". You can make your own choices. My posts were focused on providing you links to more information upon which to make that decision. They are based in part on my very eclectic tastes in music and in part on knowing some of the "must sees" from following the national and international jazz scenes.  This blog is a labor of love of the music and live music in general. As the XRIJF begins I want to really focus it on what's happening in front of me at the festival.  Much of it may be on Twitter or elsewhere. I'm kind of flying by the seat of my pants this year (which can lead to problems as one of my profs in college told me about a paper that exhibited a similar attitude "if you fly by the seat of your pants, at least turn around and look once in awhile).

Tonight I'm starting out with Christian McBride and Inside Straight at Kilbourn Hall (just like old times...), then I'm hitting Goran Kafjes and the Subtropic Arkestra at the Reformation Lutheran Church. Rest of the evening is up for grabs. May go see Get The Blessing, Karrin Allyson, or perhaps even join some friends I know are going to see L'Orkestre Des Pas Perdues.  Say hi if you see my on Jazz Street or elsewhere at the XRIJF.

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Local artists shine at XRIJF this year

We have a lot of jazz talent conveniently located here in Rochester and they will be out in force this year. The number of local artists (and artists who hail from around here) playing the festival seems to have increased and there are more than a few who are gracing the stages of some Club Pass venues, including:

  • Penfield Rotary Big Band @ Verizon Wireless Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Gap Mangione & Special Guests @ The Rochester Club Viva Italia Series, June 23rd, 6:00 & 10:00 pm 
  • RPO Marimba Band @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, June 23rd, 6:00 pm 
  • J.M.O.G (Jazz Men on the Go, including Pat LaBarbera) @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, June 23rd, 6:00 & 10:00 pm 
  • Joe LaBarbera Quintet @ Montage, June 24th, 6:00 & 10:00 pm 
  • ESM-XRIJF Gerry Niewood Jazz Scholarships Performance @ Kodak Hall At Eastman Theatre, June 25th, 8:00 pm
  • Bill Dobbins Plays Ellington @ Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music, June 26th, 5:45 pm
  • Jack Allen Big Band @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, June 26th, 6:00 pm 
  • The Westview Project @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, June 27th, 6:00 pm 
  • Generations Trio with Rich Thompson @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, June 27th, 6:30 & 9:00 pm (you can check out their new "Generations" CD on the Rochester Jazz Sounds page by clicking on the button above)
  • Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, June 28th & June 29th, 6:00 pm 
  • Harold Danko @ Hatch Recital Hall at Eastman School of Music, June 28th, 7:45 pm.

 On the free venues, there's even more:

  • ECMS Jazz Combo led by Bob Sneider @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 6:00 pm
  • John LaBarbera Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 7:15 pm
  • The Uptown Groove @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 22nd, 9:00 pm
  • John LaBarbera Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 9:15 pm
  • Dan White Group @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 23rd, noon
  • Bill Tiberio Band @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 23rd, 9:00 pm
  • ECMS Latin Jazz Ensemble @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 23rd, 5:15 pm
  • ESM Honors Performance Units 1, 2 & 3 @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 23rd, 6:00 pm
  • Teagan & The Tweeds @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 23rd, 7:00 pm
  • Calle Uno @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 25th, 7:15 pm 
  • Doug Stone Group @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 26th, noon 
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 6:00 pm 
  • New Horizons Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 7:15 pm 
  • Music Educators Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 9:15 pm 
  • Sean Jefferson Group @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 27th, noon
  • ESM-XRIJF Jazz Scholarships Alumni Combo @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th, 6:00 pm
  • Russell Scarbrough Soul Jazz Big Band @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 27th, 7:00 pm
  • Fred Costello @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th,  7:15 pm
  • Russell Scarbrough Soul Jazz Big Band @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 27th, 9:00 pm
  • Fred Costello @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th,  9:15 pm
  • Bob Sneider & Friends @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 28th, noon
  • The Gutbusters @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage,  June 28th, 4:00 pm
  • Bat McGrath @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 28th, 6:00 pm
  • Bill Tiberio & Friends @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 29th, noon
  • ECMS Saxology + Jazz Bones @ City of Rochester Jazz Street, June 29th, 6:00 pm
  • Po' Boys Brass Band @ City of Rochester East Ave. & Chestnut St. Stage, June 29th, 7:00 pm
  • ECMS Jazz Combo led by Howard Potter @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 30th, 5:15 pm
  • ESM Honors Performance Units 1, 2 & 3 @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 30th, 5:15 pm

And of course there are the great High School Bands we all love to listen to while we get our first beer and get in line (or just sit on Jazz Street and the other venues and chill):

  • Fairport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 4:45 pm 
  • Hilton HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 5:15pm 
  • Gates HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 23rd, 4:30 pm 
  • Buffalo Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 23rd, 5:15 pm 
  • Brockport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 24th, 4:30 pm 
  • Spencerport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 24th, 5:15 pm 
  • Webster-Thomas HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 25th, 4:30 pm
  • Greece-Athena HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 4:30 pm
  • Pittsford-Sutherland HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 5:15 pm 
  • Webster Schroeder HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th, 4:30 pm
  • School of The Arts HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th, 5:15 pm
  • Eastridge HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 28th, 5:15 pm
  • Greece-Olympia HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 29th, 4:30 pm
  • Newark HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 29th, 5:15 pm
  • West Irondequoit HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 30th, 4:30 pm

Geez, that was a lot! I apologize if I missed any (and feel free to point it out so I can amend. You can find out information on a number of these artists by checking out their sites linked to from Rochester Jazz Artists Links.  Remember that you can go hear many of these artists all throughout the year, so if you miss them at XRIJF (as I will, I'm afraid), you can likely catch them later. Just watch my listings posts on Wednesdays or, if you prefer to be notified by email, put your email address in the box in the middle panel, follow the instructions, and you'll get all the posts to this blog (and nothing else... I don't spam or sell your address).

In addition to the above, the nightly late nigth jams at the State St. Bar & Grill at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, which in addition to Bob Sneider and the guys usually includes local students and others who sit in for a tune or two before the XRIJF artists step up to the stage for a jam. There will be some other performances around the XRIJF that are not part of the XRIJF as well. The Little Theatre has teamed up with WXXI for some nearby "tie-in" jazz events and Bernunzio's Uptown Music has at least one special event during the festival. Check out my Jazz Around Town posts on Wednesdays below (and to come) for more details on that and on the jazz going on outside of the festival.

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Karrin Allyson

Friday, June 22nd, Max at Eastman Place @ 6:15 and 10:00 pm

 Karrin Allyson was actually one of the first jazz artists from out of town who I saw perform after moving to Rochester, appearing at Woodcliff out in Victor when that venue still was bringing in national acts (or was the best place to stay while the artists made their way to points East or West, and the stopped for a couple spa days and some gigs). I've seen her several times since, including at least once at the jazz festival. Like some others picks this year I may not actually go hear Karrin Allyson, but she is a major talent who, if you haven't heard her before, should be on your list. She doesn't just stand in front and sing, she's out front on piano. Like the quote from Don Heckman in the Los Angeles Times, Allyson has "been described as a 'musician's musician,' and for once the overused term actually makes sense—a complete performance by a complete artist—one of the jazz world's finest." 

Karrin Allyson imageLast year Karrin Allyson, who has been nominated for multiple Grammy awards, released her thirteenth album on Concord Jazz, Round Midnight, since her 1992 debut. On her albums (and in her concerts, Allyson moves easily from the Great American Songbook through bebop and into the sounds of Brazil, pop and beyond. Her sophistication and chops as a musician shine through when her and the great musicians who usually accompany collaborate on each song.

You can listen to some of Karrin Allyson's music on her site and on MySpace. Here's Allyson performing Moanin' filmed in celebration of Concord Records' 30th anniversary, Voices of Concord Jazz - Montreux Jazz Festival - Live at Montreux, July 2003:

Here's her take on Charlie Chaplin's Smile as a guest on NPR's KPLU:

You can check out my other picks for the 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column (or the link in this sentence).

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Gregoire Maret Quintet

Monday, June 25th, Max at Eastman Place @ 6:15 and 10:00 pm

Gregoire Maret image from XRIJFGregoire Maret was born in 1975 in Geneva, Switzerland and began playing the harmonica at age 17, bringing the diverse musical influences from his Harlem born, African- American mother and his Swiss father, a local jazz musician, as he developed his craft. Graduating from the prestigious Conservatoire Suprieur de Musique de Genve, Gregoire moved to New York City to pursue Jazz Studies at the New School University. He is now one of the most sought after harmonica players in the world, developinghis own unique sound and versatile style that enables him to play across different musical genres. He is often compared to legends Toots Thielemans and Stevie Wonder (see below) and has worked with diverse array of of musicians including Pat Metheny, Youssn'Dour, Me' Shell Ndegeocello, David Sanborn, George Benson, Cassandra Wilson, Herbie Hancock and Sting. In 2005, Gregoire toured with the Pat Metheny Group, which received a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. That year he also won the Jazz Journalists Association "Player of the Year" award, after which Maret embarked on a two-year tour with the world-class bassist Marcus Miller and subsequently joined Herbie Hancock's band. This year he released his first as a leader.

To learn more about Maret, check out the May interview with Jason Crane on The Jazz Session podcast. You may also want to check out Josh Jackson's interview with Maret for NPR's WGBO.

There are a lot of videos of Gregoire Maret out there (here's the channel), but I've picked a few out, including this one of his Quartet doing The Man I Love in a nicely recorded 2010 RTS Label Suisse Production:

...and a nice long bit of the Quartet playing Lucilla's Dream in a January 2011 club date:

...and as promised above here's an impromptu jam with Stevie Wonder at the Stevie Wonder Suzuki's National Association of Music Merchants booth this year:

Check out my other picks for the 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Tommy Smith & KARMA

Tuesday, June 26th, Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza @ 6:30 and 9:00 pm

Tommy Smith imageHailed by critics as the toughest and most creative group of his career, saxophonist Tommy Smith’s KARMA leads a band of virtuosic musicians on a deeply grooving acid jazz adventure that draws on influences from around the world. The band features Tommy Smith (saxes, shakuhatchi, synth), Kevin Glasgow (electric bass), Steve Hamilton (piano, synth), and Alyn Cosker (drums). Born in Edinburgh in 1967, Tommy Smith won best soloist and best group titles at Edinburgh International Jazz Festival at the ripe old age of 14, and recorded his first album at a mere 15. After studying at Berklee College of Music, Smith joined Gary Burton's group and toured worldwide. He signed to Blue Note Records in 1989 and then formed his own record company, Spartacus, on which he has now released 24 CDs as a leader. His many compositions include four saxophone concertos, the symphonic work Edinburgh for Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, The Morning of the Imminent for Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth, the Glasgow Jazz Festival commission Beasts of Scotland, and a series of large scale works, including Planet Wave, Beauty and the Beast, Torah and the world's first meeting between jazz and Japanese taiko drumming, The World of the Gods, for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, which he had directed since 1995. In June 2010, Smith was awarded a professorship by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where he is artisic director of jazz. 

The KARMA project is somewhat of a departure for Smith. As John Fordham wrote in the UK Guardian:

Smith can play the daylights out of full-on post-bop or explore north-Euro ambiance, but this is a hard-hitting fusion album—one that sounds pretty familiar at first, with its hammering backbeats (from the ferocious Alyn Cosker), slick unison choruses and Headhunters keyboard and bass guitar effects. But Smith is much too smart for the obvious, and this set for what he calls his "grunge band" turns out to be a rare splicing of rich-toned, pipe-like themes, fiercely guttural up-tempo tenor improv, Arabic and Irish music, tight grooving that suggests Weather Report or Chris Potter's Underground band, and some haunting atmospherics from his shakuhachi bamboo flute. Smith's compositions are way ahead of the usual slam-bang fusion forays, and the sombrely pensive Star (based on an Irish folk song) is a great sax-ballad performance.

Here is a promotional video from Smith's site about Karma:

And here is the band playing Karma live at the Capstone Theatre, Liverpool, to give you a taste of the live set in a setting similar to what you'll see here:

Check out my other picks for 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band

June 29th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 and 10:00 pm

Every year one or more of the old lions of jazz comes to XRIJF and for those of us who have listened to these giants of the bebop era and before for years, hearing them live is usually on the bucket list, as it will be this year on mine. However, from what I hear and read Roy Haynes is not going quietly into his elder years (how could any drummer do that...) and remains very active and a powerful drummer.

Haynes is one of the most recorded drummers in jazz with a career spanning across over 60 years. He has played in a wide range of styles ranging from swing and bebop to jazz fusion and avant-garde. XRIJF imageHe has an expressive, personal style that is voiced in the "Snap Crackle" nickname given him in the 50s. Roy Haynes has worked with jazz goliaths like Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughn, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny and countless others. In recent years, Haynes has also played with popular rock acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers Band, and Phish. Haynes is an NEA Jazz Master and a sharp dresser, being named one of Esquire’s Best Dressed Men in America at one point.  The Fountain of Youth Band is a group of young 20-something musicians, usually including Jaleel Shaw on saxophone, David Wong on bass, and Martin Bejerano on keys. 

To get a taste, listen to Haynes on NPR's JazzSet, hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater here, and read a recent article about Haynes and the Fountain of Youth Band by Daniel Lehner on AllAboutJazz.com. I've also found several videos to check out, including one with the Fountain of Youth Band at Dizzy's in NYC:

...And another of the group in Barcelona in 2010:

Check out my other picks for 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column.

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra

June 22nd, Nordic Jazz Now in the Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 and 9:30 pm

Anyone who follows my blog and my wanderings around the music scene here in Rochester and elsewhere (such as my former home, Chicago), or looks at my collection of CDs and LPs knows that I have a wide and somewhat eclectic set of ears when it comes to music, including jazz. One of the things I love about the XRIJF is that it is nine days offering many opportunities to explore jazz and other music from the rest of the world and discoveries music and musicians that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra's mix of jazz and world music influences offers just that. Like some other picks that I've made and will make, this will not be your "cup o' tea", but if you're willing to try something different, check them out.

Press imagesGoran Kajfeš is one of Sweden's top jazz trumpeters and a sought after session player, touring musician and producer. Kajfeš has performed with Robyn, José Gonzales, Mando Diao, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lester Bowie and The Soundrack of our Lives to name a few. Of Croation heritage, Kajfeš grew up in Sweden in a family full of musicians and artists. He started off his solo career in 2001 and has since been acclaimed as a talented musician on the Scandinavian scene. A trumpeter, Kajfeš now leads the Subtropic Arkestra, which usually consists of seven musicians including Per "Rusktrask" Johansson on baritone sax and flute, Jonas Kullhammar (oh, yeah, Kulhammar can't stay away from the XRIJF it seems and we love him here) on tenor sax and flute, Jesper Nordenström on organ, Andreas Söderström on guitar, Johan Berthling on bass, and Johan Holmegard on drums. In 2011, Kajfeš was awarded the Nordic Music Prize for his most recent album X/Y, where the jury said the following:

A very distinctive voice unexpectedly united the jury, everybody instantly recognized the love that has gone into the playing and, also, the packaging. It's an ambitious and warm fusion of sonic elements, from jazz with both African and Eastern influences to electronica....This double album really does something that is quite rare: it communicates the pure joy of music.

For a taste of the Goran Kajfeš and the Subtropic Arkestra, here they are live doing Sand Boogie off the X/Y CD, at the Nefertiti in Gothenburg, Sweden from last year:

And here they are doing Dinner with Inner in another from last year, along with some impromptu interpretive dance by a young audience member:

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Gerald Clayton Trio

June 23rd, Max at Eastman Place, 6:15 & 10:00 pm

image of Gerald ClaytonIt is possible that I won't go hear Gerald Clayton when he plays with his Trio at Max on the 23rd, but only because I've seen him several times this year, both at concerts in the great Exodus to Jazz. In the intimate setting of Max, this Trio will be a real treat.

Born in the Netherlands in 1984, Clayton grew up mostly in Los Angeles in a family of musicians including his father, bassist/composer John Clayton, and uncle, saxophonist Jeff Clayton. As professional jazz musician, he has performed with some of the most established names in Jazz such as Lewis Nash, Al Foster, Terrell Stafford and Clark Terry, including duo piano concerts with artists as diverse as Hank Jones, Benny Green, Kenny Barron, Mulgrew Miller and Tamir Hendelman, with whom he "dueled" on piano here in January of this year for Exodus to Jazz in a benefit for the Museum of Kids Art.  He has also played with a number of the next generation of jazz innovators such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Dayna Stephens, and Kendrick Scott. From 2006-2008, Clayton toured extensively with Roy Hargrove in his quintet, big band, and funk groups and is currently a member of the Clayton Brothers Quintet. Clayton received a Grammy nomination this year for his CD Bond: The Paris Sessions (affiliate link) in the top category of Best Instrumental Jazz Album. Clayton has also been nominated this year for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for his composition Battle Circle from the New Song and Dance album with the Clayton Brothers, which itself had been nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. 

Clayton's playing and his trio has a sound that, while steeped well in the tradition, also has a more modern edge, alternatively introspective and powerful. To give you a taste, here's a video of the Trio playing at the Harker Concert Series (in fact, it's over 30 minutes of the set):

Here is the Trio playing Dizzy Gillespie's Con Alma in May:

And playing last month at Smalls in the Village in February 2009:

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio

June 25th, Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 & 9:30 pm

I've "known" Sunna Gunnlaugs for several years now, so this pick is personal. OK, we've only been "friends" on Twitter, but we have exchanged some messages and I'd like to think that I gave her the idea of applying to play at Rochester's festival. I've been listening to her music since the time we connected. Sunna and her trio a great fit for the Nordic Jazz Now series that has become such a popular part of the festival, being from Iceland and all, and her sound is made for the wonderful sonic climate of the Church of the  Reformation. 

Sunna Gunlaugs TrioSunna Gunnlaugs began recording a few years after graduating from William Paterson College in NYC in 1996, and now has released eight CDs as a leader, which have consistently met with critical praise. All About Jazz wrote that "Gunnlaugs proves that jazz can have a wider appeal without losing integrity." She is influenced as much by American pianists as Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett as by Scandinavians like Bobo Stenson and Jon Balke. The Washington Post described her music as possessing "such timeless virtues as lyricism and grace ... elegantly bridges soul-searching passages with uncluttered swing." Sunna Gunnlaugs has reaffirmed the praise she's received on previous outings on her latest CD, Long Pair Bond, which features fellow Icelander bassist Thorgrimur Jónsson and long-time partner Scott McLemore on drums. Long Pair Bond is Sunna Gunnlaugs first trio album since her debut in 1997. Gunnlaugs is an independent jazz artist who has been funding her own CDs through KickStarter. As Stephan Moore of the blog Jazz Wrap put it in reviewing Long Pair Bond as one of the best CDs of 2011: "As an independent artist, Gunnalaugs has the liberty of writing, produced and recording when and what she pleases. I think this allows the really artist's personality to shine through. . . . On the musical side, after continually listens over the last month, I really have to repeat, Long Pair Bond is phenomenal." Gunnlaugs' stop in Rochester is part of a bi-coastal tour of the US in June to promote the new CD.

As an independent artist, Sunna Gunnlaugs has learned a lot about promotion using the interwebs. In addition to her website, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, even MySpace. I also found that Jason Crane interviewed Gunnlaugs in 2010 on his podcast The Jazz Session after she released her CD The Dream. But wait . . . there is more, including a live concert with the trio that you can stream (and download as high quality files)....

Although a few years old, here's Sunna Gunnlaugs solo doing A Garden Someday at the Nordic House in Reykjavik, a part of the 2009 Reykjavik Jazz Festival:

Here is a quartet doing Tunnelvision at the Songwire studios in Richmond last year:

I bet you're saying ... "at least it's not another trumpeter this time!" These Picks posts are not in any particular order and I'm going to be mixing them up from here.  If you'd like to check out my other picks for XRIJF, you can do so by clicking on the link XRIJF Picks under Categories.

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Nicholas Payton XXX

June 25th, Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza @ 6:30 & 9:00 pm

Yes, I am beginning to see a pattern here, too ... this being the third trumpeter (although Payton is really much more than that, on his most recent album Bitches, he plays all the instruments... and sings). There seems to be a lot horn men playing this year who I want to catch and they are each very individual players.  After tonight, I swear I'll move on to something that doesn't include a trumpet.image from www.nicholaspayton.com

Nicholas Payton has been playing and touring since he was twelve, making his major label debut on Verve with From This Moment On in 1994. He has toured with Clark Terry, Marcus Roberts, Ray Brown, Elvin Jones, and Roy Haynes and scores more. He does not like to be pinned down into a particular musical genre and has performed and recorded with R&B and hip-hop musicians. Payton is credited on well over 120 recordings as a composer, arranger, special guest or sideman. He is a multi-instrumentalist, although trumpet is his main axe, he may also play some Fender Rhodes here.

In addition to being one of the best with a horn out there, Payton says in reference to both his music and his life outside of it that he feels he has finally "arrived":

most solidly in a place where I'm coming to terms with who I am. I've weeded out those things that don't feel right for me. I'm not out to try to impress and I'm not worried that what I play is going to upset some people. I want to write and play music that speaks for me and means something to me and that I feel passionate about.

His music, including his most recent, is a reflection of that journey, but is always rooted in the tradition and New Orleans ground from which he grew.  Payton is a man with opinions and his expressions of those opinions in his blog and on Twitter have created a lot of controversy in bringing issues relating race and jazz music and audiences into a stark light. If you want to hear more about Payton's thoughts about his music, jazz and (his preferred term) Black American Music, I suggest you check out his conversation with Jason Crane on The Jazz Session about his music and a very interesting conversation with Willard Jenkins at 2012 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival to really hear what he's saying (rather than focusing on those who are reacting to him). He's speaking his truth and I for one respect him for it.

Oh, according to his website, Payton will also be appearing with Ninety Miles on the 24th (don't know if that means Christian Scott will not also be appearing). 

Here's a video of the Nicholas Payton SeXXXtet @ NYC's Winter Jazzfest:

Here's another festival date of the SeXXXtet at Rio das Ostras in 2011:

And here with Bag's Groove on a TV appearance overseas:

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Terence Blanchard Quintet

June 25th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

Terance Blanchard, a four-time Grammy award winning trumpet player, began playing piano at the age of five and then the trumpet at age eight upon hearing Alvin Alcorn play.  With more than twenty-nine albums bearing his name, Blanchard is a five-time Grammy winner. I'm looking forward to his June 25th appearance in Kilbourn with his Quintet.

Playing alongside childhood friend Wynton Marsalis in summer music camps, it was only in high school, when young Terance Blanchard began studying at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts under Roger Dickerson and Ellis Marsalis, Jr. that his talent began to shine. From 1980 to 1982, Blanchard studied while touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra until, in 1982, Wynton Marsalis recommended him take his place in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengersm. With Blakey and as co-leader of a quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison and pianist Mulgrew Miller, Blanchard rose as a key figure in the 1980s "Jazz Resurgence" the Harrison/Blanchard group recorded five albums from 1984-1988 until /Blanchard left to pursue a solo career in 1990.

Terence Blanchard
Photo Credit: Jenny Bagert

In the 1990s, he recorded his self-titled debut for Columbia Records, which reached third on the Billboard Jazz Charts and also performed on soundtracks for Spike Lee movies, including Do the Right Thing and Mo' Better Blues, after which Lee asked Blanchard to compose the scores for his films. He has written the score for every Spike Lee film since. In 2006, he composed the score for Spike Lee's 4-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary for HBO entitled When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. The catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina was a cauldron from which spring further creative expression Blanchard’s song cycle, A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), a 13-track "emotional tour de force of anger, rage, compassion, melancholy and beauty." The Blue Note CD from that project features Blanchard’s quintet—pianist Aaron Parks, saxophonist Brice Winston, bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Kendrick Scott—as well as a 40-member string orchestra. 

Blanchard's latest disc, Choices, the new CD was released on Concord Jazz. Recorded in Blanchard's hometown of New Orleans at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Choices addresses the choices we make in life, both as a society and on a personal level. Accompanying Blanchard on the album are longstanding band members Fabian Almazan on piano, Derrick Hodge on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums, along with newcomer Walter Smith III on saxophone, all of whom wrote significant track contributions to the CD as well. Guest artists include writer, speaker, educator and activist Dr. Cornel West, critically-acclaimed guitarist and Blanchard protg Lionel Loueke, and singer, musician and composer Bilal. West performs spoken word pieces on the album with Bilal providing vocals on several of the tracks.

Here's a video from February of this year of music from Choices played by the Quintet in the Greene Space in NOLA:

Here's a video with excerpts from a 2007 PBS interview with Blanchard about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and watch his Quintet in performance at Blues Alley in Washington, DC playing music from the Grammy award-winning CD, A Tale of God's Will:

Terance Blanchard is on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Tom Harrell

June 23rd, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

 

Tom Harrell
Photo Credit: Angela Harrell

I'm looking forward to trumpter Tom Harrell bringing his Ravel/Debussy project to Kilbourn Hall for the 2012 XRIJF. I loved Harrell's last appearance here at the jazz festival in 2006 and have added a few of his discs to my collection since. Harrell is recognized as one of the most creative and uncompromising jazz instrumentalists and composers around with a discography that spans over 260 recordings and more than four decades. He is a frequent winner in DownBeat and JazzTimes magazines' Critics and Readers Polls, has been nominated for a Grammy Award, and also was nominated for Trumpeter of the Year for the 2011 Jazz Journalists Association Awards. 

Tom Harrell's new project, expanding his quintet into a chamber ensemble with strings celebrates a special affinity that Harrell believes jazz has to the impressionist works of Debussy and Ravel. His interpretations of these two composers' pieces—performed by an nonet consisting of violin, cello, flute, tenor sax, his trumpet/flugelhorn, piano/rhodes, bass and drums—while finding their foundation in classical music are fully expressed through jazz.

Here's Brian Pace's Pace Report with an interview with Harrell on the Debussy/Ravel project:

And the ensemble playing a festival in November 2011:

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Ninety Miles

June 24th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

Ninety MilesAlthough I came to it like a lot of us through Ry Cooder's film and album The Buena Vista Social Club, the Afro-Cuban jazz coming from ninety miles off the coast of Florida has since been a growing part of my collection. This music really gets inside of me. Ninety Miles is a project of three young and critically-acclaimed U.S. jazz musicians—vibist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sánchez and trumpeter Christian Scott—who have collaborated in the Nintey Miles project to create a collection of music that evoke the spirit of Cuba while also retaining their own unique approach to jazz. Recorded in Havana with talented Cuban pianists Rember Duharte and Harold López-Nussa, each leading their own quartets, the 9-song set was an experiment examining the chemistry that can happen musicians from different cultures come together and talk in the only language they share, with a result that is a collaboration that disregards the political borders that for too long has kept us apart from this great music being played in the place it was born, and by or with those who have nurtured it. 

Check Ninety Miles out below, performing at the Heineken Jazz Festival in Puerto Rico last year:

 

Like the BVSC, there is a documentary. Here is the trailer for it:

This is one of my must sees, so you'll be seeing me in line at Kilbourn on the 24th. Early or late show to be determined....

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

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Christian McBride & Inside Straight

June 22nd, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

Not a big surprise after my experience with bassist Christian McBride on April 14th when he joined Ullyses S. Owens here for the Exodus to Jazz series, including a nice dinner at Henry B's with McBride and the members of the band and some cigars after the gig at Havana Moes. But anyone who was at the concert at Hochstein that night and heard the band close up the concert with Cherokee, with it's alternating steaming and screaming lines, sat in awe of his playing.

Live Shots: Ulysses S Owens at Exodus To Jaxzz

Christian McBride, who won Grammy this year for his Big Band recording The Good Feeling, is one of the most recorded jazz musicians reaching nearly 300 recordings as a sideman before the age of 40. McBride has performed and recorded with a huge number of jazz legends and ensembles, including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Joshua Redman, and Ray Brown's "Superbass" with John Clayton, as well as with hip-hop, pop, soul, and classical musicians like The Roots, opera singer Kathleen Battle, Carly Simon, Sting, Bruce Hornsby, and James Brown.

McBride will likely bring some of the guys from that ETJ gig back with him for his gig here as the usual cast of characters in Inside Straight includes pianist Christian Sands (who was a monster on the ETJ stage) and the incomparable Mr. Owens.

You don't believe me about Cherokee?  Here it is with his trio in a 2009 trio recording from the Bratislava Jazz Festival, including Peter Martin and USO:

I also thought you might like this full concert recorded by National Public Radio with Christian McBride and Inside Straight at the Village Vanguard.

Christian McBride is on Twitter at @mcbridesworld and can be found on Facebook as well.

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