Live jazz in and around Rochester ... the Pandemic Edition

FInd Live Jazz HereThere is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a kick in the head for the jazz scene in Rochester.  I haven't published a regular Wednesday listings post since March 11, 2020.  

I'll try to add new gigs as I hear about them. I'm adding both live events and livestream events.  Please let me know if you hear about something that I haven't added below, please drop me a line (using the Contact Us link above or otherwise), give me the details, and I'll add it to this post. If you're receiving JazzRochester by email, you won't see  all of the updates in a new email as usual, so check back here if you want to know what's out there. Some will not be live jazz, but streaming by local jazz musicians.

If you can and feel safe, get out and support live jazz (and jazz musicians) and other music. Venues are doing their best to keep you, the artists and their staff safe.

June 2021

  • 23rd: Paradigm Shift @ Canandaigua Country Club, 6:00 pm
  • 23rd: Cool Club with the Lipker Sisters @ Yates Court House Park (Penn Yann), 6:30 p
  • 24th: Tomas Fujiwara, Mary Halvorson and Taylor Ho Bynum) @ In-Person at the Bop Shop, 8:00 pm (more information and reserve a seat here)
  • 24th: Bill Tiberio & Jeff Perry @ The Brown Hound (at the MAG), 6:00 pm (Facebook Event)
  • 24th: The White Hots @ 75 Stutson Street (Charlotte), 8:00 pm (more information and reservations here)
  • 25th: Cool Club with the Lipker Sisters @ Abilene Bar & Lounge, 7:00 pm
  • 25th: Ann Mitchell @ Prosecco Italian Restaurant & Jazz Bar (Farmington), 5:30 pm
  • 25th: Jim Nugent and Dan Montgomery @ Lemoncello Italian Bar & Restaurant, 6:00 pm
  • 26th: Jim Nugent Trio @ Hedges Nine Mile Point Restaurant, 6:30 pm
  • 26th: Judah Sealy @ 75 Stutson Street (Charlotte), 7:30 pm (more information and reservations here)
  • 26th: Mel Henderson and Greg Wachala @ Prosecco Italian Restaurant & Jazz Bar (Farmington), 5:30 pm
  • 26th: Cool Club with the Lipker Sisters @ Kainos, 284 Exchange St., Downtown, 6:00 pm
  • 28th: Jazz on Mondays @ UUU Art Collective, 153 State St Downtown, 8:00 pm
  • 29th: Mike Kaupa, Gary Versace, Jeff Campbell & Chase Ellison @ Kilbourn Hall, ESM, 7:30 pm

July 2021

  • 1st: Mid-Century Modern Jazz Quartet @ 75 Stutson Street (Charlotte), 8:00 pm (more information and reservations here)
  • 2nd: Jim Nugent @ Prosecco Italian Restaurant & Jazz Bar, 5:30 pm
  • 7th: Bill Tiberio Band @ Wine Down Wednesday at The Penthouse at One East Avenue (Doors open at 5:00 pm, music 6:00-9:00 pm.  Get more info and reserve your table here)
  • 14th: Higher Ground @ Wine Down Wednesday at The Penthouse at One East Avenue (Doors open at 5:00 pm, music 6:00-9:00 pm.  Get more info and reserve your table here)
  • 15th: Mike McNeill Quartet @ Bop Shop Records, 8:00 pm
  • 17th: Jim Nugent Trio @ Hedges Nine Mile Point Restaurant, 6:30 pm
  • 27th: Melody Masters Big Band @ 2021 Jazz 90.1 Lawn Series on the Lawn at Olympia High School (Greece), 6:30 pm
  • 31st: Saxy Smooth Jazz & Laughs with Jimmie Highsmith Jr., Will Holton and Judah Sealy and comedy by Eddie Flipp English @ 75 Stutson Street (Charlotte), Two shows, 6:00 pm & 9:00 pm (for tickets call or text 585-666-0019)

Ongoing Live Streams and Recordings

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Meet ROC Jazz Musicians series: Mike Melito

As part of the small efforts I can contribute to rebuilding a community around live jazz in Rochester as the pandemic (hopefully) recedes and we all begin to get back out in the world, I’ve started publishing a series of posts introducing or re-introducing the musicians and bands who perform live jazz and improvisational music in and around Rochester area. This is the second post in this series. You can find other posts in this series in the Local Artists category.

Mike MelitoDrummer Mike Melito, a Rochester native, was born into drums and jazz music. He comes from a very musical family. His late father Chris, turned him and his two brothers on to jazz by playing records of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie to name a few. Mike started playing at age 4 with the help of his older brother Tom, who is also a drummer and seasoned NYC veteran. Tom guided him for many years through his childhood.

Mike started private lessons with former RPO percussionist John McNeill in 5th grade and continued through 11th grade. During that time he started his professional career at age 16 playing with vibraphonist Joe Locke at Foggy’s Notion, a club that was around in the 80’s. The late, great saxophonist Joe Romano was in the house that night and heard Mike and hired him immediately for a two month weekend stint at Lloyds on Alexander Street, a club that lasted into the early 90’s. Work snowballed for Mike after that and he began working with many other musicians around Rochester, and would travel to Syracuse and Utica to play with upstate jazz legends JR Monterose and Sal Amico. Mike would go on to lead his own groups, along with freelancing all over the country, which he still does today. Over the years, Mike has worked with legends such as James Moody, Benny Golson, Barry Harris and Junior Mance. He has also worked with Pat Labarbera, Ken Peplowski, Vincent Herring, Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein, Gary Smulyan, Harry Allen, Jerry Weldon, Steve Davis, David Hazeltine and many others.

Melito You're It Cover CellarLiveMike has six CD’s under his own name and is on over twenty more as a sideman. His latest release is a co-led project with pianist Dino Losito called You’re It on the Cellar jazz label. It was recorded just before the pandemic hit and continues to get a lot of favorable reviews and airplay all over the world.

Mike feels the jazz scene in Rochester has lost some venues during his career and the clubs aren’t what they used to be. He has, however, has been the main house drummer for the Rochester International Jazz Festival since it’s inception and feels the jazz festival has led and keeps leading to more opportunities for jazz gigs in and around Rochester. The pandemic hit the world music scene hard, but Mike has always had a large private teaching practice here in Rochester and he moved to teaching remotely during the pandemic to sustain him. He is hopeful as things open up and people start coming back out that this will help the jazz music scene here get stronger as people will be starved for live music. During the pandemic, clubs around the world would offer streaming with groups playing in clubs with no people, sometimes for free or for donations. Clubs such as Smalls and the Village Vanguard in NYC have done this, which has helped keep some musicians working as well as offering live music on the internet to watch and listen.

Want to catch Mike playing live? He will be leading a band at the Penthouse at One East Avenue’s Wine Down Wednesday, with guitarists Bob Sneider and Mike Kelly, along with bassist Dan Vitale on June 16th from 6:00 pm till 9:00 pm. Click here for more information or to purchase a ticket. His Quartet is also playing tomorrow at the North Stage at Fairport Canal Days at 11:30 am.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz at Fairport Canal Days returns, but you have to act fast.... it's this weekend

image from www.fairportcanaldays.comFairport's Canal Days, which always has quite a lot of jazz in its music lineup is back this weekend, June 5th & 6th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. They are celebrating their 44th year of this two day, early summer arts and music festival. Here's the (mostly) jazz during FCD:


Junction Stage

North Stage

10:00 - 11:00

Double Vision Jazz Quintet


11:30 - 12:30


Bach To Rock

1:00 - 2:00

Mike Kaupa Quartet

ECMS Jazz Combo

2:30 - 3:30

FHS Jazz Band

John Lewis

4:00 - 5:00

Bill Tiberio Band

Nate Coffey w/Mary Monroe



Junction Stage

North Stage

10:00 - 11:00

Grace Frarey Trio

Alex Goettel

11:30 - 12:30

Bossa Nova Bradley Bros

Mike Melito Quartet

1:00 - 2:00

Mark Kellogg Quartet

Double Vision Jazz Quintet

2:30 - 3:30

Daniel King Band

Alan Murphy Trio

4:00 - 5:00

Judah Sealy

Andy Calabrese Trio

While the pandemic is fading, the virus is still out there and only about half of us are vaccinated, so FCD has some COVID modifications.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Not surprised, but still disappointed ... RIJF must wait another year

image from www.jazzrochester.comCGI Rochester International Jazz Festival producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent announced today that, despite intensive work and holding onto a hope that a socially-distanced festival could take place this year at the more spacious location at RIT, they have decided that a festival this year is not viable from a business or health and safety perspective, due to necessary capacity and other restrictions under New York health guidelines. The RIJF will be postponed until June 17-25, 2022. “We will be back next year and are committed to making every effort to move forward in downtown Rochester and also explore expanding the Festival with programming at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT),” said Iacona and Nugent. As Nugent notes:

My heart is heavy. All of our colleagues, with whom we block book much of the amazing talent we present, postponed their festivals months ago. We did not want to throw in the towel but we are now left with no viable alternatives. As we tried to plan, the plethora of logistical barriers including capacity limits, border closures, artists reluctant to travel, limited availability of talent to book, visas for international artists now invalid, and more. We fully realize that the loss of live music has created a huge void in our lives and it has been career-ending for many musicians, but we will bring RIJF back next year with the high level of superior artistry our patrons have come to expect, and in an environment that will be inspiring and uplifting.

I can't say I'm surprised, but of course I'm disappointed. Now that I'm starting to get out to hear live music again, albeit in a greatly subdued way, I am more aware of what I was missing and was really looking forward to RIJF, even out in Henrietta.  Unfortunately, while NY is opening up, there is still way too much up in the air with the pace of vaccination slowing, the variants multiplying across the world, and the resulting likelihood that some restrictions will be with us for some time. Hopefully, by June 2022 we'll be at a place where the festival can again fill the streets of Rochester with music and crowds.

For more information, see full Press Release on the CGI Rochester International website.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Meet ROC Jazz Musicians series: Mel Henderson

The live music scene all over the world changed dramatically on March 16, 2020, when all the music venues across New York suddenly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rochester’s bout with the pandemic has been brutal, but it has been especially hard on the area’s jazz musicians and venues. As gigs dried up, Rochester’s jazz musicians turned to new ways of getting their music out, focused on their teaching (although often through new media), or the day jobs they always had, and keeping themselves and their families safe. Some venues that featured jazz closed, never to return. Some new have emerged and others continued to feature live jazz as they reopened. The “new normal” will not be like the old, but perhaps we could make it better? As part of the small efforts I can contribute to rebuilding a community around live jazz in Rochester, I’m hoping to start a series of posts introducing or re-introducing the musicians and bands who perform live jazz and improvisational music in and around Rochester area. I’m starting this series with my good friend, Mel Henderson.

MelHendersonGuitarist Mel Henderson was born and raised in Rochester. Mel evolved into an internationally known jazz musician over the past three decades. He has performed and recorded with some of contemporary music’s finest musicians, including Al Jarreau, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joe Locke, Randy Brecker, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup, JD Allen, Jeremy Pelt, Ted Poor, Jack McDuff, Tommy Campbell, Wilby Fletcher, Fred Wesley and David “Fathead” Newman. Mel has toured extensively, with the band and sitting in with other artists, throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada, performing at some of the best national and international jazz festivals including the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Salzburger Jazz-Herbst, and the Markham, Newport and Paetec Jazz Festivals, as well as at renowned venues such as the Blue Note clubs in New York and Tokyo, and the Bee Hive and the Beat Hotel in Boston. Mel is on the faculty of Rochester Contemporary School of Music and is a much sought after clinician. He currently resides in Irondequoit.

Mel’s love of music started early. Both of his parents, who moved to Rochester from Wilmington, Delaware, were musicians. On scholarship, Mel’s mother attended Eastman School of Music in 1950s, one of the first African-American opera students at that school. His father played in neighborhood bands with famed jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. There was always music in the Henderson home ... particularly jazz. Mel notes his “first Instrument was the accordion!” While playing the accordion, he met his bandmate, organist Gerry Youngman (who also plays a mean trumpet). Eventually, “after listening to George Benson and Wes Montgomery, as well as James Brown, the Temptations, Ray Charles and even the Beatles (smile), I persuaded my parents to let me switch to guitar.” At his parents insistence, Mel started studying classical guitar (“I wanted to play what I heard on the radio, LOL!”) at the Hochstein School of Music when it was located on Hoeltzer Street in Rochester’s Upper Falls, then later he started studying with Dick Longale, and later and most notably studying with Doc Severinson guitarist Tom Rizzo at the short lived Barley School of Music. In the 1970s, Mel attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston, studying with Gary Burton and guitarist Mick Goodrick. For Mel, it has been “not so much schooling for jazz, as it is a calling…. All musicians more or less learn the same things ( or should)—it’s just what genre of music you apply it to.” Although I knew the answer before I asked, Mel told me he listens to a lot of different folks, from J.D. Allen and Keith Jarrett, to The Meters and El Debarge. He is a man after my own heart that way, listening widely and stretching his ears into new things.

ParadigmShiftMel is a member of the group Paradigm Shift with his buddy of over 40 years, organist Gerry Youngman and drummer Sean Jefferson. In 2004, the band recorded the Grammy-nominated album Shifting Times (Apple Music link) on the German-based label Nagel-Heyer records, which featured Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup and Joe Locke. Their latest recording was the 2007 disc Street Expressionism (Apple Music link), also on Nagel-Heyer, featuring Gordon and Printup, and Gray Mayfield. Paradigm Shift is currently completing its next project, which is being produced by SouLive co-founder and drummer Alan Evans.

Mel has been playing jazz in Rochester for a long time, and putting on many different hats (you know Mel has a lot of them!) in the local jazz scene, even owning and operating the jazz club Indigos in the mid-1980s. Mel thinks that the Rochester International Jazz Festival has caused a jazz renaissance of sorts (at least before the pandemic), not only in Rochester but also in the region, as many clubs and restaurants have been trying to include jazz and improvisational music in their entertainment line up. While Mel and the band have not done much streaming, he sees the online presence as huge and a developing area where all musicians are trying to find their way to have a presence, pandemic or not.

There has not been a lot of gigging around the Rochester area after the pandemic shut things down over a year ago, although now some gigs with the band and in small duos are starting to pop up now. Paradigm Shift’s next performance will be this Wednesday at the Penthouse at One East Avenue’s Wine Down Wednesday. As of this posting, there are still tickets so come out if you’re ready (I'm finally getting out myself...).



This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Join me and the other 2021 JJA Jazz Heroes today for a conversation

image from www.jjajazzawards.orgHeads up that I'll be joining the other 21 Jazz Journalist Association 2021 Jazz Heroes from across the country for what is promised to be a brisk, engaged and guided conversational "town hall" presented by "Jazz Video Guy" Bret Primack and the JJA, focusing on what we are doing in our communities to support jazz and the jazz community, especially during the pandemic. I'll be hoping to get some tips on what I can do to help rebuild and support a lively jazz community here in Rochester

The conversation kicks off at 3:00 pm ET today (Friday, April 16th) and you can join us live on Jazz Video Guy's YouTube channel and Facebook Live

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.