It took awhile to recover from my own experience at the 2006 version of the Rochester International Jazz Festival and then, as those of you who read this blog, my time for posting was severely limited by other commitments and I never really ran across reviews from outside of Rochester. Recently, however, I ran across the review "Rochester International Jazz Festival Comes Of Age: A Report on the 5th RIJF" published on AllAboutJazz. In the July 25th review, Robert Iannapollo (a local writer and part-time staff at the Bop Shop) writes:
With its fifth edition, the Rochester International Jazz Festival has come of age. With attendance up 20% over the previous year, the event has become a boon to local businesses and an event of civic pride, one that the city can get behind. More importantly, it has done so while still being an event of artistic merit, one that doesn’t sell its audience short.
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. . . It’s hard to believe this is all happening in an upstate New York city that has been through some genuinely difficult financial times with its major industries moving to cheaper climes. The RIJF is not cure but it’s a healthy bit of infusion this city needs.
Of course, I’m not naïve and I can’t see urban planners calling for jazz festivals as the remedy to decaying urban centers. But it seems to be helping Rochester, bringing in people from the suburbs who are spending money AND having a good time. And with Nugent pulling quality music from all ends of the jazz spectrum, there’s a strong creative pull in what is really quite a creative city with a strong, unique blend of various musical, visual and literary arts.
Iannopollo's article and a 3-part review also published on AllAboutJazz together form a great overview of RIJF 2006 and a worthwhile read. This festival is developing into one that is gaining respect and interest worldwide. Before and during the festival this blog had hits from all over the world and there were many languages spoken on Jazz Street during the 9 days. While, like Iannapollo, I don't think it is a panacea for what ails Rochester (that runs much deeper), I think that it has the potential to be a catalyst for change, especially downtown.