After reacquainting myself with my jazz widow Dianna and our cats, I am finally ready to sit down and write something. These last nine days of the 2007 Rochester International Jazz Festival have been a blur of wonderful music, street food, and having a great time seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I intend to explore the festival and some of the music in more detail in later posts for the rest of the month, including a wrap up episode (for this year) of the "Da Jazz" podcast with Seth and Ken (we will be recording it at one of the venues showing live jazz). I have a whole list of posts I'd like to do, along with continuing my usual posting on the local jazz scene and jazz music in general. You should also check out some of the other blogging (and podcasting) on the last day of the 6th Annual Rochester International Jazz Festival, including: Ken, Seth, Jason, D&C bloggers Anna Reguero and Jann Nyffeler, the cold storage over at The Refrigerator, and City Newspaper's Ron Netsky. You should also to head over to the D&C's jazz coverage to check out Jeff Spevak and the last reviews by Jack Garner and Will Yurman's photo essays (there's a lot of material and I'm never sure about the staying power of D&C links, so I'm just directing you to the festival's special section on their website). But first, a few notes on last night . . . .
The final night of the 2007 RIJF was just right. While Ken spent some time with his family and some ice cream, Seth and I (with my wife Dianna) caught Bill Frisell Trio in Kilbourn Hall. The set was fantastic, with mixmaster Frisell at the controls creating intricate layers of sound with his guitar and the many effects boxes at his feet and hands, backed by two great musicians—Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums. I couldn't help but thinking that we has toying with the capacity crowd in the hall along with the knobs on his guitar as he and the band kept moving from one composition to another, giving the audience little time to react (or clap). Kept people on their toes, but in the end the long standing ovations allowed them to get it off their check. Like Don Byron, Frisell had a story about the Eastman School of Music, in which Kilbourn Hall is located. He noted that while in high school he had applied to Eastman for clarinet. While they accepted him, it was only into the music education program, not performance. Frisell said "f*ck that" and started playing guitar. So, if you're keeping score, that's two clarinetists, both rejected by Eastman, who both who went on to become world-class jazz musicians (one considered the foremost jazz clarinetist). Go figure....
From Frisell, we all went over to the Reformation Lutheran Church to hear the Jens Winther European Quartet, which had a smorgasbord of European talent appearing with Dane Jens Winther on trumpet. Although it was hotter than blazes in the sanctuary, Winther's group was hotter.
After some fine culinary repast on Jazz Street (ok, it was a cheeseburger), we headed over to Montage. We almost blew it as the club was almost full by the time we arrived. We found a place on the wall near the middle. After MC Jason Crane whipped us into a lather, the Avishai Cohen Trio hit the stage. After a smokin opening number, Cohen announced that as he and his bandmates, Shai Maestro on piano and Mark Guiliana on drums, had been on a world tour and the RIJF date was the last gig on the tour. The were "tired but happy" and he promised us a great show. It was more than great. As Jason said as he exited the Montage—"holy crap." We had just experienced performance with so much energy, musicianship, and sheer excitement that we just felt spent. When we went in, we were discussing going over to catch the last after hours at the State Street Bar and Grill. When we left we knew that anything we tried to do after that performance would seem lame in comparison. Our 2007 RIJF was over. Tie a tag on that toe.