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Ring, Ring . . . Moblogging from the RIJF

I'm Skipping Ahead . . . Day 7 of the RIJF

Although I've posted on a number of other voices and places for you to check out, I haven't written anything about what I've heard since Day 4.  I was hoping to rely on the marathon podcast that I made with Seth and Ken last night to cover that, but due to the technical difficulties set out in the prior post, my audio version is probably history.

I'm going to cut bait and go ahead and write a quick note about Day 7 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival.  I caught James Moody in Kilbourn to start out the day.  Like Benny Golson, it wasn't much of a musical highlight, although local "Friends" Bill Dobbins, Phil Flanigan and Mike Melito did a great job of backing him when he chose to play, he didn't choose to play much.  He told and sang some jokes and caught almost everyone in the crowd by announcing the former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier was in the audience and then, once everyone looked around toward where he was pointing, saying "sorry ma'am."  Like Benny Golson earlier this week, Moody's been doing this for a LONG time (he was playing with Dizzy and Monk 61 years ago, for chrissakes!).  Although I don't go in for worship, there's something about these "old heads" of jazz and listening to them talk or play provides some people with a connection to a bygone era of jazz music that they lament passing. 

While I was taking in Congo Square, Ken and Seth saved me a chair in the Jason Moran and the Bandwagon in Montage.  I caught most of the set and the encore and it was another unique voice in music that I'm going to want to hear more.  Moran is a fantastic pianist and played a smokin set with Tarus Mateen (playing yet another oddly shaped bass; I've seen quite a few this RIJF, although I suspect a number of the other chopped down versions are really TSA specials--means of getting through airport security easier) and the killer drumming of Nasheet Waits.

The highlight of the night and of the festival, I think, was the performance of the new epic jazz score Congo Square by Wynton Marsalis, leading the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Odadda! group of Yacub Addy. We were privileged to be the first audience on a tour featuring Congo Square, although it premiered in New Orleans (of course).  I think everyone there was floored by the piece and especially the performance with the interweaving of the African rhythms and big band swing, and the call and response, a tradition in African culture that has many echos African-American culture. Everyone knew they had seen and heard something wonderful (see Jason here and here; Netsky here' Reguero here; and it will be the subject of Jack Garner's last review before retirement, as he notes here).  Sitting near the stage, I didn't care if others had found it lacking.  I know how my wife, who is African-American, experienced the performance of Congo Square—deeply, spiritually, and with her entire being.  I was filled with joy seeing her with tears in her eyes as the emotions overtook her and she couldn't help herself from shouting out.  That is what great music is all about.  While I regret not joining in what I hear was a great night of after-hours sets involving Wynton and other members of the LCJO at State Street Bar & Grill, and elsewhere, Dianna's smile at the end of that experience was plenty consolation.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


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