I Blinked and It Was Over . . . Day 9 of the RIJF
What Just Happened Here? Some Thoughts On RIJF 2007

Looking back . . . Some missing highlights from the RIJF

My life during the Rochester International Jazz Festival was frenzied at best. Nine days of music from around 4:00 until the wee hours of the next morning.  I missed writing about several nights, including some that have left a lasting impression on me, so this post is to catch those "missing posts":

  • Trio Beyond: I was looking forward to this concert as I had their most recent CD Saudades (AllAboutJazz.com review here) and had already begun wearing a groove in the it. With masters at the helm, including John Scofield on guitar, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Larry Goldings on organ, Saudades is a two-CD record of a blistering live set in tribute to Tony Williams' jazz/fusion group Lifetime. I came into Eastman Theater and saw the double Leslie speakers of Larry Goldings' Hammond B3 and knew that all was right with the world (I have a thing for the B3). John Scofield twiddled with his guitar and brought out incredible sounds, DeJohnette showed us how it is done on the drums and Goldings made that B3 sing and laid down the bass.  It was unfortunate that so many of those who came for Jean Luc Ponty didn't stay to hear the whole set.  I realize they were very different sounds and some were wondering why they were programmed together (although I expect it was for the very reason of the juxtaposition of their very different approaches and hope that some of the crowd would stay and be exposed to some new sounds).
  • Bonerama: I couldn't help thinking that these 6 guys playing trombones (four of them), sousaphone, guitar and drums from NOLA seemed to me to be a group of band nerds (weren't the nerdiest band nerds in your high school mostly trombone players) who found a way to be cool. Although, this night (I saw the 6pm show on Tuesday) I wouldn't say they were "cool", but rather a hot mess of sound. Think of the firepower of that kind of brass in the smallish confines of the Montage Grill (they were making the tent flaps move in the Big Tent the next day, for chrissakes!).  We were up on our feet stomping and clapping within minutes. An infectious groove and really masterful playing kept them there, although it took a while for our ears to quit ringing.
  • Matt Wilson Arts & Crafts: Matt Wilson was one of my surprise finds of the RIJF. I'm very glad I gave it a chance and went to hear their 10pm set.  Wilson is a very inventive drummer, using all parts including flipping the drum over and getting a scratchin thing going like he was MC Matt. His band—Danny Gary Versace on piano, Dennis Erwin on bass, and Matthew Rodriguez on trumpet—were tight. Wilson's range and inventive choices were shown by his set, which began with a tune by Rashaan Roland Kirk and ended with  singalong of John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance with Wilson walking out of the house with a snare drum strapped to his neck. A highlight was the tune Free Range Chicken, which Wilson proclaimed was a "combination of jazz and good farming practices."
  • Midaircondo: Another find I didn't expect.  While I was afraid at first no one would get a chance to hear them as they fiddled with their huge assortment of electronics in the heat of the Reformation Lutheran Church.  John Nugent was standing at the side and almost had that look of "when do I tell them that it ain't going to happen" when, miraculously, the sound came to life and the performance began.  The two women of Midaircondo (at least this night) are sound sculptresses, layering electronic and sample sounds with their voices and a bass flute and saxophone. The computer geek in me wanted to know more on how they were doing it, but the music was often beautiful and compelling.

I've left so many out of this, but I really felt compelled to get something in this blog about these acts, all of which were groups that I might have missed (OK, I was going to Trio Beyond regardless) and all of which I will now want to hear more from.  I'm adding Wilson's new CD Scenic Route and Midaircondo's Shopping for Images (when the Bop Shop gets an order in) to my list of must haves. I already have Saudades and Bonerama's Bringing It Home.

Now let the wrap up posts begin! I have a lot to say about the last nine days of jazz and will start to explore my thoughts on what this year's RIJF meant for me, for my fellow travelers, and perhaps make some suggestions for next year, and hopefully a podcast of my first interview with Geri Allen (there is some editing and vetting to do on that, but I think you'll love what she had to say).  Seth—a machine of jazz this past nine days taking in a whopping 36 different acts—has already begun to turn a reflective eye on the festival.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


Greg, you know I dig you and what you do ( thanks for all of your efforts) but the pianist is GARY Versace, not Danny.

I couldn't make that set, so thanks for the review!


Tom Marcello

Oops! Thanks, Tom. I knew I should have looked that up (hadn't purchased the Scenic Route CD yet). A combination of my notes written in the dark and my eyes at 11 pm (when I wrote the post) after 9 days of jazz (although I see your comment was done after midnight). The change is made.

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