This post kicks off nine posts that will be published over the next month or so highlighting each night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, coming June 12th to 20th. As there is a wealth of information on the festival's own site about lineup of artists each night with links to writeups on each artist (here's one), I'm going to focus my posts on the artists or groups I'm planning to catch each day (not that I have any pretensions that you give a hoot what I'm going to go hear, but mostly as a way to organize my own thoughts). Of course, as anyone who has been to the RIJF will attest, you have to be flexible as you make your way through the nine days of the festival, flexibility that sometimes leads to new musical experiences. Well, enough with the introduction, let's get on with the picks:
- On the first day of RIJF I usually get off work and head over around 4:00 pm to see the last minute set up and often catch glimpses of festival producers John Nugent and Marc Iaccona are running around making tweaks and putting out fires (not that they aren't doing that almost continuously for the next 9 days as well). I wait for the beer stand to open, get a beer and get in line at Kilbourn Hall for the first show there, but like last year, my first set of the 2009 XRIJF is going to be somewhere else this year. Although I enjoy hearing Bill Frisell every time, I've seen him several times at RIJF, so I'm planning to first head over to the Harro East Ballroom at 5:30 to catch some of the Jazz Mandolin Project (mostly as I'm an aspiring mando player, although mostly aspiring, not playing). You can hear a bit at JMP's MySpace page.
- As I meander to the next item on my list, I may duck inside the Big Tent to catch a bit of local trumpeter Mike Kaupa (link for him on the Rochester Jazz Artists & Groups page). It seems that RIJF scheduling local acts for the early sets in the tent, although again there is a local artist who gives so much to this city conspicuously absent from the local lineups for the RIJF.
- Despite seeing him play several times in Rochester, at 6:30 I'm going to go hear Billy Bang, so I can check out the new venue (brought to you by the new sponsor, Xerox), the Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza. I think this is going to be a great new addition to the venues as it is a larger hall with apparently pretty good acoustics. Check out Bang on MySpace and this interview from 2003 on Allaboutjazz.com
- At 7:30 pm, I'll head over to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation to catch the first set of the popular Nordic Jazz Now series, hearing Kari Ikonen & Karikko out of Finland. You can hear some more here and his profile on the Finnish Music Information Center.
- I'll dash over to the Christ Church to catch the 8:45 set of the first artist in the new Made in the UK Series, the Peter King Quartet. I hope that there has been some attention paid to the acoustics in this cavernous space, but nonethless I'm looking forward to hearing some of the UK artists with whom I'm mostly unfamiliar. Here's King's page from Wikipedia and an "in his own words" article from 2003 from the Jazz Institute of Chicago's site.
- It's a short walk from there to the Montage Grill to catch Eric Alexander Quartet's 10:00 pm set. I saw Alexander play twice in 2008 (at the Jazz at Philharmonic remake at last year's RIJF and with the guys over at the Strathallan Hotel more recently), but want to catch him with his quartet. It's a bit of nostalgia too for me, a former Chicagoan. Here's the Quartet live in Asheville, NC, playing "Pearl."
- I will try to make the first night of the after hours at the RIJF's "official" hotel (now called the Rochester Plaza Hotel, which by the way has a blog). There's some folks that I expect will drop by to sit in with Bob Sneider et al.
I've put a to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival site in my left panel. I'll be putting up more special XRIJF features soon. Watch for them and for additional "picks" posts to come. I'm also going to try moving stuff around a bit, so watch for that as well and I apologize in advance if there are any hiccups along the way. I'll try to have everything ready by the time June 12th rolls around.