A quiet ending to the third night of XRIJF
Day 4 begins in Havana, but reroutes

XRIJF Day Three... Your "citizen critic" on the job

My posts from yesterday pretty much tell you where I was at (I actually followed my itinerary to the letter). Sunday night at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival was one of the overall best nights of music of the festival so far. Chuchito Valdes is a monster on the piano in Cuban and any other musical genre, most of which he incorporated into the first set that I saw (and the first 1 hour line I was queued in). He went from a fiery mambo to a slow and introspective Someone To Watch Over Me. He got over that and exploded again with a version of Old Devil Moon. His trio mates were also top notch and in sync with Valdes throughout. As I left for my next stop with Valdes finishing his encore, I was wondering "now how is someone going to top that?" 

XRIJF Photo of Charnett MoffettCharnett Moffett did just that, although I guess I shouldn't say "topped" as the two sets were as different as can be. Both are just incredible monsters on their instruments. Moffett spent 3/4 of his second set playing solo bass, bringing his band mates (a bit more than a trio) out at a trickle starting with sitar (someone correct me if it was not actually a sitar) and ending with piano and trumpet. That he held that audience in their seats for that amount of time with only him and his bass was a tribute to the excellence and intensity of his playing. Toward the end of the set, while he was blistering his fingers and our ears on electric bass with his band mates, the intensity may have reached critical mass and ignited a flame somewhere in Harro East as a fire alarm started to ring, repeating every few seconds. While everyone looked around to see if someone with apparent authority was telling them to head for the doors, and some sniffed for smoke, no one left their seats. Moffett kept playing, incorporated the alarm into his playing, mimicking it and pausing to catch the intervals between its peals.  Jeff Spevak described the reaction of this "citizen critic" in his recap of last night in the D&C (OK, maybe I was a bit exuberant, although by the time I saw Jeff last night it may have partly been the beer....).

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba were a great change of pace in the SRO crowd that fit into the Big Tent. The Malian master of the ngoni (a small, banjo precursor) and a large ensemble of players cut through the chatter and noise of the Tent with their intricate patterns of notes, singing and, of course, beats. I was glad I was on my feet as I had a lot of trouble keeping them from moving.

I then opted to quiet down and see bassist Katie Thiroux's set at Max. While a great bass player with a sweet voice, Moffett was a hard bass act to follow. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed her choices of tunes to play and the fact that some were picked from odd places, including a couple transcribed from YouTube.

Headed out into the night and home feeling that good feeling I get after I've just soaked up some great music. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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