Tomorrow's the end of the Xerox Rochester Jazz Festival ... Really?
I haven't forgotten, I'm just too tired and "digesting" ....

Random notes from my floating penultimate night at XRIJF

XRIJF logo I followed my itinerary pretty closely last night, departing only on Jane Monheit and picking up one of the performers I'd scheduled for the last night. When I arrived on "Jazz Street" at 4:15, the line for Jane Monheit at Kilbourn Hall already was snaking around to East Avenue. I knew that to see her at 10 I might need to blow the chance to see others I had on my list to get in line for Monheit. As I'd seen her before, I decided to take another trip. It was another varied night at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Started out with Little Red Suitcase. This Danish duo of Johanne Borchert on piano, accompanied by Elena Setién on keyboard, accordion (with sticky keys), violin and effects, was a quirky little treat to start the evening out. Well, neither are Danes—Borchert is German and Setién is Spanish—but that doesn't matter. Their songs were small and somewhat off-the-wall, delivered by Setién in a sing-song style that seemed to deliberately misplace some notes, with Borchert sometimes bringing in harmonies. The room seemed to big for their intimate style. Toward the end of the set they both stuck their heads in the open grand piano and began singing, trying to get the sympathetic strings to hum (the room may have defeated that as I only heard a faint sympathetic echo), and ending that with what sounded like a bird fight with two cheap flutes.

Moved from there over to Abilene for some gut-bucket blues from Bryan Lee and the Blues Power Band. Lee delivered what was advertised, which brought me back to some of the sounds from my former hometown Chicago, and I enjoyed some great Abilene beers and a pulled pork sandwich from Beale Street Cafe.

Went across the festival to Christ Church to catch Gwyneth Herbert's second set. She filled that great space with a beautiful voice and her sparse band (they had been advertised as a quartet, but came as a trio, with Herbert playing a number of instruments in addition to her voice, noting that we were "getting our money's worth" despite the mistake. Her songs were catchy, more pop singer-songwriter but, again, quirky. I really enjoyed them, especially the one that told the story of a group of Surrey women who, spying an approaching French invasion fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, went to the top of the cliffs overlooking the ocean and raised their frocks to reveal the red undergarments that women of that region of England wore at the time. The French, seeing the red, took these 50 women as a large contingent of Redcoats and turned tail. Her song was a folk song of a sort, but it sounded thoroughly modern as well.

Didn't do a 10pm, just wondered around for awhile. At 11pm, I wandered by Eastman Theater, just as Jeff Beck began his second show. Although I knew it was a long shot as the show was nearly, if not completely sold out, I went in to see if I could get in with my media pass to take a look. No go. Sounds like it was a great show from those I've read elsewhere and it was surely a great success for the festival.

Now I get ready to head out soon for the final night. I already feel like I've heard enough outstanding music that I can go and not hear anything tonight and feel like this has been great festival for me. 

Well, for one last time, see you on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


This is been the best Jazz Fest, for me, in that I've loved almost every act; I didn't lose out on seeing things by standing in lines that went nowhere; I was very thoughtful when I could only pick one show on a given night, and I was never disappointed--Stanley Jordan, Charnett Moffett, Russell Malone--need I say more?

I've loved running into old friends on the streets and in the venues, and I've loved making new friends while waiting in lines or for shows to start.

Check out my thoughts at Rochester Music Scene (And Heard) if you are so inclined. Enjoy this last night of wandering Jazz Street!

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