This is one of nine or more posts I'll be writing prior to the start of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. As I noted in the kickoff post for this year's coverage, I encourage your thoughts on each night's choices and your own choices. The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the XRIJF artist page. Check out the rest of the links for more information on the artist.
On June 11th, after showing up early to catch the final preparations at beginning of the festival, my plans are for the first day of the XRIJF to proceed as follows:
- Listen to the high school jazz bands while waiting for the beer guys to set up and start selling (I may not get one before heading for the first venue... but they have beer there).
- Billy's Band @ Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 pm. These guys from St. Petersburg, Russia, were at RIJF two years ago and I had so much fun listening to them I think I'll catch them again in this larger venue. It's not surprising that a Russian can channel the angst and grittiness of singer-songwriter Tom Waits the way bassist and leader Billy Novick does in both English covers of Waits and in Russian originals. They're incredible musicians to boot. That these guys describe their style as "Funeral Dixieland with an Infinite Happy End" (or the "Romantic Alco-Jazz" in their website heading) is about all you need to know. Check out a video of Billy's Band doing Waits' Chocolate Jesus in Toronto shortly after their appearance here in 2008 to get a flavor of their lunacy. They'll also be performing at 7:15 on the 11th and twice in Kilbourn Hall on June 12th.
- Lynne Arriale Trio @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 pm. As I've seen them before, I may leave Billy's Band a little early to head over to the Xerox Auditorium to catch Lynne Arriale. I've been listening to Arriale for quite awhile and look forward to hearing her live. She has been critically acclaimed as having a "singular voice as a pianist, leader, composer, arranger and for “putting the heart back into jazz” (London Times). In recent years, she has performed with a number of great artists, including: legendary saxophonist, Benny Golson; Grammy winning trumpet/flugelhorn player, Randy Brecker; bassist George Mraz; trumpeter Roy Hargrove; Rufus Reid; Buster Williams; and Eddie Henderson. You can hear some cuts from the new album Nuance on Arriale's website as well as more about her. Additionally, here's a video of a trio performance from 2005 and a more recent interview (Part 1 and Part 2).
- Hazmat Modine @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, 7:15. I'll try to catch some of the latter part of this blues and roots group from New York while I replenish fluids and get something to eat. I've heard some good things about them and their eclectic musical tastes. Will be a good juxtaposition to the mostly straight ahead trio jazz I'm leaving. Their new CD has special guest appearances by Natalie Merchant, the Kronos Quartet, and the Gangbé Brass band from Benin (I told you their music was eclectic). More on their website and MySpace page, as well as in a number of available videos on YouTube.
- Haven't quite decided moving on for some of the down-home cooking of the Sauce Boss (I'm not kidding, he cooks and feeds the audience while he plays slide guitar swamp blues) (@ Verizon Wireless Club Pass Big Tent, 8:30 pm) or heading over to the new venue next to Abilene for Earl Pickens & Family (Abilene Roots & Americana Stage, 7:45). May depend on how long the lines are. I may even duck into Eastman Kodak Theatre to catch a bit of Gladys Knight.
- Oberg/Petrescu Quartet @ Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 9:30. Swede Andreas Oberg's guitar playing with the quartet of pianist Marian Petrescu will sound fantastic in the Church of the Reformation. Almost everything I've heard in this ongoing series of Nordic Jazz Now performances has been very good or at least challenged me (and I like a challenge). This group will be playing Dizzy's in New York City just before coming to Rochester. Check out the videos, including this one, of their set at the Jazz Standard in NYC in June last year, during which their Resonance Records release Thrivin': Live at the Jazz Standard and Six String Evolution was recorded. Will be a good (and a bit early) end to the first evening (it's a school night and I have to pace myself...).
There are some other great shows that you really shouldn't miss (I have heard them play recently, so they're not on my dance card). Mose Allison (Kilbourn Hall at 6 and 10pm) is a returning artist and I've seen him more than once, so I'll sit out Kilbourn on the first night. I saw the Jeremy Pelt Quintet (Montage at 6 and 10 pm) back in February this year at the excellent Exodus to Jazz series of club dates at the Radisson so have opted for something else. In addition to the excellent high school bands, local artists appearing on June 11th include the Dave Rivello Ensemble (if you haven't heard this larger band that plays Dave's excellent compositions and other great large ensemble jazz, you should check them out) (@ Verizon Wireless Club Pass Big Tent, 6:00 pm) and ECMS Jazz Combo led by Bob Sneider (@ Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm).
Well, there you go. Sure, it's not all jazz, but that's not all I listen to (I have infinite dimensions....OK, at least 2 or 3). Please let me know what you think in the comments and tell me about what you're going out to hear on June 11th.