Jazz Around Town: A sweet sixteen days until we begin days of music at the XRIJF
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A "jazz passenger" on the XRIJF tour: Where we'll be on June 12 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

We go from the Ohio and NYC of Joe Henderson (a celebrated by Henderson's former collaborator, Canadian-born New Yorker Jon Ballantyne) to the Denmark of Nikolaj Hess, to London's Soho, and back here to the States for a reunited Jazz Passengers. Although I've been on wider flung trips around the world in a single night at prior Rochester jazz festivals, it really shows the diversity. PassengersThis will be a night where I will be living the statement of XRIJF Music Director John Nugent (who is, by the way, playing on June 12th)..."it's not  who you know, it's who you don't know," which is not uncommon at Rochester's festival, but such a great way to find new friends to spin when you get home.

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. Where available, I've mined a few additional sources and video of the artists from the Interwebs to help you decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...) during my perambulations during the third evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 12th:

  • Celebrating Joe Henderson with Jon Ballantyne & Friends @ Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 pm (also at 9:00 pm): Never got a chance to see Henderson, who died in 2001, but Juno-winning Canadian jazz pianist Jon Ballantyne played with Joe Henderson and is offering this celebration of his music at this year's XRIJF.  Listen to him at his MySpace page and this music video of "Round Again" (not live performance).
  • Nikolaj Hess Global Motion + @ Nordic Jazz Now Series at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 7:30 pm (also at9:30 pm): Danish pianist Nikolaj Hess's Global Motion + group includes some folks from this side of the ocean. The group's sound (from what I'm hearing on their 2009 album, at least...) is full of intricately interwined acoustic instruments, which will sound fantastic in the space at the Reformation Lutheran Church. Listen a bit on Hess's MySpace page, one of his music on Soundcloud, and on this video of stills with music posted by group member Mark Mommaas. 
  • Ronnie Scotts All Stars "A Foggy Night in London Town" @ Made In the UK Series at Christ Church, 8:45 pm (also at): I got to hear a bit of this "house band" in a live feed from the famed Ronnie Scott's jazz club in Soho, London, during the XRIJF lineup announcement in March. The Ronnie Scott's All Stars with Natalie Williams on vocals are a good group who back up the many international jazz stars who pass through the club each year. You can find out some on pianist James Pearson's Myspace page from the AllStars page at the club's website. Lots of video from Ronnie Scotts, but not much to highlight this band. 
  • The Jazz Passengers @ Kilbourn Hall, 10:00 pm (also at 6:00 pm): This recent reuniting of a band started in 1987 by former Lounge Lizards Roy Nathanson and Curtis Fowlkes is one that was completely off my radar but from what I've heard and seen are likely to be on my radar going forward. I like a lot of the more exploratory side of jazz and any band that is described as "a hard-bop group as imagined by Frank Zappa", as Bob Blumenthal described the Jazz Passengers in the Boston Globe in 1989, pricks up my ears. The Jazz Passengers have often brought in high profile vocalists in front at their gigs, ranging from Mavis Staples to Deborah Harry (yes, of Blondie...), and Elvis Costello. The Passengers appear to never take themselves too seriously, although from all accounts they are deadly serious about the music. Here's a performance of the reunited group last year at the Saalfelden Jazz festival (one of many recorded at this festival) and backing Ms. Harry and Elvis Costello in a ballad on the David Letterman show (Elvis is not going to be in the building until the 17th, by the way).

Sunday's are traditionally a laid back day for me at the festival. I may move from one venue to another a bit more or change up on my original intended itinerary depending on what I'm hearing on the street. There's a lot of great stuff around to choose from other than the above, including Davell Crawford (he plays again at Montage if I don't end up there on the 11th in Max), bluesman Lucky Peterson, a bit of that old-timey bluegrass from the Tussey Mountain Moonshiners or the Gypsy jazz of Stephane Wrembel Trio to name a few.

Additionally, as this blog exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have here and around Rochester, I'm also going to be highlighting the local and regional artists for each day. You can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page):

Let me know what you're going out so see on June 12th in the comments, or on the Jazz@Rochester pages on Twitter or Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


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