I'm focusing on being a responsible adult (for a couple of days at least) and Tuesday (and today) I am limiting my schedule at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. That doesn't mean you have to, so go jazz amongst yourselves...On Tuesday, I managed to get out to hear a few things.
Started out with The Trio of Oz with Rachel Z and Omar Hakim, joined by bassist Solomon Dorsey (usually, the Ozzies gig with Maeve Royce, but Dorsey was more than up for the task). The Oz's thing is to take the rock music—the music of bands like Coldplay, Stone Temple Pilots, New Order, Alice In Chains—and transform the underlying song into a multilayered post-bop jazz exploration. I use the word "transform" because they don't just play the tunes with a jazz instrumentation; their renditions rarely retain much resemblance to the originals.
I headed into the Big Tent for a frosty beverage and was treated to part of the set by local Latin Band, Calle Uno. I love salsa, merengue, mambo, you name it, and was happy to spend a half-hour listening to this great (and quite large) band who were really tearing it up.
Reformation Lutheran Church was the next stop for Danish bassist Jasper Høiby and Phronesis. Høiby, very tall (almost as tall as his bass...), was very personable as he chatted up the audience. He noted that he and the band were excited to be there and said something like: "We're playing the States! Do you know how much that means to us? This is YOUR music... we just play it." It expressed a lot about how some of these young European and other global jazz artists who come play festivals in the U.S. like XRIJF and the excitement they feel when they play for us at the festival. I think it is a symbiotic relationship as we often react to that enthusiasm with our response as an audience. This is one of the signature things about the Nordic Jazz Now series at the Reformation Church. Phronesis was a great trio of musicians. With Høiby often holding down a driving bass groove and pianist Ivo Neame, and drummer Anton Eger improvising around it, the trio was powerful and dynamic, moving from minuet quiet to rock anthem heavy and back again. Aton Eger was amazingly fast and inventive (he also had the most imaginative haircut to date). Eger also did something during his first solo that I've seen before that always amazes me. In a lightning-fast run, he dropped a stick and magically one appeared in his hand and he played on without missing a beat.
After Phronesis, I started heading for my car, but stuck my head in catch a bit of Bela Fleck and the Original Flecktones in the Big House. Came in during one of Howard Levy's amazing harmonica solos and left with one of Victor Wooten's bass solos ringing in my ears (with a lot of Fleck's amazing electric banjo in between).
If you're onTwitter then follow @jazzrochester or the list of tweeting XRIJF artists and other XRIJF sources I've been building. Use the hash tag #XRIJF to join the conversation (and if you have room and want to be included in the D&C's coverage, #rocjazz. If you don't want to sign up for Twitter, but want to check out the conversation anyway, then click on the XRIJF on Twitter button at the top of this page for a running stream of tweets from the festival and festival artists who tweet. A lot of will also be republished on the or Jazz@Rochester Facebook page (which you can Like in the middle column).