D&C's "Jazz Stories" begin for the 2011 XRIJF
Finding my way through Thursday, June 16th at the XRIJF

It IS about who you don't know on June 15th of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (well mostly...)

Wednesday's artists (at least those who are not active on the local and regional scene) at the Rochester jazz festival are, for the most part, squarely in the "who I don't know" part of festival music director's John Nugent's "It's not who you know, it's who you don't know" catchphrase for the XRIJF. june 15 picks imageHowever, that does not leave me feeling lost, but rather (at least for me) allows more freedom to choose where to sit down and listen. It also is usually an opportunity to find new sounds to become part of my regular aural tapestry in the future. I'm setting up my itinerary with only three slots again on this night, which will allow me even more freedom because I'll be filling in that slot with one or more of the great choices on the 6th night of the XRIJF.

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 sixth evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 15th:

  • Grace Kelly Quintet @ Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm (also at 10:00): This is the one I know.... This now 19-year old saxophonist, composer, singer, etc. (can't really call her a prodigy anymore, she's reached majority...) has been playing and recording in the major leagues of jazz with Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Wynton Marsalis (and the list goes on...) for a number years now. When I saw Grace Kelly last year at Montage (at the ripe old age of 17), my ears heard the technical brilliance, but not as much of the soul and emotion that can come with more time on this earth. Moving to the main Club Pass stage of Kilbourn Hall this year puts her in a very different venue and I want to give her another listen with a new set of ears. With the experience she already has under her belt and her quite amazing playing and writing talent, Kelly is definitely one to watch and hear as she grows (and you can say you saw her when...)...plus, she's just a fun performer. For some more video of live performances of Kelly, check out this one of her with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen at the Duc des Lombards club, this great sit-in with Toots Thielemans at his gig at Scullers I found on Kelly's blog, and a bit of her singing (and getting audience participation) on Sunny Side of the Street in Italy last year with Francisco Mela's Cuban Safari Trio.
  • Sinne Eeg @ Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 pm (also at 9:30 pm): A star in the Danish jazz world, winning the Danish Music Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2007 and 2010, Sinne Eeg's rich voice will be filling up the wonderful space at the Church of the Reformation. Her site notes Eeg is influenced by Nancy Wilson, Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughan, "but with her personal touch of soft darkness, Sinne keeps the Scandinavian melancholy settled in her music." You can listen to some cuts off her new album Don't Be So Blue both on her site and on her Myspace page. This video of excerpts from Sinne Eeg's set at The Black Diamond in Copenhagen from last year gives you a great introduction, and on this one her and the band romp through What A Little Moonlight Can Do. 
  • Many Worlds with Greg Burk @ Max of Eastman Place, 10:00 pm (also at 6:00 pm): I was unfamiliar with Greg Burk so listened to his Many Worlds album on Rhapsody this morning, which sealed the deal on me adding this group to my June 15th itinerary. The music will likely be challenging for some festival-goers, full of complex rhythms and intricate runs that push the boundaries of improvisational jazz even while drawing deeply from the jazz well. Here is a review of Many Worlds from the Blogcritics.org site. You can listen to some cuts (although none from the Many Worlds CD that I saw) on Burk's Myspace page. While I couldn't find any video of performances of Many Worlds, the two I found from 2007 (both his quartet live in Civitavecchia in Italy, where Burk now resides), here and here

Of course, there is also Chris Botti in the really Big House (Kodak Hall At Eastman Theatre) for those of you with tickets.  I may try to catch Scottish pianist Alan Benzie with his trio at Christ Church. I may try to catch the vccal (and trombone?) stylings of Brienn Perry will be hitting the Xerox Auditorium stage with his quartet as he is a fellow Chicagoan and I may have actually seen him there years ago (I lived there for 25+ years before moving to Rochester in 2002), although that may be too much vocals for me in one night after Ms. Eeg. If you just want to pour on the vocals (and I know some of you do...), there's also another chanteuse from Toronto, Emilie-Claire Barlow, holding forth at Montage. XRIJF perennials The Shuffle Demons also return to play the Tent (they'll also be playing on Thursday). Another good choice will be the Viva Italia Series offering of Pat LaBarbara-Roberto Occhipinti Quartet. Of course, I may want to change out of my pork pie into my John Deere cap. If so, I'll head over to Abilene for some of the guitar from Telecaster Titan Bill Kirchen or  party-on again with the boys of Bonerama.

As Jazz@Rochester exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have living and working in and around Rochester (you can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page), I'm highlighting the local artists appearing on stages each night. Here are the ones for Tuesday, June 15th:

Let me know what you're going out so hear on the 15th in the comments, or on the Jazz@Rochester on Twitter or Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


I'd like to recommend Sheila Jordan on the 12th. She's visited Rochester with Steve Kuhn and Robert Creely, did a fundraiser for Hochstein with Harvie S on bass and had a gig at Jazzberry's. A unique talent that should be seen.
Hard to pass up tenor sax men Lew Tabackin and Pat Labarbera in the "Viva Italia" Series. They are two of the finest.
In the "British" series Paula Gardiner from Wales did a killer set two years ago with her trio, bass, sax and drums. I expect great things from her duet with Huw Warren. Looking forward to nine days of smiles!

Please leave a copy on the post for each of those days, Hal, so people will see them on the day in question.

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