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You can get jammed up at the XRIJF ... the "after hours" party

GVB Bell imageEvery night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, after the last concert is over and they're packing up the stages for overnight, some XRIJF patrons who are not yet ready to call it quits head over to the Rochester Plaza Hotel where there is an opportunity to watch (and more importantly hear) music "magic" happen, which can be the result when an eclectic and naturally improvisational group of musicians get together and, at time, imbibe some beverages and are backed by some consumate professionals. 

For 12 years, guitarist and Eastman prof Bob Sneider has emceed and led the festival's nightly jam session at the Rochester Plaza State Street Bar & Grill, usually joined by bass man Phil Flanigan and drummer Mike Melito. Bob keeps the music flowing until last call, even when the artists are not yet "ready" to join in (Bob lines up a talented set each night of Eastman students and amateurs to let them get some experience, and many of them have some real, if still to be developed chops). Festival producer John Nugent, himself an accomplished jazz saxman, has not missed sitting in at the jam session in 10 straight years.

When the magic happens, several musicians from disparate groups playing (or about to play the next day) can create some great musical moments and have at time brought down the house. Musicians from UK saxman Soweto Kinch (pictured here and coming back in 2013), George Benson to Jake Shimabukuro, Swedish saxman Jonas Kulhammar to Wynton Marsalis have all taken the stage.

You need to arrive early to sit or be near the stage, but if they have it set up like recent years there will also be seating outdoors on the patio and the music will be piped out there (at time there is even video). Although it can happen at any time, the musicians playing at the festival often don't start until later (the aforementioned imbibing and, usually, dinner must precede). 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


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