Eight for eight so far... another diverse journey for JazzRochester's ears on the 2d night of the RIJF
At least for my ears, the first two nights of music at the Rochester International Jazz Festival have been just right and a thoroughly satisfying musical, eight artists/groups with distinctly different musical journeys as I walked (and later limped as my knee started yelling at me...) from venue to venue. The second night's highlights were:
- Brecker Plays Rovatti (Geva Theatre, Wilson Stage): Randy Brecker and his wife Ada Rovatti and a killer band played a great set of some of his older material and compositions of Rovatti's from a yet-to-be released album (hence, "Brecker Plays Rovatti"). This was also my first trip over to the Geva Theatre and in my opinion this is a great new venue for the RIJF, with two theaters to book diverse acts and great acoustics, plus food (a new menu just for the festival). I even was able to sit in the seats where my wife and I sit during the Geva season, which gave me a good vantage point for the concert. It is a bit of a hike, but really only a 5 minute walk from the location of the venue it replaced (Xerox Auditorium)
- Gilad Hekselman (Lutheran Church of the Reformation): Israel-born guitarist Gilad Hekselman was a perfect choice for the acoustical space of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. Moving through a diverse set of music that displayed his chops on the guitar from small, quiet ballads, to effects layering modern, to a blues. It was a testament to Hekselman that he had a nearly full house despite the fact that mere steps away at the Temple Theatre, guitar god Bill Frisell was playing. When a number of folks got up to go late in the set, Hekselman took notice, but added "I don't blame you, I wish I could go over to listen to Frisell."
- Empirical (Christ Church): OK, two nights running there have been absolutely fantastic bands playing some great bebop and post-bop, populated by young(ish) UK lads playing blazing fast at times and tight like the pencil leg trousers of their sharp suits. Despite the similarity in sartorial choice, Empirical's music was completely different and just as compelling as the previous nights fare. I think it was the first time that I've heard a vibraphone in the Christ Church acoustics. As I noted on Twitter last night, when the reverb was pedaled up, it was on steroids.
- Celebrating Art Blakey with the SNJO Sextet (Montage Music Hall): What can I say? Five members of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with Bill Dobbins sitting in on piano, channeling the sextet that was Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1961-64. It was a blazing set with some top notch players and Bill Dobbins got to stretch out some, too.
What's in store for JazzRochester's ears tonight?:
- Stefon Harris Blackout (Kilbourn Hall)
- Scott Robinson Quartet (Max at Eastman Place)
- Russell Scarbrough Soul Jazz Big Band (Jazz Street Stage)
Given my increasing knee pain and timing, I think I'm going to miss Over the Rhine.