The 2019 RIJF ends tomorrow ... whew, I made it! Here's where JazzRochester's ears were last night
Let the other 356 days of the year begin! ... Live jazz in Rochester, July 4-10

The wandering ears of JazzRochester on the last night of the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival

Me and my ears were all over on the last night of the RIJF.  The last two nights focus on the outdoor free shows and there are fewer "must see" acts in the Club Pass venues.  However, that doesn't mean that those appearing in the Club Pass venues are "also rans," but the artists do tend to be on the side of "who, you don't know" rather than "who you know" on the last two nights.  For me it also encourages a bit of wandering around. Last night, my ears were all over the place...

I started out, again, in Kilbourn Hall to hear Kansas Smitty’s House Band, a septet of mostly Brits (the saxophonist grew up in Saratoga, NY).  Not only are the house band for the hot London jazz club Kansas Smitty’s, they own it. The band is on their first U.S. tour.  A great group of excellent musicians who, after working together as a band and as proprietors, still seemed to be having fun together.  Their set bounced along with music that harkens back to the origins of jazz some in some places and looks further forward in others, sometimes in the same tune. 


Following a familiar path, I next headed over to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation for the Tuomo Uusitalo Quartet.  I hadn’t read the bio so went in blind, but as Tuomo Uusitalo is Finnish (albeit having lived a long time in NYC), I have come to expect something more sparse and angular from the jazz artists who hail from Finland. To my surprise (which, I realize, might have been less surprising had I read the bio on the RIJF site), the band opened up swinging and then proceeded to play a first set that was a diverse mix of jazz—eventually getting to sparse and angular, but only fleetingly.  Good object lesson in doing your homework, but not a problem as I enjoyed all of it....


I left the Lutheran Church assuming that was the last jazz of my night (and of the 2019 RIJF). Headed over to the Parcel 5 site to catch a bit of Trombone Shorty and to check out how they had set up the space.  Trombone Shorty was just coming on stage when my friend and I arrived among the sea of people moving in on the site (by the height of the concert it reportedly reached over 10K).  We had been wondering what they would do with the Squeezers tent that was on the Main Street end of Parcel 5. Much to our surprise (we hadn't heard about it from folks who saw the Betts Allman gig the night before) we found that the wall facing the stage built at the base of Tower 280 had been peeled up and it was now a covered "VIP" tent for us hoity-toity Club Pass holders (well, mine is a Media pass, but it grants me no more privileges than a Club Pass).  Trombone Shorty ripped into his first number and before its end I felt like my ears would start bleeding, which may have been exacerbated by the sound reverberating inside the tent, and I left shortly thereafter since I have seen Trombone Shorty perform several times and still had miles (well...hours) to go before I slept....


After a short time at my "office" at Havana Moe's, I climbed the stairs at The Wilder Room to listen to a little of the Gene Perla Quartet, which included local jazz star Pat Labarbara (although long since decamped to Canada).  I hadn't planned on hearing Perla. However, I realized while at the "office" that I would probably spend most of my time waiting in my car if I left at that time. Plus the cacophony on East Avenue was driving me a bit crazy. A friend and I were sitting at the corner by the Unter Biergarten and could hear, AT THE SAME TIME, German oompah drinking songs from a woman performer at the restaurant, a lone rock drummer who had been playing his trap set in front of Bernunzio's (across from the "office") for going on 3 hours without a break, and the R&B band that had taken up residence in front of The Temple Bar.  The excellent bop of the Wilder Room was a sanctuary from that for a while.  By the time I came downstairs and back over to the office after a large chunk of the set, much of the Trombone Shorty crowd were gone as the festival started to wind down (and, thankfully, the police silenced the drummer so that they could start clearing the street). 


After I've slept some more and re-entered my normal life, I will probably do one more wrap-up post with my overall thoughts about the festival but, for now, let's tie a toe tag on the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival!  I hope your festival was as great as mine! See you next year on Jazz Street ....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


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