My first night at the 2019 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival was a great way to start the festival. Watching people trickle in at the beginning from my "office" (Havana Moe's on East) and then following my eclectic path through the evening, I came out the other end tired and happy. It's great seeing the city appear to wake up to welcome summer and get fully into festival mode after what was a long winter and wet spring. The ugly mug on the left (me) is sporting the prototype of a JazzRochester t-shirt I've been toying with making. Unfortunately, it is the only one for now and I can't wear it every day (you who may be sitting next to me at a future Club Pass venue might agree). I'll have to get on finishing the design and making up some for myself and others for next year....
I managed to get my ears into four Club Pass venues for all four of the shows I set out to hear, which were distinctly different concerts. Highlights of the night were:
- The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, directed by Tommy Smith, were in the Temple Theatre and performed Prokofieff's Peter and the Wolf with a modern Scottish twist and a whole lotta swing. Arranged for this large ensemble by Smith and with the narration performed with gusto and a thick Scottish brogue by Tam Dean Burn. For a taste see this trailer on YouTube. It was unique and a lot of fun.
- When Derek Lucas of WGMC Jazz 90.1 FM introduced The Leo Richardson Quartet at the Christ Church Made in the UK Series, he noted that these four young dudes from the UK, decked out in sharp suits, were going to take us back to the London jazz club Ronnie Scott's in 1959 (where they have been the house band and general hangers on...). Derek nailed it. Richardson and his band had lightning speed, some great original music, and were as tight as the pencil legs on their trousers.
- The intense and intricate beats from the drummer and percussionist, weaving with the atmospherics of keyboards and saxophone, transfixed the audience for the second set of the Danish/Swedish band Girls in Airports. This was exactly the type of ear-stretching music that keeps me coming back to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation for its Nordic Jazz Now series (now Nordic/Euro Jazz).
I expect tonight's itinerary will be just as diverse, music-wise:
- Brecker Plays Rovatti (Geva Theatre, Wilson Stage)
- Celebrating Art Blakey with the SNJO Sextet (Montage Music Hall)
- Empirical (Christ Church)
- Gilad Hekselman (Lutheran Church of the Reformation)