I'm sharing my picks for another two days of the Rochester International Jazz Fest for what it's worth. For someone who promotes Rochester live jazz, you'll notice that my picks usually don't include anyone from Rochester. It's not because local artists not worthy of attention (I will devote a whole post to the local artists who are appearing at RIJF this year before the week is out). We have world class jazz artists (and some who are likely to become so...) in the Rochester area, so I don't include them in my picks because we all have access to many of these artists the other 356 days of the year. You just have to come to JazzRochester to find out! So here are my picks for Tuesday and Wednesday of the RIJF, June 22-23....
Wednesday, June 22nd
- Like most nights, I'll start at Kilbourn with the Arturo O'Farrill Quintet. O'Farrill is a pianist, composer, and educator, who was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. He began his career in jazz with the Carla Bley Band and has performed with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. He is the founder of the Latin Jazz Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music. O'Farrill is playing at Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm
- Another day, another Finn. I'll next turn out to hear the Joonas Haavisto Trio. Haavisto has been playing with this trio of renowned Finnish jazz artists for 15 years and I believe it is their first time at RIJF. Reading the descriptions of Haavisto music we're in for the usual atmospheric and mesmerizing sounds we've come to expect from jazz artists from the northern European climes. The Joonas Haavisto Trio will be appearing at Glory House International at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
- I think it's high time I hear a vocalist and the first of those at this year's festival will be Samara Joy. She has been appearing recently in Buffalo, backed by the Pasquale Grazzo Trio (and will likely appear with them here at the RIJF). Samara Joy is a winner of the 2019 Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocalist competition. Although just 21, Joy has already performed in many of the great jazz venues in NYC, including Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, The Blue Note, and Mezzrow, and worked with Christian McBride, Kirk Lightsey, Cyrus Chestnut, and Barry Harris. Joy will be appearing at Max at Eastman Place at 6:15 pm and 10:00 pm.
Thursday, June 23rd
- Surprisingly enough, my first stop on the 23rd will be to hear the Wayne Escoffrey Quartet in Kilbourn. I have enjoyed his playing the several times I've heard him with the Tom Harrell Quintet, but don't think I've heard him yet as a leader. In addition to Harrell, Wayne Escoffrey has played with the Ron Carter, Ben Riley, Abdulah Ibrahim, Eric Reed, Carl Allen, Al Foster, Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson, Rufus Reid, Wallace Roney and Herbie Hancock among others. Escoffrey and his quintet play Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
- And again over to the Global Jazz Now series to hear the Jochen Rueckert Quartet. He has played and recorded with the Marc Copland, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Marc Turner, John Abercrombie, Sam Yahel, Pat Metheny, and others. There was one line from drummer Rueckert's bio that sold it: "Jochen's deliberate avoidance of formal music education, albeit initially for budgetary reasons, provides a great lack of erudite nonsense in his writing." No shade on the Eastman School of Music. I love watching the budding careers of former ESM students who I saw play in their "infancy" (see the next bullet...). The Jochen Rueckert Quartet will appear at Glory House International at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
- I'll make my way over to the Innovation Theater to hear Lioness, which is new collective of female jazz instrumentalists with a mission to inspire and educate the community at large by sharing music created by women in jazz, both past and present. There are (and should be) more women in jazz today. Included in the group is reed player Alexa Tarantino, who graduated from Eastman School of Music a few years back. It's been great to watch her career, playing and composing develop after leaving Eastman and moving into the NYC jazz scene. Lioness appears at the Innovation Theater at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
- I'll try closing out with the Itamar Borochov Quartet. This is an international jazz festival and Borochov is creating a new musical hybrid by bringing the sacred sounds of Sephardic Judaism of his upbringing to a jazz quartet setting. Saby Reyes-Kulkarni writes that Borochov's latest recording, Blue Nights draws from an array of elements including bebop, rock, pop, Arabic maqam scales, the Gnawa patterns of North Africa’s Hausa people, and sounds that Borochov encountered in a local Yemenite-Jewish synagogue in his native Jaffa, Israel. What is surprising is the way the band manages to introduce changes without disturbing the silken flow of the music." Now that's international... The Itamar Borochov Quartet will be appearing at the Wilder Room at 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm.