Yes, you can hear them the other 365 days of the year, but these local musicians will also be at the 2023 RIJF!
JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for June 24th

JazzRochester at the RIJF: My picks for June 23, 2023

JUNE23.PatMethenyAs I only have a couple of weeks to bang these posts about what I want to hear during the Rochester International Jazz Festival, I should get started....  My RIJF is going to be different as I am wrestling with a health issue that will likely undermine my usual approach to the RIJF (hard charging all 9 days ... little sleep, too much drink and street food). I'll have to take it easy. That will also affect how I do these posts—instead of trying to come up with picks that one could actually hear in the evening, I'm going to just pick those I would choose if I could be at all of them, as it is likely I will not be. That's a good thing for you as my choices won't be constrained by timing. Additionally, there are fewer "bucket list" artists in this year's RIJF, which gives me the freedom to be more adventurous in my choices as well. You do you, but if you're interested, here are some of the artists/groups that I would like to hear on the first night of the 2023 RIJF:

  • Pat Metheny Side-Eye is on my list, but we'll see if we hear him. Metheny was one of the first jazz I heard live when he and Lyle Mays came to play at The University of Chicago while I was in college. Having missed Metheny's Side-Eye project in 2021 at the Kodak Center on Ridge and 2019 in the Smith Opera House in GenevaI've asked to cover the concert in the Big House (a/k/a Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre). Metheny always delivers something different and sometimes the music is sublime (one of my favorite concerts was here in Rochester years ago when he was doing his Orchestrion project. There are still tickets, but they are mostly in the nosebleeds.  Pat Metheny and Side-Eye are appearing in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre at 8:00 pm.
  • I would like to get a listen Chris Minh Doky's All Stars with Randy Brecker, Dennis Chambers, George Whitty and Dean Brown (assuming he's playing with these players, who he'll be with in NYC shortly after RIJF). I'm intrigued with the many possible influences on this Danish bassist, who has found success in the jazz, rock, Nordic and classical worlds. There's not much current sounds of the Allstars out in the interwebs to sample, so I'm flying somewhat blind, but that's how I like it. The Chris Minh Doky All Stars are playing in the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 and 9:30 pm
  • Okan is a woman-led group from Canada and takes its name from the word for heart in Santeria, the Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs and traditions combined with some Catholic elements. Their music is a fusion of Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, Cuban folk music, and global rhythms. The leaders are Elizabeth Rodriguez, a classically trained violinist from Havana, Cuba, and Magdelys Savigne, who is from Santiago de Cuba, both of whom are Grammy-nominees for their contributions to Jane Bunnett and Maqueque.
  • If you're looking for something in a somewhat more straight-ahead vein, you can't go wrong with either Deanna Witkowski, who will be playing the music of Mary Lou Williams (after recently writing a well-received book about this amazing woman in jazz whose career spanned the 20s to the 70s), the Helen Sung Quartet+, or the Tom Guarna Trio. I've never heard Deanna Witkowski play live and I love the music of Mary Lou Williams. I've heard Helen play several times in Rochester (she appeared at the Exodus to Jazz series several times and has appeared at the RIJF before as well. She always brings a killer band with her when she comes to town. I'm not familiar with Tom Guarna, but he has worked with a wide range from Blood, Sweat and Tears to Wallace Roney, Les McCann, and Manuel Valera’s New Cuban Express. He's bringing a trio with Dezron Douglas on bass and Jason Tiemann on drums. Deanna Witkowski is playing solo at ESM's Hatch Recital Hall at 5:45 and 7:45 pm. Helen Sung Quartet+ is playing at the Wilder Room at 6:00 and 10:00 pm. Tom Guarna Trio is playing the Global Jazz Now series in the Christ Church at 7:30 and 9:30 pm.

I should also remind you that there is the Squeezer's Jam Session every night of the RIJF at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. The music begins at 10:30 each night with guitarist Bob Sneider and trumpeter Mike Cottone trading off running the jam which includes local students and those musicians from the night's fare who sit in.  Mike starts the first night as M.C.  This year the jam will be held in the new Astor on Main space in the Hyatt, which is showing jazz several nights a week during the rest of the year and I think will offer some great options to share in the magic that sometimes happens at these jams. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


Thanks so much for mentioning my RIJF sets! If you'd like a preview, you can hear tracks from my Mary Lou Williams tribute recording, Force of Nature, here:

Hope to meet you next week!

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