14 posts categorized "RIJF 2019"

JazzRochester's ears had a great time at the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival ... Some final thoughts

2019RIJF_MediaPassAfter a bit of rest and reflection, I thought I'd add some thoughts about the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival. Just a few bullets with my reflections.  I encourage you to use the comments to add your thoughts as well.  Overall, I had a great RIJF. I heard a lot of music and managed to hear something at almost all of the stages, except for Geva's smaller stage and the RG&E/Avangrid stage (although I heard some of the latter as I passed by a few times). There was a great diversity of music for available to choose from and in my conversations with folks near me in line or at a venue it seemed like most were also really enjoying their festival.  While I try to cover the festival for JazzRochester, my focus is on hearing as much jazz as possible. Here's my more specific thoughts:

  • For me, while there were a few regrets for those I missed due to scheduling or choices I made, the picks I made for the 2019 festival were right for my ears. I'll let you read the posts at this link to detail my thoughts on these picks. 
  • Although I heard that a lot of people had issues with the changes in venues—Geva Theatre for the types of concerts you may have caught at the Xerox Auditorium and the Harro East Ballroom, the Squeezer's stage on Parcel 5 for artists who may have played Anthology and Harro—the changes worked for me.  That some of these changes and others may have resulted from disagreements with the festival is too bad, but I respect the choices of the former venue owners—they have to make the right decisions for their businesses. And yes, Geva was a bit of a hike (however, it really was only 5 minutes further walk from the location of the Xerox Auditorium) and they had some issues with misunderstandings created by their first shows with the Cult of Jake Shimabukuro, but it was otherwise a great venue and allowed for more creativity in programming given Geva's two stages. 
  • The use of the Squeezer's tent during the free shows on Friday and Saturday as a Club Pass "VIP" tent, opening up the stage side of the tent on Parcel 5 to the stage set up at the foot of Tower 280, was a good idea (especially for those of us who had Club Passes or their equivalents). 
  • The 2019 festival was lousy with Brits (or expats living and making music in the UK)!  While I loved all of the Made in the UK Jazz sponsored events that I managed to hear, folks brought over the pond by the Brits were all over the festival in other venues than the Christ Church. I enjoyed meeting a number of the musicians who graced the Christ Church stage at my "office" at Havana Moe's after the last set.  I always enjoy the opportunity to talk with musicians, talking about their music and our jazz scene here during the rest of the year.
  • I was able to get some great images of the artists while at the festival.  Images are important for my blog during the festival and for the other posting I do to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  My approach is to take them from the vantage point of a regular festival goer, even though with a media pass I could be closer (it does not, however, get me a better place in line... just so you know).  However, so that I don't annoy those who are around me, I always adhere to the same rules that the professional photographers and other media outlets must follow.  I only take my images during the first song of the set and, usually, warn those around me of that so they don't sit and fume thinking that they're going to be staring at my iPhone screen throughout the whole concert.  I never take video. I don't use flash. 
  • I did not get out to the after hours at the Hyatt this year.  Just having too much fun with friends in my own after hours at my "office" talking with Brits and elsewhere (not to mention getting some sleep) to make the trek over.  I don't like the scene when I'm there alone and couldn't drum up anyone to head over to the Hyatt ,so kept to my own devices.
  • The busking on East Avenue was a mixed bag.  At times it reminded me of a trip the Beaches Jazz Festival on Queen Street North in Toronto. When I attended years ago the night before they set up a band every other block and walking down the street was like walking along a radio dial, moving from reggae to jazz to string band, etc. Busking is great and should be encouraged, but when it interferes with the other music in the festival or brought in by other businesses on the street, there may need to be some controls put in place. One band who set up near the Christ Church park was made to leave as their sound was overpowering the quieter music happening in the Made in the UK Jazz series (without AC, Christ Church has to have windows open to make it bearable in that space). They came back the next night, moving down the street the next few nights in front of Temple Bar and had large crowds enjoying their music. However, on the last night, four non-stop hours of rock drumming (and only rock drumming) by a young drummer who was oblivious to the effect he was having, especially for those of us across the street at my "office" and nearby venues that had hired musicians to play during the festival, was annoying as we couldn't hear each other or anything else over the din.  
  • How about that weather?  I can't remember a year where there was NO rain or at least spot thunderstorms to deal with in rushing between venues. Rochester's weather can be so unpredictable... I remember some jazz festivals (and there are pictures to prove it) where entire evenings were soggy and cold to boot.  We were blessed with the best of Rochester's weather for all nine nights.  

Next year's festival runs from June 19th through June 27th. While festival Music Director John Nugent and Producer Marc Iacona seem to be dialing it in, hitting last year's 200,000+ festivalgoers.  Hope to see you on Jazz Street next year!



This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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.

The 2019 RIJF ends tomorrow ... whew, I made it! Here's where JazzRochester's ears were last night

In my experience at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the penultimate night is usually a subdued night for me. It may be intentional programming or it may just be exhaustion setting in, but while I heard some good music on the eighth night of the RIJF, the last show I really wanted to see was last night's last show. Compared to Thursday, the crowds were a lot smaller in the Club Pass venues, which may be correlated with avoidance of the crowds coming in for the free shows (I notice this every year, but this year it was more pronounced in my opinion).  Here's what JazzRochester's ears found to listen to last night....

RIJF2019_Day8-1Started out with Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley in Kilbourn Hall.  An all-star quintet fronted by alto saxophonist Jim Snidero and trumpeter Eddie Henderson joined by Joe Farnsworth on drums, Nat Reeves on bass and Peter Zak on piano bounced through interpretations of well-known Cannonball Adderley songs like "Jeanine" and "Work Song", but also included some of Snidero's own music. It was a bouncy, fun hour of bop played by great musicians. 

RIJF2019_Day8-2I got some grub and hung out around Jazz Street for awhile, catching a good part of the first set by Brit Nubya Garcia on the Jazz Street Stage.  She's part of a diverse and growing London jazz scene (notice how many Brits were found in all of the Club Pass venues ... correlation?). The performers on this free stage tend to be more on the rock or funk side, but Garcia and her band, while bringing on the funk and hip hop grooves, were also slinging jazz our way, some of it on the out side.  It was not necessarily the cup o' tea of some of those who pitch their campsites in front of the Jazz Street stage, but there were a number of younger cats on the perimeter who were really getting into it.

RIJF2019_Day8-3Next stop was Christ Church for Israeli-born, Brooklyn-based trumpeter Itamar Borochov.  Borochov’s music is plying the connections between the musics and cultures of North Africa, modern Israel, ancient Bukhara (a city in Uzbekistan in the ancient Silk Road), mixing in some East Village and Brooklyn, melding them into jazz that sounded both foreign and familiar. 

RIJF2019_Day8-4Finally, I arrived at Max of Eastman Place atrium for what for me was the last "must see" for this year's RIJF, Sullivan Fortner Trio. I had heard the New Orleans native Fortner play as a sideman in several bands, including Roy Hargrove's, and in a duo album with vocalist Cecile McLorin Savant's, and wanted to hear him as a leader. He was joined last night with the great Dezron Douglas on bass and Joe Dyson on drums.  The trio's set started out quiet and introspective,  at times somber set as Fortner remembered the many artists in his life who have passed in the last few years (including Hargrove). Just as I had put out some posts to Instagram and Twitter to that effect, a switch went and the trio was off to the races for the last few songs of the night. Fortner is an amazing pianist who makes it look too easy and would look off (I want to say "wistfully") into the audience and look like he was following an attractive girl walking across the back of the venue (I glanced around ... he wasn't) with a slight smile on his face. Meanwhile his fingers are all over the piano. He also was quite funny, bantering with the audience throughout the performance.  After the introduction was made (including the obligatory fire exit announcement), Fortner said “part of jazz is knowing where the exita are...” (I've heard jazz musicians say similar things, as you need to know how you're going to get out of a solo). 


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A night of "and now for something completely different" at the Rochester International Jazz Festival ... just like we like it.

For me, the 7th night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival captures what makes the RIJF a great festival—both the diversity of the music and the reason "international" is part of the festival title.  Only two more nights to go, but so far my picks have all been spot on ... for me, that is. Here's what JazzRochester's ears heard on Thursday night, the 7th night of the RIJF:

RIJF2019_Day7-1I started out in Kilbourn Hall to hear the George Coleman Quartet.  Somehow, while I was familiar with many of the Miles Davis and other artists' albums upon which he appeared and remember the great sax solos, I was not as familiar with Coleman.  At 84, one could expect that this would be one of those nights where one of the legendary artists of jazz from the 50s and 60s appeared, but were greatly diminished. Coleman may have needed help on and off the stage and sat in a chair for the concert, but man that cat could blow!  He was joined by a great band, including fellow octogenarian Harold Mabern on piano (who was maybe one of the hardest working musicians at the festival this year, appearing in 3 different venues). Bringing festival Music Director, and accomplished jazz saxophonist, John Nugent on for the first numbers of the set, Coleman proved he came to play.  After a set that went well past the usual 7:00 pm, when the thundering standing O slowed down and the lights came up in Kilbourn, the band started putting their instruments down and milling around, but Coleman was not ready to stop and the band played another number. Encores rarely happen at Kilbourn, but then again after asking Nugent sit in it was probably not a problem, and I’m sure the crowd would have let him play until the 10:00 pm set....

RIJF2019_Day7-2Given that the Coleman gig didn't let out until after 7:20, I needed to hoof over to the Lutheran Church and was there presented with the first "and now for something completely different" experience of the night. DH's Random/Control a trio of Austrians playing arrangements of jazz standards—including Brubeck's Take Five and Ellington's In a Sentimental Mood—but with a twist (well quite a few twist). The instrumentation was unique, effectively a quartet with a piano and assorted reeds, and with bass and drums provided by a Sousaphone, beatboxing, all played by the same musician (plus a kick drum by the piano). Oh, and that same musician also occasionally plays a trumpet and trombone (and didgiredoo) and had some percussion strapped to his knees. The arrangements were inventive and used all this instrumentation to draw something new out of these jazz standards. The full house at the Lutheran for the first set (which is unusual on a week day) was eating it up, giving an enthusiastic standing O.  This band is a great example of why I love coming to this festival. I didn't know what to expect, but discovered something new... and my ears said "Wow"!  

RIJF2019_Day7-3Another venue and another "and now for something completely different" moment with the Elda Trio, who appeared at the Christ Church in the Made In the UK Jazz series. The members of the Elda Trio epitomize the “international” that is found all over this festival with Swedish vocalist Emilia Mårtensson,  Slovenian multi-instrumentallist Janez Dov on accordion (and some electronics), and Brazilian percussionist and composer, Adriano Adewale.  Mårtensson has a bright, clear voice that rang true through the sanctuary (of sound) that is Christ Church. While not particularly jazz, the music was beautiful and compelling, and all of the trio's members were constantly improvising off each other in songs that interwove the folkloric traditions of their respective cultures into something new.  One of my friends who saw them said he often has to leave before the end of the concerts in Christ Church, but he was transfixed at this one and stayed to the end of the thunderous standing O that followed their set. So did I....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A night of diverse, compelling music at the sixth night of the 2019 RIJF ...

Another night at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, another night of diverse, compelling sounds for my ears to take in. I don’t have too much time to write this post, so we’re going to get right to what my ears took on the 6th night of RIJF:

  • Started out at Kilbourn Hall with Raul Midon and Lionel Loueke, two completely different musicians, but who, as Loueke noted when he started the set, are “two brothers from other mothers”.  They played separate and then a small set together in the middle.  Loueke weaved his beautiful guitar with his signature vocalese that incorporates clicks inspired from the Xhosa language. Raul Midon came out and they played a set together that was awe-inspiring as they both glided across their guitars, interweaving and riffing off each other. Midon continued solo with a selection of songs from his Grammy winning albums, including the title track off his most recent “Bad Ass and Blind”.  They finished up together and the audience stood, dumbstruck by the artistry. 
  • I hoofed over (Midon and Loueke went long) over to the Lutheran Church for Swedish reedist (mostly sax and a cool baritone clarinet last night) Thomas Backman and his quartet.  The music alternated between achingly beautiful, jagged, and anthemic. Keyboardist Joselfine Lindstrand wrote the lyrics to Backman’s originals, which she sang with a beautiful and sometimes haunting voice backed up by the drummer Julia Schabbauer.  Some may remember Backman from a group a couple years back Klabbes Bank.
  • I finished the 6th night at the Temple Building Theater for Kandace Springs. Although vocalists are not usually my first choice, I always love those who also have chops on an instrument other than their voice. Her voice was beautiful with an incredible range as her and her trio romped through a set that included a wide range of songs starting with Carousel, with forays into the American Songbook, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Sade, with a little “cadenzas” of Oscar Peterson and Chopin (she’s classically trained). Springs voice and singing was powerful, smoky with a side of Saturday night and Sunday morning.



What’s on for my ears tonight?  Here’s the three I think I’ll hear:

  • George Coleman Quartet (Kilbourn Hall)
  • DH's Random/Control (Lutheran Church of the Reformation)
  • Elda Trio (Christ Church)
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Perchance to sleep? Not until I finished the 5th night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

And on the fifth day, JazzRochester’s publisher rested (only a little, maybe an extra hour of sleep). But before going home, there was some music to be had—with a bit of an adjustment to accommodate that sleep and a stop at the “office” chatting with some of the musicians from the last couple of nights at the Made in the UK Jazz series. On the 5th night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, here’s where my ears were to be found:

  • Ozmosys Band (Temple Building Theatre): A new band formed by the legendary drummer Omar Hakim with Rachel Z, bassist Linley Marthe and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. As I had not had a chance to hear anything by the band beforehand, I went with my memories of a previous project of Hakim and Rachel Z (Trio of Oz).  The musicians This high energy concert was something completely different a rocking jazz fusion with a lot of pyrotechnics of Rosenwinkel, Rachel Z’s intense riffs on the organ, Marthe’s deep grooves on bass and Hakim holding down on the skins.  I’m not a major fan of jazz fusion, but as anyone who reads this blog knows, I like all kinds of music and if it’s played by consummate musicians like these four (who have a strong foundation in jazz) I put my predilections aside, open my ears, and let the music decide. The chemistry of this group was clear ... they were having fun playing and, by their reaction, so was the audience. 
  • I wandered around for a while listening to the bands on Jazz Street (and getting some grub) before heading over to Christ Church for the second set of Trish Clowes’ My Iris group.  As I wrote on Twitter last night, their set full of complexity interwoven with melody ... a bit of darkness interwoven with light ... a bit of chaos in the order ... and a B3 Hammond organ which added a new and welcome voice. Afterwards I hung out with the band at my “office” giving up a bit more sleep for a welcome opportunity to chat with these young, talented UK musicians.  




Tonight, JazzRochester’s ears will be opening up for the following:

  • Lionel Loueke & Raul Midon (Kilbourn Hall
  • Thomas Backman (Lutheran  Church)
  • Kandace Springs  (Temple Theater
  • Tamar Korn & A Kornucopia @ Montage (a little overlap, so may or may not make this one if the crowd is large or I’m ready to go home)
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

From "weapons of mass percussion" to a trio of trios, the 4th night of the RIJF brought the goods

I decided not to try to hear everything on my list for the fourth night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, so trimmed off the 10:00 pm performance in a (albeit failed) attempt to get home a bit earlier for some much needed sleep.  From what I've heard about Paa Kow, I have a bit of regret... oh well. Ended up hanging a bit at my "office," for a time with the members of the band Enemy and tonight's Made In the UK Jazz group, My Iris.  Tonight, I'm really going to do it... really. 

Here's what JazzRochester's ears were up to last night:

  • Hiked over to Geva Theatre for the Brazilian percussionist Cyro Batista. Spread out before him on a table was an artist's palette of percussion instruments and various noisemakers. Batista started out using one that most in the audience probably thought was there to cool him down... a cheap handheld fan, which he used with another object and the microphone to create a rushing sound. Other sounds were made and the objects that made them were then thrown aside as there was plenty else there to make the next one.  Behind him, Batista had a PVC pipe "organ" that he slapped the tops with mallets, a la Blue Man Group.  Picking up an African instrument called a berimbau, which is a single wire attached to a bow with a gourd sounder on one end.  He called it amongst his "weapons of mass percussion" and I knew what was going in my next posting to Twitter.  His band (especially that accordion player!) was outstanding, even as it was the first time they'd played with Batista.  After a standing O that brought the band out for one more, as I saw the audience walking out, I noticed that most of them had a big smile on their face.  His work here was done....
  • I saw about 15 minutes of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio who were putting some "stank" on the Squeezers stage. I was there mostly to check out the new venue, which could pretty much be called the "Almost Big Tent" as it is very close to the same experience in there. 
  • While I enjoy most of the acts that are pulled into the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, I pretty much never miss when there are Finns on the stage. I'm not sure why.... I was familiar with Kari Ikonen as he has appeared at the RIJF 4 times, either as a leader or in another band, and knew that I was in for writing that Ikonen and the band would be building a sound collage, starting quite sparse and building to an anthemic climax. They delivered....
  • After downing some street meat (in this case Marty's Frisket...), I made a beeline to the Christ Church for Enemy, a trio of young Brits (but this time not in sharp suits with pencil leg trousers).  The band includes Kit Downes on piano, who the previous night had improvised on the church's unique pipe organ, Frans Petter Eldh on bass, and James Maddren on drums. These four are explorers, venturing out to the edges of what you think of when you think "jazz trio" music, moving from a simple melody to the carefully structured chaos of free jazz in an instant and then back again.  Great sounds.  Nice guys, too, I found when I was introduced to them when they came by Havana Moe's for a nightcap after the second set. 




Here's where my ears may find some music tonight....

  • Ozmosys (Temple Theatre)
  • Trish Clowes My Iris (Christ Church)
  • Mikkel Ploug Trio (Lutheran  Church of the Reformation)

I'll wander around until time to go to the first gig, but may cut out after the second to get some much needed sleep...

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

And on the 3rd Night of the Rochester International Jazz Fest, we went off the (previously mapped) path...

On Sunday night there were some changes to my prescribed movements though the music at the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, which resulted in some discovery and, as with the first two nights, a great night of music.  After my knees decided a walk to Geva and back was not a great idea, here's the path I took:

  • Stefon Harris Blackout: I could have left after this concert and just gone home satisfied with my night. Harris brought a great band to Kilbourn Hall including one of my favorite drummers, Terreon Gully, who just tore up the kit, and a great bassist who we hear with many of the top-shelf bands, Ben Wiliams.  The set opened and closed with high energy burners, with Stefon Harris alternating between a xylophone and marimba, the latter that was outfitted with lower note sound tubes that curled back toward the audience like an exhaust pipe of a chopper. In between some of the numbers, Harris waxed poetically about bringing empathy to the world through jazz, which has that quality at its core (he also chatted very charmingly about his two "babies" who are way out of diapers).  Toward the end of the first set, Harris called out to the audience to get 4 notes to completely improvise around and proceeded to do so solo before the band kicked in and they finished us off... a dangerous thing to do in an Eastman School of Music facility.
  • I love soul jazz and wanted to hit the Russell Scarbrough Soul Jazz Big Band on the Jazz Street stage, which I thought was supposed to start at 7:30 according to the schedule.  After leaving Kilbourn Hall, my friend and I went to get some street meat (Marty's) and sat and ate it, hearing a band play.  We thought it was the ESM group that was supposed to precede the Soul Jazz band.  Apparently they started early?  By the time we got over and realized what was going on we had missed half the set... but we caught the half with soloists guitarist and Eastman prof Bob Sneider and jazz flautist Ali Ryerson.
  • I just had to slide over to the Christ Church to hear a bit of Kit Downes improvising on the church's Craighead-Saunders replica baroque organ.  It was too unique and opportunity to miss and while I was unable to stay long for it, the bit I heard was sublime...
  • Somehow I've been doing this jazz thing for years and never really got to know the music of multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson, who I finished up the third night with at Max. With a great quartet including pianist Helen Sung and bassist Martin Wind, touring with a new album that features his main instrument, the tenor sax.  Before the concert commenced, Robinson was presented with 2 awards from the Jazz Journalist Association's Ed Trefzger (one for multi-instrumentalist and one for most unique instrument used in jazz). His set was full of small asides and banter with a dry humor, which started by explaining his hat, like a straw boater, but made out of reeds from his woodwinds.  As the band romped through some of his, Wind's and other compositions, I was wondering why I hadn't heard him before... he has such a rich tone in his playing and his music was both beautiful and complex. 



Now we start the march through the week toward the final two days of crazy crowds and exhausted ears.  Although my ears are fine, the rest of my body may need some rest soon, so the schedule that follows is, shall we say, "fluid":

  • Cyro Baptista (Geva Theatre, Wilson Stage)
  • Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage) (I may pass through this on my way to another...)
  • Kari Ikonen (Lutheran Church of the Reformation)
  • Enemy (Christ Church)
  • Paa Kow (Montage Music Hall)




This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

An eclectic path through the first night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

RIJF 2019 Day 1My 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)
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Where are JazzRochester's ears going to be during the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival?

RIJF logoThis blog's readership has a broad set of tastes in jazz and other music, so my approach is to tell you the artists and groups I'm planning on hearing at the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival. There are so many great artists playing this year who I want to hear, but due to scheduling and other issues I have to choose. In years like this one, where there are few artists playing who are on my "bucket list," my ears have a lot of room to roam.  My choices may change for the same reasons. 

The selections below are not listed in any order, but you should be able to catch them all in one night without leaving any venue early (or too early), check your favorite guide to figure out times and places that work with your schedule. Sorry, but I got busy and wasn't able to get this out until 4:00 pm of the first night.  

The jazz festival cannot really be planned in advance (at least mine can't...), but here goes:

Friday, June 21st

  • Leo Richardson Quartet (Christ Church)
  • Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) (Temple Building Theater)
  • Girls in Airports (Lutheran Church of the Reformation)
  • Sasha Berliner Quartet (Max at Eastman Place)

Saturday, June 22nd

  • 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)

Sunday, June 23rd

  • Over The Rhine (Geva Theatre, Wilson Stage)
  • Stefon Harris Blackout (Kilbourn Hall)
  • Scott Robinson Quartet (Max at Eastman Place)
  • Russell Scarbrough Soul Jazz Big Band (Jazz Street Stage)

Monday, June 24th

  • Cyro Baptista (Geva Theatre, Wilson Stage)
  • Paa Kow (Montage Music Hall)
  • Enemy (Christ Church)
  • Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage)
  • Kari Ikonen (Lutheran Church of the Reformation)

Tuesday, June 25th

  • Ozmosys (Temple Building Theater)
  • Mikkel Ploug Trio (Lutheran Church of the Reformation)
  • Trish Clowes My Iris (Christ Church)

Wednesday, June 26th

  • Lionel Loueke & Raul Midón (Kilbourn Hall)
  • Tamar Korn & A Kornucopia (Montage Music Hall) 
  • Kandace Springs (Temple Building Theater)
  • Thomas Backman (Christ Church)

Thursday, June 27th

  • George Coleman Quartet (Kilbourn Hall)
  • Veronica Swift (Montage Music Hall)
  • Elda Trio (Christ Church)
  • DH's Random/Control (Lutheran Church of the Reformation)

Friday, June 28th

  • Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley (Kilbourn Hall)
  • Sullivan Fortner Trio (Max at Eastman Place)
  • Itamar Borochov Quartet (Christ Church)
  • Nubya Garcia (Jazz Street Stage)

Saturday, June 29th

  • Kansas Smitty's House Band (Kilbourn Hall)
  • Tuomo Uusitalo Quartet (Lutheran Church of the Reformation)
  • Joey DeFrancesco (Temple Building Theater) or Trombone Shorty with Cha Wa (Midtown Stage)... depending on how I feel at the end

Well,  gotta go and get downtown to begin this nine days of music, friends and street food.  Share your choices and why in the comments, if you like. Watch these pages and the other JazzRochester channels for more....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

While at the 2019 RIJF check out the artists who play live jazz in and around Rochester the other 356 days of the year...

Rocjazz411For nine days in June the Rochester International Jazz Festival will also be presenting local musicians, Eastman jazz faculty & students, and our great local high school jazz bands.  This year is no different.  As I have in previous years I wanted to bring them to you in one post so you can see the wealth of talent (and talent to come) available for us to hear the other 356 days of the year after the RIJF (watch these pages for that...). I will continue my regular Wednesday posts tomorrow and next Wednesday if you don't get enough at the festival (or want to hear someone else who isn't appearing at the RIJF this year). It's not all jazz, but they're all Rochester....  

Friday, June 21st

  • West Irondequoit High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Teagan and the Tweets, 4:30 pm (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage)
  • Brockport High School Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Laura Dubin Plays West Side Story, 6:00 & 10:00 pm (The Wilder Room)
  • The All-In Brass Band, 6:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra Directed By Colin Gordon and Charlie Carr + Special Guest, 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Steve Gadd Band, 8:00 pm (Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre) (yes, he no longer lives here, but he is pretty connected to ROC)

Saturday, June 22nd

  • Webster Schroeder High School Jazz Band, 3:45 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Honeoye Falls-Lima High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Brighton High High School Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Dawn Thomson's Imagine That, 6:00 & 10:00 pm (The Wilder Room)
  • 78 RPM Big Band, 6:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)
  • Eastman-RCSD Jazz Ensemble & Mike Kaupa Junior Jazz Workshop, 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)

Sunday, June 23rd

  • Greece Olympia High School Jazz Band, 3:45 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Webster Thomas High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Zion Hill Mass Choir, 4:30 pm (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage)
  • School of the Arts Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Bill Dobbins, 5:45 pm & 7:45 pm (Hatch Recital Hall)
  • Penfield Rotary Big Band, 6:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)
  • ESM Jazz Honors Performance Unit 1, Würtzburg Ensemble, 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • The Campbell Brothers, 7:00 & 8:45 pm (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage)

Monday, June 24th

  • Escape Terrain, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County)
  • Fred Costello, 4:30 pm (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage)
  • Greece Arcadia High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Gates-Chili High School Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Brockport Big Band, 6:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)
  • ESM Jazz Honors Performance Unit 2, Ethan Cypress and the Eastman Trombones, 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Sonidos Unidos, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E/Baclay Damon Fusion Stage)
  • Jazz Scholarship Concert with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble directed by Bill Dobbins and guest Dave Glasser, 8:00 pm (Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre)

Tuesday, June 25th

  • Billy Petito, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County)
  • Soul Passenger, 4:30 pm (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage)
  • Bloomfield High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Greece Athena High School Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • New Horizons Big Band, Priscilla Todd Brown, Dir. 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Rochester Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Bill Tiberio Band, 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)

Wednesday, June 26th

  • Ryan Barski, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County)
  • Eastridge High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Herb Smith Freedom Trio, 4:30 pm (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage)
  • Spencerport High School Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Harold Danko, 5:45 pm & 7:45 pm (Hatch Recital Hall)
  • Prime Time Brass Band, 6:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)
  • New Horizons Vintage Jazz Band, Don Sherman, Dir., 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Funknut, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E/Baclay Damon Fusion Stage)
  • Music Educators' Jazz Ensemble, 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)

Thursday, June 27th

  • Mike Melito, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County)
  • Waterloo High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • The Buddahood, 4:30 pm (M&T Pavillion Squeezers Stage)
  • Pittsford-Mendon High School Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Gary Versace with Scott Robinson, 5:45 & 7:45 pm (Hatch Recital Hall)
  • Junior High Jazz Ensemble, 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Syndicate Jazz Band, 6:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)
  • Grupo IFE, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E/Baclay Damon Fusion Stage)

Friday, June 28th

  • Mike Kaupa, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County)
  • Fairport High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Penfield High School Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Bob Sneider's ECMS Jazz Performance Workshops, 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Greece Jazz Band, 6:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)
  • Jimmie Highsmith Jr., 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E/Baclay Damon Fusion Stage)

Saturday, June 29th

  • Harley School Jazz Band, 3:45 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Greece Odyssey High School Jazz Band, 4:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • Canandaigua High School Jazz Band, 5:15 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • ESM Jazz Honors Performance Unit 3: Aidan O'Connor, 6:00 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • New Energy Jazz Orchestra, 6:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)
  • Dirty Bourbon Blues Band, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E/Baclay Damon Fusion Stage)
  • Al Chez and the Brothers of Funk, 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm (Jazz Street Stage)
  • The Klick, 8:30 & 10:00 pm (Rochester Regional Health Big Tent)

All 9 nights, Bob Sneider and Karl Stabnau will be leading a late night jam session with local artists, students and amateur players at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. You never know who will join in (the artists are staying at the Hyatt and many come up to play. The jam sessions start at 10:30 pm each night and go until whenever they close down. There is no cover and food and beverages are available at The Street Craft Kitchen and Bar. There is free parking from 10:30 p.m. in the South Avenue Garage (connected to the Hyatt Regency Rochester Hotel) courtesy of the City of Rochester. Bring your ticket to The Street Craft Kitchen and Bar for validation. There are discounts for Club Pass and ticket holders. Show your Pass or RIJF headliner ticket stub/receipt.

See what I mean?  To learn more about some of these musicians and bands, see if you can access their websites on JazzRochester's Rochester Jazz Artists & Groups page, which is also available from a link at the top of the site above the banner.  Remember that some of them (and the rest) will be playing outside of the XRIJF. Check out my Wednesday posts on June 20th and 27th for listings during the festival.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2019 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival

Every year, I make a “grand plan” for JazzRochester's coverage of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. Most years, the amount of time I have to implement these plans falls short of my grand plan. This year has been no different. But as I noted last year, over the 12+ years that I’ve been doing JazzRochester, and covering the jazz festival in these pages, the success of the festival has changed my relationship with it. When I started this blog, there was not very much coverage of the Rochester jazz festival in the major media in Rochester and the traffic to JazzRochester would triple or better during the festival. Now, the media market is saturated with coverage and my little old JazzRochester blog is just another voice among the many news and other outlets that have much louder "voices." While I hope to gain new readers, the reduced traffic on the site itself (I'm focused elsewhere) is fine with me as it shows the success of the festival, and I hope that success may translate into an expanded audience for live jazz in and around during the other 356 days of the year. So, what can you expect from JazzRochester during the nine days of the RIJF? Here’s what I plan to do:

  • Increasingly over the past years I have been focused on getting out and hearing a broad spectrum of music during the festival, and … frankly… enjoying myself. The lineup this year has the usual mix of those artists of whom I'm familiar with and those I have never heard. As with last year, there are no artists at the 2019 festival who are on my “bucket list.” But as I’ve said before, it just makes it likely that my “picks” will morph during the festival and that I’ll create opportunities to discover new sounds and artists in real time. As John Nugent has said over and over, “it’s not who you know, it’s who you don’t know” that matters. I plan on hearing as much of the latter as possible, so my “itinerary” will be in flux … on purpose. 
  • During the RIJF, I will use the other JazzRochester channels, especially Twitter (currently at over 11.7K followers), the JazzRochester Facebook Page and JazzRochester on Instagram, to connect festival goers with the artists as they communicate about the festival and their music, as well as sharing images from the RIJF. In addition, I have created a Twitter list of a number of the jazz artists at RIJF that I’ll be checking out for that purpose (let me know of any more artists you find on that platform). I’ll also use these channels to share the information about the festival being put out by RIJF and other ROC coverage of the festival in real time. Follow us if you’re on those platforms.
  • I will try to do a "recap" post each day of what I ended up hearing the night before.
  • I will continue to do the Wednesday listings post to let you know about other live jazz in and around Rochester.  
  • I'll try to stay healthy (see 2018's last XRIJF post to see why I'm adding this to the list....).

I hope that you will let people know about JazzRochester during the festival, including those you chat with in line, so more people  who are discovering the wonderful music and community at this year's RIJF, and especially that played by the many local artists and bands and musicians who will be participating this year, are hip to where to find the most complete listings for live jazz during the rest of the year. Watch for a post about the local artists playing during RIJF that will publish later this week. 

Hope to see you on Jazz Street!  Say hi if you see me....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

June is here and it's time to start our coverage of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival!

It is now June and I think I’ve procrastinated enough in starting my coverage of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival.... The festival will overtake the streets of the East End of Rochester and beyond from June 21st through June 29th, bringing us nine days of jazz and other music. It will offer music of artists from all over the world and from the artists you can hear around Rochester the other 356 days of the year. Of course, not all of it is "jazz" as you may define it, but there is so much to hear and I hope you'll use the RIJF, like I do, as an opportunity to open your ears to new sounds. 

Although HOW I will be covering it is still a work in progress, I have a few thoughts on this year’s festival that I’ll share now:

  • While there are no “bucket list” artists that I’m looking forward to this year, the festival has its usual assortment of artists and groups who I’m not familiar with that I hope will again provide me with a rich tapestry of music to check out. Not that I don’t have some “must see” artists in my preliminary list of acts I intend to catch (I’ll try to share those between now and the start of the festival). John Nugent’s oft-repeated catch line of “it’s not who you know, it’s who you don’t know” still make sense. I’m a voracious explorer of music and don’t require that it be rooted in the jazz of any genre. As you can see from the concerts I share here and elsewhere, I don’t have any trouble stretching my ears. I look forward to a good stretch this year.
  • After a number of years of sponsorship by Xerox, I look forward to how new name sponsor CGI will bring its new media savvy to the festival and to working with them to bring the festival to you through all of the channels through which I share the festival.
  • There will be 1500+ artists from around the world at this year’s festival, with 320+ separate shows, including a record 100+ free shows. While the Xerox Auditorium will no longer be part of the festival, I’m looking forward to some of the shows that will be presented at the Geva Theatre (although I’ll probably be using the shuttle more as that hike is a bit longer than the one to Xerox in years past). Also, the new tent and stage at Parcel 5 will be an interesting addition to the festival.

For a huge amount of information on the festival, you should check out their press release of the Guide to the 2019 RIJF and if you have a smart phone, download the RIJF app.  Hope to see you on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.