After a two year hiatus from the Rochester International Jazz Festival, getting such a large dose of live jazz and other music is a real tonic for my soul and I'll probably try to soak as much up as possible on this last night. I know ... it'll be back and even good things must come to an end. On the last night of the RIJF here are my jazz picks for your consideration:
- Starting out the night with Kurt Elling "Super Blue" with Charlie Hunter. Back in Chicago years ago, I saw Kurt Elling perform at Andy's shortly after signing to Blue Note with a pick up band of local Chicago jazz guys. I've followed his career as one of the preeminent jazz vocalists since and have seen him perform a number of times. Like Joe Locke and some other artists, Kurt always brings something new and this outing fits no mold. Teaming up with the extraordinary guitarist Charlie Hunter to record a socially-distanced album SuperBlue, Grammy-winning Elling goes in a much different direction with Hunter (who co-produced), working with keyboardist DJ Harrison and drummer Corey Fonville from the funk/jazz/hip-hop group Butcher Brown. I've heard the album and am looking forward to hearing them live. Kurt Elling "Super Blue" with Charlie Hunter will be at Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 and 9:00 pm.
- Next up will be the Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio. Gunnlaugs hails from Iceland and, while rooted in the sparse and beautiful nature of that land, she and her husband (and drummer) Scott McLemore honed their craft for many years in the NYC jazz scene. She appeared at RIJF in 2012 and 2014. The Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio plays at the Glory House International at 7:30 and 9:30 pm.
- Next stop after wandering around a bit while storing up some of that live jazz fest vibe for the long winter months, will be Immanuel Wilkins. As profiled by Ammar Kalia in Downbeat Magazine, "saxophonist and composer Wilkins has established himself as a uniquely thoughtful and empathetic voice in jazz ... [and] weaves lyrical alto lines around the intricate instrumentation of his long-established quartet to produce music that traverses everything from skewed Thelonious Monk melodies to the raw power of Ornette Coleman’s breath." Wilkins will be appearing at the Temple Theater at 7:00 and 9:15 pm.
Other good jazz choices that I couldn't easily fit into my night included Drum Battle: Kenny Washington vs. Joe Farnsworth in the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 and 8:30 pm, the McDonald La Barbera Quintet "Trane of Thought" in The Wilder Room at 6:00 and 10:00 pm, and 3D Jazz Trio in the Spirit of Ray Brown appearing at Max's at Eastman Place at 6:15 and 10:00 pm.