260 posts categorized "Rochester International Jazz Festival"

Not surprised, but still disappointed ... RIJF must wait another year

image from www.jazzrochester.comCGI Rochester International Jazz Festival producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent announced today that, despite intensive work and holding onto a hope that a socially-distanced festival could take place this year at the more spacious location at RIT, they have decided that a festival this year is not viable from a business or health and safety perspective, due to necessary capacity and other restrictions under New York health guidelines. The RIJF will be postponed until June 17-25, 2022. “We will be back next year and are committed to making every effort to move forward in downtown Rochester and also explore expanding the Festival with programming at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT),” said Iacona and Nugent. As Nugent notes:

My heart is heavy. All of our colleagues, with whom we block book much of the amazing talent we present, postponed their festivals months ago. We did not want to throw in the towel but we are now left with no viable alternatives. As we tried to plan, the plethora of logistical barriers including capacity limits, border closures, artists reluctant to travel, limited availability of talent to book, visas for international artists now invalid, and more. We fully realize that the loss of live music has created a huge void in our lives and it has been career-ending for many musicians, but we will bring RIJF back next year with the high level of superior artistry our patrons have come to expect, and in an environment that will be inspiring and uplifting.

I can't say I'm surprised, but of course I'm disappointed. Now that I'm starting to get out to hear live music again, albeit in a greatly subdued way, I am more aware of what I was missing and was really looking forward to RIJF, even out in Henrietta.  Unfortunately, while NY is opening up, there is still way too much up in the air with the pace of vaccination slowing, the variants multiplying across the world, and the resulting likelihood that some restrictions will be with us for some time. Hopefully, by June 2022 we'll be at a place where the festival can again fill the streets of Rochester with music and crowds.

For more information, see full Press Release on the CGI Rochester International website.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

There will be a Rochester International Jazz Festival in 2021 ... just not in Rochester

image from www.jazzrochester.comIn case you haven't heard elsewhere, Marc Iacona and John Nugent, producers of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, t0day announced that planning is underway to present the RIJF's 19th edition this year from July 30th to August 7th at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Henrietta. 

Iacona and Nugent noted that as everyone’s collective health is the top priority, the move this year to RIT from downtown Rochester allows them more flexibility to accommodate anticipated health guidelines that will likely dictate increased audience spacing. Moving it later in the summer also will allow for more people to be vaccinated and give the festival optimal use of RIT’s space since it will be in-between semesters.

Of course, all plans are dependent on New York’s public health guidelines being favorable for travel and large gatherings. The decision to move forward will be made in spring and the line up and venues at RIT will be announced at that time as well.

You can read the whole press release and a new FAQ document about the 2021 Festival on RIJF's website.

So, what do you think about moving to RIT?  Let us know in the Comments or on the Facebook page.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

RIJF makes a hard choice ... the jazz festival will be postponed to 2021

image from www.jazzrochester.comMarc Iacona and John Nugent, producers of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, announced today that the RIJF's nine-day 19th edition, first rescheduled from June 19-27 to October 2–10 because of thepandemic, will now be postponed to June 18–26, 2021. As the coronavirus rages throughout the U.S., most who I've talked with thought this decision would come, although some hoped for some vestige of the festival to remain.    

"This is the decision we didn’t want to make,” said Iacona and Nugent. “We held out hope for as long as possible even as most major festivals and concert events around the world were postponing. But as we have now arrived at a critical junction, needing to finalize artists and logistic arrangements, reality has prevailed."

There is much more about why in the festival's announcement on their website and details for next steps for those who already have tickets to the Eastman Theatre shows and Club Passes.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Silenced, but not forgotten... Jazz in June is gone

29D20A64-5ABE-4797-BFFB-0F586CBCD964JazzRochester, the blog at least, has been on "radio silence" for over 2 months.  Of course, I don't need to tell you why.  I've been sharing global live streams from AllAboutJazz on a tab above, and other global and local content on Facebook and Twitter (if you haven't "liked" or followed, there are links at the top of the right panel), but with everything else that was going on in the world I just didn't see the point? But today I would have started recovering from the nine days of live music, friends, street food, beer, crowds, lines and more live music that is the Rochester International Jazz Festival, which would have ended yesterday had the pandemic not caused its cancellation.  I couldn't let that pass without comment here.  

For Rochester jazz fans of all stripes the RIJF is a chance to discover new sounds, to meet new friends and reconnect with our old "jazz fest" friends, and to soak up the scene of thousands of other fans from all over the world experiencing these things together.  I sorely missed Jazz in June and expect many of you did, too. I'm wondering what is coming?  Will RIJF happen in October as it is currently scheduled?  Should it?  If it does come in October how will it be different in these times? How are you getting your jazz fix?  As live jazz in the other 356 days of the year starts up, will you be getting out to hear any?  

What do you think? Leave a comment to this post and let us know ... I hope to see you on Jazz Street again! 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A message of hope from RIJF producers... Jazz in October?

RIJF logoMarc Iacona and John Nugent, producers of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, released an updated statement on April 27th on the status of their plan for a rescheduled event as previously announced.

Greetings from our RIJF team. This is a message of HOPE. We hope this finds you healthy and safe as we all do our part to social distance. And we are hopeful for a better tomorrow, with a full "flattening of the curve" allowing us to return to some form of normal.

Music is the soul of all humanity and we all crave the spirit of creative improvised music now more than ever. This has been a trying time for festivals and live events including RIJF as we have been forced to make painful decisions to either cancel or postpone our events and see a domino effect of financial and emotional burdens and in some cases devastation.

Rather than giving up during this time of uncertainty, we are continuing to take a hopeful course and are forging ahead to the best of our ability to reschedule our 19th edition festival for October 2-10. These plans are fully predicated on being able to gather safely according to recommendations of our health and government officials. If we are able to proceed with our plans, we will follow all guidelines as specified by our health and government officials. We will also take additional precautions to provide our patrons with masks and hand sanitizer.

As we mentioned in our last email, we have been diligently communicating with venues and all artists to reschedule the festival. Many artists we had expected to present to you in June want you to know they are ecstatic about the opportunity to be part of a rescheduled festival!

As one might expect, the revised program will feature changes. To make an analogy, over several months, our team had completed a beautiful several thousand-piece puzzle for June 19-27. Then a massive unexpected windstorm came along, blowing all the pieces into the air.

We have, however, begun the process of putting this huge puzzle back together and reshaping it to be as brilliant as we had originally intended.

Read the full statement and updated FAQs with answers to more of your questions about refunds for tickets for those artists who will not be appearing and other issues.  

While early October may in the end be too optimistic, we should keep an open mind as there is still room for the festival to adjust its scope and format as required to keep us and the artists safe.  In the end, it is likely to be very different than what it has been in the past, but we may still hear some live RIJF jazz this year!  

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

You knew it was coming ... RIJF producers announce cancelation of June 19-27 festival due to pandemic. Hope to reschedule to Fall.

The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent announced today that the RIJF's 19th edition, originally scheduled for June 19-27, will be canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but that they are working hard to reschedule the festival to fall of 2020. In their media advisory, Iacona and Nugent said:

In the past two weeks since we announced our 2020 festival lineup, our world has been turned upside down. The health crisis we are experiencing has resulted in significant loss of life and illness, growing fear, and unprecedented disruption in all aspects of our lives.

During this time we have been communicating around the clock with artists and other festivals around the world, as we are all in similar circumstances, trying to determine what we can and cannot do.

Most importantly, we have been closely communicating with the City of Rochester and Monroe County and its Department of Public Health. It is with a very heavy heart that we announce today that we must cancel our 19th edition festival for June 19-27. This is a matter of public safety. We need to do our part to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe.

We are however doing everything in our power to reschedule the festival and present it this fall. That is our objective at this time. We are in communication with all venues. We will be offering all artists in our headliner, club pass and free show series a new slot on our schedule. Artists are anxious to work and perform. This is their life and mission as it is ours. So, during the next few weeks, we will be working hard to rearrange this schedule.

We cannot tell you how devastated we are to have to do this – emotionally, spiritually and artistically – especially at a time when we need music the most.

Although the music is not going to play June 19-27, we are going to do everything in our power to make it play this fall.

As we have been doing throughout this difficult time, we will continue to communicate with you and keep you informed of our progress. We thank you for your support, patience and understanding.

I had held off starting my coverage as it became clearer with each day that the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic was likely to make this cancellation necessary.  Of course, it's the right thing to do and John and Marc are to be thanked for making the hard decision.  Hope they are successful and that we are in some sort of new normal that will allow the festival to proceed in the Fall.  


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

The Rochester International Jazz Festival is a go ... for now

Today, the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival announced online that they are moving forward to present nine days of jazz and other music from June 19-27. The festival will go forward in 21 Venues (including the return of the former Xerox Auditorium), with 335+ concerts and over 100 free shows and other events. Free music will include Taj Mahal, Kool and the Gang, the Allman Betts Band, and Tommy Emmanuel. Trombone Shorty has been added for the first time in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Yes, the producers know that there is a big question mark hanging over the festival with the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 in the Rochester area. They released a video statement about that.

Optimism is a good thing these days. I'll get into more details about the festival in the meantime and keep you updated here and in JazzRochester's other channels as we travel through this new normal over the next months.  Stay well and we'll get through this...


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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.

It's that time again ... XRIJF announces the 2016 festival lineup

image from www.jazzrochester.comIt always sneaks up on me. I'm going along through the Rochester winter (although not so much this year) and all of a sudden, I get the email that the lineup for the XRIJF is coming up soon.  I'm not sure why... it always arrives about the same time ... however, I'm always surprised and realize that Jazz in June is only a few months away.  Jazz in June this year, will venture into July, running from June 24th through July 2nd.

Today's announcement was different mostly in location. A new venue this year is where the wandering Squeezers' stage has moved to in 2016—Anthology, a new 900-person music venue off East Avenue just short of Alexander Street. It will be a great venue and close to the footprint of the rest of the XRIJF. But where new venues show up, others disappear (at least this year) as the Lyric Opera venue on East (a couple blocks past Anthology), where many saw Joey Alexander last year, will not be part of the footprint this year at least. The other new venue will, as expected for some time, be moving the other direction toward our revitalizing downtown, with Trombone Shorty holding court in a July 2nd only venue where the food court at Midtown Plaza used to be. While there were no details at the presser, Kilbourn Hall and Max lines will be handled in such a way that the 3 hour line waits for these popular venues may be a thing of the past.  Additionally, Kilbourn's late concerts will be at 9:00 pm, giving you a chance to catch some more music before you head home, bleary-eyed (OK, I'm talking about me....). 

XRIJFAnnouncement1But saying that today's press conference was not so different from previous years is not to say that the lineup announced was same-old-same-old. Chick Corea (and Joey Alexander) are going to be in the Big House (it's not every year that there is jazz there) and there are some great options in the Club Pass venues. There is a new O'Canada series at the Rochester Club. All in all it is the usual great smorgasbord of music, with some artists from recent years returning, but with new, intriguing artists from all over the globe coming to play here (often for the first time in the states). I'm not going to go into details here, but I already see some "must hear" jazz artists and others that I hope to check out as I definitely won't hear them anywhere else. Over the weeks between now and June 24th I hope to explore the 2016 XRIJF (the 15th year) in these pages. For now, check out the XRIJF website, where you can find all the info, get tickets, and find out all things XRIJF. Here's the grid

After the 2016 XRIJF wraps, this blog will celebrate 10 years of helping you find live jazz in and around Rochester (and covering the XRIJF). Actually, I started it in 2005 at a different location, Jazz@Rochester started in earnest on August 31, 2006. Wow!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

All the picks posts for the 2014 XRIJF in one place....

“XRIJFI thought I'd add this feature post at the top of the blog to guide you to my previously published posts for each evening of the XRIJF. As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes in music. I may play a jazz blogger on the Internet, but I have a wide range of musical interests and a hunger to hear new sounds and stretch. They are generally possible to hear in one night (that would be with an emphasis on "generally"...you may have to miss part of one to make another and there are some where you just have to make a choice). In each post, I try to add some additional links, especially to video of the artists performing to give you a taste of their art so you know what you're getting when you go to hear:

There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings and make your own decisions.  Let us know what you think in the comments to this or the individual posts, especially if you saw one of the picks.

If you want to check out some of the "back story" from the artists at this year's festival on Twitter, you can follow their tweets on a separate page of the blog where I've embedded the Jazz@Rochester Twitter "stream."

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

The jam at XRIJF is at the "after hours" party every night

GVB Bell imageEvery night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, after the last concert is over and they're packing up the stages for overnight, some XRIJF patrons who are not yet ready to call it quits head over to the Rochester Plaza Hotel where there is an opportunity to watch (and more importantly hear) music "magic" happen, which can be the result when an eclectic and naturally improvisational group of musicians get together, imbibe some beverages and are backed by some consumate professionals. 

For 13 years, guitarist and Eastman prof Bob Sneider has emceed and led the festival's nightly jam session at the Rochester Plaza State Street Bar & Grill, which runs each night of the festival from 10:30 pm to 2:30 am. He is usually joined by bass played by Phil Flanigan or Dan Vitale, and drummer Mike Melito. Bob keeps the music flowing until last call, even when the artists are not yet "ready" to join in (Bob lines up a talented set each night of Eastman students and amateurs to let them get some experience playing for an audience, and many of them have some real, if still to be developed chops). Festival producer John Nugent, himself an accomplished jazz saxman, I think has missed sitting in at the jam session only once in 13 straight years.

The artists, almost all of whom are staying at the Rochester Plaza, often hang together, but are generally open to talking with fans. There is always some power networking going on among the artists and other music people there. However, either with or without prodding, some will eventually grab their instrument or give Phil, Dan or Mike a break.  When that happens it is sometimes magic, with several musicians from disparate groups creating great musical moments and have at time brought down the house.

The recent upgrade to the space at the Rochester Plaza Hotel where this all happens has really opened up the space and made it more open and easier to navigate when the crowds get heavy. There is seating and food outside as well (and sometimes video and piped in sound ... won't promise until I've been down myself).

But be forwarned, while there is good music going on right from the start, the "magic" when it comes usually comes after midnight...

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

The music I wanna hear on June 26th of the XRIJF ....


As the excitement builds for the start of the festival tomorrow, I decided that I should pull out as many of the stops as possible to get these "pre-festival" posts out before the Rochester International Jazz Festival begins (tomorrow), as all bets are off once it gets underway. We'll see about tomorrow... but you get one tonight at least.

On Thursday, June 26th, the seventh night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to get to the Club Pass gigs of the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Manuel Valera: Although I would love to see pianist Manuel Valera with his band New Cuban Express (I would love to see a new Cuban series someday at the XRIJF... hint, hint...), he will be playing solo piano at XRIJF in Hatch Hall. As Howard Mandel, jazz writer and President of the Jazz Journalists Association notes about Valera, it is an "unalloyed pleasure to to discover a young man so accomplished that his potential seems boundless" I have to agree. For a taste, here is Valera working solo (apparently at home) on John Coltrane's Giant Steps.
  • Phaedra Kwant: Described as a "musical chameleon," this Dutch bassist, singer, lyricist and composer tries to "create my own musical signature by using less conventional forms of compositions, sounds and arrangements", combining her virtuosic grooves with melodic lines and leaving "sufficient room for improvisation." Here she is at Dizzy's Rotterdam (albeit a few years ago) for a taste.
  • Anders Hagberg Quartet: There are not a lot of flautists out there plying the jazz trade and Anders Hagberg is one of the best (along with the soprano saxophone) on the international scene. In addition to his own projects such as the Quartet, Hagberg toured worldwide with groups such as Mynta, Yggdrasil and the New Jungle Orchestra and worked with master percussionist Marilyn Mazur (who was last here in 2010 with trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg). For a taste, here is Hagberg on flute playing the song Zawinul and also some amazing sounds playing Caravan on the contrabass flute. 
  • Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: And now for something completely different ...brass sounds from my former home town, Chicago. In the 90s, this group of 8 brothers brought together their musicianship (a trait throughout their whole family), their jazz roots and a hip hop sensibility, and made a living busking on the streets of Chicago for many years (first time I heard them was on the streets of Chi-town). The Hyptnotic Brass Ensemble will be a fun show and they are unlike any other brass band you've heard. For a taste, check out this live performance of Planet Gibbous outside a subway station in Times Square.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...usually). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 26th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 6: Only three more days of the festival to go, will I make it? Stay tuned...


So, I was getting a bit worried about pounding all these posts (and others I have in the queue) before the festival starts on Friday and then
"discovered" (again) that being in this situation is not a new thing for me. Last year, I gave up and posted only ONE post with my picks instead of the nine I've committed to this year.  Serves me right for not looking at last year to see what precedents I may have set .... But now I'm committed now (or should be)!

So, on Wednesday, June 25th, the sixth night of the XRIJF, I've picked the following artists to try to get a listen to (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Mike Stern/Bill Evans Band featuring Steve Smith and Tom Kennedy: While I don't always go for the fusion side of jazz, I enjoy it when played by great musicians. Stern, Evans and the rest of this band are top shelf. I've been reading about Stern's guitar playing and now I want to hear it. For a taste, here they are live at the Duketown Festival in 2013
  • Warren Wolf & The Wolfpack: Although I wasn't familiar with Warren Wolf but in getting cuts for my 2014 Spotify playlist (see the middle column of the blog), found some tracks and really dug them. You can check Warren and the Wolfpack out on this video from a live gig at his alma mater Berklee College of Music in Boston, brought to us by radio station WBGO.
  • David's Angels: This Swedish/Danish group is another genre-busting group, which is not uncommon in the Nordic Jazz series at XRIJF.  As you might have guessed from some of my previous picks this year and over previous jazz festivals, while I love jazz (and straightahead at that) my ears are not slaves to any genre. Here is a video of David's Angels performing their song Visions in Sweden. 
  • The Brain Cloud: While they sorta had me with the name of the band, I love Western swing which is a loose definition of this NYC band's genre. The name Brain Cloud name apparently comes from an old Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys song that goes "My brain is cloudy, my soul is upside down...," which you can take a listen to in the Brain Cloudy Blues.

As you can see by the number of picks, I am unlikely to get to see all of these. Geez, I also would have loved to catch Diane Schuur and the Brian Kellock & Tommy Smith gig, but at least at this juncture, I'm sticking with the "who you don't know side" of XRIJF (but who knows...?). As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 25th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF 2014: Of course there is some "homespun" talent at the festival

We have a lot of jazz and other musicians conveniently located right here in Rochester and they will be out in force again this year. The number of local artists (and artists who hail from around here) playing the festival has increased over the years.

This year, you'll find the following locals gracing the Club Pass and other stages, including (to save space, I'm listing them here alphabetically and the links will take you to their XRIJF artist page, providing times and venues):

During the week, there are the noontime concerts at the Rochester Central Public Library downtown. Listed below alphabetically; click on the link to find out when:

And of course there are the great High School Bands we all love to listen to while we get our first beer and get in line (or just sit on Jazz Street and the other venues and chill). Listed below alphabetically; click on the link to find out when your favorites be playing the Jazz Street Stage:

Eastman School of Music has a list of their faculty and students playing the XRIJF, too (many of them also listed above).

I apologize if I missed any (and feel free to point it out so I can amend). You can find out information on a number of these artists on this blog by checking out their sites linked to from Rochester Jazz Artists Links button at the top of the page. Remember that you can go hear many of these artists throughout the year, so if you miss them at XRIJF (as I will on many, I'm afraid....), you can likely catch them later.Just watch my listings posts published every Wednesday or, if you prefer to be notified by email, put your email address in the box in the middle panel, follow the instructions, and you'll get all the posts to this blog.  You can check tomorrow and next Wednesday for those playing elsewhere around ROC during the XRIJF.  

In addition to the above, the nightly late nigth jams at the State St. Bar & Grill at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, which in addition to Bob Sneider and the guys usually includes local students and others who sit in for a tune or two before the XRIJF artists step up to the stage for a jam. There will likely be some other performances around the "footprint" of the XRIJF that are not part of the XRIJF as well.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 5: From Cannonball to creole, the XRIJF is a smorgasboard of sound ....


Some hard bop, perhaps some Creole flavors, a bit of stew from a group of Norwegians and Poles. This is on the menu for me on June 24th of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

On June 24th, the fifth night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to hear these picks (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues):

  • Louis Hayes & The Cannonball Legacy Band: One thing I've noticed about this year's festival is that fewer of the old lions of jazz are present. While that is not unexpected given the age of those who blazed trails in jazz or worked with Monk, Coltrane, Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderly and other players who did. Louis Hayes, who kept time with those four and so many others like them will bring his group that pays tribute to the music of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, one of the most popular jazz groups of the 1960s-70s. Although from 2008, I'm sure this video of a performance in Brazil will give you a good idea of what you'll be in store for in Kilbourn Hall. I believe the current lineup features some heavy hitters as well, including Vincent Herring on alto, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Rick Germanson on piano, and Dezron Douglas on bass.
  • Etienne Charles: Born in Trinidad, educated in Florida and New York, trumpeter (and steel drum and cuatro player) Etienne Charles is an artist that works a lot of musical influences into the gumbo of his sound, such as on his most recent CD Creole Soul, but can also hold it down, such as the hard bop of this smoking In the Winelight at B Sharps Jazz Club in Talahassee, FL.  Not being as familiar with his work before this, I'm looking forward to his set and hearing more of it later.
  • Jacob Young's "Forever Young": This group formed with guitarist Young, a Norwegian American, saxophonist Trygve Seim, and the members of the Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski's trio, releasing an album on ECM. If you want to get a taste, check out ECM's Forever Young site. Apparently the first two cuts have a more Brazilian influence.

As you can see, I've only got three picks for this night.  I'm leaving the last as a wildcard, although possibles include Peter Bernstein & Friends, Blind Boy Paxton, or 'dose of 'bones with the always fun Bonerama who have appeared at the festival numerous times. On the other hand as I will have a few more days to go before finishing, this may be the day I go home to sleep early.... nah!

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 24th and make your own decisions.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 4: Monday of the festival is a heady brew of jazz ....

“XRIJFOne of the things about this being my blog rather than a news outlet is that I am not trying to pick the best for the most. My readers (at least those whom I've met) are all over the board on the types of jazz that they love. I cannot make picks that will make them all happy so I'm just going pick some of the Club Pass gigs and others that I'm hoping will make me happy. On June 23rd, the fourth night of the XRIJF, it'll make me very happy if I can hear these picks (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues):

  • Vijay Iyer: He's playing with his trio in Kilbourn on Monday (and in Hatch solo on Tuesday). One of my favorite jazz artists these days, Vijay Iyer is one of the most innovative and interesting jazz pianists around. I'll head to get in the Kilbourn line early for this one. You can read all about why in Jeff Spevak's great profile in the D&C, but I just want to make sure that I hear him play.
  • Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio: After winning the Thelonius Monk Institute Jazz Saxophone competition, this young woman has been tearing it up in New York and elsewhere. If you don't believe me, then listen to this set at the Berklee College of Music, presented by WGBO.
  • Nels Cline & Julian Lage: These two guitarists are eclectic and innovative and I'm really looking forward to seeing them play together. Wilco guitarist Nels Cline's website's page on his collaboration with Lage says their set will feature compositions by both players, noting that "[t]hose familiar with Cline's work may be surprised to hear him play without effects pedals or looping devices; those familiar with Lage's work may be surprised to hear him play totally 'free' improvisation." A taste of them playing is available on Soundcloud. The Little Theatre space should be a great venue for this gig as well.
  • Kari Ikonen Trio: As Kari Ikonen's website puts it, this trio "cooks with the best European ingredients, the art of Afro-American cuisine and finest Oriental spices. . . . Chef Kari Ikonen and his team serve up a menu that combines his own creations with fresh interpretations of traditional Armenian dishes and classic recipes from cordons bleus like Coltrane or Shorter."  I'll take an order of that... Here they are live in a video of the Trio from last year.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 23rd and make your own decisions.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 3: Opening your ears to who you don't know on June 22nd ...

“XRIJFOne of XRIJF Music Producer John Nugent's sayings that I subscribe to wholly is "it's not who you know, it's who you don't know" (even have the t-shirt).  Opening your ears to who you don't know, at least for me, leads to new music I want to hear more of. I've started many relationships with new music at the jazz fest.  In that spirit, I'm going to try to get out to hear these picks for Day 3, June 22nd, of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

  • Cécile McLorin Salvant: Like Gregory Porter last year, Cécile McLorin Salvant has made a big splash on the jazz scene in the past year.  I missed her concert in Buffalo at the Art Love Jazz series at the Albright-Knox Gallery and heard that it was fantastic. Check out her performance and interview on WNYC
  • Benedikt Jahnel Trio: This trio with a "Zen groove aesthetic" will sound great in the Max at Eastman venue and what I've heard from their recent ECM recording tells me this may be the show I see at the end of the evening to chill. Check out more on the group's site.
  • Harris Eisenstadt Golden State: While I love straightahead jazz, you may notice that I can tend to pick some of the groups that may challenge your ears a bit. I'm happy that some groups at XRIJF this year that will expand our horizons a bit. Harris Eisenstadt's Golden State project is one of those groups. Just wish that fellow Chicagoan and AACM alum Nicole Mitchell, who was a member of the group at its inception, was going to be along for the ride as I didn't get a chance to hear her when I was living in Chi-town.  Eisenstadt made a short video about the project.
  • Hot Club of Detroit: Love me some Gypsy jazz al la Django. Hot Club of Detroit eschews percussion, but I'm intrigued that on their most recent disc Junction they have brought in saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who is better known as a member of the iconoclastic Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Don't know if he'll be with them at XRIJF, though. Here's a video to give you the flavor.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes. There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the XRIJF listings for June 22nd and make your own decisions.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 1: The skinny on my jazz festival and some picks for Friday, June 20th

“XRIJFIf you are trying to hear as much music as possible while at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (June 20-28), you can't really go wrong as there is great music everywhere. Free on the street, in Kilbourn Hall and Eastman Theatre, and in the Club Pass venues—there is music everywhere!

If however, like me, you have picked out the music you'd like to hear beforehand, you are bound for frustration if you try to hear too much each night (and there is SO MUCH I want to hear!) as you run between venues, stand in lines, and also try to get the odd beer or street food along the way. Maintaining that kind of pace (4-5 concerts a night) for 9 days can be done, but it takes a toll (and a spreadsheet...). Like those folks you see at concerts spending most of their time holding up and watching the pixelated video image of the performance on their camera or tablet, you may end up missing out on the magic taking place right before your eyes and ears. It becomes work. As Jazz@Rochester is not a job but a passion, over successive jazz festivals, I've moved away from the the frenetic pace (although admittedly mine will be more than many). I am at the festival to listen to some great music, get introduced to some new sounds, and have a good time. Somewhere in there I hope to connect my readers to what's going on there, the artists and the general "conversation" around the XRIJF through this blog and the other places you find Jazz@Rochester. 

I have some initial choices for each night, but I leave it open to the endless shifting variables of each evening to determine my final choices and always leave my mind open to changing my plan. On some days it might be possible to hear all of them (or at least portions of some) without bending the rules of space and time, but like I said ... these are just a first cut. What I'll be doing in this and eight other, much shorter, posts is letting you know what I'd like to hear each night. I'll link into XRIJF's page on the artist or group, if it is useful, and link to other sources to learn more about them and their music.  I have pretty eclectic tastes so not all of them will be jazz (and that's OK...), but like the festival, most of them will be. I'll expect that you'll follow the link to get the information about venue and times, or you might just pick up the XRIJF app for your smartphone to help with that.

So, at last, now my "picks" for June 20th of the XRIJF are:

  • Roy Hargrove: His first show at the Harro East will a great kickoff to the 2014 XRIJF as I believe I saw him at one of the earlier RIJFs after arriving in ROC in 2002. 
  • Partisans: UK group Partisans is opening up a US tour here and based on what I'm hearing on a Youtube playlist I found (and their site) will be an intense set, especially in the setting of Christ Church.
  • Sun Trio:  From Finland, Sun Trio had me when I read the quote in their bio from All About Jazz approximating their style to British artist David Hockney (but I'm weird that way...). We'll see if I agree with that assessment, but it fits my bill of checking out some new sounds (and I've usually enjoyed the Finnish groups that Nordic Jazz Now has brought to the Lutheran Church). You can check them out on their website or this trio cut I found on YouTube
  • Akiko Tsuruga Quartet: Anyone that reads this blog regularly knows I have something for B3s and the organ trio groove and Akikio Tsuruga and her quartet can cook (here with Lou Donaldson). 
  • Holophoner: This is a group including trumpeter Eastman alum Mike Cottone with six other young jazz musicians who met in 2012 after being selected to attend the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Performance in LA. The group performed throughout the globe as part of that Institute experience Here is a full live performance of Holophoner did at the Blue Whale.  

The above are the gigs I've selected for myself for Day 1, but of course there will be a lot of other great music out there that I might be sorry I missed (or may end up at ... who knows?).  There are also the great free shows on Friday the 20th, including jump jive with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, local artists (who will be profiled in a separate post) and the high school jazz bands that get us going at the beginning.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Less than a month until the 13th XRIJF gets underway . . .

Believe it or not, the 13th Edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival will be upon us in 30 days! This year's festival will feature more than 1,200 artists from around the world playing all kinds of music in 20 venues in downtown Rochester. There will continue a number of free shows around Rochester during the festival. Of course, there are the headliner free shows on the street with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Lou Gramm, Marcus Miller Band, Soulive and George Thorogood and the Destroyers. With the support of the City of Rochester, Rochester General Health System, The Community Foundation, Wegmans, RG&E and Lidestri, XRIJF will be presenting over 75 free shows on six outdoor stages and free noon concerts at the downtown Rochester Monroe County Library. The popular nightly jam sessions continue at the Rochester Plaza Hotel on State Street. The revised layout has made that venue so much more inviting to this veteran.

In addition to being one of the world's largest jazz festivals, Rochester's festival also presents one of the more extensive lineups of artists from around the world. This year there are artists and groups from 19 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Aruba, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, England, Scotland, France, Mali, Israel, Netherlands and Poland. The festival's popular Made in the UK series is now in its seventh year and remains the largest presentation of British jazz outside the UK. Nordic Jazz Now, will celebrate its eighth year at the festival and always presents some of the best and quirkiest music at the festival .

There is a new venue this year called "Squeezers at the Inn on Broadway." The Inn was featuring live music anyway the past couple of years, so it is a good idea for the folks at XRIJF to "bring them into the family." Squeezers will be a tent with a capacity of 500, adjacent to the Inn on Broadway and will present 18 jazz, blues, and R&B concerts during the nine days. Squeezers is named in honor of the former Bandbox on State Street, which was also known as Squeezers, and is sponsored the DiMarco family in honor of the former club's owner, Joe Strazzeri of Rochester are sponsoring the venue.

Our local Public TV station WXXI will again film 4 concerts in Kilbourn Hall for national distribution on PBS stations. Also returning will be the XRIJF Gerry Niewood Scholarship Concert, which is free, on Monday, June 23 at 8:00 p.m. with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble directed by Bill Dobbins and special guest John Sneider. The 2014 Scholarship recipients will be announced at the concert. The festival has awarded more than $130,000 in scholarships to 31 Eastman School of Music students since 2002. Continuing with the educational angle, 22 of the great regional high school jazz bands will be performing on the City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage presented by The Community Foundation. This year while standing in line for food or Kilbourn (or sitting down for a bit) we'll be hearing students from high school bands from Bloomfield, Brighton, Brockport, Buffalo Academy, Canandaigua, Eastridge, Fairport, Hilton, Honeoye Falls Lima, Spencerport, Greece Arcadia, Greece Athena, Greece Odyssey, Greece Olympia, Newark, Pittsford Mendon, Pittsford Sutherland, MCC, School of the Arts, Webster Schroeder, Webster Thomas, West Irondequoit. The Jazz Workshops for Aspiring Music Students is returning. This series of five structured jazz workshops is sponsored by Wegmans, hosted by Bob Sneider, Eastman School of Music Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media and Senior Instructor of Jazz Guitar, and led by five visiting international musicians performing at XRIJF. Aspiring students will meet, listen to and learn from professional jazz musicians and also play. The series will be held in room 120, the Ray Wright Room, at Eastman School of Music from 1:00-2:30 p.m. Workshops are open to all aspiring grade school and high school music students, no pre-registration is required.

Using the XRIJF app, I have gone over the schedule and made some picks for my XRIJF this year and hope to start telling you all about them soon. My picks are, by definition, subject to change, but that is one of the things I love about the XRIJF. I'm looking forward to this year as there are lot of places in my schedule that may provide me an opportunity to make the "odd" choices that create opportunities to find new "favorites."

More later . . .

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Another Jazz in June gets underway... The XRIJF lineup announcement

XRIJF2014PressConfI cannot believe it is already that time again, but this morning I was again sitting in the balcony of Eastman School of Music's beautiful Hatch Hall for this year's press conference announcing the full lineup of Club Pass and outdoor music for this year's Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, which will run from June 20th through the 28th. After a round of short speeches by XRIJF producer Marc Iacona who thanked the sponsors, followed by a smattering of sponsor representatives and assorted politicians and representatives of politicians, music director John Nugent hit the stage announced the year's lineup.  

There are some real highlights for my eclectic tastes in jazz and music at this year's XRIJF, with some returning and some new sounds to check out, but you'll have to catch my notes on the lineup in later posts (gotta go back to work, man!). Until then, please feel free to check out the XRIJF lineup at their website


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Rest, Mordecai, rest . . . the end of festival week will never be the same

As you may already know, Mordecai Lipshutz, former WXXI radio host and for Rochester jazz listeners, the voice that traditionally has closed the late night jam sessions during the Rochester International Jazz Festival with "We'll Be Together Again," passed away on Sunday following a long illness.  

Here's his last festival closing performance last year:


A couple more, made available by WXXI:

Friends and WXXI listeners are invited to celebrate his life and share memories this Sunday, March 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. at ARTISANworks, 565 Blossom Road, Suite L, Rochester, New York 14610. For more information, call ARTISANworks at (585) 288-7170.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

The song has been sung, another XRIJF ends ... Notes from Day 9 of the Rochester Jazz Festival

It's over. Mordecai Lipschutz has sung the song that traditionally closes the fest. Another XRIJF is over. By the time I found my way to the East End for the last night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, I had heard enough music from such varied and international sources to fill my head and heart for another year.  Everything on Day 9 was gravy and I just had a couple of spoonfuls although reading some of the other commentary, I wish I had a couple more.

Deciding not to start with Kilbourn Hall (although I love Kurt Elling, I had my quota of singers this year already and have heard him sing over the past 20 years quite a few times). So, a bit later after hanging at Havana Moe's, I started out with pianist Gwilym Simcock in Christ Church. Simcock's compositions and playing invite comparisons to Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau among others.  I was sitting close and could see his fingers flying across the keys. While I enjoyed this, I was restless and 9 days of XRIJF had taken enough of a toll that I needed to keep moving. I really enjoyed Jaco & Joe, dedicated to Pastorious, Zawinul and the band Weather Report.

Trombone Shorty's Mile Long Fan Club
Trombone Shorty's Mile Long Fan Club
(Photo by Peter Parts)

I went out on the street and spent some time just drifting, running into friends and XRIJF acquaintances for impromptu conversations, and just people watching (which is one of my favorite past times at the fest). I waded into the sea of humanity who had gathered to wiggle their bums for Dwyane Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers and then headed out to hear the local band Thunderbody and then Monty Alexander Harlem-Kingston Express (the former being a reggae/groove band and the latter connected to Jamaica). Monty Alexander began his set and it soon became clear that he would be playing a straight up jazz set. As the D&C's Anna Reguero notes Alexander's remarkable set was a "huge chance taken by the festival organizers." Presenting jazz at a "jazz festival" should not be a risky endeavor, but I have to agree with Anna. At one of the big outdoor stages on the last night it represented quite a departure from prior XRIJFs and when I left to head into the Montage for my last Club Pass show of 2013 there was a substantial crowd getting into his music; of course no where near the 10,000 or so folks who were a few blocks down the street for Trombone Shorty.

I ended up at the Montage with another risky endeavor at the XRIJF, music that is on the "out" side by Tim Berne's SnakeOil. While there are other venues where this occurs occasionally—the Nordic Series at Lutheran Church of the Reformation; Montage is another—a lot of the music presented at XRIJF, while from locations beyond the standard and played wonderfully by world-class musicians, is not particularly challenging.  As jazz critic Nate Chinen noted in a review of SnakeOil's release on major label ECM in JazzWise, Berne has "embodied a rough convergence" between pragmatism and skepticism, "casting a cold eye on conventional wisdom while endlessly putting theory into practice." SnakeOil is Berne on alto, joined by band mates Oscar Noriega on bass clarinet and clarinet, Matt Mitchell on piano and Ches Smith on drums, vibes and percussion (including what appeared to be a bag full of cymbals on the floor). The music was demanding and uncompromising for both the musicians and the audience. As someone who keeps pushing the envelopes on the music I hear, I hope that XRIJF continues to keep pushing it with bands like SnakeOil. On each piece (and I think there were only two or three) the band played full out, interweaving with each other in structured forms that provided space for more free form playing. All four musicians were playing amost all the time. Sure there were solos, but they were not alone with the others resting or lightly comping; they just arose out of the playing of the whole, which didn't stop. When Berne announced half an hour into the show that "for our last piece, we're going to play..." we weren't sure whether he was joking. He wasn't... A half hour later, they finished. The audience members who remained in the venue jumped up to applaud. Some in the audience, in sort of XRIJF/Rochester tradition, started chanting for an encore. Berne looked at them quizically and said "Seriously?".  And so my 2013 XRIJF ended....

I may have some more posts to wrap things up later. I shared some of my favorites from this year's fest with Jeff Spevak of the Democrat and Chronicle, who added a bit to his review of the final night of XRIJF (thanks, Jeff!). See you on Jazz Street ... next June.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Notes from day 8 of the XRIJF ... There are no notes, just links

Gregory Porter XRIJF 2013
XRIJF Image, Photo by Kelli Marsh

I just had a totally-avoidable mishap in blogging that destroyed a carefully and heartfelt post about my eclectic evening of music on Day 8 of the Rochester Jazz Festival. Instead of saving every so often, I wrote the post quickly and didn't stop to save.  When I went to save, Typepad or my Internet connection let me down and it didn't save.  When I tried to get back to the post, it wasn't there. Anger ... sadness.

Lucky for me there are others covering the three shows, my trifecta, from last night: Gregory Porter at Kilbourn, Youn Sun Nah at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, and Phronesis at Christ Church. Ron Netsky in City and Jeff Spevak in the D&C have hit all the right notes in extensive reviews describing these three (Ron and I were on the same itinerary, I think; Jeff covers Youn Sun Nah and Porter). 

Due to other commitments, I don't have time to rewrite what I had before heading out for the last night of the XRIJF (I can't believe it is already here, but as usual my body is telling me I'm ready for it to end). This post will have to do. But at least I have my memories of the music (and of the post ... it was a real good one ... really!).

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Notes from Day 7 of the Rochester Jazz Festival ... The new normal and finding a way to hear more

As I've reported here in my other Notes posts, there is a "new normal" in the lines that causes some difficulty for us jazzheads who are trying to hear and soak up as much of the music of this festival as possible. Necessary changes to the number of festivalgoers that are allowed inside of the Montage have made getting to that line early more important if you want to be in that intimate setting with the world class acts that tend to play there (by the way, those changes were the result of negotiations with the City's fire marshal and were for patron safety reasons). My "sweet spot" for Kilbourn has eluded me more often than not this year and while if you're in a line all the way to East Ave., you're likely to get in, I have reasons for wanting to get in line early).  If I have "must sees" in both Kilbourn and the Montage (which is sometimes the case, given my musical tastes), my new normal is that I'm going to have to make some hard choices in the middle between the 6 and 10 pm shows. In the end, I may only go to two shows, which in the past was unheard of during the 9 evenings of the Rochester Jazz Festival.  But as I'm saying, that appears to be the new normal (hat tip to Bob [not John],, who runs the Montage venue for that phrasing....) and I'm willing to live with it. When I'm only going to Kilbourn OR Montage in an evening, then a whole lot else opens up. That's what happened on my Day 7.

I was in line for Ravi Coltrane by 4:00 pm, having spent about an hour hanging at Havana Moe's and then thinking "perhaps I should head over to see how the line's doing". When I came around the corner, I saw that it was indeed, by 4:00 pm, nearly 1/3 of the way down the Alley by Java's.  By 4:30 it was on Swan Street. After dutifully (and with the help of some liquid refreshment) whiling away the 1.5 hours in line, I got in my "sweet spot" row and sat down. Ravi Coltrane was joined by the killer lineup of guitarist Adam Rogers, drummer Johnathan Blake (in one more of several appearances at the fest), and bassist Dezron Douglas. Launching into Ravi's composition 13th Floor, which rose up until it boiled over, the group also played a Bird tune Segment, One Wheeler Will by Ralph Alessi that was written for Ravi Coltrane's son, and a new tune The Change off Coltrane's new CD on Blue Note Spirit Fiction (affiliate link). That's at least what I got down in my notes. I should be forgiven my memory lapse as I was transfixed. Coltrane's playing was intense and full of unexpected and lightening fast changes that were deeply satisfying.

Since there was no Montage in my planned evening, I hoofed over to the Lutheran Church to catch Jacob Karlzon 3. Before playing, Karlzon announced that was the first leg of a now much reduced US tour (then saying that the last leg was the second set at 9:30 pm). This was another power piano trio which we've seen before at XRIJF (even in this year's fest), but they were exceptional and I really enjoyed the driving beat and groove of the first one "Running". However, shortly after the second or third piece, I felt the wanderlust tugging at me and pulled up stakes to head out into the threatening skies for something else.

Rudresh Mahanthappa's GAMAK
XRIJF Image: Photo by Marcie Ver Ploeg
Again with the lines determining actions. I had heard from a number of people that the line at the first set by Rudresh Mahanthappa’s GAMAK project had been long and I would need to get there early. I got over to the Little Theatre by 8:00 or so, a full hour before the set was scheduled to start.  While the Little would fill up before 9:15, I ended up first in line (and I wasn't trying to get up front). This was one of the shows I didn't want to miss at this year's XRIJF.  Mahanthappa is touring for his new album of the same name(affiliate link) with Screaming Headless Torsos guitarist David "Fuze" Fiuczynski, drummer Dan Weiss and, in this outing, bassist Rich Brown. I really enjoy arists like Mahanthappa who fuse jazz with the traditional music of India and music of other peoples from around the world.  The music was raw and uncompromising, with torrents of notes coming out of Mahanthappa's alto saxophone and Fiuczynski's double-necked guitar. There were little escape from the searing heat and attack of the playing, with one notable exception being Slendro, which refers to a scale in Javanese gamelan music.  Another Indian-American artist (Rudresh is second generation in the US) is Vijay Iyer who grew up around here and drew me down this path of music discovery when I heard him at Max at a RIJF years ago (an aside, Vijay's parents were sitting behind me in the Little last night). The second set was killing and that would have been enough to just pack it up and go home, but....

I went to Max to see if I could get in and hear some of Carmen Souza's 10pm set. As I walked in, she was singing Soldade, a well known song that I love on my CD of legendary Cape Verde singer Cesaria Evoria, which then morphed into My Favorite Things and finished up with a chant. Souza was a delight. She sings in a distinctive style that worked up and down the scale from gutteral lows to falsetto highs (sometimes all in the same phrase). She had an easy banter with the audience, who was just eating her up. I left Max thoroughly satisfied by the broad smorgasbord of music I had just consumed and ran out into the rain.

See you on Jazz Street....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

From chanteuse to organ grinding ... Notes from Day 6 of the XRIJF

XRIJF image (Facebook) of Gretchen Parlato (and Taylor Eigsti
XRIJF Image by Kelli Marsh

My day started out familiar enough ... in line at Kilbourn Hall.  Good thing I got under the large awning facing "Jazz Street" as the skys opened up for a short downpour. I was in line to hear vocalist Gretchen Parlato. I had heard some of her CDs and had heard that other jazz musicians really dug her (which is not always the case with vocalists...), so jumped at an opportunity to hear her live in the great acoustical space that is Kilbourn. That concert hall was perfect for her as her singing is subtlety personified. She breathes the lyrics with a quiet power that carried her voice above her killer trio (Taylor Eigsti on piano, Burniss Earl Travis on bass, and Mark Guiliana on drums), but didn't overshadow them, making her voice just another instrument interweaving with the others. Moving from 1990s band Simply Red's Holding Back the Years, Herbie Hancock's Butterfly, and Wayne Shorter's JuJu, through more of a samba where all were playing percussion and Parlato was filling in the Brazilian drum head rubbing sound and standing there with two percussion instruments involving balls and string that reminded me of the old "Clackers" toy, which was long ago banned. Of course there were more in in her set of 9 songs in the over an hour she was on stage, but that's all I got written down as I began to "lean forward to listen" as Jeff Spevak noted in his review the D&C.

Leaving Kilbourn Hall after 7pm, I was again faced with a Montage 10pm show, which makes choices in the "middle" of the evening.  I found myself with numerous choices in the Clubs and on the street. I went to Christ Church as I thought I could catch some of Soweto Kinch's early set rather than the unlikely prospect of catching part of his 9:00 pm set. Kinch was on my picks as I enjoyed him so much when he was here in 2011, but came in toward the end of his shortened set, catching a beautifuly played piece followed by a freestyle rap based on audience-suggested words. He ended the shortened set by rapping out his URL. I couldn't hit his later performance due to my 10pm "line duties" at Montage. But I have my memories from 2011 ...

After Soweto Kinch finished his set, I floated around hearing some Djabe on the Jazz St. Stage and some of local Jimmie Highsmith Jr. at the LeDestri/RGE Spirit stages before heading over to get into line at the Montage for the organ trio composed of three veteran top-drawer jazz players—Larry Goldings holding down on the Hammond B3 organ, Bill Stewart innovating in the pocket on drums, and the consumate guitar work of Peter Bernstein. Having them play together in Rochester (where Goldings and Bernstein met in their teens in 1984 at an Eastman Summer Jazz "camp") was special as I get the feeling they don't venture out together, so I didn't want to miss their set. They were tight and seem to have a natural ability to lock in to each other's playing that probably comes with years of playing together in NYC at the legendary Village club Smalls. Goldings has a more subtle and inventive style to playing the B3 than others, coaxing and sometimes grinding out different sounds from the B3 than one hears traditionally, which was an extra treat. People walked out of the Montage with big smiles on their faces as they knew they had just heard something that happened only that night and could take that home with them.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Taking my time and floating around... notes from Day 5 of the Rochester jazz festival

Rather than rush down early to get in line, I took my time on Tuesday at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. I came down after 4pm and just hung out at Havana Moe's for a bit before heading out to get something to eat and get to my first venue. 

There was a lot of buzz on Twitter and elsewhere around Anat Cohen Quartet's performance at the Xerox Auditorium, the first stop on my perambulations around the fest.  I knew it would be good knowing her constant appearance on the Jazz Journalist Associations top lists and having heard her music quite a bit. The set was outstanding with Anat Cohen pulling out great licks of notes from her clarinet and, a couple of times, soprano sax. She can be both soul-pulling and playful within the same song and was, especially on an extended "themes and variations" approach to the classic La Vie En Rose. Her quartet, rounded out by Jason Linder on piano, Joe Martin on bass, and drummer Ullyses S. Owens (who Exodus to Jazz fans will note was here in April last year with his band, including XRIJF Friday opener Christian McBride), was locked in tight to her playing (and each others') throughout an hour, which flew by. Many others had the same experience, case in point Mr. Spevak at the D&C. WXXI recorded one of her tunes to give you a taste:


I was going to try to catch at least some of the David Byrne/St. Vincent performance in Eastman Theatre, but apparently now had to get on a list to get into the theatre as media. My bad for not asking... but it resulted in a lot more music (although hearing all the buzz about their performance last night I have some regrets).

After leaving Eastman, I floated around the rest of the night.  First up was Julian Arguelles Quartet at the Made in the UK Series at Christ Church. Although I didn't stay for the entire set, I enjoyed the half that I heard. Arguelles filled the church to its ceilings with his sax, which I think is an instrument that works well in that soundspace.  The sound was contemporary and incorporated a number of influences (some had tweeted that it was free form, but it was quite composed).

Moved from there to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation for Eero Koivistoinen Quartet from Finland. Although lightly attended, the second set was good, with the quartet putting out a beautifully played if not exceptional performance. Although I left early, I was not hearing African influences others had noted. Koivistoinen's bassist got a nasty cut on his hand part way through. I thought he was just drying the sweat off his hands in the sanctuary, which was still quite warm, but then the towel started showing rather large amounts of blood and he ultimately left the stage with the drummer and church staff to see to it. As Koivistoinen played a duo with his pianist while first aid was administered, I moved on out into a light shower that had developed outside.

I ducked out of the rain into Max to catch some of Michael Wollny Trio. Wollny is German and was here with bassist Tim LeFebrve and Erich Schaefer on drums. Wollny is another great pianist with a killer trio, like Rafael Zaldivar earlier this week. He uses all of the piano, reaching in and manipulating strings while playing, which was modern and muscular, with Wollny hunching so low on the piano sometimes that his hair seemed to also be playing keys (he couldn't be getting all of them with his fingers, could he?). Wiped from the last 5 days, I headed home for some very needed sleep to make it through the rest of the week.

See you on Jazz Street.... 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Only saw two, but they were a good two ... Notes from Day 4 at the Rochester Jazz Festival

Day 4 I arrived early as my misses for getting my "sweet spot" in the Kilbourn in the first two days of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival were getting tiresome. I thought it might be safe to come after 4:00 pm since it was a weekday, but came at 3:30 anyway.  If I had come at 4:00, I would have just eked into the "sweet spot" on the street before the line turns into the alley between Eastman and Java's. I was in line for the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio. Another of Quincy Jones' protegés (who calls the young Cuba-born pianist "[o]ne of the most prolific and gifted jazz pianists of the 21st century"), I had heard from a number of people, including XRIJF Music Director John Nugent himself, that this was one that couldn't be missed.  He was right....

Alfredo Rodriguez XRIJF 2013 image
XRIJF Photo by Mark Druziak
Alfredo Rodriguez Trio was the best musical experience I've had so far at the festival, especially as I didn't really know what to expect. It was over 1 hour of intense and ecstatic playing by Rodriguez and his band mates that, when it was over, left me buzzing for quite awhile ... wandering Jazz Street and restoring my bearings. Rodriguez attacks the keys and uses the entire keyboard, hunching over it while driving down each chord and key he plays deep into the Steinway grand. At times he unleashes a torrent of keys, just falling in sheets like a downpour during a thunderstorm. Throughout the concert in Kilbourn Hall, Rodriguez was locked into the pocket created by his band mates (I'm sorry, but I couldn't get their names), who provided inspired rhythmic foundations for Rodriguez's explorations. After playing one of his compositions Silencio, he turned a Cuban jazz standard, Vente Anos inside out and created something new. Next Rodriguez introduced electronics midway through (I didn't catch the name of the tune), but he was not using it in place of his playing, but as another instrument while playing even more intensely on the Steinway. During this piece, Rodriguez incorporated a Peter Frampton-style vox tube and synth to get voice into the electronics, but there was no "Do you feel like I do" here. This put others off, I'm sure, but I just saw it as another instrument and voice ... trying something new. Not that one was needed in this intense, thoroughly satisfying performance.... The trio finished with Guantanamera, but of course it was not your (grand)mother's Guantanamera.

After the Cuban music, I had a powerful urge to have a cigar. I heard a bit of the CNY Orchestra and then moved went to Havana Moes to indulge that urge and continue to calm down. Then I went over to Montage to get in line early for Eric Alexander with Harold Mabern, which was another "must see" for me. One of the best tenor saxophonists out there and hailing from Illinois and Chicago (my former home town), Eric Alexander, with his teacher and mentor Harold Mabern, kicked off the second set at the (now again air-conditioned) Montage with a scorcher by Mabern. Although they played a few ballads to let themselves and the audience get a breather, the band was burning all the rest of the time with Alexander drenching us in his rich, soulful sax and Mabern playing big, aggressive chords and lightning fast romps on the keys. Mabern was a hoot. After a exposition on the intelligence of jazz musicians, he decided to sing a down and dirty blues number. John Farnsworth had several drum solos during the set that left the audience hooting and clapping, even half way before it was over.

So, while I missed a third, I gained two very special musical experiences... not unusual at XRIJF and, I think, I'll take it... See you on Jazz Street.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Local guitarist lets you in on a little XRIJF secret ...

Sam Nicolosi dropped this over my transom...

Psst! keep it to yourself, but we're meeting in the "Garden" on Wednesday. That's the day, June 26th, during which the two science guys (and acoustic-jazz guitarists), "Ted Nicolosi and Shared Genes" hit the stage behind the Central Library (that's across the street from the Rundel building). High noon, 90 degree temps, situated in the middle of an enormous heat sink comprised of concrete, asphalt and brick: A "Thermodynamic Scenario" for sure. Ladies: permission granted to bring hats! The guitar necks will be expanding causing the strings to go sharp, the coefficient of friction will rise along the frets, linear speed may be affected and power amps will loose efficiency. Shared Genes

Oh well, that's what goes through the mind of the very first Xerox Product Design Engineer to perform in the "Xerox-RIJF". Yup, sorry to disappoint you, but that's me, Sam Nicolosi, the elder of the duo. In many years of service I have had the privilege to develop mechanical designs and patents for several Xerox products, including the new Xerox iGen Production Printer.

I will be joined by my ace side-man and son, Ted, a guitar virtuoso in his on right. Ted, however, is off in a different science direction, he is a fourth year Biomedical Sciences major at the Rochester Institute of Technology (my alma mater), "premed as they say". So if you have the time and "curiosity', stop out to see us on Wednesday at noon, to see the R.I.T. "science" connection to the Xerox-RIJF. Ladies, remember the hats!

Note from Greg: I would love to have more personal experiences of XRIJF 2013 from the many local artists who are playing. Contact me through the email in the middle panel to get the ball rolling.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

From the bayou to abstractions on standards... Notes on Day 3 of XRIJF

I haven't ever had a chance to catch Beausoleil (avec or no avec Michael Doucet) before, around here or in Chicago, and really enjoyed this quintessential Cajun band at Harro East early show. Despite loving that music, I was glad to hear the way that they expanded beyond that and brought in other influences and ideas.  Couldn't keep the leg from moving no matter what they were playing (and it wasn't RLS...). The Harro's sound has really stepped up this year (although this is my only show so far, I've heard similar from others).

I joined some friends to go catch the Sneider Brothers at the Little Theatre's XRIJF venue, which is the largest of their theatres at the complex. The band and the venue was a welcome break from the heat and the crowds.  Local guitarist and Eastman faculty member Bob Sneider was joined by his brother John on trumpet, Mike Melito on drums and the great Gary Versace on Hammond B3 (with Mike Teitelbaum sitting in on sax for a number of tunes). The music was straightahead (with a bit of "schwing," a reference to a story about a trip to Germany by John) and well-played and it was so nice sitting in those comfy seats in the dark and cool of Theatre 1.  I think the Little could be a great jazz venue for special shows throughout the year if they can fit them in and it is definitely a great new addition to XRIJF.

XRIJF Image: Rafael Zaldivar
XRIJF Photo of Rafael Zaldivar by Tim Fuss
Sitting in the coolness and , I found myself not motivated to get up early and go to hear Christian Wallumrod Ensemble at the Nordic Jazz Now series in the Lutheran Church (seems that it was a very interesting set for those who waited to hear it all, according to Jeff Spevak at the D&C, although Ron Netsky has a different opinion over at City). After leaving the Little very hungry, I picked up a Brisket Banh Mi sandwich from the BrickNMotor food truck (by the way, the food trucks are a great idea to include in the festival and have provided much more variety of food available without needing more real estate in the fest). Went into the Big Tent to eat it and watch a bit of local salsa band Ritmo Seis while scarfing down the sandwich. 


Headed over to Max to get a good seat for Rafael Zaldivar. This Cuban (now Canadian) pianist's music was innovative and more abstract than I expected (which is not a problem as I enjoy it edgy). He played with an intense concentration with his trio mates and his trio mates Rémi-Jean LeBlanc (bass) and Louis-Vincent Hamel (drums). In addition to his own compositions included some great reimagining of standards like What Is This Thing Called Love and Blame It On My Youth. I'd have to agree with some of Ron Netsky's comments, who in the post linked to in the previous paragraph noted that Rafael didn't seem to think too much about how he structured his show at XRIJF, starting out with an 18-minute abstract piece (in reality two) in an hour set.  However, it isn't the first time we've heard longish abstract pieces, although most of the time we're sitting in the pews at the Lutheran Church for those. There is nothing that sours XRIJF audiences than when they feel that the performer is not playing for them, but at them. However, I don't think Zaldivar's audience felt that way and most stayed for the whole set and kept clapping out on the down beat throughout another longish piece, after which Zaldivar announced that he might be replacing his mates (sure....).

Overall a great evening out at the festival.  See you on Jazz Street....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

The heat also rises ... Day 2 of XRIJF

As the heat rises outside, the heat generated by all these people and great music continues to rise as well. Here's some notes on my second evening at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. I missed the "sweet spot" again to get in line for Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio, but this time remained in line and had a great time listening to the good Doctor hit a groove early and he and his killer trio of the two Jo(h)nathans (they spell it differently, I think) with Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar and Johnathan Blake on drums kept it in the pocket well past the 7:00 stopping time. I love watching him play the Hammond B3 as his face often shows the emotion that the sounds he's creating out of that B3 are trying to evoke. He was having some fun playing with some sampled instruments and sounds, including percussion, strings, film noir sounding music, etc. and working it into the groove.

Photo by Garry Geer

I floated around for awhile, listening to some of Robin McKelle and others who were playing free concerts.  I took a side trip into the Rochetester Contemporary Art Center to finally check out their 6X6X2013 sale. They're trying to sell 2,000 6x6 inch art works that have been created by artists and other folks. Some great stuff in there. Only a $1 to go in and look around (airconditioned, too).  You'll have to check it out yourself, it's right on East Ave.  I walked out of the gallery and just happened to be at the end of the line for YolanDa Brown, who had got some buzz after her first performance. Longest line I've seen for a Made in the UK series show.  While Ms. Brown's music was not my personal cup o' tea, it was very well played and the capacity audience was clearly eating it up.

I left early (much to the delight of one of the patrons waiting to get into the Christ Church for YolanDa Brown) and headed over to Montage for Terell Stafford Quartet.  As in the past, Terell didn't mess around. He and his young band of former students at Temple University in Philly, where Stafford teaches, just ripped into one piece after another. I was lucky to get in as the Montage venue is being very strict about the number of people allowed into the music room at a time. I was in the last four who got inside. Adds another calculus into when and where you go as lines become more of an issue.

As a friend said they'd be there, I headed over to the after hours at the Rochester Plaza Hotel.  The hotel opened up its bar area into the lobby and that has made the after hours much more enjoyable. There's room to get around even when the playing gets hot with artists coming up to sit in and give Bob Sneider, Dan Vitale and/or Mike Melito a break. After XRIJF Music Director John Nugent came in and hopped on stage to play a number, he drew up Terell Stafford and Mike Cottone (well known to Rochester audiences after playing here during his time at Eastman before moving to NYC). Quite a few artists came up while I was there (and I expect after I left as it usually gets the hottest before last call). 

See you on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

One day of XRIJF down, 8 to go... Notes from the festival

Trondheim Jazz Orchestra at XRIJF
Photo by Jim Dolan

A few notes about Friday, the first night at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Although I missed my "sweet spot" on the corner by just a few minutes (even I didn't think that the line would be around the corner into the alley off Gibbs by 3:45), I got a pretty good spot in line for Christian McBride and Inside Straight. While I stoof there for the first half hour of more than 2 hours of waiting, I started to get itchy.  

First night of XRIJF and here I was stuck down the alley. Then I thought, I saw Christian McBride and a good bit of the band when they were here last year under his drummer Ullysses S. Owens' group's appearance here for Exodus to Jazz. Finally, after finishing my beer to help further my contemplation, I decided to get out of line and get out into the world that is the opening night of the XRIJF. Good decision...

In the end, I found the very small line for NYC saxman Noah Preminger and his quartet, which included guitarist Ben Monder. I had heard some of Mr. Preminger's work and had heard some good things about him, but had resigned him to the "wish I could fit it in" group of my picks. Preminger's music was a great mix of more modern post-bop and some ethereal work on the guitar by Monder was also a treat.  Freed from the shackles of my self-imposed itinerary, I had found something new to listen to.  

Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, part of the Nordic Jazz Now series at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, was a treat—funny, crazy, incredible musicianship. Finished up the night with Patricia Barber, who as a Chicagoan who I used to hear in and around that great city when I lived there, holds a special place. Her singing and her music were beautiful and quirky, I always expect something different from her and in over 1 and a half hours of playing she and her killer band only played one song from her older albums (it was a request).

This is likely to be my approach throughout the festival.  Although there are some artists and groups that I definitely won't miss, I want to keep my mind and ears open to opportunities to hear something new. See you around Jazz Street...

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

There's more than movies at the Little Theatre.... Local ROC talent at the Freed Maxick Jazz Tent

Little Theatre image

In addition to being an official Club Pass venue, during Jazz Fest the Little Theatre will have free live jazz under The Freed Maxick Jazz Tent in the Little parking lot on Winthrop Street. Two local musical acts will perform nightly. The Little will have food and beverages for purchase, including Rohrbach, Brooklyn and Michelob Ultra beers. Salena’s Mexican Restaurant is cooking up meals as the official food sponsor under the tent. The Little Café will provide snacks like popcorn and cheese and cracker trays, and will sell Eat Me Ice Cream Sandwiches. Eat me whipped up two special flavors just for us - the Black and White, which is sea salt ice cream with a chocolate cookie, and the Technicolor, which is a variety of fruit ice creams with a sugar cookie. See the WXXI Jazz site for more information.

Here is a rundown of the performances:

  • Friday June 21st 5:30-7:30: Josh Netsky
  • Friday June 21st 8:30-10:30: GRR Band
  • Sat June 22nd 5:30-7:30: Connie Deming
  • Sat June 22nd 8:30-10:30: Annie Wells
  • Sun June 23rd 5:30-7:30: Stoney Lonesome & The House of Lights
  • Sun June 23rd 8:30-10:30: Harmonica Lewinski
  • Mon June 24th 5:30-7:30: Maria Gillard
  • Mon June 24th 8:30-10:30: The Jane Mutiny
  • Tues June 25th 5:30-7:30: Steve Grills and The Roadmasters
  • Tues June 25th 8:30-10:30: Significant Other
  • Wed June 26th 5:30-7:30: The Russell Fielder Trio
  • Wed June 26th 8:30-10:30: Margaret Explosion
  • Thur June 27th 8:30-10:30: The Pickpockets
  • Fri June 28th 5:30-7:30: Josh Netsky
  • Fri June 28th 8:30-10:30: GRR Band
  • Sat June 29th 5:30-7:30: Mikaela Davis
  • Sat June 29th 8:30-10:30 Annie Wells

Drop in for awhile and see some of the local artists who play the Little throughout the year, then come out and see them throughout the year.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

You can get jammed up at the XRIJF ... the "after hours" party

GVB Bell imageEvery night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, after the last concert is over and they're packing up the stages for overnight, some XRIJF patrons who are not yet ready to call it quits head over to the Rochester Plaza Hotel where there is an opportunity to watch (and more importantly hear) music "magic" happen, which can be the result when an eclectic and naturally improvisational group of musicians get together and, at time, imbibe some beverages and are backed by some consumate professionals. 

For 12 years, guitarist and Eastman prof Bob Sneider has emceed and led the festival's nightly jam session at the Rochester Plaza State Street Bar & Grill, usually joined by bass man Phil Flanigan and drummer Mike Melito. Bob keeps the music flowing until last call, even when the artists are not yet "ready" to join in (Bob lines up a talented set each night of Eastman students and amateurs to let them get some experience, and many of them have some real, if still to be developed chops). Festival producer John Nugent, himself an accomplished jazz saxman, has not missed sitting in at the jam session in 10 straight years.

When the magic happens, several musicians from disparate groups playing (or about to play the next day) can create some great musical moments and have at time brought down the house. Musicians from UK saxman Soweto Kinch (pictured here and coming back in 2013), George Benson to Jake Shimabukuro, Swedish saxman Jonas Kulhammar to Wynton Marsalis have all taken the stage.

You need to arrive early to sit or be near the stage, but if they have it set up like recent years there will also be seating outdoors on the patio and the music will be piped out there (at time there is even video). Although it can happen at any time, the musicians playing at the festival often don't start until later (the aforementioned imbibing and, usually, dinner must precede). 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

OK, enough with Jazz@Rochester... Where else can I get XRIJF info?

XRIJF logoSo, tired with my blather?  Be gone with ya! (just kidding...)  There's lots of coverage and information out there about this festival.  In addition to the official site for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, there are a number of other media and other outlets covering the fest, including:

I'm sure there are others, but will start with these. Check back as I'll add them if folks let me know. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Get some of the backstory with this year's XRIJF artist Twitter list...

TweetFest imageWe've been on Twitter for a long time at Jazz@Rochester, with over 5,800 followers (more every day), and following local jazz artists, jazz artists from elsewhere with a local connection and more than a few of my favorite artists, websites, blogs and other jazz information sources.

There are a large number of the artists appearing at this year's Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival who have a Twitter account. Many of them actually tweet themselves ... really!  Thanks to the XRIJF staff, who kindly provided all the Twitter handles, we have them all (although I'm sure there are more, so please share if you got'em). Click the "tooting Tweeter" (or is it honking...) to the right to check out our Twitter list page or add the XRIJF 2013 Artists Twitter list to your favorite Twitter client (or of course follow it directly on Twitter).

Join in the conversation with your favorite artists.  See what they're saying before and after the XRIJF. I'll be sharing, too, so just watch the Jazz@Rochester Twitter feed (if you want to check that out, click on the blue Twitter bird in the middle column.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Some things will never change, but what's new at XRIJF in 2013?

XRIJF logoWe know that some things aren't changing... It'll still be "not who you know, but who you don't know..." I will still be there all nine days, seeing a growing number of those who are also taking the week off for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. There will again be more artists from around the world and locally (more than 1200 this year), who will perform in 280 concerts (which includes more than 75 free shows). We will probably see an increase in the amount of people from around the globe and across the country milling around downtown Rochester for nine days, up from last year's 187,000. Yes, it will not all be "jazz", but even I listen to other music (across many genres) and there will be something at this year's festival for everyone. It will be nine days of excellent artists and eclectic music.  For me ... both exhausting and exhilirating.

So what's new at the 2013 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival? Well, let's start with:

  • Jazz Workshops for Aspiring Music Students: This new series of five structured jazz workshops will be hosted by Bob Sneider, Eastman School of Music Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media and Senior Instructor of Jazz Guitar, and led by five visiting international musicians performing at XRIJF. The new series is sponsored by Wegmans (a new sponsor).  More details in my post on XRIJF learning opportunities.
  • Free Shuttle Service Added: Throughout the festival a new free shuttle service will be available connecting festival fans with City parking garages and making it easier to get to some venues. The route will include multiple stops. The free service is being sponsored by AAA Horizon Club Tours and Simcona Electronics. The route and schedule will be announced in June. 
  • Free Concert Added on First Friday on East Ave & Chestnut Stage Featuring Dr. John: Dr. John, the universally celebrated living embodiment of New Orleans and its music will perform on June 21 at 9 p.m. with Joshua Panda & The Hot Damned, a rising star in the music world from Vermont will open at 7. This new free concert is sponsored by Wegmans. 
  • New Venue: Getting their feet wet last year, the Little Theatre (Theatre 1) has been being added as a new Club Pass Venue with 18 concerts during the festival. 
  • New Venue Name: The stage at the corner of Chestnut Street and East Ave will be the same, but the name has changed to the RGE-LiDestri Spirit Stage, featuring free concerts June 23 - 27.
  • The Library Series is Back: There will be jazz at noon Monday June 24th through Friday June 28 with local artists Mike Kaupa, Nick Finzer, Ted Nicolosi and Shared Genes, Herb Smith, and Karl Stabnau. 
  • Android Festival App:  In addition to the iPhone app introduced last year, this year the Festival will launch an app for Android users. The iPhone app is improved as well (I'm going to like the feature that allows you to email your favorites). Again, there is a more detail in my earlier post on these XRIJF smartphone apps

What's new on Jazz@Rochester during this year's XRIJF? I really don't know and do not want to be forced into another "mea culpa" admitting defeat in my grand plans for this blog.  As in the past, Twitter will be one place you'll find me during the festival.  I hope to be writing more during the festival as well, but not at the expense of hearing great music or having fun (or annoying my seat/table mates...). Other than that, let's just see how it develops... See you on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz Around Town: I won't be, but plenty of jazz going on and coming up....

Image: XRIJF

I won't be around town, that is... heading out soon for another trip to Kansas (hopefully free of tornadoes) and some time in Chicago for my 30th Reunion at the University of Chicago.  So what's going on around here?

"Snaps," the first retrospective of images from the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival opens tomorrow, May 23rd at the Center at High Falls Fine Art Gallery downtown. The exhibit features almost 200 select works of 13 photographers who have covered the festival from 2002 to 2012 , including: Frank DeBlase, Jim Dolan, Mark Druziak, Tom Flint, Tom Frizelle, Tim Fuss, Garry Geer, Kelli Marsh, Peter Parts, Michael Riebesehl, Fred SanFilipo, Don Ver Ploeg and Kelley Yost. More here.  "Snaps" runs though June 30th and is free and open to the public. The Center at High Falls Gallery located at 60 Brown's Race in Rochester, NY is open Wednesdaythrough Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 12 noon to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. It is closed Monday and Tuesday.

I'm going to the opening tomorrow, I hope, along with the Art Loves Jazz benefit at Artisan's Loft too (I managed to procrastinate on tickets and the online purchase option was eliminated while I was trying to checkout).  No I don't get free tickets... It's a benefit for Jazz 90.1. Hope to see you there! Update 5-23: Unfortunately, something came up and I'm going to miss both, but the images and jazz (and, I hope the benefit in $ to Jazz 90.1 radio, will go on).  

So, here are the live gigs I found in and around Rochester over the next 7 days, plus some things coming up in the near future:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

  • Jon Seiger All-Stars Trio @ Market Cafe at Wegmans on Calkins Road, 5:30 pm
  • The Swooners @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 5:30 pm
  • NightTrane @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Deborah Branch @ Lemoncello, 6:00 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Roncones, 6:00 pm
  • Mike Kaupa Duo Project with Mike Conrad @ Monroe's, 6:00 pm
  • Art Loves Jazz (Benefit for WGMC Jazz 90.1) @ Artisan Works, 6:30-9:30 pm (tickets, if available at the door)
  • EROS Guitar Duo @ The Rabbit Room (Honeoye Falls), 7:00 pm
  • Djangoners @ The Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm
  • The Joe Santora Trio with Cabo Frio's Curtis Kendrick & Emily Kirchoff @ Michael's Valley Grill, 7:30 pm

Friday, May 24, 2013

  • Mark Cassara Band @ Bistro 135, 5:30 pm
  • The Music of Ferrante & Furioso @ Yummy Garden Hot Pot (Brighton), 5:30 pm
  • The Westview Project @ The Mendon House (Mendon), 6:00 pm
  • Brent Bond @ Pane Vino Ristorante, 6:30 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Pultneyville Grill (Williamson), 7:00 pm
  • The Swooners @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 7:30 pm

Saturday, May 25, 2013

  • Eastman Community Music School Honor Recital by Conrad Ziarniak, jazz saxophone @ Hatch Recital Hall, ESM, 2:00 pm
  • The Music of Ferrante & Furioso @ Yummy Garden Hot Pot (Brighton), 5:30 pm
  • Madeline Forster @ Bistro 135, 6:30 pm
  • White Hots @ Pultneyville Grill (Williamson), 6:30 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Jasmine's Asian Fusion (Webster), 6:30 pm
  • Roses and Revolutions @ Pane Vino Ristorante, 6:30 pm
  • Ryan T. Carey/Tony Padilla Duo @ Lemoncello, 7:00 pm
  • Special Blend @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 7:30 pm
  • Annie Wells @ Litttle Theatre Cafe, 8:30 pm

Sunday, May 26, 2013

  • Rhythm Dogs @ Schooner's Riverside Pub 70 Pattonwood Dr., Rochester, 3:00 pm
  • Bill Slater @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, call for info

Monday, May 27, 2013

  • Sofrito @ Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

  • Tinted Image @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 5:30 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Charlie Mitchell Group @ Flipside Bar & Grill (Rochester), 8:00 pm

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

  • Big Band Dance Spring Series @ Charlotte Beach, Roger Robach Community Center, 6:00 to 9:00 pm
  • The Swooners @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Mic Gillette, formerly of Tower of Power with the Aquinas Jazz Ensemble, Greece Jazz Band and the Viavattines @ The Aquinas Institute Auditorium, 1127 Dewey Ave., Rochester, 7:00 pm (see here for more info)
  • Margaret Explosion @ The Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm
  • Vince Ercolamento & Joe Chiappone Jazz Quartet @ Murph's, 705 Titus Ave., Irondequoit, 8:00 pm

Heads Up ... Look for these Jazz Gigs and Special Jazz Events in the Future

  • Fairport Canal Days does its own local jazz festival with Paradigm Shift, John Nyerges Quartet, Mike Melito Quartet, Jeff Mcleod Organ Trio, Westview Project, Sofrito Latin Jazz Quartet, Jimmie Highsmith Experience, Dave Mancini Quartet, John Seiger & The All Stars, Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra, Mighty High & Dry, and the Bill Tiberio Band @ Fairport Canal Days (Fairport), Friday, May 31st through June 2nd (see the Find It In Fairport site for more info, and watch here for more as well)
  • Bop Arts presents The Mack Goldsbury Quartet @ Lovin' Cup Brews & Bistro, Sunday, June 2d, 8:00 pm
  • International Society of Bassists Convention @ Eastman School of Music (in addition to the concerts below, there may be others open to the public, so check the schedule)
  • International Society of Bassists Concert: Eastman alumni Brett Shurtliffe, Yung-Chiao Wei, and Ron Carter with Russell Malone & Donald Vega @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Tuesday, June 4th, 8:00 pm
  • International Society of Bassists Concert: Thomas Martin; Jazz Bass Supergroup “Talking Hands” with John Clayton, Rufus Reid, Lynn Seaton and Martin Wind @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Wednesday, June 5th, 8:00 pm 
  • International Society of Bassists Concert:  Diana Gannett performs new works; Chuck Israels, bassist with the Bill Evans Trio, pays tribute to a master of bebop with “Oscar Pettiford Octet and Beyond” @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Thursday, June 6th, 8:00 pm
  • International Society of Bassists Concert:  Orchestral and chamber music bassist Szymon Marciniak and Grammy-winning Dave Holland @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Friday, June 7th, 8:00 pm
  • Michael Formanek Quartet with Tim Berne, Craig Taborn and Gerald Cleaver @ Bernunzio Uptown Music, 122 East Ave., Rochester, Friday, June 7th, 10:30 pm 
  • International Society of Bassists Concert: Joel Quarrington, new principal bassist of the London Symphony Orchestra, and Victor Wooten @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Saturday, June 8th, 8:00 pm
  • Groove Juice Swing presents Stompology Swing Dances with the The Careless Lovers (Seattle, WA), Friday, June 7th, 8:00 pm; The Low Down Sires (Asheville, NC), Saturday, June 8th, 8:30 pm and June 9th, 7:30 pm
  • Tessa Souter with John Nyerges Trio @ Lovin Cup, Saturday, June 8th, 9:00 pm
  • Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Friday, June 21st to Saturday, June 29th

If you go out to hear a performance listed here, feel free to drop a comment to this post to let us know how it went (see the Comment link at the bottom). I want to hear from you! Please share the post with your friends who love jazz.

We've compiled these listings from information obtained from the performing artists themselves and other sources. The aim is to give you a one-stop place to find all your jazz in Rochester.The aim is to give you a one stop place to find all your jazz in Rochester. Only start times are listed, visit or call the venue for more details (the websites for many of the venues are in the right panel). Please forgive any discrepancies with reality and feel free to let me know what the problem is, and I'll get the corrections up on the site as soon as possible (click on the "Contact Us" button above). If you go out to hear a performance listed here, feel free to drop a comment to this post to let us know how it went. I want to hear from you!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

End of the XRIJF road for another year ... Can you believe it?

OK, I'm sated...my ears are full.  I've put on some poundage with beer and street food. I always reach a point (and I think I even reached it earlier this year) where I've heard so much fantastic jazz and other musics and been exposed to so many diverse musical talents at the Rochester International Jazz Festival that I just float around, going where my whims or some other compelling force (such as poutin last night at Abilene). Reached that point maybe Thursday?  Floating is the best way to get at the heart of this festival where it is, as John Nugent says, "not who you know, but who you don't know." 

image from www.jazzrochester.comStarting out, I plan on incorporating "where you don't know" into it by finally getting into what I have heard is the nearly perfect acoustics of Hatch Hall to catch pianist Joanne Brackeen play.  Consistently listed as one of the top jazz pianists, I have had albums of hers in my collection since the 80s. Hadn't had a listen in quite a while, so pulled out her Snooze LP from the 1970s (with Cecil McBee and Billy Hart) to get reacquainted. As I had remembered, Brackeen plays with lightning speed and authority, her interpretations full of both jagged complexity and lyrical beauty. 

Then I think I'll take in one more UK artist in the Made In the UK series at Christ Church with the Arun Ghosh Quintet. Clarinetist Ghosh incorporates his South Asian roots in a heady mix with jazz and other musics.  I've loved this mix in other artists such as Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa. Here's a video of him performing Aurora from his CD Northern Namaste.

Other than those, I'm floating again.  If I find myself needing a shot of straightahead, I'll head over to Xerox Auditorium for the wonderful Victor Goines Quartet or to Rochester Club for Mario Romano Quartet Featuring Pat LaBarbera. I'm also intrigued by the band Locarno, who will be playing in the Big Tent. Growing up in Southern California (@30 miles north of San Diego), the love of the music of Mexico and Latin music in general have been a constant. I'm not familiar with this project of Canadian band Paperboys' frontman, Tom Landa, but for me the music, described as "part Mexican but with strong doses of Cuban Son, Folk Music, Pop and Funk" cannot go wrong. Listening to their Una Mas y Ya Nos Vamos album on Spotify right now and loving it. Here's a YouTube video of Locarno performing last year in Vancouver.

We'll see.... (I do keep saying that, don't I?).  It's been a great festival! Hope you all had as great a time as I did....


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Penultimate choices ... Day 8 of XRIJF

image from www.jazzrochester.comI'll start the evening in a typical way, arriving early to monitor the line for Kilbourn and, hopefully, getting into it before it turns the corner so I can catch the early show for Roy Haynes and the Fountain of Youth Band. Each year there is usually at least one of the great lions of the jazz of the 40s, 50s and 60s, who come to XRIJF and are usually on my bucket list. Roy Haynes is one of them. In over sixty years of playing, Haynes has played with everybody (too many to lis in a wide range of styles ranging from swing and bebop, to jazz fusion and avant-garde. For more on Haynes, see my Pick post.

image from www.jazzrochester.comAt the other end of the evening at 10:00 pm, I'm thinking that I'll catch The Music of Gil Evans with Ryan Truesdell. Ryan was given access to a number of newly-discovered, never-before recorded works of jazz composer Gil Evans and has been raising money and recording a CD in celebration of Evans' 100th birthday, which was released in May of this year. The Gil Evans Project people contacted me awhile ago to help with promoting the ArtistShare project that raised money for the recording. I love the music that Gil Evans did with Miles Davis and others, such as the landmark Columbia recordings with Miles Davis of Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, as well as his contributions to the breakthrough Miles album Birth of the Cool. Ever since I heard about the project I have been interested in the outcome and so will get the live experience of it tonight (and perhaps the CD).

In between, perhaps Jean Michel Pilc in Hatch (still trying to get to this venue that I've heard so much about), or Italian saxophonist Marco Pignataro at the Rochester Club, or just float a bit and soak up the crowds. We'll see....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

It's going to be one of those "it's who you don't know days" ... Day Seven of XRIJF

Thursday night, Day Seven of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, the last night before the wrap up maelstrom of crowds that is the last two days of XRIJF (is it here already).  While the offerings are great, there were none that were "must sees" on my list. This shouldn't be looked at as me saying "there's nothing good on Thursday!", rather it's just going to be one of those "it's who you don't know" days at the festival. As I've said before, that situation often leads to discovery.

MeinkilbournlineToday, I'm intrigued by Colin Stetson, who I think I recalling John Nugent advised us at the press conference in March would be a standout. Just deciding whether to go to the early or late show at Kilbourn.  If I choose late, then I may finally make it into Hatch Hall.  As I've walked the XRIJF site I keep running into acquaintenances who ask whether "you've been to Hatch" and then extol its acoustic perfection. I am planning on going on Saturday to see Joanne Brackeen, but today could end up there early to see Eastman professor and pianist Harold Danko, who has played with a number of well-known artists from a long association with Chet Baker to Gerry Mulligan, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Lee Konitz and Woody Herman. I've seen him perform around Rochester a few times and always loved his solo piano. I'll also make a point to get out to see Terje Rypdal & Bergen Big Band at Xerox Auditorium (I think Thursday will work better for me, but they also appear at the Lutheran Church on Friday). The rest is up for grabs, including the possibility of finally getting over to Abilene (I love the scene there and the joint itself during the rest of the year) to see Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. I may also start with Stetson, which could result in a different mix.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

How's this for diversity in my ears? Day 6 at XRIJF...

Since I fell down on the job of getting all my picks published, I'm admitting complete and utter defeat and will just be writing a short note going forward about the artists I'm aiming for each remaining day of XRIJF.  Of course, like every night of the festival, this is a "rough sketch".  This year more than most I've been "floating" a bit, diverging from my laid out plan due to who I hear about on the street or just because it feels right.

XRIJF image

After a break from the Kilbourn line yesterday (yeah, I know, Benny Green was a Pick...), I return to catch Eliane Elias Brasiliera Quartet at 6:00 pm. Love the Brazilian music. Here's a live concert clip from 2009.  On the other end of the evening at 10:00 pm, I'm going to hit Kneebody at Montage. They were described in the New York Times a couple of years ago as "a band that inhabits the borderland abutted by post-bop, indie-rock and hip-hop, without seeming to give much thought to the border." The hard edge of this group will be just the thing at the end of the night of Day 6 as my energy needs a recharge. Here's a video of them playing their composition Teddy Ruxpin from 2011.

XRIJF image

In between those two very different bookends, I'm not planning anything, but will float as my ears (and stomach as I'll need to eat somewhere in there...) take me. Mostly like it will some of FFEAR (Forum for Electro-Acoustic Research) at the Lutheran Church and some of Rich Thompson's Generations Trio at Xerox Auditorium, and a host of other possibilities in between. Oh, and possibly a line for Kneebody, which could impact the rest. We'll see...

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Day 3 at XRIJF: Decisions, decisions, decisions

Due to my "other responsibilities" . . . you know ... life, I have fallen behind in these posts (and all others). Despite taking the week off, my tired old body is requesting less of this and more sleep and relaxation.  Perhaps Day 4 a bit later or tomorrow if the trend continues. I'm cool with that and hope you are too.... 

Back to decisions ... at the XRIJF some of them are wrong, others confused, but both can lead to discovery. Day 3 at the Rochester International Jazz Festival began in a typical XRIJF manner ... in line for the 6:00 at Kilbourn. The line for Kilbourn Hall has pretty consistently turned the corner shortly after 4:00 pm (as did the one I'm in for Terence Blanchard Quintet while writing this). In addition to one of my favorite pastimes of people-watching and catching up with "jazz fest friends," the line at Kilbourn gives me a stretch of time to do some writing (although the iPad keyboard slows me down some). But back to the choices ....

image from rochesterjazz.comAs I was in the line at Kilbourn, you'll know my first was Ninety Miles. I've been listening to the CD from this project since it dropped, but hearing them live was great. Vibist Stefon Harris and saxophonist David Sanchez of the original project were joined by trumpeter Nicholas Payton, who replaced Christian Scott for the Rochester appearance, and a back line of Edward Simon on piano, Luques Curtis on bass, Enrico Lai (not sure on spelling this one), and Eddie "Maracito" Herrera on congas and percussion. They didn't just reprise the Ninety Miles disc, but continuing with its theme of Cuban/American collaboration they pulled music composed by each of the front men through the same collaborative treatment Afro-Cuban treatment.

Things got a little mixed from there.... Due to getting out late, many of the next options I was considering were underway or soon to be so got a bit confused. My next thought was to get to Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at 9:00, after wandering for awhile, but since I'd seen them several times I decided to instead try out the Scottish trio Breach at Christ Church. Breach was three Scots, sans kilts (but with pants), Paul Harrison on Hammond B3 (those who know know I love me some B3), with Graeme Stephen on guitar and effects, and Chris Wallace on drums. While they too were wonderful, the reports I later heard confirmed that I should have listened to the little voice in my head and humped over to Xerox Auditorium for JFJO. When I left Breach, I wandered a bit, eventually going over to the Lutheran Church and catching the end of Eivor Palsdottir's set after a friend said "run and catch what you can... she has the voice of an angel...." (or something to that effect). Luckily, she did an encore and her voice is beautiful, with a range that left me slack-jawed before I, like the packed house gave her a long standing O (OK, I was already standing...). After sliding in for about 15 minutes of Brandi Disterheft.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Benny Green Trio

Tuesday, June 26th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

From many of my picks so far you may have begun thinking that my ears have no place for straightahead—au contraire—my ears just like a wide variety of jazz and other music and that's precisely what is presented at the XRIJF. I love jazz trio music and pianist Benny Green is one of its masters. Green has been hailed as one of the most exciting, hard-swinging, hard-bop, pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. A student of the history of Jazz piano, the Green mentions Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Phineas Newborn, Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson as some of his main influences. 

Benny Green jazz pianist
Photo Credit: Tom Haynes
Born in New York in 1963, Benny Green grew up in Berkeley, California, and began classical piano studies at the age of seven. Influenced by his father, a tenor saxophonist, his attention soon turned to jazz. As a teenager he worked with Eddie Henderson and experience with a big band in a 12-piece group led by Chuck Israels. After graduation and some freelancing in the Bay Area for a year, Green moved to New York in the spring of 1982, where he met pianist Walter Bishop Jr. After a short stint with Bobby Watson, Green worked with Betty Carter between 1983 and 1987. Afterwards, at the age of twenty-four, Benny Green he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers band. He remained a Jazz Messenger through late 1989, at which point he began working with Freddie Hubbard's quintet. In 1993 Oscar Peterson chose Benny as the first recipient of the City of Toronto's Glen Gould International Protégé Prize in Music. That year, Green replaced Gene Harris in Ray Brown's Trio, working with the veteran bass player until 1997. From 1997 on, Benny resumed his freelance career, leading his own trios, accompanying singers like Diana Krall, and concentrating on solo piano performances.

Benny Green has recorded 10 albums and appeared on a guest performer on over one 100 recordings. In 2011, Green released a Trio album, Source (affiliate link), with Kenny and Peter Washington, his first recording with a trio in 10 years. The year 2011 also marked the premier tour of a long developed project, Monk's Dream: Fifty Years Fresh, paying homage to the legacy and the man that is his first and most significant musical hero, Thelonious Sphere Monk.  He's set to release a new CD Magic Beans soon.

In addition to his page on the AMS label, Benny Green has a Facebook page that you might want to check out.  Listen to the Benny Green Trio on NPR station WGBO's JazzSet presenting Monk's Dream: Fifty Years Fresh' In Concert. Watch the Benny Green live at Yoshi's Oakland with Peter Washington and Kenny Washington on May 28, 2010:

There is a video of what appears to be a whole gig for German television, although it appears to be from awhile ago (based on the mustache, the mid-1990s?) and in the comments identifies Green's bandmates as Carl Allen on drums and Ben Wolfe on bass (Wolfe comments himself saying it was a special date):

Check out my other picks for the 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter. Use the hashtag #XRIJF so others can follow your tweets. I've also created a Twitter list of jazz artists/groups appearing at this year's XRIJF (there's a feed in the middle panel).


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Day Two at XRIJF ... Yes, Debussy and Ravel can swing

image from rochesterjazz.com
Tom Harrell and ensemble (Photo: Peter Parts)

Getting to Jazz Street a bit early on Saturday, I avoided the alley and got to watch the crowds grow while I waited to get into Kilbourn Hall for Tom Harrell and his Debussy/Ravel project. The wait was worth it as I joined a full Kilbourn Hall in hearing Harrell's beautifully-crafted jazz arrangements of those masters' pieces, often making them swing, but always making them into complex and satisfying music. The band played well past time for closing it down, but its audience was transfixed and it seemed that few were leaving their seats to get to their next gig. Something special was happening on stage and they knew it. One thing I noticed (and have noticed in the past with Harrell's work, including his albums) is that while he does takes a beautiful solos here and there, he really creates many spaces in his arrangements and compositions for the mates in his band time to shine.  And what a band it was, including Wayne Escoffery on saxophone (who took some incredible solos), Danny Grissett on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass, Meg Okura on violin, Rubin Kodheli on cello, Eastman faculty member Charles Pillow on flute (and I believe a bass flute for one piece), and drummer Johnathan Blake (who brought down the house with a wild solo). 

image from rochesterjazz.com
Esperanza Spalding (Photo by Michael Riebesehl)

After Harrell, I dropped in to catch some of Esperanza Spalding's first set and see her in this new context of Best New Artist Grammy winner and playing in the "Big House" of Eastman (when she came here before breaking out we had hit both of her sets at Max). Spalding had a large and talented band with her, including Tia Fuller on saxophone who repeatedly blew some amazing solos while I was there. Although in a much bigger venue and much bigger production, she still seemed to be making (or at least struggling mightily) a personal connection with her audience. Part of me wanted to stay for the rest, but I had more music to hear....


I walked around a bit and caught some of the Sultans of Swing in the Big Tent and then weaved my way through the crowds to Montage for Mathias Eick. Due to continuing issues with flying through NYC and Newark, NJ, Norwegian Mathias Eick and his band were not able to get to Rochester in time for their 6:00 pm show at the Montage. However, the Swedes came to the rescue and Goran Kafjes and the Subtropic Arkestra stayed to fill in that show and I hear invited those in line into the Montage for a "prequel" concert during their soundcheck.  

image from rochesterjazz.com
Mathias Eick (Photo by Peter Parts)

Mathias Eick and his bandmates did arrive in time for the 10:00 pm, jet-lagged after 2 days of traveling, but energized that they were starting a 1 week tour in the US. They put on a high energy set, with Eick on trumpet and his piano/keyboard player Andreas Ulvo laying intricate melodies with their instruments and effects while bassist Torstein Lofthus and the two drummers (yes, two drummers) Audun Erlien and Gard Nilssen keeping a thunderous beat. The music was often hard-driving, rock-oriented, but it was great the audience roared its approval. I did a double take on the two drumsets not having had a chance to check out Eick, thinking that they just hadn't taken down the kit used by Goran Kafje's group. The use of two drummers worked. They created a much more complex rhythmic background to the atmospherics of Eick and Ulvo. The set was high energy despite their long journey; they were definitely not running on fumes.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

Sunday, June 24th, Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza @ 6:30 & 9:00 pm

I have heard Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey more than once, once in an odd pairing with Al Dimeola at Water Street and a couple of times at the jazz festival. There is no Jacob and no Fred, but their music is an odyssey and I love exploring it each time I hear them. They've opened for jam band "gods" Phish, but also are known to play Thelonious Monk, Abdullah Ibrahim, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Louis Armstrong. Each member of JFJO is a consumate musician and their intensity and seemingly telepathic communication on stage sometimes leaves you there sitting, slack-jawed. 

Jfjo_xrijf2012You never know what these guys are going to do. I don't think they've played the same thing twice in the 3-4 times I've heard them. I'm thinking they will bring at least portions of their latest project The Race Riot Suite to this year's festival. For their 21st album, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has reached into a dark part of their hometown Tulsa’s history. The piece waswritten, arranged and orchestrated by Chris Combs, and is a long-form conceptual piece that tells the horrific story of the 1921 Tulsa race riot during which, as set out on the site's page for the album "[t]he oil-elite, civic government and local press colluded to take advantage of a racially tense climate in Jim Crow-era Oklahoma, resulting in the death of hundreds of black Tulsans and the destruction of an entire city district." Through jittery, propulsive rhythms and melodies, the Suite is intended to be an onlooker’s journey through that night that nearly destroyed the one of the country’s most thriving black communities. The band cites influences as diverse as iconic jazz and classical artists like Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Ludwig van Beethoven and Gustav Mahler, as well as, modern artists, including Radiohead, The Dirty Projectors, Fight the Big Bull and Animal Collective in the conception of the recording. Time Out New York said that "12-part suite pinballs between majestic melodies, free improv and ragged New Orleans rhythms, sometimes all within the same song…expect a heavy dose of history, but an even heavier dose of forward-looking, down-home jazz." If they are doing this piece at their show on, in addition to the permanent line-up of Combs (lap steel), Brian Haas (piano), Josh Raymer (drums) and Jeff Harshbarger (bass), the quartet may a horn section.

Here's a link to a Downbeat article on the project, Meditation on a Riot. The JFJO have also linked to a video of them performing a Prelude from the piece in October 2011 (there are tons more videos of them playing on their site):

Check out my other picks for the 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column. Join (or start) the conversation on the Jazz@Rochester Facebook page or on Twitter. Use the hashtag #XRIJF so others can follow your tweets. I've also created a Twitter list of jazz artists/groups appearing at this year's XRIJF (there's a feed in the middle panel).

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF Day 1: Some weather in NYC creates opportunity


Beginning of the day...

I waited a bit to long to leave for the festival on Friday afternoon. Washed the dishes as a favor for my "jazz widow". When I'm starting an XRIJF day out in Kilbourn Hall, as I planned to this time, I try to get down to the festival site early enough to aget in line before it goes around the corner on Gibbs and heads down the alley. I thought I was early enough today, but the line for Christian McBride was half way to Swan Street by the time I arrived at 4:00 pm. After awhile in line, it started to move well before the usual time, soon to find that it was not an early entry into Kilbourn.The 6:00 pm show had been cancelled as McBride couldn't get out of NYC due to weather and a fire in an airport in New Jersey. So not too late after all.... Both of McBride's concerts were eventually cancelled. I don't remember this happening before for a Kilbourn concert. 

At the jazz festival, sometimes unanticipated events lead to a good outcome. I knew I wanted to see Goran Kafjes and the Subtropic Arkestra, but McBride dropping out opened up a couple of other options. Some were taken off the board by the folks in the line ahead who, of course, immediately headed to another line. I eventually went to see Get the Blessing and then L'Orkestre Des Pas Perdues in the Big Tent, before heading over to the Church of the Reformation. Due to the diversity of the offering, there's always another option and you may discover something new.  I also was able to sit down at the Baked and Carved in Salinger's and have a nice sandwich.

First out was Get The Blessing. I had been able to catch some of their act last time they were at the XRIJF, but this time was able to stay for the whole concert and really enjoyed their trippy style with very intricate guitar or bass of Jim Barr interweaving into a groove with the drummer (sorry, but I didn't catch his name—he was great—who was filling in for the regular drummer Clive Deamer, who wasn't there because he's on tour with Radiohead). These two built a foundation for the trumpet and effects of Pete Judge and sax (and effects) of Jake McMurchie to weave their own sounds into, making sometimes for a pretty complex tapestry. I do recall Jim Barr's wit from last time. He announced after their first tune that they would be "playing two types of music--one scientific and the other sentimental rubbish" and then proceeded to tell us which (although they tended toward the scientific and the "sentimental rubbish" was pretty obvious... well at least the sentimental part, it wasn't rubbish). Picked up their OCDC disc on the way out. 

Before heading over to the church, there was a bit of time so my friends and I headed over to the Big Tent for L'Orkestre Des Pas Perdues. This was a big group with a big sound that made you want to move (as in dance, although me dancing is not a pretty sight, so I just bounced a bit). This high energy group is playing the Jazz Street stage tonight. 

Still going after it was all over...

Yesterday, Goran Kafjes and the Subtropic Arkestra was described by a wit on Twitter as sounding something like Miles Davis' electric band covering The Meters, a legendary funk band from New Orleans, and there was a lot of buzz about them elsewhere on the Twitter stream.  Although I already had decided to check them out, that sealed the deal for my friends and I (plus we all are fans of Jonas Kulhammar who plays with the Arkestra). They did not disappoint and received raucous cheers and and standing O at the end of their set, a fair number of which may have been at the first set. Although different, their compositions were also intricately interwoven pieces that worked around a motif, often played by the guitarist or keyboardist, and with a sound that pulled in influences from around the world. After seeing him play as a leader at several jazz festivals, it was interesting seeing the usually crazy Kulhammar step into the background and support Kafjes and his other mates with his excellent saxophone and flute work.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF mea culpa ... I give up!

IMG_1356I have a confession to make here. I had this grand plan (even wrote it out) about how I was going to get through a bunch of posts for individual artist picks through the last few weeks before the XRIJF began. While I like how they've turned out so far, the production output has been "not so much."  Even today, despite having taken the day off to do some more pick posts, I made the mistake of checking my work email and had to do some final work on a project that I thought I finished yesterday before turning to Jazz@Rochester and preparing for the beginning of the festival (I'm heading out of here in just a couple of hours to head downtown). My approach this year was way too optimistic given my current workload of getting enough of my pick posts out before the XRIJF started.  I'll still get some more picks out while the festival is going on, but my focus is changing to enjoying the festival with my friends and the rest of you. I'll focus on my "must sees".  

Although I've received some great feedback on my new approach, I'm sure you all won't be too worried about getting my "picks". You can make your own choices. My posts were focused on providing you links to more information upon which to make that decision. They are based in part on my very eclectic tastes in music and in part on knowing some of the "must sees" from following the national and international jazz scenes.  This blog is a labor of love of the music and live music in general. As the XRIJF begins I want to really focus it on what's happening in front of me at the festival.  Much of it may be on Twitter or elsewhere. I'm kind of flying by the seat of my pants this year (which can lead to problems as one of my profs in college told me about a paper that exhibited a similar attitude "if you fly by the seat of your pants, at least turn around and look once in awhile).

Tonight I'm starting out with Christian McBride and Inside Straight at Kilbourn Hall (just like old times...), then I'm hitting Goran Kafjes and the Subtropic Arkestra at the Reformation Lutheran Church. Rest of the evening is up for grabs. May go see Get The Blessing, Karrin Allyson, or perhaps even join some friends I know are going to see L'Orkestre Des Pas Perdues.  Say hi if you see my on Jazz Street or elsewhere at the XRIJF.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Local artists shine at XRIJF this year

We have a lot of jazz talent conveniently located here in Rochester and they will be out in force this year. The number of local artists (and artists who hail from around here) playing the festival seems to have increased and there are more than a few who are gracing the stages of some Club Pass venues, including:

  • Penfield Rotary Big Band @ Verizon Wireless Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Gap Mangione & Special Guests @ The Rochester Club Viva Italia Series, June 23rd, 6:00 & 10:00 pm 
  • RPO Marimba Band @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, June 23rd, 6:00 pm 
  • J.M.O.G (Jazz Men on the Go, including Pat LaBarbera) @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, June 23rd, 6:00 & 10:00 pm 
  • Joe LaBarbera Quintet @ Montage, June 24th, 6:00 & 10:00 pm 
  • ESM-XRIJF Gerry Niewood Jazz Scholarships Performance @ Kodak Hall At Eastman Theatre, June 25th, 8:00 pm
  • Bill Dobbins Plays Ellington @ Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music, June 26th, 5:45 pm
  • Jack Allen Big Band @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, June 26th, 6:00 pm 
  • The Westview Project @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, June 27th, 6:00 pm 
  • Generations Trio with Rich Thompson @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, June 27th, 6:30 & 9:00 pm (you can check out their new "Generations" CD on the Rochester Jazz Sounds page by clicking on the button above)
  • Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, June 28th & June 29th, 6:00 pm 
  • Harold Danko @ Hatch Recital Hall at Eastman School of Music, June 28th, 7:45 pm.

 On the free venues, there's even more:

  • ECMS Jazz Combo led by Bob Sneider @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 6:00 pm
  • John LaBarbera Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 7:15 pm
  • The Uptown Groove @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 22nd, 9:00 pm
  • John LaBarbera Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 9:15 pm
  • Dan White Group @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 23rd, noon
  • Bill Tiberio Band @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 23rd, 9:00 pm
  • ECMS Latin Jazz Ensemble @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 23rd, 5:15 pm
  • ESM Honors Performance Units 1, 2 & 3 @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 23rd, 6:00 pm
  • Teagan & The Tweeds @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 23rd, 7:00 pm
  • Calle Uno @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 25th, 7:15 pm 
  • Doug Stone Group @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 26th, noon 
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 6:00 pm 
  • New Horizons Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 7:15 pm 
  • Music Educators Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 9:15 pm 
  • Sean Jefferson Group @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 27th, noon
  • ESM-XRIJF Jazz Scholarships Alumni Combo @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th, 6:00 pm
  • Russell Scarbrough Soul Jazz Big Band @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 27th, 7:00 pm
  • Fred Costello @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th,  7:15 pm
  • Russell Scarbrough Soul Jazz Big Band @ The RG&E Fusion Stage, June 27th, 9:00 pm
  • Fred Costello @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th,  9:15 pm
  • Bob Sneider & Friends @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 28th, noon
  • The Gutbusters @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage,  June 28th, 4:00 pm
  • Bat McGrath @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 28th, 6:00 pm
  • Bill Tiberio & Friends @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, June 29th, noon
  • ECMS Saxology + Jazz Bones @ City of Rochester Jazz Street, June 29th, 6:00 pm
  • Po' Boys Brass Band @ City of Rochester East Ave. & Chestnut St. Stage, June 29th, 7:00 pm
  • ECMS Jazz Combo led by Howard Potter @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 30th, 5:15 pm
  • ESM Honors Performance Units 1, 2 & 3 @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 30th, 5:15 pm

And of course there are the great High School Bands we all love to listen to while we get our first beer and get in line (or just sit on Jazz Street and the other venues and chill):

  • Fairport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 4:45 pm 
  • Hilton HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 22nd, 5:15pm 
  • Gates HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 23rd, 4:30 pm 
  • Buffalo Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 23rd, 5:15 pm 
  • Brockport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 24th, 4:30 pm 
  • Spencerport HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 24th, 5:15 pm 
  • Webster-Thomas HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 25th, 4:30 pm
  • Greece-Athena HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 4:30 pm
  • Pittsford-Sutherland HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 26th, 5:15 pm 
  • Webster Schroeder HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th, 4:30 pm
  • School of The Arts HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 27th, 5:15 pm
  • Eastridge HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 28th, 5:15 pm
  • Greece-Olympia HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 29th, 4:30 pm
  • Newark HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 29th, 5:15 pm
  • West Irondequoit HS Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, June 30th, 4:30 pm

Geez, that was a lot! I apologize if I missed any (and feel free to point it out so I can amend. You can find out information on a number of these artists by checking out their sites linked to from Rochester Jazz Artists Links.  Remember that you can go hear many of these artists all throughout the year, so if you miss them at XRIJF (as I will, I'm afraid), you can likely catch them later. Just watch my listings posts on Wednesdays or, if you prefer to be notified by email, put your email address in the box in the middle panel, follow the instructions, and you'll get all the posts to this blog (and nothing else... I don't spam or sell your address).

In addition to the above, the nightly late nigth jams at the State St. Bar & Grill at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, which in addition to Bob Sneider and the guys usually includes local students and others who sit in for a tune or two before the XRIJF artists step up to the stage for a jam. There will be some other performances around the XRIJF that are not part of the XRIJF as well. The Little Theatre has teamed up with WXXI for some nearby "tie-in" jazz events and Bernunzio's Uptown Music has at least one special event during the festival. Check out my Jazz Around Town posts on Wednesdays below (and to come) for more details on that and on the jazz going on outside of the festival.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Karrin Allyson

Friday, June 22nd, Max at Eastman Place @ 6:15 and 10:00 pm

 Karrin Allyson was actually one of the first jazz artists from out of town who I saw perform after moving to Rochester, appearing at Woodcliff out in Victor when that venue still was bringing in national acts (or was the best place to stay while the artists made their way to points East or West, and the stopped for a couple spa days and some gigs). I've seen her several times since, including at least once at the jazz festival. Like some others picks this year I may not actually go hear Karrin Allyson, but she is a major talent who, if you haven't heard her before, should be on your list. She doesn't just stand in front and sing, she's out front on piano. Like the quote from Don Heckman in the Los Angeles Times, Allyson has "been described as a 'musician's musician,' and for once the overused term actually makes sense—a complete performance by a complete artist—one of the jazz world's finest." 

Karrin Allyson imageLast year Karrin Allyson, who has been nominated for multiple Grammy awards, released her thirteenth album on Concord Jazz, Round Midnight, since her 1992 debut. On her albums (and in her concerts, Allyson moves easily from the Great American Songbook through bebop and into the sounds of Brazil, pop and beyond. Her sophistication and chops as a musician shine through when her and the great musicians who usually accompany collaborate on each song.

You can listen to some of Karrin Allyson's music on her site and on MySpace. Here's Allyson performing Moanin' filmed in celebration of Concord Records' 30th anniversary, Voices of Concord Jazz - Montreux Jazz Festival - Live at Montreux, July 2003:

Here's her take on Charlie Chaplin's Smile as a guest on NPR's KPLU:

You can check out my other picks for the 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column (or the link in this sentence).

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Gregoire Maret Quintet

Monday, June 25th, Max at Eastman Place @ 6:15 and 10:00 pm

Gregoire Maret image from XRIJFGregoire Maret was born in 1975 in Geneva, Switzerland and began playing the harmonica at age 17, bringing the diverse musical influences from his Harlem born, African- American mother and his Swiss father, a local jazz musician, as he developed his craft. Graduating from the prestigious Conservatoire Suprieur de Musique de Genve, Gregoire moved to New York City to pursue Jazz Studies at the New School University. He is now one of the most sought after harmonica players in the world, developinghis own unique sound and versatile style that enables him to play across different musical genres. He is often compared to legends Toots Thielemans and Stevie Wonder (see below) and has worked with diverse array of of musicians including Pat Metheny, Youssn'Dour, Me' Shell Ndegeocello, David Sanborn, George Benson, Cassandra Wilson, Herbie Hancock and Sting. In 2005, Gregoire toured with the Pat Metheny Group, which received a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. That year he also won the Jazz Journalists Association "Player of the Year" award, after which Maret embarked on a two-year tour with the world-class bassist Marcus Miller and subsequently joined Herbie Hancock's band. This year he released his first as a leader.

To learn more about Maret, check out the May interview with Jason Crane on The Jazz Session podcast. You may also want to check out Josh Jackson's interview with Maret for NPR's WGBO.

There are a lot of videos of Gregoire Maret out there (here's the channel), but I've picked a few out, including this one of his Quartet doing The Man I Love in a nicely recorded 2010 RTS Label Suisse Production:

...and a nice long bit of the Quartet playing Lucilla's Dream in a January 2011 club date:

...and as promised above here's an impromptu jam with Stevie Wonder at the Stevie Wonder Suzuki's National Association of Music Merchants booth this year:

Check out my other picks for the 2012 XRIJF as they come out on the blog or by clicking on the “XRIJF Picks” Category in the middle column

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.