283 posts categorized "Rochester International Jazz Festival"

The 20th Anniversary RIJF is coming in June and here's the skinny...

CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival logoThe CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent today announced at a press conference the lineup for the RIJF's nine-day 20th Anniversary Edition, coming June 23 to July 1 in 19 venues in downtown Rochester.
 
This year's RIJF will have more than 100 free shows and events presented on nine free stages including:
  • 49 shows on the City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage presented by the Community Foundation
  • 16 free shows in the new Wegmans Pavilion on East at Chestnut
  • Nightly free 6:00 pm shows in the Rochester Regional Health Tent
  • 8 shows on the Wegmans Stage at Parcel 5
  • 5 Jazz Workshops for music students sponsored by Wegmans and led by artists performing at the Festival and a scholarship concert at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre celebrating Chick Corea with the Eastman School of Music Jazz Ensemble, which is free and will be held at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The scholarship program has awarded almost $500,000 since 2002.
  • Squeezers Nightly Jam Sessions presented by the DiMarco Group at the Hyatt Regency Rochester
  • 2 shows on the City of Rochester Stage at East & Chestnut
  • 5 Noon concerts in the Rochester Monroe County Central Library
There are 4 ticketed shows, returning this year to Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre this year, including Pat Metheny Side-Eye, on June 23rd at 8:00 pm, June 24th with Keb' Mo' at 8:00 pm, June 25th with Cuban singer Omara Portuondo of Buena Vista Social Club fame with her “VIDA” The Farewell Tour at 4:00 pm, and June 27th with Bonnie Raitt: Just Like That... Tour, at 8:00 pm. Tickets are on sale or will go on sale soon for all but Bonnie Raitt, who has already sold out her show.
 
Thanks to an increased level of sponsorship from sponsor Wegmans, the RIJF present four nights, with two free headliner shows on the Wegmans Stage @ Parcel 5. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will close out the Festival, marking their eighth appearance at RIJF. And, back again this year, on the City of Rochester Stage at East Ave and Chestnut, there will be two featured shows on June 24th. The Festival's signature Club Pass Series will present 192 shows in 11 venues.
 
New this year, 3-Day Student Club Passes will be offered for students ages 25 and under at $174 + $6 service charge – 31% off the price of a regular 3-Day Pass. They will be available for purchase in person only starting June 19 at the Ticket Shop. Student ID required. See Club Pass Info for details. Venues include Hatch Recital Hall, Hyatt Ballroom, Kilbourn Hall, Glory House International, the Little Theatre, Max of Eastman Place, Montage Music Hall, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, Temple Building Theater, Theater at Innovation Square, and the Wilder Room in the Rochester Club.
 
Additional highlights include:
  • The double-decker McCarthy Merchandise Tent moves back to Jazz Street (Gibbs St.) from Parcel 5.
  • The free 2023 RIJF Official Festival App powered by Harris Beach PLLC, will be available for download in early May.
  • The Save Time in Line numbering system returns to save people time from waiting in lines for early shows at Kilbourn Hall and Max of Eastman Place.
  • The RIJF Official Ticket / Information Shop Opens Monday, June 12 at 100 East Avenue at the corner of Gibbs Street in Rochester, New York. See dates and hours at Rochesterjazz.com.
Find more information about the RIJF, the free concerts, artists appearing at Club Pass venues, and to buy tickets for the headliners and Club passes at the RIJF website. I will start publishing my picks and other coverage closer to June.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for July 1, 2023

K.July1.RichieGoods&ChienCHien.ConnectedYes, it is the end of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. This night offered me a choice to make. Either get out and hear something new from artists whom I've never heard before, or kick jazz to the curb and go hang out with 1000s (perhaps 10s of 1000s?) of my fellow Rochesterians to hear Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue (with opener Pedrito Martinez), and probably get a contact high while I'm grooving to both of these consummate showmen (and great musicians).  Given my aforementioned "issue" I'm inclined to do the former.... You do you, but here are who I'm getting out to hear on the last day of the festival, plus some other options for those who want less surprise for their ears:
  • Richie Goods & Chien Chien Connected is a contemporary jazz project by Taiwan-born classically-trained vibraphonist, percussionist and composer Chien Chien Lu and jazz-funk bassist Richie Goods, which was born out of time they spent together making music during the pandemic and their frequent conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement and hate crimes against Asians, which led them to try recording a project with an aim to unify people. Chien Chien's debut solo project The Path led to numerous awards and to her being named the “vibraphone rising star” in Downbeat Magazine’s 69th Annual Critics Poll in 2021.  A native of Pittsburg, after school Richie Goods studied with legendary jazz bassists Ron Carter and Ray Brown and toured with Mulgrew Miller and recorded and has toured with a variety of jazz and pop artists ranging from the Headhunters, Lenny White, Louis Hayes and the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band, Milt Jackson, Russell Malone, Vincent Herring, to DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera.  Richie Goods & Chien Chien Lu Connected will be appearing at the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
  • Finland-born pianist Alexi Tuomarila and his trio including bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Olavi Louhivuori is likely take us in another direction, with its strong melodies, driving improvisations, and the introspection and complexity common to jazz from the Nordic countries. Tuomarila is a rising star in Europe as both a pianist and composer. The Alexi Tuomarila Trio is appearing at Christ Church at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
  • Vincent Peirani is a virtuoso accordionist who fluidly moves between all sorts of genres and styles of playing.  Could be the sounds of a Paris cafe, make you want to tango, or bop around with more of a rock underpinning given his newest project Jokers, such as the single, which covers Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun and integrating a more rock sound.  But no polkas . . . I think. Vincent Pieirani is going to be hitting the stage at the Temple Theater at 7:00 pm and 9:15 pm.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for June 30th

© Rachel ZellerThe penultimate night of the 2023 Rochester International Jazz Festival is going to be artists who are all new to me, although there are some alternatives who are well-known to RIJF listeners. I write this after the first night, where I started this year's RIJF by hearing Okan, a group from Canada that plays a high-energy mix of traditional Cuban and Afro-Cuban jazz, and is led by two women who just owned the stage at Montage. That experience cemented that this year I'm going to opt for the "... it's who you don't know" side of RIJF Producer John Nugent's now famous aphorism.  You do you, but here's what I suggest for June 30th:
  • "Manouche" or "hot club" jazz" is a kind of small-group jazz music that sprung out of Romani guitarist Jean "Django" Reinhardt and his collaboration with French swing violinist Stéphane Grappelli in their group the Quintette du Hot Club de France. Tatiana Eva-Marie is a young singer (from Brooklyn), nicknamed the "Gypsy-jazz Warbler" by the New York Times, is mixing that manouche tradition, incorporating Balkan Gypsy and folk influences, in a ragoût of her French and Balkan heritage. She is currently working on a project, Djangology, reimagining Django's compositions with lyrics and new arrangements. While Kilbourn Hall is not a small, smoky club in Paris, it'll have to do. Tatiana Eva-Marie and her band will grace that stage at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
  • As you know, I like to challenge my ears and the music of vibist/marimba artist Diana Herold and her group Helium that I've heard, although accessible, promises to pulls our ears in different directions from straight up swing to more angular, out sounds. Helium is a larger ensemble (nonet?), the sound of which will fill up the space at Christ Church at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm (that is, if you didn't see them at the Rochester Regional Health Big Tent the night before).
  • Big bands have grown on me over the years. When you hear a really good big band playing music that was built for such large ensembles, and really listen, there is so much going on. Although new to me and rather new to the world as it was founded in 2022, the Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra is one of those big bands. According to their website, the LAJO's members are top-shelf musicians from the diverse LA jazz community, some of whom have played with the Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Woody Herman, and Clark Terry big bands, as well on high profile recordings, film scores, and commercials. I will be hitting the later set, in which the LAJO will be joined by special guest trombonist and band leader Conrad Herwig (of whom I've heard of...). The Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra will be appearing in the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm. They will also appear the next day at 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm at the Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, the second set with special guest Russell Thompkins, Jr. 
  • If you're in for more straightahead jazz trio action, you can't go wrong with the Joey Alexander Trio or the Harry Allen Trio. Joey Alexander Trio will be in the Temple Theater at 7:00 pm and 9:15 pm. The Harry Allen trio will be in the Wilder Room at 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

And away we go! JazzRochester during the RIJF

“RIJFThe Rochester International Jazz Festival begins this afternoon!  Nine days of music, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, and listening to an unparalleled smorgasbord of music.  During the festival, while I don't completely stop posting to this site, it slows down. I'm at the RIJF to hear music, not write about it.  I'll share information and updates about festival and festival artists on JazzRochester's social channels, so follow me on Twitter or Facebook, plus Instagram for images from the festival. You can get links join us on the social channels at the top of the panel to the right of this post. I'm attending all nine days, baby, but will be taking it easier (and may have to cut out earlier) than in the past due to a health issue I'm addressing.  A few other things to point out:

  • Make sure you check out my recent post highlighting the Rochester area musicians who are appearing at the RIJF and get out there to support them if you can. 
  • I know I still have a couple days to go in sharing my picks. They should be published over the weekend. 
  • My regular weekly listings post, which appears at the top of the site, has live jazz around Rochester, but outside of the RIJF, through July.  I'll publish another on Wednesday next week, updating those listings. 
  • Check out my other coverage and picks during the fest by visiting the RIJF 2023 Category link toward the bottom of the panel to the right.
  • The folks at the RIJF provide me with media/photo credentials, but if you're sitting behind/near me at Club Pass venue and you see me taking out my phone to take a picture after the music starts, I want you to know that my practice is to get the shot as quickly as possible during the first number in the set and then put it away. Although I want to preserve the images for later, I'm there to hear the music, not "report" or to get in the way of your experience of it. 
  • If you're interested in getting a JazzRochester t-shirt to sport during RIJF, you can order it here (or the link at the top of the site) or hit me up if you see me at the festival and I'll connect you to the order page (they are $15).  Become a part of the "street team" and tell others where you find out about live jazz in Rochester the other 356 days of the year.

Have fun, stay dry and hydrated, and I hope to see you on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for June 29th

JUNE29.LionelJUNE29.Loueke& GretchenParlatoAs the Rochester International Jazz Festival nears its frenetic last couple of days, with the accompanying crowds for the free shows on Parcel 5 and elsewhere, in the Club Pass venues there will be some great choices to wrap your ears around on Thursday. Again, you do you, but here are a few options for you to check out:
  • In 2023, twice Grammy-nominated vocalist and arranger Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke collaborated to bring to our ears Lean In, an album that documents their twenty years of connection and partnership as musicians and friends (Loueke calls them "musical soulmates"). Parlato's voice is beautiful, both precise but fluid. Her arrangements are inventive. Born in the West African nation of Benin but long time denizen of NYC, guitarist-vocalist Lionel Loueke uses his mouth to add a layer of percussion to his beautiful guitar work through clicks inspired by the South African Xhosa and other "click" languages and scat-singing. Lean In draws its songs from a wide range, including bossa nova/samba, songs from Loueke's native Benin, an 80s power ballad by Klymaxx, and a cover the rock band Foo Fighters. Parlato and Loueke are appearing at Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
  • Nick Finzer was one of those students attending Eastman School of Music years back who I knew was going to "make it" when I saw him play, heard his compositions, and saw the drive he had. And succeed he has.... After getting an advanced degree from Juilliard, he has really made a mark on the jazz scene. Finzer has been nominated for a Grammy nomination as part of Anat Cohen's Tentet, named a "Rising Star Trombonist '' in the Downbeat Magazine 2020 Critics Poll, and received an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. Finzer has released seven critically-acclaimed albums as a leader, the most recent being Dreams Visions Illusions, which recently hit the top 10 in the JazzWeek radio charts (not his first to reach that high in the charts). Oh, and he founded a successful artist-focused record label and media company Outside In, which focuses on rising young stars in jazz. The Nick Finzer Sextet will be appearing at Max at Eastman Place at 6:15 pm and 10:00 pm.
  • The music on the most recent album of drummer Mark Guiliana, the sound of listening is built around an eclectic mix of jazz tradition and innovation. Mixed here and there are elements of electronic music rooted in jazz improvisation that characterizes his project BEAT MUSIC! BEAT MUSIC! BEAT MUSIC! Mark Guiliana's collaborators are from a spectrum across jazz and other genres, including Brad Mehldau, Avishai Cohen, Meshell Ndegeocello, Donny McCaslin, Matisyahu, and on David Bowie's final album. Guiliana will be a busy man if he's also doing percussion with his wife Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke when they play at Kilbourn (see above). [nope!] The Mark Guiliana Quartet appears at the Christ Church at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
  • If your preference is aimed more straight ahead, then David Hazeltine Quartet might be a better fit. Pianist, composer, accompanist and educator David Hazeltine has over 35 albums as leader and has collaborated on piano with James Moody, Eddie Harris, Jon Faddis, Joe Henderson, Pepper Adams, Jon Hendricks and many more on hundreds of other discs. David Hazeltine Quartet will be appearing at the Montage Music Hall at 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm. Another option is Ms. Lisa Fischer, who was a sleeper hit with the RIJF crowd last year, or at least that's what I heard on Jazz Street in 2022, so if the above aren't your cup of tea, go see her. Ms. Lisa Fischer is appearing with the great pianist Taylor Eigsti at the Temple Theater at 7:00 pm and 9:15 pm.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for June 28th

JUNE28.CHRISTIAN.SANDS2Wednesday at the Rochester International Jazz Festival will, like most nights be an eclectic mix for me. Just the way I like it.  It was hard to pick the three I can possibly make, but they will be among the following five artists/groups. You do you, but you may want to take your ears to wrap them around one or more of these:
  • At the RIJF over the years, I've watched Christian Sands rise from a young sideman to the likes of Christian McBride and others, to a (still young) leader and composer. One of the songs on Sands' recent CD Be Water, an introspective piece that included strings, was nominated for Best Instrumental Composition at the 2021 Grammy Awards. The title actually refers to (and the CD includes) a quote from Bruce Lee: "Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Sands is a brilliant pianist and his compositions range from the quiet stillness implied by the title of his album to more driving tempos so, like water, Sands' music can flow or crash. He is likely to bring some killer players to accompany him to the Kilbourn stage, where the Christian Sands Trio will be appearing at 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm.
  • Trumpeter Ralph Alessi's This Against That is being brought to this year's RIJF, which features some of NYC's most exploratory musicians including veteran bassist Drew Gress, pianist and M-BASE member Andy Milne, and drummer Mark Ferber. The music of This Against That is full of influences from jazz to contemporary classical, and highlights the interplay between the instruments. Alessi's trumpet will resonate around the sanctuary, as brass instruments tend to, adding dimensions to the interplay of instruments that should beautifully fill that space. Ralph Alesia’s This Against That will be filling the sanctuary at Christ Church at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm. 
  • The Bossa Nova Wave with Diego Figueiredo & Ken Peplowski will explore the famous album Jazz Samba, the album by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd released by Verve Records in 1962 that launched the Bossa Nova craze in North America including crossover hits like One Note Samba and Desafinado. Both of these musicians are at the top of their game and It will be a treat in the intimate space of the Montage Music Hall, where guitarist FIguieiredo and reedman Peplowski are playing at 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm. They will also be playing the next evening in the even more intimate Hatch Recital Hall at 5:45 pm and 7:45 pm.
  • If you're jonesin for a bit of the Hammond B3, you can't go wrong with the Akiko Tsuruga Organ Group, who will be appearing at the Hyatt Regency Rochester Grand Ballroom at 7:45 pm and 9:45 pm, or Catherine Russell, a vocalist who mines the history of jazz and blues to explore anew and has appeared before adoring RIJF audiences 7 times in the past and will be playing at the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for June 27th

Eric_Person_Houston_Person_02There are a lot of good choices on Tuesday of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. From one of the elders of jazz to some Finns obsessed with fly fishing, the picks for the 5th night are an eclectic bunch (although admittedly lousy with saxophonists...).  You do you, but here is what I think will your ears should check out:
  • Houston Person & Eric Person "Person2Person" first came together in 2009 right here in Rochester at the Exodus to Jazz series that you might remember. I saw that concert and it was a burner. Houston and Eric Person are not related, they came together by happenstance and have collaborated occasionally in this "Person to Person" way ever since. Tenor saxophonist Houston ‍is best known for his collaboration with Etta Jones on a series of albums for Prestige in the 1960s. He has recorded more than 75 albums as a leader, on the Prestige, Westbound, Mercury, Savoy, and Muse, and HighNote labels. He has worked with Charles Brown, Ron Carter, Bill Charlap, Charles Earland, Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton, Grant Green, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, and others. At 88, Houston is the only one of the "old guard" of jazz appearing at this year's jazz fest. Several decades younger, alto and soprano saxophonist Eric Persons has been on the scene since the early 80s, performing with McCoy Tyner, Dave Holland, Chico Hamilton, John Hicks, Wallace Roney, Vernon Reid, and many others. Eric has 11 releases as leader. Houston Person & Eric Person are appearing in Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 and 9:00 pm.
  • I may find time to hear the Tia Fuller Quintet (although if not, I can catch her on the 28th). Saxophonist Tia Fuller has played with a host of people from Beyonce to Rufus Reid Quintet, Wycliff Gordan Septet, T.S. Monk Sextet, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Chaka Khan, Ledisi, Kelly Rowland, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, Patti LaBelle, Sheila E, Valerie Simpson, Dionne Warwick, Janelle Monáe, Patrice Rushen, Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, and Geri Allen. Her most recent album, Diamond Cut, received a Grammy nomination in the Best Instrumental Jazz category and was produced by three-time Grammy Award winner drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia Fuller Quintet plays at the Hyatt Regency Rochester Grand Ball Room at 7:45 pm and 9:45 pm, and on June 28th at Max at Eastman Place at 6:15 pm and 10:00 pm.
  • Firmly rooted in the tradition, the Cory Weeds Quartet is fronted by saxophonist Weeds, a Canadian who in addition to being a top shelf jazz player he owned one of the best jazz clubs in the Americas, Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, and currently runs the Cellar Jazz Group music label. Weeds has recorded over 19 albums as a leader and collaborated with a number of jazz icons like Joey DeFrancesco and Christian McBride. The Cory Weeds Quartet will be appearing in Max at Eastman Place at 6:15 pm and 10:00 pm.
  • It's all in the name of the project for Finn Joona Toivanen's Jazz & Fly Fishing. Who woulda thunk it to put together a jazz group for which one criteria is that you love fly fishing? It's a quirky post-bop jazz quartet, a film project, and four guys who like to stand in rivers whipping a pole around. Starting early June, the group will tour the Eastern/Northeastern U.S. for a week, and then travel west to Colorado/Wyoming/Idaho/ Montana, staying there for ten days and I expect doing some spectacular fly fishing. They are stopping by RIJF on their way back to Scandinavia. Perhaps they will serve fish with their jazz (if they have time to smoke it)? Jazz & Fly Fishing will appear at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm at Christ Church.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for June 26th

JUNE26.KURT.ROSENWINKELThe fourth night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival seems to have become the "night of the guitar" as my picks are predominantly lead by pickers (or guitar is featured) . . . oh, and vocalists. However, despite the uniformity of instrumentation, there is a lot of variation in these choices. You do you, but if you're interested, here is what I think will be a good bet to wrap your ears around:
  • First stop, as often is the case, will be Kilbourn for the Kurt Rosenwinkel Quartet. Rosenwinkel is a genre-bending player and composer who has jazz chops formed early in his career by being Joe Henderson's guitarist, through working with Gary Burton, Paul Motian, Brian Blade, Mark Turner, Joshua Redman, Seamus Blake, and even Steely Dan's Donald Fagen. After a number of years with Verve, in 2016 Rosenwinkel has set up his own label, Heartcore, that focuses on developing young musicians and also allows him a lot of room to explore his own music. Recent projects include a Undercover, recorded live at the Village Vanguard and a reimagining of Chopin's piano music, The Chopin Project. Kurt Rosenwinkel Quartet will be playing Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
  • The Olli Hirvonen Group will be a stop as well. This Finnish guitarist has been plying his trade in NYC since 2011. Listening to recent recordings, Hirvonen can move from achingly beautiful and sparse compositions to shredding those strings. The sounds of his guitar should resonate in the soaring sanctuary of Christ Church, where the Olli Hirvonen Group will be playing at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
  • Victoria Victoria is the alter ego of North Carolina-based singer/songwriter Tori Elliot, with whom guitarist Charlie Hunter collaborated to produce the album To the Wayside.... Jazz? Not really... but the vocals and harmonies, Hunter's reserved playing, and the songwriting are often beautiful. Victoria Victoria with Charlie Hunter will be playing at Montage Music Hall at 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm.
  • While Dawn Thomson & Gary Versace are local to Rochester, they are known world-wide. Pianist, organist, and accordionist Gary Versace has worked with John Scofield, Maria Schneider, John Abercrombie, Anat Cohen, Al Foster, Regina Carter, Rich Perry, John Hollenbeck, Ralph Alessi, Kurt Elling, Madeleine Peyroux, Matt Wilson, Ingrid Jensen, among others. He also has been a prof in Eastman School of Music's Jazz Studies program since 2017. Guitarist and vocalist Dawn Thomson has worked with Gary, as well as Matt Wilson, Renee Rosnes, Ron Miles and many others and has released 6 CDs as a leader. She recorded and toured with Matt Wilson’s Honey and Salt project, contributing vocals and guitar on its music inspired by the American poet Carl Sandburg. Their 2017 release won album of the year by the Jazz Journalists Association. Oh, and festival producer John Nugent is her spouse.... Dawn Thomson and Gary Versace will be playing the Eastman School of Music's Hatch Recital Hall at 5:45 pm and 7:45 pm.
  • A Rochester native, singer Nancy Kelly is well-known here, but she is also known throughout the U.S. and world-wide. She sings with the authority of someone who has been at it for many decades, swinging hard and cool, and as her bio notes with a "take no prisoners" attitude. Her phrasing and nuance stand out. Known as a "singer's singer," Nancy Kelly has twice been named “Best Female Jazz Vocalist” in the Down Beat Readers’ Poll, and has recorded six critically-acclaimed CDs, including B That Way, which enjoyed 8 solid weeks in the top 50 on the JazzWeek jazz radio charts, and Remembering Mark Murphy, named one of the top 20 Jazz recordings of 2019. Her most recent recording is Jazz Woman: The Reel to Real Sessions, which is a collection of songs she wrote early in her career when she was singing in a number of genres as she found her way to jazz. Nancy Kelly is playing the Wilder Room at 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm
 
Given the local artists I'm including in this post, I also want to call your attention to my earlier post that collects all of the talented musicians from the Rochester area playing at this year's RIJF.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for June 25th

JUNE25.Nduduzo.MakhathiniI'll looks like I may have some time on the third night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival to wander around, but have two Club Pass shows I definitely want to hit. You do you, but if you're interested, here are those two and a few others that I probably won't be able to get to, but are also a good bet:
  • I'll start out with Blue Note recording artist Nduduzo Makhathini. I've listened to a couple of this pianist's albums (his debut on Blue Note Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds was named one of the “Best Jazz Albums of 2020” by The New York Times), along with his second Blue Note album In the Spirit of Ntu, provide a complex palette fusing the church music of his early years, the music of South Africa (Makhathini is from Kwazulu Province) with influences of Coltrane, McCoy Tyner and other jazz pianists like Abdullah Ibrahim, Andrew Hill, Randy Weston, and Don Pullen. Nduduzo Makhathini is appearing in Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
  • I will also try to be "Celebrating Toots Thielemans" with Kenny Werner & Gregoire Maret on the third night. Pianist Kenny Werner accompanied Toots as a sideman and Gregoire Maret, his heir apparent on the harmonica. Having seen both of these killer musicians separately, their combination should be a treat. Toots will be celebrated at the Temple Theater at 7:00 pm and 9:15 pm
  • Coinciding with the release of their new CD featuring the music of Marian McPartland, local pianist Laura Dubin and her trio will be playing a Club Pass venue this year. You may have heard her and her husband (and musical partner) Antonio Guererro during the pandemic on their nightly concerts from their Virtual Jazz Club in their house. The Laura Dubin Trio is playing at the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm
  • I might try to catch some of Mozambican guitarist Albino Mbie, who also appears on the Montage Music Hall stage on June 24th (but couldn't fit that one in). Albino Mbie will be at the Rochester Regional Health Big Tent at 8:30 pm. Another option is another chance to catch Camille Thurman with Darrell Green Quartet (if I miss on the 24th, who will be at the Hyatt Regency Rochester Grand Ballroom at 7:45 and 9:45, especially if I decide to hit the Squeezers jam session that night in the Hyatt.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the 2023 RIJF: My picks for June 24th

JUNE24.1.SAMARAJOYIf I can make it all the way through, the second night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival will follow a familiar pattern for me--start at Kilbourn Hall, head over to the Global Jazz Now, and then to Max of Eastman Place to close out the night.  Here's who I'm planning on listening to on the second night of the festival:
  • I missed both shows when Samara Joy was at the RIJF last year. Joy was just breaking out and has since won a Grammy this year for Best New Artist and also Best Jazz Vocal Album for her disc Linger Awhile, which is wildly successful (for a jazz album). Her voice is deep and rich, evoking the great jazz vocalists of yesteryear like Sarah Vaughn, but she is no imitator, going beyond standards to dig into the old disks and unearth new standards for her. Don't usually love vocal jazz, but there are some artists who break through my initial reticence and, listening to Linger Awhile  proves that Samara Joy is one of those artists. Samara Joy has moved to Kilbourn Hall this year, with concerts at 6:00 and 9:00 pm.
  • What is the RIJF without hearing some jazz by Norwegians?  The Oddbeir Berg Trio will be my next stop. The trio's recently released While We Wait for the Brand New Day is a departure from the more ECM, dark Scandinavian sounds of previous recordings.  They should sound great in the space of Christ Church, where they will be playing at 7:30 and 9:30 pm.
  • Hopefully, I'll close down the night with saxophonist and vocalist Camille Thurman with the Darrell Green Quartet. I might as well go for broke with the vocalist, but that likely will be leavened with her definite sax chops. Camille and the band will be hitting the stage at Max at Eastman Place at 6:15 and 10:00 pm
  • You never know what you're going to get with guitarist Bill Frisell, who has graced RIJF stages 9 separate times. It's always different and that is a good thing.   You'll always come away amazed at the sounds he weaves out of his guitar. The Bill Frisell Trio is over at the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 and 8:30 pm. 
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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

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

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

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Yes, you can hear them the other 365 days of the year, but these local musicians will also be at the 2023 RIJF!

“RIJF logoWhile who I choose to get out to hear during the Rochester International Jazz Festival tends to be those coming from outside Rochester, there are so many great local jazz and other musicians who gig around Rochester the other 356 days of the year. From the kids starting out in one of the great high school jazz ensembles who play daily on the Jazz Street Stage, to students in the Jazz Studies program at ESM, to working jazz musicians, to nationally-known jazz artists who happen to be living or teaching here in Rochester, there is a lot of talent in town and many of them will be playing at the 2023 RIJF. I catch some as I pass between Club Pass venues or stand in line. But I do make it easy for you to find them by collecting them in one post (and throughout the other 356 days of at the year on this site).

Below are the local musicians, jazz and otherwise, who will be appearing at the RIJF this year (let me know if I missed any and I'll get them in here).

Friday, June 23rd

  • CSE Music School Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage presented by the Community Foundation, 4:30 pm
  • Honeoye Falls Lima High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • All in Brass Band @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra with Herb Smith @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • iGNiTE Reggae Band @ Wegmans Pavilion, 7:00 pm & Wegmans Pavilion, 9:00 pm

Saturday, June 24th

  • Pal-Mac High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 3:45 pm
  • Penfield High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Gates Chili High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • 78 RPM Big Band @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • ECMS Jazz Combos Directed by Bob Sneider @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm

Sunday, June 25th

  • Pittsford Mendon High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 3:45 pm
  • Hilton High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Fairport High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • New Horizons Jazz Ensemble Directed by Don Sherman @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • ESM Jazz Honors Unit 1 with Kevin Murphy @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Dear Marian: Laura Dubin Trio Plays Marian McPartland @ Theater at Innovation Square, 6:30 pm
  • USP @ Wegmans Pavilion, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm

Monday, June 26th

  • Paradigm Shift @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • Victor High School Jazz Band 
  • Hilton High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Joey Stempien College Big Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Dawn Thomson & Gary Versace @ Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music, 5:45 pm & 7:45 pm
  • Brockport Big Band @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • ESM Jazz Honors Unit 2 with Rob Varon @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Nancy Kelly @ The Wilder Room, 6:00 pm & 10:00 pm
  • Phylicia Rae @ Wegmans Pavilion, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm
  • Fred Costello @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm
  • ESM-RIJF Jazz Scholarship Concert Celebrating Chick Corea ESM Jazz Ensemble @ Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 8:00 pm (Free)

Tuesday, June 27th

  • Amanda Ashley @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • Greece Athena High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Gate Swingers Big Band @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • New Horizons Big Band Directed by Priscilla Todd Brown @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Rich Thompson Trio "Generations" @ The Wilder Room, 6:00 pm  & 10:00 pm
  • Atlas Band @ Wegmans Pavilion, 7:00 pm
  • ECMS Music Educators Jazz Ensemble @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm

Wednesday, June 28th

  • Quinn Lawrence @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • Greece Arcadia High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Pittsford Sutherland High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Penfield Big Band @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • ECMS Faculty With Special Guest Vocalists @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Mambo Kings @ Wegmans Pavilion, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm
  • Rochester Metro Jazz Orchestra City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm

Thursday, June 29th

  • Herb Smith @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • Brockport High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • West Irondequoit High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Melody Masters Big Band @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • ECMS Jazz Alumni @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Joe Beard Band @ Wegmans Stage at Parcel 5, 7:00 pm
  • Violet Mary @ Wegmans Pavilion, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm

Friday, June 30th

  • Zahyia Rolle @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 12:00 pm
  • Bloomfield High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Eastridge High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Greece Jazz Band @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Mike Kaupa's ECMS Saturday & Junior Jazz Ensembles @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • Latriste and the Frequencies @ Wegmans Pavilion, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm
  • Vince Ercolamento & Friends @ Hyatt Regency Rochester Grand Ballroom, 7:45 pm & 9:45 pm

Saturday, July 1st

  • Brighton High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 3:00 pm
  • Spencerport High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 3:45 pm
  • Webster Schroeder High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 4:30 pm
  • Canandaigua High School Jazz Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 5:15 pm
  • Harold Danko @ Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music, 5:45 pm & 7:45 pm
  • Syndicate Jazz Octet @ Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • ESM Jazz Honors Unit 3 with Dan Mach-Holt @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 6:00 pm
  • The BuddaHood @ Wegmans Pavilion, 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm

Additionally, Bob Sneider or Mike Cottone will be leading the Squeezers Jam Sessions every night starting at 10:30 pm at the Hyatt Regency Rochester's Main Street Gallery, which often attracts other artists appearing at the RIJF to sit in for a song or two.

Check my Wednesday posts on June 21st & 28th to find where some of them might be playing outside the RIJF. 

 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Let other RIJF festival goers know where you find your live jazz in Rochester the other 356 days of the year ... Put JazzRochester on your bod!

I had JazzRochester t-shirts made just a few months before the 2020 Rochester International Jazz Festival ... yeah that one. They've been sitting in my closet since. Please help me to let other jazz listeners and RIJF festival goers where you find out about live jazz in and around Rochester during the 356 days of the year you're not at the RIJF. Show your love for JazzRochester (as much as you can "love" a website/blog, that is...) and wear it proudly at this year's RIJF!

The t-shirts are all black with the JazzRochester logo on front and the URL on the back as shown below. They are high quality, 100% cotton Next Level Apparel t-shirts.  I have limited quantities of the following sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, and 3XL.  Here's how they look....

JazzRochester T-shirt
JazzRochester T-shirt

You can take them off my hands for $15, which includes shipment by U.S. Mail. No international orders. You can pay by Venmo, PayPal, Apple Cash (I'll provide the handles after order), or by personal check sent to JazzRochester c/o Gregory V. Bell, P.O. Box 10165, Rochester, NY 14610-0165. 

To buy, click here or aim your phone's camera at the QR code below for a link to an order form...

Qrcode_RIJFjrTshirt

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Yes, there's an app for that ... The 2023 RIJF app has been released

image from www.rochesterjazz.comLast week, the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival released its app for iPhone and Android smartphones, which is now available here. The RIJF app allows users to access festival information anywhere, anytime, and is loaded with more features than ever to customize and enhance the user's festival experience. The app's features include:

  • The entire line-up and 2023 Festival schedule.
  • Browse the schedule by When, Where and Type of show (Free, Club Pass, Headliners, etc.).
  • Browse by artists, read about them, visit their websites and listen to tracks.
  • Create and plan your own personal schedule, set reminders, view venues on the map, and get travel times. You can share this with your friends).
  • Buy tickets, and see FAQs.
  • Stay in touch with the latest news and alerts and important info on getting around the festival.
  • Connect with the Festival's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts to keep up with the latest posts.
  • Sign up for official festival alerts and email news for important, timely messages about artist changes, cancellations and other issues.
  • Never miss a show. Set up notifications so you get alerted about the upcoming events in your schedule, including an estimate on how long it will take to get there.
  • Find out during the festival what others are recommending you get out and hear.
  • Share your favorites with others.

The app is sponsored this year by Harris Beach LLC. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A tonic for my soul, if not my body ... JazzRochester's 2022 Rochester International Jazz Festival

TheCookers_wrapNow that a week has passed and I've recovered from nine days of too little sleep mixed with too much street food and "beverages," I thought I'd record a few thoughts on the 2022 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, which ran from June 17-25. Postponed since 2019 due to the pandemic, the RIJF wrapped up 9 days of music in downtown Rochester with 325 shows and a record-setting attendance of 210,000. One reason for the crowds, in addition to a pent up desire to get out with people again, was the 11 free headliner shows on 2 outdoor stages and the record 130 free shows that were available during this year's RIJF. In past years, a number of those headliner shows would have been cloistered in the elegant confines of Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre for those who could afford the tickets, but producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent used funding resulting from the pandemic to move them outside and make them available for all. Thanks for all this are also due to the sponsors who came back or joined in supporting this year's festival, and to the many Club Pass holders who held onto their passes purchased for prior festivals that were canceled or took a chance and purchased one for 2022. 

JPeltQt_wrapThe live music and just being around people sharing a love of that music was a tonic for my soul ... if not my body. To some extent it was just coming back to it after a two year hiatus. Some of the changes in this year's festival, including moving the free shows and overall footprint toward Parcel 5 and some of the tweaks to the scheduling and venues, made the festival "feel" different. A number of people I ran into felt it, too. It felt more spread out without making it impossible to negotiate your "itinerary." Jazz Street was more mellow and easier to traverse or to hang out and hear the music. This year's festival was blessed with good weather and, from what I've heard, there were no real incidents that some had feared. The crowds were happy to be together, seeing people they hadn't seen in years, and were pretty mellow (although for a significant number of folks the mood might have been enhanced by the cannabis that was a pervasive presence....).

KaisasMachine_wrapMy ears had some excellent music to fill them, offered by a diverse array of artists, but there were some other aspects of this year's RIJF that were new (in addition to just feeling "new" as there had been a 2-year hiatus). This year two friends from Chicago joined me for the first three days of the festival. It was fun sharing my city (I've now been here 20 years, so I guess I can start saying "my"....) and music with good friends from my former home. I flew the JazzRochester "flag" all nine days, wearing the JazzRochester T-Shirt (not the same one, of course, I did alternate and wash them or no one would have wanted to sit by me...). This year I also had an opportunity to announce music from the stage on a couple of occasions. While out of my comfort zone it was was fun and I plan on doing more of if they'll have me (but definitely will have to work on my delivery...).  I decided not to write posts during the festival and concentrated on sharing the experience on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. On Friday night, my phone had a brain fart that silenced me on JazzRochester's social channels. While initially a bit frustrating, this hiccup also allowed me to see an alternative in how I might experience the festival in the future, not "covering" it in the same way, but just experiencing it and writing about that later.  I'll be thinking about that some more in before the 2023 RIJF.

JoeLocke_wrapAs it has been for the past 18 years, the music at this year's RIJF was a great, diverse mix of sounds. I focused on jazz in the Club Pass venues, catching 30+ concerts. Sticking mostly with my picks, I was able to hear a lot of new music and musicians who I was unfamiliar with, along with some favorites who I've heard before. It's hard to choose favorites, but some of the standouts were the incredible Ranky-Tanky, the burning set by The Cookers, trumpeter Giveton Gelin, the Ravi Coltrane Trio, Finnish band Kaisa's Machine, the amazing Arturo O'Farrill (and family...), the Wayne Escoffrey Quintet, Joe Locke bringing it again, the all-woman sextet Lioness, and the intense Immanuel Wilkins Quartet. ImmanuelWilkins_wrap

 

Hope you're all having a great July 4th weekend!   Tell us about your 2022 RIJF in the comments (either here or on the accompanying post on Facebook).

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the RIJF: My picks for June 25th

Ellinghuntersuperblue_webAfter a two year hiatus from the Rochester International Jazz Festival, getting such a large dose of live jazz and other music is a real tonic for my soul and I'll probably try to soak as much up as possible on this last night. I know ... it'll be back and even good things must come to an end.  On the last night of the RIJF here are my jazz picks for your consideration:

  • Starting out the night with Kurt Elling "Super Blue" with Charlie Hunter. Back in Chicago years ago, I saw Kurt Elling perform at Andy's shortly after signing to Blue Note with a pick up band of local Chicago jazz guys. I've followed his career as one of the preeminent jazz vocalists since and have seen him perform a number of times.  Like Joe Locke and some other artists, Kurt always brings something new and this outing fits no mold.  Teaming up with the extraordinary guitarist Charlie Hunter to record a socially-distanced album SuperBlue, Grammy-winning Elling goes in a much different direction with Hunter (who co-produced), working with keyboardist DJ Harrison and drummer Corey Fonville from the funk/jazz/hip-hop group Butcher Brown. I've heard the album and am looking forward to hearing them live. Kurt Elling "Super Blue" with Charlie Hunter will be at Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 and 9:00 pm.
  • Next up will be the Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio.  Gunnlaugs hails from Iceland and, while rooted in the sparse and beautiful nature of that land, she and her husband (and drummer) Scott McLemore honed their craft for many years in the NYC jazz scene. She appeared at RIJF in 2012 and 2014. The Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio plays at the Glory House International at 7:30 and 9:30 pm.
  • Next stop after wandering around a bit while storing up some of that live jazz fest vibe for the long winter months, will be Immanuel Wilkins.  As profiled by Ammar Kalia in Downbeat Magazine, "saxophonist and composer Wilkins has established himself as a uniquely thoughtful and empathetic voice in jazz ... [and] weaves lyrical alto lines around the intricate instrumentation of his long-established quartet to produce music that traverses everything from skewed Thelonious Monk melodies to the raw power of Ornette Coleman’s breath."  Wilkins will be appearing at the Temple Theater at 7:00 and 9:15 pm.

Other good jazz choices that I couldn't easily fit into my night included Drum Battle: Kenny Washington vs. Joe Farnsworth in the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 and 8:30 pm, the McDonald La Barbera Quintet "Trane of Thought" in The Wilder Room at 6:00 and 10:00 pm, and 3D Jazz Trio in the Spirit of Ray Brown appearing at Max's at Eastman Place at 6:15 and 10:00 pm. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the RIJF: My picks for June 24th

Joelocke_webI finally found some time to finish up sharing my picks for the final two days of CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival.  During the festival itself, I focus on getting out to hear the music and being with my friends, rather than writing posts for this blog.  The festival is one of my happy spaces and I try to maintain some balance so it doesn't turn into a job, so focus my sharing about the RIJF through JazzRochester's social channels, including Twitter, the JazzRochester Facebook page, and Instagram (click on the Follow Us... links icons for each at the top of the right panel).  Here are my jazz picks for June 24th at the festival:

  • I think I'm going to start out the night unusually (i.e., not in Kilbourn Hall) by hearing the Parker Trio, which is the first trio outing for Gene Perla, Adam Nussbaum, and Jon Ballantyne, who got together as the pandemic eased in 2021 to record. The conversation between these musicians in that intimate space should be special.   The Parker Trio will be playing at The Wilder Room at 6:00 and 10:00 pm.
  • I'll probably head over to the Temple Theater to hear the Joe Locke Group.  Born and raised in Rochester, Locke always brings something different in the many times I've heard him at the festival, so while familiar it also feels new, all with a reliably killer band backing him up. Joe Locke Group will be at the Temple Theater at 7:00 and 9:15 pm.
  • The next stop on the 24th will likely be the Jonathan Kreisberg Trio featuring Eric Harland and Rick Rosato. You may remember Kreisberg appearing here before with Hammond B3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith, who passed away last year. The Jonathan Kreisberg Trio will be appearing at Glory House International at 7:30 and 9:30 pm.

There are some other choices tugging at me as well on this night, including the Mike Ledonne Trio (6:15 and 10:00 pm at Max's at Eastman Place), Sunna Gunnlaugs appearing on solo piano at Hatch Recital Hall at 5:45 and 7:45 pm, and my Chicago roots are pulling me toward blues master Bobby Rush, who will be appearing at the Hyatt Regency Rochester Ballroom at 7:45 and 9:45 pm.  Who knows where I'll end up?

 

 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

While at the RIJF, perhaps select some of our local talent? Yes, you can hear them the other 356 days of the year....

image from www.jazzrochester.comWhile my picks for the RIJF tend to be those who are coming from elsewhere, there are great local jazz and other musicians who gig around Rochester the other 356 days of the year. From the kids starting out in one of the great high school jazz ensembles that play daily on the Jazz Street Stage, to students in the Jazz Studies program at ESM, to working jazz musicians, to nationally-known jazz artists who happen to be living or teaching, there is a lot of talent in town and many of them gig during the rest of the year. In the end, I always catch some as I pass between Club Pass venues or stand in line. But I do make it easy for you to find them by collecting them in one post (and throughout the other 356 days of at the year on this site). Here are the local musicians, jazz and otherwise, who will be appearing at the RIJF this year (let me know if I missed any). 

June 17th

  • School of the Arts Jazz Band, 4:15 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage presented by the Community Foundation)
  • Hilton High School Jazz Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Dave Rivello Ensemble, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Midtown Stage at Parcel 5)
  • Harold Danko, 5:45 pm (Hatch Recital Hall)
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra with Herb Smith, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • All In Brass Band, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • Sonidos Unidos, 6:00 & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E Fusion Stage)
  • Harold Danko, 7:45 (Hatch Recital Hall)

June 18th

  • Canandaigua High School Jazz Band, 4:15 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Webster Schroeder High School Jazz Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Gary Versace Trio, 5:45 & 7:45 pm (Hatch Recital Hall)
  • ECMS Jazz Combos with Bob Sneider, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • 78 Rpm Big Band, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • Bob Viavatine, 7:00 and 9:012:00 PM Max DiBenedetto Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County
  • Robin McKelle, 7:00 and 9:15 pm (Temple Theater)
  • Bad Sneakers, 8:30 and 10:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)

June 19th

  • Brighton High School Jazz Band, 4:15 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Honeoye Falls–Lima High School Jazz Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • ESM Jazz Honors Unit 1, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Penfield Big Band, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • Cinnamon Jones, 7:00 and 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E Fusion Stage)

June 20th

  • Marvin Williams, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
  • Brockport High School Jazz Band, 3:30 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Palmyra-Macedon High School Jazz Band, 4:15 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Eastridge High School Jazz Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • ESM Jazz Honors Unit 2, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Brockport Big Band, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • Ryan Johnson & Escape Terrain, 7:00 and 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E Fusion Stage)
  • Bill Tiberio Group, 7:00 pm (City of Rochester Midtown Stage at Parcel 5)
  • ESM-RIJF Jazz Scholarships Performance, 7:30 and 9:30 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)

June 21st

  • Max DiBenedetto, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
  • Greece Athena High School Jazz Band, 3:30 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Spencerport High School Jazz Band, 4:15 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Pittsford Sutherland High School Jazz Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • New Horizons Big Band directed by Priscilla Todd Brown, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Gate Swingers Big Band, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • The Pickle Mafia, 7:00 & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E Fusion Stage)
  • Rochester Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, 7:30 & 9:30 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)

June 22nd

  • Amanda Ashley, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
  • Webster Thomas High School Jazz Band, 4:15 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Fairport High School Jazz Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Grupo Ife, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Midtown Stage at Parcel 5)
  • New Horizons Jazz Ensemble directed by Don Sherman, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Prime Time Brass, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • Jimmie Highsmith Jr., 7:00 & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E Fusion Stage)
  • Music Educators' Big Band, 7:30 & 9:30 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)

June 23rd

  • Latriste Fulton, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
  • Bloomfield High School Jazz Band, 4:15 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Pittsford Mendon High School Jazz Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • ESM Wednesday & Saturday Jazz Combos, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Syndicate Jazz Band, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • Judah Sealy Band, 7:00 & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E Fusion Stage)

June 24th

  • Elliot Scozzaro Quartet, 12:00 pm (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
  • Harley School Jazz Band, 4:15 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Gates Chili High School Jazz Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • ESM/ECMS Groups, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Greece Jazz Band, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • Moho Collective, 7:00 & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E Fusion Stage)
  • Julia Nunes, 7:00 pm (City of Rochester MLK Park Stage presented by Wegmans)

June 25th

  • Victor High School Jazz Band, 4:15 PM (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • West Irondequoit High School Band, 5:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • ESM Jazz Honors Unit 3, 6:00 pm (City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage)
  • Melody Masters Big Band, 6:00 pm (RIJF Big Tent)
  • Red Hot & Blue Band, 7:00 & 9:00 pm (Avangrid Foundation/RG&E Fusion Stage)
  • Majestics, 7:00 & 9:15 pm (Little Theatre Roots & Americana Series)
  • Danielle Ponder, 7:00 pm (City of Rochester Midtown Stage at Parcel 5)

Additionally, Bob Sneider and Karl Stabnau will be leading the Squeezers Jam Sessions every night starting at 10:30 pm at the Hyatt Regency Rochester's Main Street Gallery, often attracting other artists appearing at the RIJF to sit in for a song or two. 

 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the RIJF: My picks for June 22-23

Arturoofarrill_webI'm sharing my picks for another two days of the Rochester International Jazz Fest for what it's worth.  For someone who promotes Rochester live jazz, you'll notice that my picks usually don't include anyone from Rochester. It's not because local artists not worthy of attention (I will devote a whole post to the local artists who are appearing at RIJF this year before the week is out). We have world class jazz artists (and some who are likely to become so...) in the Rochester area, so I don't include them in my picks because we all have access to many of these artists the other 356 days of the year. You just have to come to JazzRochester to find out! So here are my picks for Tuesday and Wednesday of the RIJF, June 22-23....

Wednesday, June 22nd

  • Like most nights, I'll start at Kilbourn with the Arturo O'Farrill Quintet. O'Farrill is a  pianist, composer, and educator, who was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. He began his career in jazz with the Carla Bley Band and has performed with  a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. He is the founder of the Latin Jazz Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music. O'Farrill is playing at Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm
  • Another day, another Finn.  I'll next turn out to hear the Joonas Haavisto Trio.  Haavisto has been playing with this trio of renowned Finnish jazz artists for 15 years and I believe it is their first time at RIJF.  Reading the descriptions of Haavisto music we're in for the usual atmospheric and mesmerizing sounds we've come to expect from jazz artists from the northern European climes.  The Joonas Haavisto Trio will be appearing at Glory House International at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
  • I think it's high time I hear a vocalist and the first of those at this year's festival will be Samara Joy. She has been appearing recently in Buffalo, backed by the Pasquale Grazzo Trio (and will likely appear with them here at the RIJF). Samara Joy is a winner of the 2019 Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocalist competition. Although just 21, Joy has already performed in many of the great jazz venues in NYC, including Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, The Blue Note, and Mezzrow, and worked with Christian McBride, Kirk Lightsey, Cyrus Chestnut, and Barry Harris. Joy will be appearing at Max at Eastman Place at 6:15 pm and 10:00 pm.

Thursday, June 23rd

  • Surprisingly enough, my first stop on the 23rd will be to hear the Wayne Escoffrey Quartet in Kilbourn. I have enjoyed his playing the several times I've heard him with the Tom Harrell Quintet, but don't think I've heard him yet as a leader. In addition to Harrell, Wayne Escoffrey has played with the Ron Carter, Ben Riley, Abdulah Ibrahim, Eric Reed, Carl Allen, Al Foster, Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson, Rufus Reid, Wallace Roney and Herbie Hancock among others. Escoffrey and his quintet play Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
  • And again over to the Global Jazz Now series to hear the Jochen Rueckert Quartet. He has played and recorded with  the Marc Copland, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Marc Turner, John Abercrombie, Sam Yahel, Pat Metheny, and others.  There was one line from drummer Rueckert's bio that sold it: "Jochen's deliberate avoidance of formal music education, albeit initially for budgetary reasons, provides a great lack of erudite nonsense in his writing." No shade on the Eastman School of Music. I love watching the budding careers of former ESM students who I saw play in their "infancy" (see the next bullet...). The Jochen Rueckert Quartet will appear at Glory House International at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
  • I'll make my way over to the Innovation Theater to hear Lioness, which is new collective of female jazz instrumentalists with a mission to inspire and educate the community at large by sharing music created by women in jazz, both past and present. There are (and should be) more women in jazz today.  Included in the group is reed player Alexa Tarantino, who graduated from Eastman School of Music a few years back. It's been great to watch her career, playing and composing develop after leaving Eastman and moving into the NYC jazz scene. Lioness appears at the Innovation Theater at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
  • I'll try closing out with the Itamar Borochov Quartet. This is an international jazz festival and Borochov is creating a new musical hybrid by bringing the sacred sounds of Sephardic Judaism of his upbringing to a jazz quartet setting. Saby Reyes-Kulkarni writes that Borochov's latest recording, Blue Nights draws from an array of elements including bebop, rock, pop, Arabic maqam scales, the Gnawa patterns of North Africa’s Hausa people, and sounds that Borochov encountered in a local Yemenite-Jewish synagogue in his native Jaffa, Israel. What is surprising is the way the band manages to introduce changes without disturbing the silken flow of the music." Now that's international...  The Itamar Borochov Quartet will be appearing at the Wilder Room at 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the RIJF: My picks for June 20-21

Jeremypelt_webI always start these picks posts too late. With the Rochester International Jazz Festival starting this coming Friday, I'm again running out of time, so I will need to kick this up a gear and give you my picks for Sunday and Monday. I had to leave town for a wedding, which put a crimp in my schedule.  But, a couple more like tis and I'll have this done before the RIJF starts 

So for Sunday and Monday, although some of my picks over these two days are well-known to me, most will be new to my ears.  Looking forward to that...

Monday, June 20th

  • I missed the memo, but my initial pick Sammy Miller & The Congregation was replaced in the schedule by the Melissa Aldana Quartet. While I was looking forward to something new, the replacement will give me a chance to hear how Chilean saxophonist Aldana has developed as she moves into the "big house" of the Club Pass venues and arrives at Blue Note Records with her latest album 12 Stars.  The Melissa Aldana Quartet will be appearing at Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 and 9:00 pm.
  • I always try to catch the Finns when they come to the RIJF.  Finnish bassist Kaisa Mäensivu's Kaisa's Machine is described in the NYC Jazz Record as "Energetic bebop that could have just easily wafted out of a hole-in-the-wall NYC bar." They are coming to RIJF directly from playing Smalls in NYC, which is, of course a hole-in-the-wall NYC bar (and a great place to hear jazz in NYC). Kaisa's Machine will be playing Glory House International at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
  • Although I've heard many of the jazz artists with whom guitarist Dan Wilson has played as a sideman or collaborated, including Joey DeFrancesco, Christian McBride, Monty Alexander, Jimmy Cobb, Russell Malone, Les McCann, Lewis Nash, John Clayton, Terri Lynne Carrington, Rene Marie, Sean Jones, and Nicholas Payton. Starting in the church in his native Akron, OH, Wilson's musical identity has been shaped by everything from gospel, blues and traditional jazz through to hip-hop. Dan Wilson will be playing in Max's at Eastman Place at 6:15 pm and 10:00 pm.

Tuesday, June 21st

  • I will be starting out Monday with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and his quintet. I've seen Pelt perform a number of times here in Rochester, including sitting in with some ESM students after a post-gig cigar at my "office" Havana Moe's years ago. As Ron Wynn in JazzTimes wrote about an earlier album, "Pelt is a technical marvel. He executes intricate solos with ease, plays gorgeous ballads in a tasteful manner, and never lacks flair or sensitivity." He always brings it...  The Jeremy Pelt Quintet will be in Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
  • Swedish trumpeter Oskar Stenmark will be the next stop on my Monday. With a musical legacy dating back to the mid-1700s in his native Sweden, Stenmark's music tries to fuse the traditional Swedish music with contemporary jazz.  The Oskar Stenmark Trio will be playing at Glory House International at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
  • You may be saying, what's with all the horns on Monday?  Believe it or not, I am planning on ending my evening with horn man Nabate Isles. This trumpeter is new to me. Not sure why given who he's played with and the acclaim he's received. Reading a New York Times review of an outing by Isles in NYC in 2018 after release of his album Eclectic Excursions sealed it for me as one of the pieces his quintet did was described as a "a trippy, motivic original composed around a set of 12-tone harmonies from Alban Berg’s experimental opera, 'Wozzeck'." Not that he will be playing that at his set at the RIJF, but that he composed it at all compelled a listen for me. Isles will be playing at Max's at Eastman Place at 6:15 pm and 10:00 pm
  • While I usually only hit three shows a night, I may also try to hoof over to hear Peter Bernstein after Oskar. I've heard Bernstein play several times, with a special treat being the organ trio he was in with Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart, but not as a leader. Plus, I just must leaven the trumpets with some guitar. Bernstein will be playing at the Innovation Theater at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the RIJF: My picks for June 19, 2022

Ravicoltrane_webAt the Rochester International Jazz Festival you are often confronted with many options, pulling you in different directions musically, but you do have to choose. Some of these choices are imposed on you by timing, some by lines, some by the kismet of hearing raves about an artist you didn't even have on your radar. The third evening of the RIJF is one of those nights. My picks on this night are mostly focused on seeing some artists who I haven't heard, plus one I've heard multiple times.  For the third night, coincidentally, they are all trios....

  • As I do many nights at the RIJF, first stop will be the Kenny Werner Trio at Kilbourn Hall.  I love hearing trios in Kilbourn Hall with its acoustics allowing you to hear all the intricacies woven by trio artists as they play off each other. Kenny Werner, whose career spans over 40 years as a player, leader, and educator, and his trio are known for that. The Kenny Werner Trio will be playing at Kilbourn at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
  • I hope to also hear the Ravi Coltrane Freedom Trio. Ravi Coltrane is the son of John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane. He has both followed his father's (and mother's) giant footsteps and forged new paths for himself, probably incorporating more of his mother's approach to music, but his father's instrument (he was only 2 years old when is father died). If I can make the timing work and get to Innovation Theater for this concert, it'll give me a chance to see how smaller acoustic groups sound after it's recent renovations.
  • I may also hear the Bill Frisell Trio. Frisell has played the RIJF something like 8 times.  I've heard most, if not all of Frisell's appearances at the festival. One reason I keep going back is that Bill Frisell brings something different every time. Frisell is appearing at the Temple Theater
  • However, because I've heard Bill Frisell so many times, I may instead work in hearing the Dutch trio Under The Surface for something completely different as the trio, which spans 3 generations, are said to have a improvisation language that combines jazz, folk, ethnic and electronic music. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I enjoy challenging my ears and often found those challenges at the Nordic Jazz Now series. Unfortunately, one of the effects of the pandemic apparently was to thin out the artists from that series, often whom were appearing in the U.S. for the first time at the RIJF. Under The Surface will be appearing at the newly-christened Global Jazz Now Series at the Glory House International church (formerly the Lutheran Church of the Reformation) at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.

Given that three seems to be the theme here, I expect I'll have to make some choices.  So what else is new at the RIJF.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

JazzRochester at the RIJF: My picks for June 17, 2022

TheCookers_webYes, me and my alter ego JazzRochester, along with some good friends from out of town, will be hitting the 2022 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, coming June 17th through the 25th. All 9 days, baby! I'm going to try to put out some relatively short posts on my choices for this year's RIJF. While there are few "bucket list" concerts this year, that's not a bad thing in my book.  I've seen plenty of bucket list jazz artists and groups over the years of attending the festival (and elsewhere).  I keep going back to Music Producer John Nugent's oft repeated adage . . . "It's not who you know, it's who you don't know." It's that possibility of discovery that often makes this festival for me.  While I do have some favorites, you will see me trying to stretch it a bit across the nine days.  So, my initial thoughts on the first night of the 2022 RIJF are:
  • The Cookers  are Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson, and Billy Hart, a septet of veteran jazz players, all leaders of their own bands, who jazz critic Nate Chinen calls a "dream team of forward-leaning hard-bop". They are touring again after recording their sixth album as a group, Look Out! (Gearbox). Here's Ted Panken's profile in Downbeat to get some more about this super-group. The Cookers are likely going to live up to their moniker and blow the roof off Kilbourn Hall at 6:00 pm and 10:00. pm.
  • Depending on my companions' thoughts on the matter, I may catch the virtuosity of the California Guitar Trio, who I saw in the 2009 edition of the RIJF, and who will be playing at the Innovation Theater at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.  However,  at the moment I'm leaning toward finally catching the country swing of the Hot Club of Cowtown, I group I've managed to miss the 3 times they've been at the fest, most recently in 2017. They sound like a lot of fun.  This year is their 25th anniversary as a band. Hot Club of Cowtown be at the RIJF Big Tent at 8:30 pm or 10:00 pm. They'll also be at the new venue at the Hyatt Regency Rochester Ballroom on the 18th at 7:45 pm and 9:45 pm.
  • I also plan on catching Bahamian trumpeter Giveton Gelin, a rising young player and composer. Listening to some cuts from his debut album True Design, I think it will be a great way to cap off the first night of the festival. Gelin will be appearing at Max at Eastman Place at 6:15 pm or 10:00 pm.
As sh*t sometimes happens, I always try to have a few alternatives in my back pocket for the night, which on the first night might be the Lew Tabackin Trio, who will be appearing in the Wilder Room at 6:00 and 10:00 pm,  and jazz vocalist Tessa Souter, who will be appearing at the Glory House International Global Jazz Now Series (the former Lutheran Church of the Resurrection), at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. However, who knows, I may end up somewhere else altogether . . . .
 
I'll take a break to send out the local listings post tomorrow, but look for these fairly often over the next week.
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

We're baaaack!!! ... CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival returns to downtown ROC

In a press release today, CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival producers John Nugent and Marc Iacona confirmed that planning is well underway for the Festival’s long-awaited return to downtown Rochester June 17th to 25th next year.

Pimage from www.jazzrochester.comroducer and Artistic Director. “It has been a stressful two years of scheduling, postponing, rescheduling and postponing again, and again. Finally, though, on June 17, 2022, our much-anticipated 19th Edition will open!” The full lineup and complete Festival details will be announced at the annual spring press conference on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Booking is well underway for the 2022 Club Pass Series, giving the right of first refusal as promised to artists originally booked for the 19th Edition. The 2022 Club Pass Series will feature 219 sets of music at 12 venues in downtown Rochester including the Bethel Church (new this year), Hatch Hall, Hyatt Regency Ballroom (new this year), Kilbourn Hall, Little Theatre, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Max of Eastman Place, Montage Music Hall, Temple Theater, Theater at Innovation Square (formerly Xerox Auditorium and newly renovated), Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, and the Wilder Room.

Patrons who hold club pass series tickets for the pandemic postponed 19th Edition, do not need to do anything. Their tickets are automatically valid for the 2022 festival or 2023 festival if they are unable to attend in 2022. As in prior years, Club Pass Tickets may be redeemed for passes at the Ticket Shop. Hours and dates for the shop will be announced closer to the festival.

Almost 100% of Club Pass patrons held onto their tickets for the 2022 festival, so in order to not overtax Club Pass venue capacities, the Festival will not put Club Passes on sale until spring 2022. Quantities will be limited.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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 ....

“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...

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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 ....

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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.