256 posts categorized "Rochester International Jazz Festival" Feed

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio

June 25th, Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 & 9:30 pm

I've "known" Sunna Gunnlaugs for several years now, so this pick is personal. OK, we've only been "friends" on Twitter, but we have exchanged some messages and I'd like to think that I gave her the idea of applying to play at Rochester's festival. I've been listening to her music since the time we connected. Sunna and her trio a great fit for the Nordic Jazz Now series that has become such a popular part of the festival, being from Iceland and all, and her sound is made for the wonderful sonic climate of the Church of the  Reformation. 

Sunna Gunlaugs TrioSunna Gunnlaugs began recording a few years after graduating from William Paterson College in NYC in 1996, and now has released eight CDs as a leader, which have consistently met with critical praise. All About Jazz wrote that "Gunnlaugs proves that jazz can have a wider appeal without losing integrity." She is influenced as much by American pianists as Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett as by Scandinavians like Bobo Stenson and Jon Balke. The Washington Post described her music as possessing "such timeless virtues as lyricism and grace ... elegantly bridges soul-searching passages with uncluttered swing." Sunna Gunnlaugs has reaffirmed the praise she's received on previous outings on her latest CD, Long Pair Bond, which features fellow Icelander bassist Thorgrimur Jónsson and long-time partner Scott McLemore on drums. Long Pair Bond is Sunna Gunnlaugs first trio album since her debut in 1997. Gunnlaugs is an independent jazz artist who has been funding her own CDs through KickStarter. As Stephan Moore of the blog Jazz Wrap put it in reviewing Long Pair Bond as one of the best CDs of 2011: "As an independent artist, Gunnalaugs has the liberty of writing, produced and recording when and what she pleases. I think this allows the really artist's personality to shine through. . . . On the musical side, after continually listens over the last month, I really have to repeat, Long Pair Bond is phenomenal." Gunnlaugs' stop in Rochester is part of a bi-coastal tour of the US in June to promote the new CD.

As an independent artist, Sunna Gunnlaugs has learned a lot about promotion using the interwebs. In addition to her website, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, even MySpace. I also found that Jason Crane interviewed Gunnlaugs in 2010 on his podcast The Jazz Session after she released her CD The Dream. But wait . . . there is more, including a live concert with the trio that you can stream (and download as high quality files)....

Although a few years old, here's Sunna Gunnlaugs solo doing A Garden Someday at the Nordic House in Reykjavik, a part of the 2009 Reykjavik Jazz Festival:

Here is a quartet doing Tunnelvision at the Songwire studios in Richmond last year:

I bet you're saying ... "at least it's not another trumpeter this time!" These Picks posts are not in any particular order and I'm going to be mixing them up from here.  If you'd like to check out my other picks for XRIJF, you can do so by clicking on the link XRIJF Picks under Categories.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Nicholas Payton XXX

June 25th, Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza @ 6:30 & 9:00 pm

Yes, I am beginning to see a pattern here, too ... this being the third trumpeter (although Payton is really much more than that, on his most recent album Bitches, he plays all the instruments... and sings). There seems to be a lot horn men playing this year who I want to catch and they are each very individual players.  After tonight, I swear I'll move on to something that doesn't include a trumpet.image from www.nicholaspayton.com

Nicholas Payton has been playing and touring since he was twelve, making his major label debut on Verve with From This Moment On in 1994. He has toured with Clark Terry, Marcus Roberts, Ray Brown, Elvin Jones, and Roy Haynes and scores more. He does not like to be pinned down into a particular musical genre and has performed and recorded with R&B and hip-hop musicians. Payton is credited on well over 120 recordings as a composer, arranger, special guest or sideman. He is a multi-instrumentalist, although trumpet is his main axe, he may also play some Fender Rhodes here.

In addition to being one of the best with a horn out there, Payton says in reference to both his music and his life outside of it that he feels he has finally "arrived":

most solidly in a place where I'm coming to terms with who I am. I've weeded out those things that don't feel right for me. I'm not out to try to impress and I'm not worried that what I play is going to upset some people. I want to write and play music that speaks for me and means something to me and that I feel passionate about.

His music, including his most recent, is a reflection of that journey, but is always rooted in the tradition and New Orleans ground from which he grew.  Payton is a man with opinions and his expressions of those opinions in his blog and on Twitter have created a lot of controversy in bringing issues relating race and jazz music and audiences into a stark light. If you want to hear more about Payton's thoughts about his music, jazz and (his preferred term) Black American Music, I suggest you check out his conversation with Jason Crane on The Jazz Session about his music and a very interesting conversation with Willard Jenkins at 2012 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival to really hear what he's saying (rather than focusing on those who are reacting to him). He's speaking his truth and I for one respect him for it.

Oh, according to his website, Payton will also be appearing with Ninety Miles on the 24th (don't know if that means Christian Scott will not also be appearing). 

Here's a video of the Nicholas Payton SeXXXtet @ NYC's Winter Jazzfest:

Here's another festival date of the SeXXXtet at Rio das Ostras in 2011:

And here with Bag's Groove on a TV appearance overseas:

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Terence Blanchard Quintet

June 25th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

Terance Blanchard, a four-time Grammy award winning trumpet player, began playing piano at the age of five and then the trumpet at age eight upon hearing Alvin Alcorn play.  With more than twenty-nine albums bearing his name, Blanchard is a five-time Grammy winner. I'm looking forward to his June 25th appearance in Kilbourn with his Quintet.

Playing alongside childhood friend Wynton Marsalis in summer music camps, it was only in high school, when young Terance Blanchard began studying at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts under Roger Dickerson and Ellis Marsalis, Jr. that his talent began to shine. From 1980 to 1982, Blanchard studied while touring with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra until, in 1982, Wynton Marsalis recommended him take his place in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengersm. With Blakey and as co-leader of a quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison and pianist Mulgrew Miller, Blanchard rose as a key figure in the 1980s "Jazz Resurgence" the Harrison/Blanchard group recorded five albums from 1984-1988 until /Blanchard left to pursue a solo career in 1990.

Terence Blanchard
Photo Credit: Jenny Bagert

In the 1990s, he recorded his self-titled debut for Columbia Records, which reached third on the Billboard Jazz Charts and also performed on soundtracks for Spike Lee movies, including Do the Right Thing and Mo' Better Blues, after which Lee asked Blanchard to compose the scores for his films. He has written the score for every Spike Lee film since. In 2006, he composed the score for Spike Lee's 4-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary for HBO entitled When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. The catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina was a cauldron from which spring further creative expression Blanchard’s song cycle, A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), a 13-track "emotional tour de force of anger, rage, compassion, melancholy and beauty." The Blue Note CD from that project features Blanchard’s quintet—pianist Aaron Parks, saxophonist Brice Winston, bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Kendrick Scott—as well as a 40-member string orchestra. 

Blanchard's latest disc, Choices, the new CD was released on Concord Jazz. Recorded in Blanchard's hometown of New Orleans at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Choices addresses the choices we make in life, both as a society and on a personal level. Accompanying Blanchard on the album are longstanding band members Fabian Almazan on piano, Derrick Hodge on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums, along with newcomer Walter Smith III on saxophone, all of whom wrote significant track contributions to the CD as well. Guest artists include writer, speaker, educator and activist Dr. Cornel West, critically-acclaimed guitarist and Blanchard protg Lionel Loueke, and singer, musician and composer Bilal. West performs spoken word pieces on the album with Bilal providing vocals on several of the tracks.

Here's a video from February of this year of music from Choices played by the Quintet in the Greene Space in NOLA:

Here's a video with excerpts from a 2007 PBS interview with Blanchard about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and watch his Quintet in performance at Blues Alley in Washington, DC playing music from the Grammy award-winning CD, A Tale of God's Will:

Terance Blanchard is on Twitter and Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Tom Harrell

June 23rd, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm


Tom Harrell
Photo Credit: Angela Harrell

I'm looking forward to trumpter Tom Harrell bringing his Ravel/Debussy project to Kilbourn Hall for the 2012 XRIJF. I loved Harrell's last appearance here at the jazz festival in 2006 and have added a few of his discs to my collection since. Harrell is recognized as one of the most creative and uncompromising jazz instrumentalists and composers around with a discography that spans over 260 recordings and more than four decades. He is a frequent winner in DownBeat and JazzTimes magazines' Critics and Readers Polls, has been nominated for a Grammy Award, and also was nominated for Trumpeter of the Year for the 2011 Jazz Journalists Association Awards. 

Tom Harrell's new project, expanding his quintet into a chamber ensemble with strings celebrates a special affinity that Harrell believes jazz has to the impressionist works of Debussy and Ravel. His interpretations of these two composers' pieces—performed by an nonet consisting of violin, cello, flute, tenor sax, his trumpet/flugelhorn, piano/rhodes, bass and drums—while finding their foundation in classical music are fully expressed through jazz.

Here's Brian Pace's Pace Report with an interview with Harrell on the Debussy/Ravel project:

And the ensemble playing a festival in November 2011:

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Ninety Miles

June 24th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

Ninety MilesAlthough I came to it like a lot of us through Ry Cooder's film and album The Buena Vista Social Club, the Afro-Cuban jazz coming from ninety miles off the coast of Florida has since been a growing part of my collection. This music really gets inside of me. Ninety Miles is a project of three young and critically-acclaimed U.S. jazz musicians—vibist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sánchez and trumpeter Christian Scott—who have collaborated in the Nintey Miles project to create a collection of music that evoke the spirit of Cuba while also retaining their own unique approach to jazz. Recorded in Havana with talented Cuban pianists Rember Duharte and Harold López-Nussa, each leading their own quartets, the 9-song set was an experiment examining the chemistry that can happen musicians from different cultures come together and talk in the only language they share, with a result that is a collaboration that disregards the political borders that for too long has kept us apart from this great music being played in the place it was born, and by or with those who have nurtured it. 

Check Ninety Miles out below, performing at the Heineken Jazz Festival in Puerto Rico last year:


Like the BVSC, there is a documentary. Here is the trailer for it:

This is one of my must sees, so you'll be seeing me in line at Kilbourn on the 24th. Early or late show to be determined....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Christian McBride & Inside Straight

June 22nd, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 & 10:00 pm

Not a big surprise after my experience with bassist Christian McBride on April 14th when he joined Ullyses S. Owens here for the Exodus to Jazz series, including a nice dinner at Henry B's with McBride and the members of the band and some cigars after the gig at Havana Moes. But anyone who was at the concert at Hochstein that night and heard the band close up the concert with Cherokee, with it's alternating steaming and screaming lines, sat in awe of his playing.

Live Shots: Ulysses S Owens at Exodus To Jaxzz

Christian McBride, who won Grammy this year for his Big Band recording The Good Feeling, is one of the most recorded jazz musicians reaching nearly 300 recordings as a sideman before the age of 40. McBride has performed and recorded with a huge number of jazz legends and ensembles, including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Joshua Redman, and Ray Brown's "Superbass" with John Clayton, as well as with hip-hop, pop, soul, and classical musicians like The Roots, opera singer Kathleen Battle, Carly Simon, Sting, Bruce Hornsby, and James Brown.

McBride will likely bring some of the guys from that ETJ gig back with him for his gig here as the usual cast of characters in Inside Straight includes pianist Christian Sands (who was a monster on the ETJ stage) and the incomparable Mr. Owens.

You don't believe me about Cherokee?  Here it is with his trio in a 2009 trio recording from the Bratislava Jazz Festival, including Peter Martin and USO:

I also thought you might like this full concert recorded by National Public Radio with Christian McBride and Inside Straight at the Village Vanguard.

Christian McBride is on Twitter at @mcbridesworld and can be found on Facebook as well.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF 2012: And now for something completely different....

XRIJF logoFor quite a few years my usual practice in the run up to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival has been to do an "itinerary" post for each day of the festival, with a list of my "picks" for that day and links to some more information about the artists, including video and audio you can hear to that will not be found on the festival website. In this way, as I do without the year of live jazz in Rochester, I hope to augment what's being done elsewhere and provide you what you need to make your own decisions about who to hear. 

While the aim will be the same, I'm taking a new approach for 2012.  Over the remaining days before June 22nd, I'll be posting a post for each of Jazz@Rochester (i.e., my) picks for this year's XRIJF, including the artists who I might miss due to not being able to fit them in, but will be regretting it. I'll also be doing some other posts, such as one focusing on local favorites who will be playing the festival. 

It will mean there will be a lot more coming at you over the next few weeks, but I hope that it will make it easier for those looking up a particular artist to find it here. Plus I welcome your thought and input and hope that readers will leave comments on individual artists/group posts with additional links and with your own thoughts on the artist (or my pick). 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF: First glance at the grid ... This is going to be good!

XRIJF logoThis morning, before the assembled "throng" of media types, John Nugent and Marc Iacona revealed the lineup of artists, new venue and other changes for the 11th edition of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, June 22-30. At least for me, this year's schedule is chock full of must sees and new artists who I'd love an opportunity to hear (Nugent's "it's not who you know, it's who you don't know..." effect kicking in). Good thing I'm planning on taking the week off for a change!  New this year is a smart-phone app that will appear some time in May and a new Club Pass venue Hatch Recital Hall in the Eastman School of Music, which will feature all-acoustic solo and duo performances. The lineup at Kilbourn Hall is full of must sees for me, so you know where I'll likely be each afternoon—waiting in line for the first show with a beer. Over the 9 days of the festival, XRIJF will present more than 1000 musicians, performing in more than 300 concerts at eighteen venues in and around Gibbs ("Jazz") Street.  

To kick off Jazz@Rochester's coverage I was going to take a look at the "grid," in broad strokes, and lay out some of my picks and "must sees" early, and I did draft one over the course of the past hour, but the computer gods had different plans (I'm having an annoying problem with random reboots that lost the whole thing) and it all disappeared in a puff of electrons. So, as I only had a short bit of time to do it (I have a flight tomorrow at 6am), I'm going to hold off and point you to the XRIJF redesigned site listings, which can be configured in different ways, such as a list of the artists with links to their bio and other information, or in a day-by-day lineup. Check it out there and then come back here later for more.

Later I'll do my traditional posts setting out my jazz itinerary for each day of XRIJF, filling out the info available at least on my "picks," which are admittedly idiosyncratic. I'll have lots of other coverage as well, including the "tweets" of artists who are appearing (see the Jazz@Rochester on Twitter tab, I'll be adding the list to the widget soon and building a list of the artists who tweet as I find them).

It's gonna be a great time June 22-30. Hope to see you there!  Tomorrow, however, you'll get listings that are closer to "home," the live jazz in and around Rochester Thursday through next Wednesday.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Live Shots: XRIJF Lineup Announcement ...

Marc Iacona sets out the changes to venues, street closings for the 2012 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival....

John Nugent showing off the grid ... The lineup is killer!

The band Newt doing a wee bit o'jazz for the folks live from Scotland....

Queen Latifah is the last "reveal" headliner on June 23rd...

More later about the lineup for the 11th year of XRIJF and, of course, you can get more info on the lineup at the XRIJF website (and on all of the TV and other news outlets...they're all here).

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Wanna XRIJF Club Pass? Fahgettaboudit!

XRIJF M&T LogoThe Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival announced today that Club Passes for the 11th Edition of the festival have sold out! This is earlier than ever before and prior to the Club Pass Series lineup being announced. The Club Pass is a value pass, good for over 200 shows over nine days, offering a significant savings over individual concert ticket prices of $20 and $25 per show. This is especially true for some of the fanatics I know.

Don't panic if you didn't get one. Individual tickets to all Club Pass Series shows will be available at the door for $20-$25 per person per show (they are not available in advance). Entry to all Club Pass Series shows is first-come, first-served with the Pass or tickets purchased at the door, so having a Pass doesn't give you preference in getting in (as long as you're in line with the rest of us...).

The Festival’s complete 9-day lineup will be announced March 20. In other XRIJF news, XRIJF also announced that Steve Martin will be doing a 4:00 pm matinee in addition to his sold out show on Wednesday, June 27th. Tickets for that go on sale on Friday.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF 2012 Club Passes to go on sale Friday!

XRIJF logoThe Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival has announced when the Club Passes will be available for the 11th Edition, running from June 22-30, 2012. Club Passes go on sale Friday, October 28th at 10 a.m. at the "special holiday price" of $155, plus a $4 service charge, which will be a $30 savings off the full price. XRIJF is also launching at that time a new online ticketing system for Club Passes and headliner tickets that will offer lower service fees and many other advantages. XRIJF’s new online ticketing system will be run by XRIJF, and replaces all Ticketmaster, and sales at the Auditorium Theatre. The advance discount price is good until midnight EST January 15, 2012, when it increases to $170 plus $4 service charge until March 20, 2012. Starting midnight EST March 23, 2012, the price increases to $185 plus $4 service charge until sold out. All Club Passes will now be available only at the XRIJF website, no Ticketmaster (yeah!) or Auditorium availability. Headliners tickets will also only be available for purchase online at the XRIJF website and at XRIJF’s Box Office, which is located in the lobby of Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs Street, Rochester and in the Festival Ticket Shop at the corner of Gibbs and East Avenue, when that opens in May.

According to the press release, John Nugent, Producer and Artistic Director, notes:

We’re looking forward to another great Festival and are excited to announce two new additions for 2012 .... One, we are adding a new venue to the 2012 Club Pass Series, Hatch Recital Hall in the Eastman East Wing. That will make the 2012 Club Pass good at 12 venues and more than 200 Club Pass shows over nine days. That is 18 more shows than last year. Two, we are launching a new state-of-the-art online E-ticketing system so XRIJF fans will also be able to purchase their 2012 Club Passes exclusively online at www.rochesterjazz.com.

According to Producer and Executive Director Marc Iacona:

We have always worked hard to listen to our jazz festival patrons, and to make customer service a priority and also personal.... We have a hands-on team that we feel makes this festival unique. We were looking for a ticketing solution that would allow us to better respond to customer requests and control service charges that we were previously unable to set. This system enables us to do all that and more. Now, we can now offer customers lower service fees for headliner tickets, the ability to print E-tickets at home and to send tickets as gifts. No more lost tickets, although once exchanged for a laminated pass, no replacements can be made....We are also reducing the need for paper and mailing," added Nugent, “So this is also a “greener” solution, which is very important to us and to so many of our customers.

According to today's press release, when tickets are purchased via the secure website ordering system, customers will receive a unique patron ID and E-ticket with a barcode. Customers then have several options as to how to redeem their E-tickets. You can:

  • Print your E-ticket at home and bring it to the festival to be scanned for a laminated Club Pass or entry to a headliner show. Only one scan per bar code is possible.
  • Take a photo of your E-ticket with your smartphone, and bring it to the festival to be scanned for a laminated Club Pass or entry to a headliner show. No paper needed.
  • Write down the order number and bring it to the festival to be entered to receive a Club Pass at any official venue or entry to headliner show at the WILL CALL desk in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre lobby.
  • For those who prefer a ticket be mailed, tickets will be mailed for a slightly higher service fee of $6 per ticket.
  • For those without online access, call the Festival office at 585-454-2060, to order a Club Pass or headliner ticket.

The Club Pass is a value if you're going to see more than just a couple of shows at XRIJF, easily paying for itself as individual concert tickets at the door run $20 and $25 per show and are not available in advance. If you're insane like me and see an average of over 30 Club Pass gigs during an average XRIJF, it is absolutely necessary if I don't want to take out a loan to attend. [Full disclosure, the folks at XRIJF graciously provide me a media pass]. You need to keep in mind that entry to Club Pass shows is on a first-come, first-served basis (including those with tickets purchased at the door). 

If you're considering whether to get a Club Pass, don't dither too long.  More than half of all Club Passes available last year were sold before the end of December, and the Club Pass sold out in March before our lineup was announced. The full festival lineup will be announced in March 2012.

Get more info on all of this on XRIJF's spiffy "new" website.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Unpacking the XRIJF . . . some thoughts, favorites & regrets

gvb imageNow that I've had a bit of time to recover and let it sink in, I thought I'd write one or two posts to unpack my experience this year at the 10th Rochester International Jazz Festival and, hopefully, start a conversation amongst you my readers (I'll join in as well...). 

One of the questions that people who met during the XRIJF—friends, "jazz fest friends," people you met in line, readers of this blog—was "who has been your favorites so far?" While the question for me is a bit harder as I managed to get to about 32 different Club Pass and other sets during the jazz festival, there were quite a few standouts: 

The above are not in any order (can't rank them as they are all so different and, in many ways, that would be comparing apples and oranges)

Of course, there were regrets. After hearing about it from a number of you, I wish I had been able to get Tia Fuller. I wish I could have fit in Regina Carter, Marcus Strickland,the Rodriguez Brothers, Davell Crawford. Finally, while I've explained why I do it, I still regret not seeing the performances of local artists throughout the festival. In some cases, it was not for want of trying, like the success of local bassist and vocalist Katie Ernst's first set, which made it next to impossible for me to get into the second.

This year at the Xerox Rochester international Jazz Festival was a year of discovery, of regrets, and of reaffirmations on why I go through the grueling marathon that is the nine days of the XRIJF (at least when you approach it as I do). However, I (publicly) promised that this year I would take it a little easier than I have in the past and, for the most part, I fulfilled that promise and had a much more relaxing time, listening to the music and people surrounding me, rather than focusing on "covering" the festival. I left my phone in my pocket and my iPad in my "gig bag" during sets and tried to focus on why I was there (OK, I took them out a few times before you start commenting "Liar! I saw you with it out at several gigs!" but tried to do that only when there was something being said or played from the stage that should get a wider audience or recorded in some way). At the end of the fest I was satisfied.... and begin the wait for next year.

So, who were your favorites? What regrets?  Click on the comment link at the end of this post, follow the directions, and let us know. Or you can add your thoughts on Twitter or Facebook, if you prefer.

Next up, some thoughts on what the success of the XRIJF means for the future....


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Tailgating and the XRIJF endgame...Day 9 of the festival

I have a friend that lives near the festival site and met there with some friends on the last day to have a short tailgate party before heading out for our final evening of music. While we may start earlier, this may become a tradition that continues on the last day of the XRIJF... I like that. I left the tailgate (well, we were more on the stoop of my friend's apartment building, although we were in a parking lot, the cars were mostly parked elsewhere) and realized I should have left a bit earlier when I came upon the line for Regina Carter at Kilbourn Hall—my first choice for the evening. While I knew I would get in, I just didn't want to stand on Swan Street for two hours, so I headed up the alley to Gibbs and, eventually, got into the line for Jonas Kulhammar's first set at Max. While I regret not having the opportunity to hear Carter's Reverse Threads project with her take on integrating African music, seemed like a good choice as I wasn't sure I'd be able to hear other things and get into the late Kulhammar set.

flickr image Kulhammar poured on the charm and dry wit he's known for, fawning over us with his love of Rochester ("I'll have to spend millions on therapy if we're not invited again...") and its festival, producers, etc. I think he's actually sincere as this city has given him a lot of love over his 3 visits to the RIJF, plus he gets to "see his friends here and have lunch, dinner and breakfast at Dinosaur BBQ". While a comedian between the pieces in the set, Kullhammar's all business when it comes to playing. He and his band are tight, a testament to the 13 years they've been together. I've previously heard Jonas Kullhammar in the larger settings of the Xerox Auditorium and the Reformation Church, so getting a chance to hear their set in the more intimate environs of Max at Eastman Place was a treat. It was a great post-bop set with the chemistry of this band creating a whole that was more than the sum of its parts. For us first setters, Kullhammar left us with a final thought, telling us "I have bad new and good news ... The good news is that we're playing again at 10:00 pm ... the bad is that we've saved all the good ones for that set."

Wandered around a bit, listened to the Po'Boys Brass Band blowing down the crowd on Gibbs Street and catching a bit of The Budos Band, before taking the long route over to Montage (as I had done on Friday) to avoid the .38 Special crowd to catch my last show of the 2011 XRIJF—Ben Allison 3. I believe Allison was brought in to replace Supersilent and it was a great choice for the end of the festival for me. A trio with Allison's bass, backed by Steve Cardenas on guitar and Shane Endsley on trumpet, their set at 10:00 pm was mellow and quirky. The mellow I like at the end of the festival as...damn...I'm exhausted; quirky is just the way I roll with music. The sound was sort of like a Bill Frisell set with the focus on the bass, on which Allison is a monster.

Sated, happy, with a lot of great music from the past nine days dancing around in my head (and a few in my CD changer), I was somewhat happy that my friends had decided not to do the after hours scene, either at Rochester Plaza or Abilene. While I would have loved to catch the John Nugent/Jonas Kullhammar sax duel at the hotel after hours, but I was ready to put the toe tag on it. 

More over the next few days and, of course, my usual coverage of live jazz in Rochester. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Making my way through Day 8 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

XRIJF imageThe Kenny Barron Trio brought the hall down at Kilbourn during the first set with a mixture of standards and his own compositions. In addition to bassist Kiyoshi Kitagowa, Barron completed his trio with drummer Johnathan Blake, who I've seen perform here before with Joe Locke in 2008, and more recently at Exodus to Jazz with pianist Lynne Arriale and bassist Omer Avital. Ranging from standard trio fare to calypso and a Eubie Blake solo piano number, Barron showed his mastery of his instrument and his good choices in bandmates. Drummer Blake played such a monster solo that those who were still breathing rose and gave him a standing O. I especially enjoyed the fast paced New York Attitude, which the group romper through at an incredible clip. 

Again, a deeper rut was carved in the path to the Reformation Lutheran Church, where I grossed next to catch the project of former E.S.T. Bassist Dan Berglund—Tonbruket—a Swedish word for "workshop." Although Berglund had been to a prior Rochester jazz festival with E.S.T., like many of the bands that grace the Church's stage, this was the first U.S. appearance for his new project. Berguland formed Tonbruket after the death of E.S.T.'s pianist Esbjørn Svensson in a scuba diving accident in 2008, with Martin Hederos on keyboards and violin, Johan Lindstrom on guitar and pedal-steel guitar, and Andreas Werliin on percussion. Lindstrom's pedal steel was probably the first of those instruments to be found on the stage at the Church, but he was not using it to get that country twang, but rather a haunting effect. The music was genré-less, moving from the ethereal, electronically-enhanced ruminations that are a common sound in the Nordic Jazz Now series, through anthemic rock, to an almost surf sound at times. The audience stayed in their seats and enthusiastically greeted Tonbruket in the first set. Another fine example of these artists pushing boundaries into new, and very satisfying, spaces.  

After a quick stop to listen to Elvis Costello near the beginning of a three hour set in Kodak Hall of Eastman Theatre, I made my way through the crowd on Gibbs and those listening to Trombone Shorty to the Montage (well, I went around through the walkway near Christ Church rather than try to move through the crowd itself), I sat down in a nearly empty Montage. While waiting for the last set of In The Country, I worked on this post and watched the XRIJF twitter stream for a bit.  In the Country hails from Norway (the Nordic Jazz Now series is popular enough that its artists sometimes come back to new venues) and is a piano trio with Morten Qvenild, bass player Roger Arntzen and drummer Pål Hausken. Some may remember them from last year and from the "torch fishing" story that Qvenild tells (fishing at night with flashlights and banging the temporarily light stunned and spawning trout  on the head with a handy object to catch them). In The Country music seems, well, connected to the country, the landscape around Oslo and the wildlife that inhabits it (Qvenild indicated that there is a beaver dam outside his apartment window) in their piece Beaver Creek, which had an almost gospel sound to it. It would rise and fall from introspective murmurs to a forceful torrent of sound, driven by Qvenild's piano. The chord changes in some of the songs in their set moved in odd ways, but they were oddly compelling. I then headed over to the Rochester Plaza hotel and spent a bit of time with some friends at the after-hours last night, which was pretty subdued for the penultimate night of the festival (albeit, I didn't stay to the bitter end).

We move on to the last night of the festival (is it over already?). We start out with violin of Regina Carter in Kilbourn Hall (this festival is one where I've started in Kilbourn almost every night... has been unusual in recent years). I'll then try to catch some of the Po'Boys Brass Band and the Budos Band. I decided to try to catch Jonas Kulhammar in the more intimate setting of Max to end out the festival this year. Now the lines and Kulhammar's popularity at the festival may throw these plans into some disarray, but I'm not worried. I've had a great 2011 XRIJF and heard more than enough good music to be sated.

Hope to see you on "Jazz Street"....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Keeping it light, at least until tonight ... Day 7 at the XRIJF

Started the evening out with the third Rochester Jazz Festival appearance of Bill Frisell. Here with his "Beautiful Dreamers" project with Rudy Royston on drums and Eyvind Kang on violin viola, Frisell was what I always expect when I hear Bill Frisell ... unexpected.  The opening number of the first set "began" when I noticed that Frisell and Kang's "tuning" was beginning to develop a pattern. The group then layered and developed these patterns further. He was mining a lot of sources as the set list that Frisell shared with Jeff Spevak (which was published in the mobile version of Jeff Spevak's article Bill Frisell experiments with the wild sidebut didn't make the final article) shows: (1) "Nobody's Fault But Mine," Blind Willie Johnson; (2) Untitled, Frisell; (3) "Subconscious-Lee," Lee Konitz; (4) "St. Louis Blues," W.C. Handy; (5) "Keep on the Sunny Side," The Carter Family; (6) "Baba Drame," Boubacar Traoré; and Encore: "Benny's Bugle," Benny Goodman, the Charlie Christian version.

XRIJF image

I then took the now well-worn path from Kilbourn Hall to the Reformation Church to catch ECM artists KUÀRA, which is Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari and pianist Samuli Mikkonen, with Norwegian trumpeter & singer Per Jørgensen. This bass-less trio created beautiful, complex and sometimes challenging sounds in that space as they explored the folk music of an obscure area of Finland and Russian psalms found on their new disc. It was one of those concerts where the audience does not have a point to express their appreciation and, sometimes, expresses it at odd times not knowing whether the artists are done or not. Jørgensen played trumpet, hand drum and sang, ranging from the low drone of throat singing to beautiful vocalizing of the unknown tongue of the residents of that area.

Floated around after that, catching a couple of songs by k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang band in Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre and a bit of the Slavic Soul Party.  Tonight, it's Kenny Barron in Kilbourn, Tonbruket at the Reformation Church (again that well-worn path) and closing out with In the Country at Montage, with the interspersed time undecided. After hours... maybe... 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Day 6 was light ... Now we head into the final stretch of XRIJF

XRIJF imageDue to an early presentation at work this morning, I played an adult on the Internet and limiting myself to one Club Pass gig last night—Greg Burk's Many Worlds. While I was not surprised given my research, by the thinning of the audience over their first set, I expect many were. There are sometimes people or groups at the festival who serve as talismans for me that I'm ini store for something different, sometimes challenging, often a great find. That group was at this gig... I enjoyed it.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Short, but sweet... Day Five of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

I'm focusing on being a responsible adult (for a couple of days at least) and Tuesday (and today) I am limiting my schedule at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. That doesn't mean you have to, so go jazz amongst yourselves...On Tuesday, I managed to get out to hear a few things.

Started out with The Trio of Oz with Rachel Z and Omar Hakim, joined by bassist Solomon Dorsey (usually, the Ozzies gig with Maeve Royce, but Dorsey was more than up for the task). The Oz's thing is to take the rock music—the music of bands like Coldplay, Stone Temple Pilots, New Order, Alice In Chains—and transform the underlying song into a multilayered post-bop jazz exploration. I use the word "transform" because they don't just play the tunes with a jazz instrumentation; their renditions rarely retain much resemblance to the originals.

I headed into the Big Tent for a frosty beverage and was treated to part of the set by local Latin Band, Calle Uno. I love salsa, merengue, mambo, you name it, and was happy to spend a half-hour listening to this great (and quite large) band who were really tearing it up.

Reformation Lutheran Church was the next stop for Danish bassist Jasper Høiby and Phronesis. Høiby, very tall (almost as tall as his bass...), was very personable as he chatted up the audience. He noted that he and the band were excited to be there and said something like: "We're playing the States! Do you know how much that means to us?  This is YOUR music... we just play it."  It expressed a lot about how some of these young European and other global jazz artists who come play festivals in the U.S. like XRIJF and the excitement they feel when they play for us at the festival. I think it is a symbiotic relationship as we often react to that enthusiasm with our response as an audience. This is one of the signature things about the Nordic Jazz Now series at the Reformation Church.  Phronesis was a great trio of musicians. With Høiby often holding down a driving bass groove and pianist Ivo Neame, and drummer Anton Eger improvising around it, the trio was powerful and dynamic, moving from minuet quiet to rock anthem heavy and back again. Aton Eger was amazingly fast and inventive (he also had the most imaginative haircut to date). Eger also did something during his first solo that I've seen before that always amazes me. In a lightning-fast run, he dropped a stick and magically one appeared in his hand and he played on without missing a beat.

After Phronesis, I started heading for my car, but stuck my head in catch a bit of Bela Fleck and the Original Flecktones in the Big House. Came in during one of Howard Levy's amazing harmonica solos and left with one of Victor Wooten's bass solos ringing in my ears (with a lot of Fleck's amazing electric banjo in between). 

If you're onTwitter then follow @jazzrochester or the list of tweeting XRIJF artists and other XRIJF sources I've been building. Use the hash tag #XRIJF to join the conversation (and if you have room and want to be included in the D&C's coverage, #rocjazz. If you don't want to sign up for Twitter, but want to check out the conversation anyway, then click on the XRIJF on Twitter button at the top of this page for a running stream of tweets from the festival and festival artists who tweet. A lot of will also be republished on the or Jazz@Rochester Facebook page (which you can Like in the middle column). 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Still at it after all these days... Day 4 of the XRIJF

My feared illness was a no show, instead most likely the result of a local tree spewing forth its pollen, so feeling better I ventured out into the venues of the XRIJF on Monday, although decidedly subdued in consumption of beer and street meat. 

XRIJF imageStarted out with the subtle mastery of guitarist Jim Hall. I loved the way he would break apart a well-worn tune like My Funny Valentine and put it back together in a unique way, coming at its themes from different angles.  With a stellar group of musicians behind him—Greg Osby on sax, Steve LaSpina on bass, and Joey Baron on drums—though stooped and slow in movement onto the stage, was nimble on the guitar and witty in the between tune repartee with the audience. Billy Strayhorn's Chelsea Bridge, featuring Osby, was a highlight for me.

In what seems to have become a pretty worn path, I headed over to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation to catch Finnish pianist Mika Pohjola (although Mika ended up with a quartet, rather than the quintet indicated). While part of the Nordic Jazz Now series the players were all based in NYC, although hailing mostly from other parts of the globe. There was a lyrical, almost classical style to Pohjola's playing, sometimes sparse and minimalist repetition of phrases. He would work a theme or a short burst of notes (and he could play these "bursts" with lightning speed), over and over, with slight variations throwing in different colors. Intricately composed with interweaving lines between the piano, sax and other instruments caused Pohjola's bandmates to be constantly checking with each other for cues on where they were heading. 

After leaving there and downing a cup of that great Beale Street gumbo (and a malty beverage), with some regret that I couldn't get the Rodriguez Brothers in, I headed over to Montage with some friends to catch the funky grooves of Triodes, a project of Toronto musicians Michael Occhipinti and Mark Neufeld (with Michael's brother Roberto, who Michael quipped probably has stock in this jazz fest given all the times he appears here with one group or another). Working the grooves of Occhipinti's Big Belly (an ode to his son and, apparently, his son's mother's pregnancy) to start, they played a long set of original material and covers of the Meters (yes, in the second set we also were "clucking" to the Meters' Chicken Strut as they had in the first)and reggae. Try as they might, and the music had the groove to do it, they could not get the tired, late Monday show audience off their bums and dancing—including this one, although I thought my chair might break from the bouncing I was doing.

Due to some responsibilities at work and elsewhere, I will be taking it pretty light on Tuesday and Wednesday, reducing my schedules posted here and here a bit (although I encourage you to try them all...). Tonight I'm catching Trio Oz and then Phronesis. Tomorrow, only Many Worlds with Greg Burk at Max.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz Passengers and Nicolaj Hess Global Motion+ were enough...

Perhaps I didn't relax enough, but the past few weeks (months... haven't had a day off since beginning of the year) seemed to catch up with me.  Jury is still out on whether I'm sick or just some tree has started spewing its stuff into the air, but it took the wind out of my sails last night toward the end of Nicolaj Hess & Global Motion + at the Nordic Jazz Now Series.  

Started out with the Jazz Passengers, a reunited band that was originally formed in 1987. This group, fronted by original founders saxophonist Roy Nathanson and trombonist Curtis Fowlkes were out to have some fun playing for us in Kilbourn Hall, mixing in social activism, comedy, a lot more singing than anyone expected, and some general sonic mayhem and glee at times, but always bringing it home. It is probably the only time the Peaches & Herb triple platinum hit Reunited has been heard on the Kilbourn stage (lyrics revised to suit the bands recent getting together and recording an album of the same name).

XRIJF imageWent over next to the Nordic Jazz Now Series to catch Nicolaj Hess Global Motion +. Although all of these great young musicians are now based in NYC, they hail from all over the world. The music, composed by Hess (there was also one wonderful composition by saxophonist Mark Mommaas before I left) was almost classical in sound at times (as was Hess's piano playing). Pulling in global influences, it was rooted in jazz and sounded wonderful as it filled the great sonic space of the Reformation Lutheran Church.  

Caught some of Ronnie Scott's All-Stars but left and then, after wandering around a bit, realized what I needed to do and went to my car and drove home. My throat had started hurting earlier in the evening and I had started feeling more than a little run down earlier (as might be expected anyway on the schedule I've been keeping the last 3 days). Decided to listen to my body for once.  I may or may not come out tonight depending on what my body's telling me then (and if I think I'm actually sick, I won't be, as I'm sure you don't wanting me sharing that in addition to posts and tweets, etc). If I did, I'm sure I'll be starting with the legendary Jim Hall in Kilbourn and, if I have enough energy the rest of my picks for Monday. It's been going around, so maybe it finally caught up to me.  Will suck if I have to sit out part of the festival, but I've heard some great sounds already, so I'll muddle through... if so, please listen to jazz amongst yourselves. 

Hope to see you on Jazz Street....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

From a trio of trios to 2 trios & a quintet of trios... Second night of the XRIJF

As I thought, on the second evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, my path diverged from that I set before, but it was for a good cause—just enjoying the music where I was at too much to leave. A satisfying (and much more relaxed) evening throughout, I started out at the Bill Charlap Trio's first set at Kilbourn Hall. As a friend remarked, this is the Rolls Royce of piano trios, with Charlap joined by bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. It was definitely a fine ride through a night marked mostly by Bernstein compositions, with some Gerry Mulligan, Arlen and others mixed in. Ending the set with an incredible medley from West Side Story at the end that weaved themes from that musical into the improvisations from a number of angles. They were tight; always seeming to know where the music was heading and spot on the mark when needed. City's Ron Netsky and D&C's Anna Reguero wrote about it here and here.

First trio down, I headed over to the Nordic Jazz Now series at the Reformation Lutheran Church for the Arild Anderson Trio. With Tommy Scott on saxophone counterpointing Anderson's inventive bass playing—adding electronic effects and bowing in creating the soundscapes. Drummer Paolo Vinaccia was an amazing and also inventive percussionist, never once using drum sticks, but creating his own sounds with mallets and brushes (and as Ron Netsky pointed out in City, what appeared to be small hand brooms (I was in the balcony, so couldn't see them well enough to be sure). These three artists were each amazing musicians and Arildsen's music was beautiful.

XRIJF imageThe play on words in this posts title is, of course, meant to add up to 15, which was the number of players in the big band Ensemble Denada (yes, that's in "de nada" in Spanish, which means "it was nothing"). The compositions of Norwegian band leader and trombonist Helge Sunde (he was also a witty M.C.) were complex, dynamic, and quirky. The musicians in the band were all great musicians and were almost all given a chance to shine on solos. All behind this, literally, were black and white visual images and electronic sounds being "played" on a number of Apple laptops and other gear. I decided early in the show that there was no way I was leaving until this was over as it was, again, one of those truly unique things you'll only get a chance to hear at XRIJF.

This evening at the XRIJF was one of those that keeps reminding me why I puy myself through this marathon every year. I had heard some truly wonderful jazz over these hours, jazz that came from a number of angles and points on the globe, and then was able to meet up with some of my friends for a beer and some Americana over at the new after hours at Abilene. Truly satisfied again, I headed home to get some rest before heading out again today. Right now my itinerary is departing some from what I published before. I think I'm going to continue the "Kilbourn Hall first" streak and see the Jazz Passengers at 6:00 pm, followed by Nicolaj Hess Global Motion+ and then float from there, perhaps taking in Ronnie Scott's All-Stars or moving through several options. 

If you're onTwitter then follow @jazzrochester or the list of tweeting XRIJF artists and other XRIJF sources I've been building. Use the hash tag #XRIJF to join the conversation (and if you have room and want to be included in the D&C's coverage, #rocjazz. If you don't want to sign up for Twitter, but want to check out the conversation anyway, then click on the XRIJF on Twitter button at the top of the page for a page with a running stream of tweets from the festival. A lot of will also be republished on the or Jazz@Rochester Facebook page.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Day One of XRIJF...Haven't learned to relax yet...

Great first day of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.  Weather was great.  Managed to hear Kevin Eubanks, some of Mark Murphy's and Soweto Kinch's second sets, and Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts. Have to say that Matt Wilson's Arts and Crafts will be one of my highlights from this festival (as it was the last time they appeared). last time they appeared at RIJF). Matt will be playing with Gary Verace Trio in the Italian Series tonight. Although there was one tune they seemed to be still working out, this band stunning musicianship, their tight work as a group, and Wilson's humor and inventive drumming made it a treat.  I really wish I could have worked in more of Brit Soweto Kinch's set, although I stuck around the after hours long enough to hear a great solo from Kinch when he played near about 2:00 a.m. 

Soweto Kinch afterhours

I engaged in some speculation in my last post before the XRIJF started up about writing more from the festival, relaxing more, and running around a bit less, "special posts" and the like. Wasn't truly successful in that in trying to keep to that new "regimen" and I'm already seeing a lot of posting will just not happen if the "relaxing more" thing is to be done.  This is especially true as I will be working all next week, perhaps half-days on some. Don't want to set expectations either for you or myself that I will not be able to keep. So, while I'll occasionally write a post and may post some pictures and other shorter items, most of the "work" I do on this blog is done before the festival, so I can concentrate on the music and fun during its 9 days. I'll just try to put people and information about the festival together as much as possible, using my most effective tools.

The fact is, that there are a lot of people writing about the festival, many of whom are actually paid to do so and do it pretty darn well. Yesterday as I went from venue to venue, and the after hours, I was mostly working the Twitter backchannel to the festival, stoking the hashtag #XRIJF conversation where possible. This morning I have been feeding links to the writing that is being done out there about the first day and coming artists to the @jazzrochester twitter account and Jazzz@Rochester Facebook page. There are a reviews of Day One by writers at City Newspaper and the Democrat & Chronicle, plus a new Jazz Stories video with Tia Fuller. I encourage you to check them out. There's an interesting post  by Patrick Jarenwattananon in National Public Radio's A Blog Supreme about the festival and the pull between festival and "jazz."  Also check out the Storify story created by D&C Young Professionals Editor Todd Clausen that pulls together a lot of the social media coverage of XRIJF (although curiously missing the D&C's hashtag #rocjazz). If you're onTwitter then follow @jazzrochester or the list of tweeting XRIJF artists and other XRIJF sources I've been building. Use the hash tag #XRIJF to join the conversation (and if you have room and want to be included in the D&C's coverage, #rocjazz. If you don't want to sign up for Twitter, but want to check out the conversation anyway, then click on the XRIJF on Twitter button at the top of the page for a page with a running stream of tweets from the festival. A lot of will also be republished on the or Jazz@Rochester Facebook page.

Tonight I'm hitting Bill Charlap Trio, Arild Anderson Trio, Ensemble Denada (which got a lot of buzz last night), and then may float for awhile.  See you on Jazz Street!  Come up and say hello if you see me....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A few final thoughts before we get this XRIJF party started...

Hey...where is everybody ... oh right the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival starts tomorrow.... After picking up my credentials, I'm trying to relax a bit on the porch before the nine days of music, street food, beer, and lack of sleep begins. Thought I'd bang out (well, the virtual keyboard on my iPad is pretty quiet...) a quick post about where you'll find me over the next nine days . . . at least virtually.

First, you'll find me on these "pages." I'm going to try to write more from the festival and run around a bit less...must...start...relaxing more. My focus will be on hearing some great music and spending some time with my "jazz festival" friends, but I'm going to try to bring some of the flavors to you from throughout the festival. Put your email address in the box in the middle panel or add my feed to your favorite reader to get all of these automatically delivered (if you live in the area, you'll then also get my weekly live jazz listings for in and around ROC after the festival ends). I've got some ideas for some special posts, etc., but won't commit as things are always fluid once XRIJF gets started. Check out the upper right panel for links to my picks for each day of the festival, with links to more info about those artists, video of them performing, and streams of some of their music.

If you're onTwitter then follow @jazzrochester or the list of tweeting XRIJF artists I've been building. Use the hash tag #XRIJF to join the conversation... I'll try to keep up throughout the festival. If you don't want to sign up for Twitter, but want to check out the conversation anyway, then click on the XRIJF on Twitter button at the top of the page for a page with a running stream of tweets from the festival. A lot of will also be republished on the or Jazz@Rochester Facebook page.

So, so long until we meet on "Jazz Street" or on the Interwebs.....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Picks for the rest of the XRIJF before I run out of time...

I'm running out of time and steam, and my nose is otherwise to the grindstone, so to end up where I want to be by Friday, when this party gets started I'm condensing my picks for the last two days of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival into this post. I'm going to just give you the picks and a couple of links (and not drone on about them as much—sure you won't mind).june 18 & 19 picks image

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. I've mined a few sources and video (in addition to those on the XRIJF site) from the Interwebs to help you decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...) on Friday and Saturday, June 17th and 18th, at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

The Picks

June 17th

  • Kenny Barron Trio @ Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm (also 10:00 pm): Getting some of that good old trio sound from this master of the piano. Here is a video of a 2002 concert in Italy with Ron Carter and Billy Cobham on If I Were A Bell
  • Tonbruket @ Nordic Jazz Now at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 7:30 pm (also 9:30 pm): This band was formed by the bassist for the great Scandanavian group E.S.T., which is no more after the untimely death of Ejsbjörn Svensson in 2008. Here is a video of Tonbruket playing Song For "E", a tribute to the late pianist Svenssoon at the Between the Beats Festival last year.
  • Jonas Kullhammar Quartet @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 9:00 pm (also 6:30 pm): Swedish saxophonist Jonas Kulhammar has been to the Rochester festival a number of times now, playing most of the venues on offer. Here is some video of the Quarte from 2010 at the Sigurdsgatan 25 club in Sweden (a two-parter, here and here, unfortunately you'll have to wait until you see him to get the jokes).
  • In The Country @ Montage, 10:00 pm (also 6:00 pm): The Nordic Jazz Now series is pretty popular so the groups appearing for the series often turn up in other venues.  I think I missed In the Country, a trio out of Norway in a previous visit to the XRIJF in 2007, but you can watch them performing in the Reformation Lutheran church here. You can listen to their music through their site and their MySpace page.

As I went to college in the early 1980s, Elvis Costello & the Imposters have been in my musical life for a long time and I'd love to go hear him in the Big House, but it's sold out and they won't likely even let me take a peek. I doubt he will get thrown out of the place like the last time he was in ROC. Also would like to hear the soul sounds of the Ryan Shaw Band or Jason Yarde & Andrew McCormack "MY DUO" at the Christ Church Made In The UK Series. If you're ready to party, Trombone Shorty is back to bring the funk on the City of Rochester East Ave. & Chestnut St.

June 18th

  • Regina Carter @ Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm (also 10:00 pm): I love where artists bring in other traditions into their music and I've yet to hear the violinist perform, so I'm looking forward to Regina Carter bringing her "Reverse Thread" project to the Kilborn Hall stage. The project weaves African influences, including the kora (which is missing from this year's festival). Here's four minutes of the title track and Carter's "Tiny Desk Concert" for National Public Radio. 
  • Po' Boys Brass Band @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, 7:15 pm (also 9:15 pm): Glad it worked out so I could take another detour from my usual avoidance of local bands as I have not caught the Po' Boys in quite awhile and have missed most of their previous appearances at the festival.  Here they are performing at last year's XRIJF
  • The Budos Band @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, 8:30 pm (also at 10:00 pm): Keeping the brass heavy theme (gotta love a band with two baris) going, I'll be catching this band from Staten Island that mixes up the influences to bring on a groove. Here they are at last year's at a program recorded during last year's Bumbershoot festival in Seattle doing Black Venom. Listen to more on their MySpace page.
  • Ben Allison 3 @ Montage, 10:00 pm (also at 6:00 pm): Ben Allison's trio will be a welcome cooling off period after the previous two picks and a great way to close out the festival. I tend to do that at Montage for some reason....  Here is Ben playing trio at one of my favorite haunts in Chicago, the Green Mill. 

You might also want to catch local Dave Rivello Ensemble or a more intimate set with the Jonas Kullhammar Quartet at Max of Eastman Place if you missed them on the 17th (or if you, like many at the RIJF are big fans of Kulhammar...).

Local & Regional Talent

As Jazz@Rochester exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have living and working in and around Rochester (you can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page), I'm highlighting the local artists appearing on stages each night. Here are the ones for Tuesday, June 16th:

Local and Regional, June 17th:

Local and Regional, June 18th:

Let me know what you're going out so hear on the last two days in the comments to this post, or on the Jazz@Rochester on Twitter or Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Finding my way through Thursday, June 16th at the XRIJF

june 16 picks imageI'm running out of time on these posts so the next one may take us on in to home plate for he XRIJF on Saturday, June 18th. Hope you don't mind, but the day job is calling and there's so much more to do to prepare for the marathon that is my jazz festival.

My Thursday of the XRIJF finds me starting out with an artist who has returned to Rochester quite a few times and ends with one who is about to leave Rochester, with some Finns, a Norwegian and Canadians in between to get my international jazz thing on. 

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. I've mined a few sources and video (in addition to those on the XRIJF site) from the Interwebs to help you decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...) on my walkabout on Thursday, June 16th at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

  • Bill Frisell @ Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm (also 10:00 pm): Guitarist Bill Frisell has appeared at Rochester's jazz festival several times, but each time you see him he's on another project that may take him and whatever group he brings in a completely different direction, so it's like seeing a different artist every time. I believe he is bringing his Beautiful Dreamers project here this year. There are some cuts from this CD on the Songline/Tonefield Production site and Nate Chinen did a review of a Beautiful Dreamers gig at the Village Vanguard in the New York Times. Also, get a inside Frisell's head a bit in this "Big Think" interview from last year. Although I didn't run across any video from the Beautiful Dreamers project, here's one of Frisell covering La La La Means I Love You in Kilbourn Hall during XRIJF 2007. 
  • KUÀRA Trio @  Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 pm (also at 9:30): KUÀRA trio is Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari and pianist Samuli Mikkonen, with  Norwegian trumpeter/singer Per Jørgensen have created improvisations merging Finnish folk music with other Middle Eastern and Chinese sounds. As set out in a recent announcement about their tour, “Kuára” takes as its inspirational starting point Russian psalms and Fenno-Ugrian folk songs from Udmurtia, Vepsä and Karelia." As with a number of the artist brought for the Nordic Jazz Now series, this group's music has a haunting, ethereal sound that will be wonderful in the Reformation Church space. Listen to excerpts of the group's music on the ECM site for the group's CD Kuara and on Ounaskari's Myspace page, as well as Mikkonen's Myspace page, and Per Jørgensen's Myspace page. To get a taste of this group live, there are videos of Udmurtian folk song Sjuan Gúr and the rest of the piece Soldat Keljangúr linked to in the XRIJF artist page.
  • Celebrating Oscar Peterson with The Dave Young Quintet @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 9:00 pm (also at 6:30 pm): Canadian bassist Dave Young's stint with the Oscar Peterson Trio spanned 30 years, playing all over the world with Peterson until his death in 2007, so if anyone knows how to celebrate his music, it's probably Mr. Young. Young also spent five years in the early 60s as a member of guitarist Lenny Breau's quartet and has worked with a virtual Who's Who of jazz, including Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Zoot Simms, Joe Williams, Oliver Jones, Kenny Burrell, Cedar Walton, Hank Jones, Nat Adderly, Peter Appleyard, Gary Burton, Barney Kessell, Ed Bickert, Kenny Burrell and James Moody. Here he is with his Quartet walking through Backyard Blues and with the Oscar Peterson Trio in Tokyo in 1987 (with Joe Pass thrown in for good measure).
  • Katie Ernst Trio @ Max of Eastman Place, 10:00 pm (also at 6:15 pm): I'm probably making an exception to my usual leaving local artists off my XRIJF itineraries (I discussed my reasons for that in an earlier post) for Katie Ernst. Katie just graduated from Eastman and, I've been told, may be moving back to the Chicago area (yea, Chicago!) where she's from to begin her post-graduate career (I say that as she's been busy as a professional musician for some time). Ernst is very talented as a bassist and singer (and I've been impressed with her savvy in the online world and social media, as well). I'd like to hear her in the "big leagues" of the XRIJF as, to date, my few times to get a chance to hear her have been either her playing in the pickup band that plays Havana Moe's on Saturdays or singing backup for Bitchin' Kitchen. I'm sure she's up for the task....   Here's a video of Katie sings and plays on But Not For Me in one of Chicago's premiere jazz rooms, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase in 2009 and get it all on Ernst's YouTube channel, and of course the first of this year's first D&C "Jazz Stories" below.

My wife Dianna has a ticket to see k.d. lang and The Siss Boom Bang in the Big House.  I've liked k.d. Lang's music for a long time (in fact, the only CD that both my wife and I both had when we met in 2002 was Ingenue), so may step in for awhile to listen if I can. Others who I'd lke to hear, but it looks like will not be able to work in are the NRBQ survivors The Spampinato Brothers at Abilene, the "architect" of James Brown's sound and former Rochesterian Pee Wee Ellis with his Funk Assembly at Harro East, and Slavic Soul Party!.

As Jazz@Rochester exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have living and working in and around Rochester (you can find links to many of their sites on my Rochester Jazz Artists page and hear many of them throughout the year), I'm highlighting the local artists appearing on stages each night. Here are the ones for Tuesday, June 16th:

Let me know what you're going out so hear on the 16th in the comments, or on the Jazz@Rochester on Twitter or Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

It IS about who you don't know on June 15th of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (well mostly...)

Wednesday's artists (at least those who are not active on the local and regional scene) at the Rochester jazz festival are, for the most part, squarely in the "who I don't know" part of festival music director's John Nugent's "It's not who you know, it's who you don't know" catchphrase for the XRIJF. june 15 picks imageHowever, that does not leave me feeling lost, but rather (at least for me) allows more freedom to choose where to sit down and listen. It also is usually an opportunity to find new sounds to become part of my regular aural tapestry in the future. I'm setting up my itinerary with only three slots again on this night, which will allow me even more freedom because I'll be filling in that slot with one or more of the great choices on the 6th night of the XRIJF.

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. Where available, I've mined a few additional sources and video of the artists from the Interwebs to help you decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...) during my perambulations during the sixth evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 15th:

  • Grace Kelly Quintet @ Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm (also at 10:00): This is the one I know.... This now 19-year old saxophonist, composer, singer, etc. (can't really call her a prodigy anymore, she's reached majority...) has been playing and recording in the major leagues of jazz with Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Wynton Marsalis (and the list goes on...) for a number years now. When I saw Grace Kelly last year at Montage (at the ripe old age of 17), my ears heard the technical brilliance, but not as much of the soul and emotion that can come with more time on this earth. Moving to the main Club Pass stage of Kilbourn Hall this year puts her in a very different venue and I want to give her another listen with a new set of ears. With the experience she already has under her belt and her quite amazing playing and writing talent, Kelly is definitely one to watch and hear as she grows (and you can say you saw her when...)...plus, she's just a fun performer. For some more video of live performances of Kelly, check out this one of her with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen at the Duc des Lombards club, this great sit-in with Toots Thielemans at his gig at Scullers I found on Kelly's blog, and a bit of her singing (and getting audience participation) on Sunny Side of the Street in Italy last year with Francisco Mela's Cuban Safari Trio.
  • Sinne Eeg @ Nordic Jazz Now @ Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 pm (also at 9:30 pm): A star in the Danish jazz world, winning the Danish Music Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2007 and 2010, Sinne Eeg's rich voice will be filling up the wonderful space at the Church of the Reformation. Her site notes Eeg is influenced by Nancy Wilson, Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughan, "but with her personal touch of soft darkness, Sinne keeps the Scandinavian melancholy settled in her music." You can listen to some cuts off her new album Don't Be So Blue both on her site and on her Myspace page. This video of excerpts from Sinne Eeg's set at The Black Diamond in Copenhagen from last year gives you a great introduction, and on this one her and the band romp through What A Little Moonlight Can Do. 
  • Many Worlds with Greg Burk @ Max of Eastman Place, 10:00 pm (also at 6:00 pm): I was unfamiliar with Greg Burk so listened to his Many Worlds album on Rhapsody this morning, which sealed the deal on me adding this group to my June 15th itinerary. The music will likely be challenging for some festival-goers, full of complex rhythms and intricate runs that push the boundaries of improvisational jazz even while drawing deeply from the jazz well. Here is a review of Many Worlds from the Blogcritics.org site. You can listen to some cuts (although none from the Many Worlds CD that I saw) on Burk's Myspace page. While I couldn't find any video of performances of Many Worlds, the two I found from 2007 (both his quartet live in Civitavecchia in Italy, where Burk now resides), here and here

Of course, there is also Chris Botti in the really Big House (Kodak Hall At Eastman Theatre) for those of you with tickets.  I may try to catch Scottish pianist Alan Benzie with his trio at Christ Church. I may try to catch the vccal (and trombone?) stylings of Brienn Perry will be hitting the Xerox Auditorium stage with his quartet as he is a fellow Chicagoan and I may have actually seen him there years ago (I lived there for 25+ years before moving to Rochester in 2002), although that may be too much vocals for me in one night after Ms. Eeg. If you just want to pour on the vocals (and I know some of you do...), there's also another chanteuse from Toronto, Emilie-Claire Barlow, holding forth at Montage. XRIJF perennials The Shuffle Demons also return to play the Tent (they'll also be playing on Thursday). Another good choice will be the Viva Italia Series offering of Pat LaBarbara-Roberto Occhipinti Quartet. Of course, I may want to change out of my pork pie into my John Deere cap. If so, I'll head over to Abilene for some of the guitar from Telecaster Titan Bill Kirchen or  party-on again with the boys of Bonerama.

As Jazz@Rochester exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have living and working in and around Rochester (you can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page), I'm highlighting the local artists appearing on stages each night. Here are the ones for Tuesday, June 15th:

Let me know what you're going out so hear on the 15th in the comments, or on the Jazz@Rochester on Twitter or Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

D&C's "Jazz Stories" begin for the 2011 XRIJF

Every year one of the treats that comes out of the Democrat & Chronicle's ever-growing coverage of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival is the series of photo essays by Will Yurman and the "Jazz Stories" videos. [Update: Will Yurman is no longer part of the project as he has left Rochester to begin a gig at Penn State). The first of those videos, by Annette Lein (who has taken on the "Jazz Stories" project), was just released (I think today), with a short profile of talented bassist-vocalist Katie Ernst, who just graduated from Eastman School of Music, will stop off for a gig at the XRIJF on June 16th before continuing on her journey (are you heading back to Chicago area, Katie?). I've had an opportunity to see Katie play (and sing) and those of you who go to her Max gig are in for a treat. Her enthusiasm for music is infectious.

These videos and all of the XRIJF-related articles in the Democrat & Chronicle can be found on their redesigned site.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

If it's Tuesday, this must be my picks for Day Five of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

june 14 picks imageTuesday at the XRIJF includes  some familiar returning names and some new to me...just another night at the festival. This evening will be one that I float through and perhaps make changes midstream (for me, that can also be just another night at the festival). I'm keeping my main picks to 3, but it is not because there are slim pickings. As you will see below there is just too much to choose, at least when you're trying to soak up as much as you can. 

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. Where available, I've mined a few additional sources and video of the artists from the Interwebs for you to explore so you can decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...) during my perambulations during the fifth evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 14th:

  • The Trio of OZ @ Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 pm (also at 7:15 pm): The Trio Of Oz is pianist Rachel Z ( Rachel Nicolazzo), drummer Omar Hakim, joined by Maeve Royce on bass. Rachel Z has been to Rochester and festival several times before. The trio builds its sets on interpretations of the compositions of a wide variety of pop and jazz artists, including Duke Ellington, Depeche Mode, Wayne Shorter, Joni Mitchell, Judy Garland, Sting, Peter Gabriel, The Killers, Coldplay, Stone Temple Pilots, and Björk. The group is tight. In addition to video on the XRIJF site, you can check them on this additional video from the Langnau festival in Switzerland last year, and a performance of Coldplay's Lost in Edinburg. The group starts early so I may cut out and catch some other stuff around after hearing some of the set. 
  • Phronesis @ Nordic Jazz Now at Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 pm (also at 9:30 pm): Phronesis is the creation of Danish bassist Jasper Høiby after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK in 2005. The group has been described in a profile in Jazzwise magazine as "the most exciting and imaginative piano trio since E.S.T." However, while there are some similarities, Phronesis has its own sound and these guys have chops (I've been listening to some cuts from an earlier album and the material I have found on the Interwebs and some of Høiby's nice driving bass lines are more similar Avishai Cohen, I think). I found a review from last year on the JazzWrap blog. You can also get your ears around this video of a live performances of Smoking the Camel, Abraham's New Gift, and Eight Hours. You can also listen to some of Phronesis's music on Høiby's site.
  • Marcus Strickland Quartet @ Montage, 10:00 pm (also at 6:00 pm): I'm ending up with a bit of hard bop with saxophonist Marcus Strickland and his Quartet. Strickland has been hailed as a rising star in Downbeat twice in the past few years. With his identical twin E.J. on drum, Strickland has usually opted for the saxophone trio, but for his next project to be released this summer, he's added a piano and will also be playing alto in addition to his usual tenor. To break him and his music down a bit more for you, I've located a 2008 interview on Jazz.com and several videos (although all of the trio), including live at the Falcon, a gig last year at Duc des Lombards, and the Part 2 to the Firehouse gig found on the XRIJF site.  

I've only set up three Club Pass gigs in the picks for June 14th and might use the "extra" time to drop in on some local acts or see some of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones in The Big House (Kodak Hall).Two of the Club Pass gigs on Tuesday involve local jazz artists, including Harold Danko Group at Max (Danko is currently Chair of the Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media Department at Eastman School of Music and had long associations with Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Lee Konitz and Woody Herman) and the Vitale Brothers at the Viva Italia Series at the Rochester Club (by the way, local bassist Dan Vitale pictured in the XRIJF page is not mentioned in the text of the page, which is from Dan's trumpeter brother Richie--here's a video from an earlier RIJF after hours meetup of the brothers). I'd like to catch the Brazilian sounds of Jovino Santos Neto, Paula Gardiner/Huw Warren at the Made in the UK Series at Christ Church, and Curtis Stigers in Kilborn Hall. Just had too much to choose from....

As Jazz@Rochester's main focus throughout the year is to promote and get you out to hear the great jazz talent we have living and working in and around Rochester (you can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page), I'm highlighting the local artists appearing on stages around XRIJF each night. I may not  list them in the "Picks", but that's because I get to see most of them throughout the year and focus during the festival on the artists who come from elsewhere (sometimes not only in terms of distance, but also in terms of being "way out there..."). I encourage you to check them out and find out what great stuff we have to listen to in Rochester all year round (and of course, you know where to find out where and when they're playing....). Here are the local and regional artists for Tuesday, June 14th:

  • Mambo Kings @ Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, noontime concert. It's a block away from my office, so I'll see if I can slip away...
  • High School Jazz Bands @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, starting at 4:30 pm.
  • Gabe Condon Sextet (Eastman Jazz Performance Workshop Honors Unit 3) @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, 6:00 pm
  • Grupo Calle Uno @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Jon Seiger and the All-Stars @ The RG&E-XEROX Stage, 7:00 & 9:00 pm
  • CNY Jazz Orchestra Directed by Bret Zvacek @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, 7:15 & 9:15 pm

Let me know what you're going out so hear on the 14th in the comments, or on the Jazz@Rochester on Twitter or Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

The "work" week begins and the jazz continues: My picks for June 13 of the XRIJF

june 13 picks imageThis is the point where, for those of us that are "all nine day"-ers, the collision with the working week begins and the (usually) late nights of Friday-Sunday are beginning to take their toll. While my schedule for Monday, June 13th, at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival may be a bit ambitious, it's within the realm of possibility. Again, as usual, it spans the world of jazz and jazz in the world.

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. Where available, I've mined a few additional sources and video of the artists from the Interwebs to help you decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...) during my perambulations during the fourth evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 13th:

  • Jim Hall Quartet @ Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm (also at 10:00 pm): The Jim Hall Quartet is one of my "must sees" this year. Born in Buffalo, Jim Hall started his career in Los Angeles, playing with Chico Hamilton Quintet (1955–1956), Jimmy Giuffre Trio (1956–1959), Ella Fitzgerald (1960–1961), Ben Webster, Hampton Hawes, Bob Brookmeyer, John Lewis, Zoot Sims, Paul Desmond, Lee Konitz and Bill Evans. After moving to New York in 1960 he worked with Sonny Rollins and Art Farmer, among others, and also collaborated with Bill Evans, Paul Desmond and Ron Carter. Here's a conversation with Hall put out by the Library of Congress in 2010, a Jim Hall Trio performing Sonny Rollins' St. Thomas live at BIMHUIS' in Amsterdam in 2007, and cooking it with Rollins on the Jazz Casual TV show from back in the day.
  • Mika Pohjola Quintet @ Nordic Jazz Now, Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 pm (also at 9:30 pm): Mika Pohjola is a Finnish-born jazz pianist and composer, residing in New York City playing in the downtown jazz scene and running the Blue Music Group label. Gary Giddins wrote in The Village Voice that Pohjola music showed "[s]ubstantial improvisations and quirky compositional gambits that avoid the usual head-solo-head routine." I hope he brings a group of powerhouses the group in this video medley from a 2009 performance, with Ben Monder, Miguel Zenon, Fernando Huergo, and Roberto Dani. More at Pohjola's page on AllAboutJazz.com.
  • The Rodriguez Brothers @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 9:00 pm (also at 6:30 pm): These brothers have been seen before at the Rochester jazz festival as sideman for Joe Locke (oops, Robert was here recently with Joe Locke's Force of Four project as Tom points out in the comments) and, I think, some other groups I've enjoyed in past festivals, so I'd like to get a taste of them in their "own thing." Pianist Robert and trumpeter Michael have played together as The Rodriguez Brothers since 2002 when not serving individually as sidemen Roy Haynes, Charlie Haden, Ray Barretto, Eddy Palmieri, David Sanchez, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Locke, Carla Bley, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Bob Minzter, Harry Connick Jr., Christian McBride, Richard Bona and Quincy Jones. In addition to the video on the XRIJF site there is also the introspective Farewell from the same Dizzy's gig for another taste, as well as some tracks to listen to on their site.
  • The Triodes @ Montage, 10:00 pm (also at 6:00 pm): Looks like I'm going to end up the night by getting my funk on at Montage. Triodes describes themselves as a "genre-jumping instrumental group that traces its roots to the upbeat instrumental R+B, soul, and funk of groups such as Booker T and the MGs, The Meters, and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, but with generous nods to early reggae and ska, modern jam bands, experimental rock, jazz, and electronica." Another project of Michael Occhipinti, who has brought several other groups to the Rochester jazz festival (remember the Sicilian Jazz Project?), Triodes was formed as a spin off of the JUNO Award winning jazz ensemble NOJO (Neufeld-Occhpinti Jazz Orchestra) with NOJO co-leader and long-time collaborator Paul Neufeld. Here they work the groove with Don Byron on Big Belly at the Rex in Toronto. I think you'll see Occhipinti a lot around XRIJF 2011 as he's also going to be sideman on several other gigs.

I wouldn't mind catching ex pat Brit John Escreet playing solo at Made In The UK Series in Christ Church and, if I decide to take a break from jazz, head over to Abilene for Professor Louie & The Crowmatix. Of course, there is the XRIJF-ESM Jazz Scholarships Performance at Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre on Monday as well, which will include the Eastman Jazz Ensemble, directed by Bill Dobbins with special guest Dick Oatts on alto saxophone. One of my father-in-law's favorites Rick Braun will be over at Harro East.  And there is so much more...

Additionally, as this blog exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have here and around Rochester, I'm also going to be highlighting the local and regional artists for each day. You can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page):

  • Herb Smith @ Monroe County Central Library, noontime concert.
  • High School Jazz Bands @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, starting at 4:30 pm.
  • Brockport Community Big Band @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, 6:00 pm.
  • Will Cleary Quintet (Eastman Jazz Performance Workshop Honors Unit 2) @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, 6:00 pm.
  • Dawn Thomson & Friends @ Max of Eastman Place, 6:00 & 10:00 pm (Dawn is festival music director John Nugent's wife, so perhaps he and his sax will be included among the "friends"?).
  • Colin Cannon Quartet @ The new RG&E-XEROX Stage (next to the RG&E building), 7:00 & 9:00 pm.
  • Rick Holland Uptown Society Jazz Orchestra @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, 7:15 & 9:15 pm.

Let me know what you're going out so see on the 13th in the comments, or on the Jazz@Rochester on Twitter or Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A "jazz passenger" on the XRIJF tour: Where we'll be on June 12 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival

We go from the Ohio and NYC of Joe Henderson (a celebrated by Henderson's former collaborator, Canadian-born New Yorker Jon Ballantyne) to the Denmark of Nikolaj Hess, to London's Soho, and back here to the States for a reunited Jazz Passengers. Although I've been on wider flung trips around the world in a single night at prior Rochester jazz festivals, it really shows the diversity. PassengersThis will be a night where I will be living the statement of XRIJF Music Director John Nugent (who is, by the way, playing on June 12th)..."it's not  who you know, it's who you don't know," which is not uncommon at Rochester's festival, but such a great way to find new friends to spin when you get home.

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. Where available, I've mined a few additional sources and video of the artists from the Interwebs to help you decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...) during my perambulations during the third evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 12th:

  • Celebrating Joe Henderson with Jon Ballantyne & Friends @ Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 pm (also at 9:00 pm): Never got a chance to see Henderson, who died in 2001, but Juno-winning Canadian jazz pianist Jon Ballantyne played with Joe Henderson and is offering this celebration of his music at this year's XRIJF.  Listen to him at his MySpace page and this music video of "Round Again" (not live performance).
  • Nikolaj Hess Global Motion + @ Nordic Jazz Now Series at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 7:30 pm (also at9:30 pm): Danish pianist Nikolaj Hess's Global Motion + group includes some folks from this side of the ocean. The group's sound (from what I'm hearing on their 2009 album, at least...) is full of intricately interwined acoustic instruments, which will sound fantastic in the space at the Reformation Lutheran Church. Listen a bit on Hess's MySpace page, one of his music on Soundcloud, and on this video of stills with music posted by group member Mark Mommaas. 
  • Ronnie Scotts All Stars "A Foggy Night in London Town" @ Made In the UK Series at Christ Church, 8:45 pm (also at): I got to hear a bit of this "house band" in a live feed from the famed Ronnie Scott's jazz club in Soho, London, during the XRIJF lineup announcement in March. The Ronnie Scott's All Stars with Natalie Williams on vocals are a good group who back up the many international jazz stars who pass through the club each year. You can find out some on pianist James Pearson's Myspace page from the AllStars page at the club's website. Lots of video from Ronnie Scotts, but not much to highlight this band. 
  • The Jazz Passengers @ Kilbourn Hall, 10:00 pm (also at 6:00 pm): This recent reuniting of a band started in 1987 by former Lounge Lizards Roy Nathanson and Curtis Fowlkes is one that was completely off my radar but from what I've heard and seen are likely to be on my radar going forward. I like a lot of the more exploratory side of jazz and any band that is described as "a hard-bop group as imagined by Frank Zappa", as Bob Blumenthal described the Jazz Passengers in the Boston Globe in 1989, pricks up my ears. The Jazz Passengers have often brought in high profile vocalists in front at their gigs, ranging from Mavis Staples to Deborah Harry (yes, of Blondie...), and Elvis Costello. The Passengers appear to never take themselves too seriously, although from all accounts they are deadly serious about the music. Here's a performance of the reunited group last year at the Saalfelden Jazz festival (one of many recorded at this festival) and backing Ms. Harry and Elvis Costello in a ballad on the David Letterman show (Elvis is not going to be in the building until the 17th, by the way).

Sunday's are traditionally a laid back day for me at the festival. I may move from one venue to another a bit more or change up on my original intended itinerary depending on what I'm hearing on the street. There's a lot of great stuff around to choose from other than the above, including Davell Crawford (he plays again at Montage if I don't end up there on the 11th in Max), bluesman Lucky Peterson, a bit of that old-timey bluegrass from the Tussey Mountain Moonshiners or the Gypsy jazz of Stephane Wrembel Trio to name a few.

Additionally, as this blog exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have here and around Rochester, I'm also going to be highlighting the local and regional artists for each day. You can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page):

Let me know what you're going out so see on June 12th in the comments, or on the Jazz@Rochester pages on Twitter or Facebook.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A triple of Trios ... My picks for June 11th of the XRIJF

For some reason, my second night at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival full of trios, although they will be quite diverse in their sounds. I have found in past years that some days will abound in trios as the preferred grouping at the XRIJF. But I intend to make up for it by checking out a larger ensemble (talking 3-4 times larger) and, possibly, even catching some something that clearly won't be on anyone's jazz listings to reduce my trio load.

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. Where available, I've mined a few additional sources and video of the artists from the Interwebs to help you decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...) during my walkabout at the second evening of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 11th:

  • Bill Charlap Trio @ Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 pm (also at 10): Bill Charlap trio with Peter Washington and Kenny Washington is one of the premier small groups in jazz and they are tight in only the way that a group that has been playing together for many years can be (which you can hear in this video from a 2007 Village Vanguard date). He is best known for his interpretations of American songs such as those of Gershwin.
  • Arild Andersen Trio @ Nordic Jazz Now at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 7:30 pm: Although still a trio, the sounds that will fill the great sonic space of the Church will be very different not only due to the change in instrumentation (a saxophone for a piano), but also because bassist Arild Anderson, who started out in the 1970s with the Jan Gabarek Group, is more free in its explorations with his regular trio of Tommy Smith on sax and Paolo Vinaccia on drums. Here's a couple of videos to give you a taste: At Duc des Lombards in 2008 and at Musica sulla Bocce in Italy last year.  
  • Ensemble Denada @ Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza, 9:00 pm (also at 6:30 and they're playing in the Nordic Jazz Now series on June 10th): According to the Ensemble Denada's website, the idea behind this project of the East Norway Jazz Center is finding a small-band dynamic within a much larger ensemble which adds contrabass clarinet, quadraphonic electronics, 10 horn players to a piano quartet in its lineup and merges European tradition with jazz and native Norwegian material in its diverse blend. You can listen to some recordings on the group's MySpace page and and tastes on video from a 2008 concert in Syria, at the Oslo Jazz Festival in 2009, and three more (here, here and here) from a concert in New Delhi last year (there is a fourth on the XRIJF's site).
  • Gary Versace Trio @ Viva Italia Series at the The Rochester Club, 10:00 pm (also at 6:00): Perhaps it is because of his instrument—the Hammond B3—or maybe it's that I heard last year you can get some great food in the joint he'll be playing, but I've seen Versace play with several other artists and it would be interesting to see him leading his own group.

I may, depending on my mood, lines and a host of other factors, try instead to catch Black 47 at the Abilene Roots & Americana Stage at 9:45, the NOLA jazz of Davell Crawford at Max of Eastman Place, or the specifically not gypsy jazz of Les Doigts de L'Homme @ Montage in the 10:00 pm slot.  

Additionally, as this blog exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have here and around Rochester, I'm also going to be highlighting the local and regional artists for each day. You can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page):

Of course, you be catching some fake Beatles (or should I say "faux"?) or some Jersey boys sounds on Saturday night but, if not, let me know what sounds you're planning on hearing in the comments. See you on Jazz Street....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Let's get this party started ... My picks for June 10th of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

Here's the first of nine posts in which I'll outline my "itinerary" for the nine days of the Tenth Anniversary version of the Xerox  Rochester International Jazz  Festival. As I noted in the kickoff post for this year's coverage, I encourage you to add your thoughts on each night's choices, as well as your own choices, in the comments on the post itself or on Twitter and Facebook (although I request some degree of civility please). Just remember that I fully subscribe to RIJF musical director John Nugent's favorite chestnut: "It's not who you know, it's who you don't know..."

The links below on the artists' name in bold will take you to the artist's page on the XRIJF site. Where available, I've mined a few additional sources and video of the artists from the Interwebs to help you decide whether you want to join me (figuratively, that is...). I'll add a set of links to these posts in the right panel under the XRIJF logo after I get a couple published.

So on June 10th, the first day of the Tenth Anniversary of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, the following gigs will be where you'll probably find me (but not necessarily...):

If I can somehow fit it in, I'll catch some of the old school of Mingo Fishtrap at the Jazz Street stage on Gibbs, perhaps only in working my way through the crowd to get from one venue to another.   

Additionally, as this blog exists to highlight the great jazz talent we have here and around Rochester, I'm also going to be highlighting the local and regional artists for each day. You can find some of their links on my Rochester Jazz Artists page):

  • Rochester Area High School Jazz Bands @ City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage Presented by The Community Foundation, 4:30 and 5:15
  • Bob Sneider & Friends @ Verizon Wireless Festival Big Tent, 6:00 pm
  • Vince Ercolamento Quartet @ The Rochester Club (Viva Italia Series), 6:00 pm
  • Filthy Funk @ RG&E-Xerox Stage, 7:00 & 9:00 pm (this is a new stage in the parking lot on East and Chestnut next to the RG&E building that will be having free music by local and regional artists).

So whattayawaitinfor? Let me know what you think!  If not, I hope to see you on Jazz Street....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

So much music, so little time: Picking the Jazz@ Rochester itinerary for XRIJF 2011 begins

XRIJF LogoSince less than a month lays between now and the Tenth Anniversary of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival kicks into gear, I'd better start kicking into gear on this blog's XRIJF coverage as well. As I've done in the past, I'm going to do a series of posts over the next few weeks to set up my "itinerary" for each day of the XRIJF, going into more detail on my picks for each day and why I picked them. The posts make handy-dandy guide for each day of the (for me at least...the XRIJF's guides are pretty good, too). On my picks, I try to do a little digging in the Interwebs to get more of the skinny on the artists (in addition to that prepared for the XRIJF website) so you can decide for yourself whether you'd like to join me (figuratively, that is...) or seek your music elsewhere that night. I don't suffer from illusions that my choices are somehow "better" than yours... just perhaps different? My itinerary is at best rough sketch as I ALWAYS end up changing my mind on the fly after hearing word on the street, being too ambitious in making it from one venue to another, lines, or just deciding that I'd rather spend more time with friends who are hitting a particular artist who wasn't on my "list".  

Jazz Street imageReading the posts here on the blog is not the only place to find our material about the Festival. You can also find it on Jazz@Rochester on Twitter and Facebook, where you will find additional links and other material (dare I say  bonus?). Speaking of Twitter, I've started building a Twitter List of artists who will be appearing at the 2011 XRIJF, so hope you check it out and follow that (please let me know if you know of any of the other artists who will be at XRIJF who are on Twitter). Of course, I can't be sure that they'll tweet or that it's actually them doing the tweeting.... I'll also be posting links about this year's XRIJF artists and retweeting things posted elsewhere about the festival on Twitter. For those of you who are already on Twitter, I encourage you to get into the conversation about this year's festival by using the hashtag #XRIJF. Let's start a conversation about the festival and generate some buzz beforehand, eh? Those who aren't on Twitter, I hope to have a widget prepared to highlight the "tweets" about XRIJF so you can get a taste. On Facebook, we'll share some of the same links that are going to Twitter, but hope you use it to engage each other in a conversation about the festival, the artists, etc. with each other as well.

See you soon with the first post of "picks" for Day One, June 10th! I encourage you to engage me on my picks and let me know in the comments what you think and what you've decided to do with that evening's possibilities (be nice, however...). 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

And the countdown to the 10th Anniversary XRIJF begins....

XRIJF logoFor those of you following my Twitter feed or Jazz@Rochester on Facebook (or the post below), you might have seen that I was at the press conference this morning for the 10th Anniversary Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, which will run from June 10-18, 2011. Producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent announced the full lineup, which will be the largest festival to date, with more than 1000 artists performing at 285 concerts and a record 70-plus free concerts. Previously announced headliners are Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Natalie Cole, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones – The Original Lineup, The Fab Faux (a Beatles tribute band), "The Glorious Hodgepodge Show" with the Tangerine Crème Strings & The Hogtown Horns, k.d. lang and The Siss Boom Bang. Today, XRIJF added trumpeter Chris Botti to the headliners. As in the past, the lineup (which you can access on XRIJF's site) has some familiar faces and some new artists. I feel like there are more local jazz artists gracing the Club Pass stages this year. As Nugent always says (and it's even on their t-shirts...) "it's not who you know, it's who you don't know). So, what’s new in 2011? Here's what they told us:

  • Rochester Gas and Electric, has signed on as a new sponsor, and will present a new free concert stage in the RG&E parking lot on the corner of East Avenue and Chestnut Street (now we'll have to go around the parking lot, or possibly get sidetracked...). The stage will feature six free shows with Rochester and regional artists.
  • The East Avenue and Chestnut St. Stage will be resituated on Chestnut street to face south on Chestnut to accommodate more people in the intersection and help with the sound wars that develop with the free stage on Jazz Street.
  • As I posted about awhile back, the Eastman School of Music will offer the five-part course, Introduction to Jazz History, during the Festival. It will be held June 13 – June 17 in Eastman’s newest concert venue, Hatch Hall, during the Festival. Tuition is $180. For information and to register visit the Press Room on the XRIJF site.
  • XRIJF and WXXI-TV are partnering again on a new series of six one-hour programs to be filmed at this year’s Festival and distributed nationally to PBS stations this fall and next year. The concerts to be featured include the performances of Kevin Eubanks, Curtis Stigers, Grace Kelly, Kenny Barron, Regina Carter and the Producer’s Concert.
  • Channel 13 WHAM TV will produce a half-hour prime time special on the Festival celebrating the Festival’s 10th anniversary that will air Thursday May 26 at 8 p.m. Doug Emblidge will host the program, which will also air on Rochester’s CW in a time period yet to be scheduled. 

I will have coverage over the next few months, supplementing what you'll find in other sources and on the XRIJF site.  More on that later.... Hope to see you on Jazz Street in June!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Headliners announced for 2011 10th Edition of XRIJF

Producers John Nugent and Marc Iacona today announced five headliners for the 10th Edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival to be held June 10-18, 2011.

  • Grammy Award winner Natalie Cole will perform on opening night, Friday June 10. 
  • The Fab Faux (a Beatles tribute band) plays Saturday June 11. 
  • Bela Fleck & The Original Fleckstones performs Tuesday June 14. 
  • k.d. lang takes the stage on Thursday June 16. 
  • Elvis Costello & The Imposters, plays on Friday June 17 (ask him about Scorgies)

All performances will be at 8 p.m. at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Tickets for headliners go on sale Friday January 21 at 10 a.m. Prices range from $35 to $125 plus Ticketmaster service charges (online service charges will vary. Only $1 service charge at The RBTL Box Office at The Auditorium Theatre, East Main St). Tickets may be purchased at the website, Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 and all Ticketmaster locations and in person at the Auditorium Theater Box Office, 885 East Main Street Rochester, NY 14605. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Is it that time already? XRIJF Club Passes go on sale Friday for 10th Anniversary Jazz Festival

According to a press release issued today, the Club Pass for the 10th Anniversary edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, to be held June 10-18, 2011, go on sale this Friday October 29th at 10:00 am. The lineup for the XRIJF 10th Anniversary will be announced in late March.

The Club Passes will be sold at a special holiday price of $130, plus $4 service charge, a savings of $45 off the price they will be closer to the start of the XRIJF. More than half of all Club Passes available last year were sold before the end of December and the Club Pass completely sold out before May for last year’s festival.

The Club Pass is the best way to hear the festival, giving you the chance to catch up to 185 shows over nine days and offering a significant savings over individual concert ticket prices of $20 and $25 per show (well, you can't really catch them all, but you can try...). Entry to all Club Pass shows is on a first-come, first-served basis with the Pass or through tickets purchased at the door. Individual Club show tickets are not available in advance.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

I had a great time and heard some fantastic music ... but what do YOU think about XRIJF 2010?

XRIJF logoAs I noted before, I've given up doing a wrap up post on the 2010 edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival—too much water under the bridge after catching up at work and home following the nine days of the festival and 35 acts I saw while attending the XRIJF this year. I expect you all don't really want to hear much more from me about it, but we'd like to hear what you think. To that end, I've used Google Docs to create a short survey to get the thoughts of the readers who attended one or more days of this year's festival.

So, now that you've had some time to digest, please share your thoughts and comments on the 2010 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival on the Jazz@Rochester 2010 XRIJF survey. I'll be publishing some responses and will share them with the folks at XRIJF (I am not associated with the festival). So please click on the link above and share what you think. No personal information is being recorded when you leave your comments.

Oh, and I hope you're having a wonderful and relaxing 4th of July holiday weekend.  See you next year on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

I haven't forgotten, I'm just too tired and "digesting" ....

XRIJF logoI have been meaning to write a wrap up post about the end of the 2010 XRIJF since Sunday, but just can't muster the time and strength after getting home from work. That's still the case, but wanted to let you know. I'm sure no one is hanging on my final words....

For the time being, check out what some of the mainstream media had to say/show in their coverage of the 2010 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

  • The Democrat & Chronicle's coverage starts with their Jazz section online. There you'll find the stories appearing in the paper. There's also the Arts Blog, where you'll find posts by Jeff Spevak and Anna Reguero during the fest (both were on Twitter as well). A highlight are the photo essays and multimedia projects done by D&C photographer Will Yurman, this year called JazzTales.
  • Rochester City Newspaper has it's Jazz Blog, where you'll find the reviews of various shows seen by Ron Netsky, Frank De Blase and other City writers.
  • This year WHAM Channel 13 has a "Jazz Lounge" where they'll be collecting their XRIJF coverage and has some video, including an interview of saxophone phenom Grace Kelly and other stories.
  • You may also want to check out D&C music writer Jeff Spevak's June 21 wrap up, including his thoughts on the joy of Twitter on the Critical Mass blog on his personal website.
  • If you'd like to see the "official" photos from the festival, check out the XRIJF's own festival photo page.  Glad my Xerox photo was not very flattering ... won't have to pay to get a copy now (I seem to remember the chipper young girl telling me it was free....).
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Random notes from my floating penultimate night at XRIJF

XRIJF logo I followed my itinerary pretty closely last night, departing only on Jane Monheit and picking up one of the performers I'd scheduled for the last night. When I arrived on "Jazz Street" at 4:15, the line for Jane Monheit at Kilbourn Hall already was snaking around to East Avenue. I knew that to see her at 10 I might need to blow the chance to see others I had on my list to get in line for Monheit. As I'd seen her before, I decided to take another trip. It was another varied night at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Started out with Little Red Suitcase. This Danish duo of Johanne Borchert on piano, accompanied by Elena Setién on keyboard, accordion (with sticky keys), violin and effects, was a quirky little treat to start the evening out. Well, neither are Danes—Borchert is German and Setién is Spanish—but that doesn't matter. Their songs were small and somewhat off-the-wall, delivered by Setién in a sing-song style that seemed to deliberately misplace some notes, with Borchert sometimes bringing in harmonies. The room seemed to big for their intimate style. Toward the end of the set they both stuck their heads in the open grand piano and began singing, trying to get the sympathetic strings to hum (the room may have defeated that as I only heard a faint sympathetic echo), and ending that with what sounded like a bird fight with two cheap flutes.

Moved from there over to Abilene for some gut-bucket blues from Bryan Lee and the Blues Power Band. Lee delivered what was advertised, which brought me back to some of the sounds from my former hometown Chicago, and I enjoyed some great Abilene beers and a pulled pork sandwich from Beale Street Cafe.

Went across the festival to Christ Church to catch Gwyneth Herbert's second set. She filled that great space with a beautiful voice and her sparse band (they had been advertised as a quartet, but came as a trio, with Herbert playing a number of instruments in addition to her voice, noting that we were "getting our money's worth" despite the mistake. Her songs were catchy, more pop singer-songwriter but, again, quirky. I really enjoyed them, especially the one that told the story of a group of Surrey women who, spying an approaching French invasion fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, went to the top of the cliffs overlooking the ocean and raised their frocks to reveal the red undergarments that women of that region of England wore at the time. The French, seeing the red, took these 50 women as a large contingent of Redcoats and turned tail. Her song was a folk song of a sort, but it sounded thoroughly modern as well.

Didn't do a 10pm, just wondered around for awhile. At 11pm, I wandered by Eastman Theater, just as Jeff Beck began his second show. Although I knew it was a long shot as the show was nearly, if not completely sold out, I went in to see if I could get in with my media pass to take a look. No go. Sounds like it was a great show from those I've read elsewhere and it was surely a great success for the festival.

Now I get ready to head out soon for the final night. I already feel like I've heard enough outstanding music that I can go and not hear anything tonight and feel like this has been great festival for me. 

Well, for one last time, see you on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Tomorrow's the end of the Xerox Rochester Jazz Festival ... Really?

XRIJF logo No time to write much today. Hit all my "itinerary" and filled my Thursday with outstanding music at every stop. A highlight was the Danish "super group" of Palle Mikkelborg with Marilyn Mazur, Helen Davies, and Mikkel Nordsoe at Reformation Church, who sewed incredibly beautiful tapestries of sound (Jeff Spevak wrote more here). Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's second set was on fire, with the band fully instrumented (there had been a missing bass in the first set). Well, gotta go.

See you on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF Day 6... not only my car battery is dead (tired), but I'm happy!

When I got back to my car at nearly midnight, since Steve Turré Quintet (well his regular quartet, plus special guest Texas tenor Billy Harper) played well past 11:30 pm, the battery was dead as a doornail. I've also been slowing down a bit as I try to maintain a schedule of going to work each day and out to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in the evenings. Because I spent the morning getting my car jumped and out of the East End garage, I just haven't the time to write much. Here's some random notes from my sixth night at the festival.

XRIJF image Mixing sax player and chanteuse with equal measure and a lot of cuteness, Grace Kelly was a big crowd pleaser (the line for the first set was all the way to Broad Street and many were turned away; same for the second). But once you get past the wow! factor of the amazing amount of talent Kelly has on her instrument, as a singer and as a composer (and how long and with whom she has grown up as a player), and at the ripe old age of 18, the wow wears off a little and the room she has to grow becomes more apparent. But who would expect her to spring from the head of Lee Konitz, et al fully formed? She's an accomplished performer and has been for quite a few years. Kelly  will definitely be a talent to watch grow, but the soul and emotion that I heard in Billy Harper's playing and elsewhere this year just wasn't there yet.

I love listening to music that takes me out of my comfort zones and Eivind Opsvik's Overseas group did just that, creating an intricate mesh of sound that was modern, yet also had elements of monster movie theater organ and other odd influences. I especially liked Opsvik's composition Nineteen to a Dozen.

XRIJF imageFinished up the night with Steve Turré's trombone and conch shells. I saw Turré perform at Milestones a few years back and he is a master at his instruments (both marine gastropod and brass). I was so tired I almost didn't go, but thought better of it. I saw a weather change begin to throw drops around, so I got a beer and a sandwich and got under Eastman's big awning to wait for his Kilbourn Hall show.  So glad that I did. His special guess Billy Harper on tenor and his regular quartet of Xavier Davis (piano), Corcoran Holt (bass), and Dion Parsons (drums) formed a tight fit with Turré's trombone and conch playing. Turré is always trying to make sounds; he's almost OCD up there, comping by picking up one conch shell or another to get just the right sound out of it, or one of several cowbells with different ringers to get just that right amount (no, no one yelled "more cowbell!"). Unlike the first set where I read that he only played the shells a couple of times, Turré worked them in a lot in the long second set, beginning with the first on the play list, the cut A Light Within from their new CD due out in August.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Random notes from the fifth night of XRIJF ...

XRIJF image Here are some random notes from my fifth night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. Attended a media event for the 2010 Copenhagen Jazz Festival, July 2-11. Rochester has three artists from Denmark appearing at this year's festival: Palle Mikkelborg, Helen Davies, Marilyn Mazur and Mikkel Nordsoe (Mikkelborg & Mazur have not played together since playing on Miles Davis's Aura in 1985, which was written and produced by Palle as a tribute to Miles), Little Red Suitcase, and Ibrahim Electric. All of these artists are on on my pick posts, so see those for Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the left panel for more information. Artistic Director Kenneth Hansen came to town yesterday to promote the Danish festival here. Rochester's festival was one of three at which they're promoting the Copenhagen festival this year. The other two are Berlin and London (pretty good company). The Copenhagen festival includes some of the other artists you're seeing here, including the headliner last night Herbie Hancock (Mr. Hansen was scoping out the show in the balcony with the media last night). There are over 1,000 performances over 10 days in all sorts venues around the city of Copenhagen. Hansen said that if you toss a stone over your shoulder, chances are you'll hit a concert.

Guitarist Russell Malone was my first stop. Enjoyed the set and loved his ballad playing. I got a chance to hear some of my friend Jimmie Highsmith Jr.'s set on the Jazz Street Stage (and some more after leaving Herbie); looked like he was having fun and it was good to see him playing for a big, appreciative crowd in Rochester, a city to which he has given so much.

Headed into the Eastman Theater to see Herbie Hancock. In addition to the fewer seats that Eastman's recent renovation left, the ticket sales for the headliners appear to have been improving. The theater was nearly full. In past years, media could usually sit up fairly close on the wings. Not this year. Most of us were up in the nosebleeds of the upper balcony. Fine by me. Herbie Hancock and his band of stars played for 2-1/2 hours straight through without a break. This was the first stop on a world tour for his album The Imagine Project, which is due out next week. The band included Lionel Loueke on guitar, Tal Wikkenfeld on bass, Vinnie Coaluita on drums, and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes (all of whom sing, except Vinnie), and singer Kristina Train. The first part of the set included a number of Herbie's greatest hits, some of them mashed up with other music or together. The second part premiered songs from his new Imagine Project album. While I enjoyed listening to all of it, and expect as we were the first outing on the tour that some of it was a bit rough, I have to echo Ron Netsky, who wrote in his review on City's blog that "[t]he trouble for me was that Hancock's band was transformed into a very extravagant cover band with a hell of a pianist." I think the album will be wonderful with its worldwide mashups of music and musicians. I'm not sure how it translates to a concert. However, most people in the Big House loved it without reservation. I think that part of it for me is that I'm always somewhat ill-at-ease at "big time" concerts by major artists, opting usually opted for smaller, more intimate spaces and clubs in my live music consumption. That was at play last night, too.

Tonight, although, I may switch up the order, but I think we're back to the usual swing of things. See you on Jazz Street.....

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

So much music, so little time ...

Trombone Shorty Updated:Didn't have time to sum it up the fourth or fifth nights of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Check out the tweets and short posts for Day 4.  In short, I made a few detours and then got some much needed sleep.

Tonight (June 15) it is Russell Malone and Herbie Hancock's new Imagine Project coming to the Eastman. Perhaps some Sicilian Jazz Project...a bit depending on when Herbie let's out. (update: Herbie played until after 11pm, so missed the end).

Just no time to write in between working full time and going to hear music, so read the tweets and my posts. 

See you on Jazz Street!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Day 4 a wrap ... I'm spent after Trombone Shorty

The first set tonight for Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue just proved what I had already figured out from my "research"--that this amazing musician and showman would nearly tear the Big Tent at the Rochester International Jazz Festival down.

Capacity crowd; no need for tables as nearly everyone was on their feet soon after he started funking up the house. Playing both the bone and trumpet (and singing), it's going to hard to get for the 10pm show. Don't know what they're going to do tomorrow at Harro ...

I'm heading home soon to catch some z's before work and then it starts all over again. As John Nugent told me tonight, the rest of the week is sort of a tsunami, building momentum... May have something there...,

Day 4 a wrap ... I'm spent after Trombone Shorty

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Day 4 begins in Havana, but reroutes

Although I'm taking some detours on the fourth evening of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, I'm beginning the night as planned with Hilario Duran at Max. Duran is more subdued, with a quieter brilliance than his fellow Cuban pianist who appeared last night. Roberto Occhipinti on bass in his trio is another highlight and will probably appear tomorrow with his brother Michael's Sicilian Jazz Project.

Changing plans as I have had a change in heart on hearing vocals tonight, so will sit out Tolstoy & McKelle (really, it's me... not you). Going to catch one of Trombone Shorty's shows as planned and Amy Lavere for something different in between.

Day 4 begins in Havana, but reroutes

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF Day Three... Your "citizen critic" on the job

My posts from yesterday pretty much tell you where I was at (I actually followed my itinerary to the letter). Sunday night at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival was one of the overall best nights of music of the festival so far. Chuchito Valdes is a monster on the piano in Cuban and any other musical genre, most of which he incorporated into the first set that I saw (and the first 1 hour line I was queued in). He went from a fiery mambo to a slow and introspective Someone To Watch Over Me. He got over that and exploded again with a version of Old Devil Moon. His trio mates were also top notch and in sync with Valdes throughout. As I left for my next stop with Valdes finishing his encore, I was wondering "now how is someone going to top that?" 

XRIJF Photo of Charnett MoffettCharnett Moffett did just that, although I guess I shouldn't say "topped" as the two sets were as different as can be. Both are just incredible monsters on their instruments. Moffett spent 3/4 of his second set playing solo bass, bringing his band mates (a bit more than a trio) out at a trickle starting with sitar (someone correct me if it was not actually a sitar) and ending with piano and trumpet. That he held that audience in their seats for that amount of time with only him and his bass was a tribute to the excellence and intensity of his playing. Toward the end of the set, while he was blistering his fingers and our ears on electric bass with his band mates, the intensity may have reached critical mass and ignited a flame somewhere in Harro East as a fire alarm started to ring, repeating every few seconds. While everyone looked around to see if someone with apparent authority was telling them to head for the doors, and some sniffed for smoke, no one left their seats. Moffett kept playing, incorporated the alarm into his playing, mimicking it and pausing to catch the intervals between its peals.  Jeff Spevak described the reaction of this "citizen critic" in his recap of last night in the D&C (OK, maybe I was a bit exuberant, although by the time I saw Jeff last night it may have partly been the beer....).

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba were a great change of pace in the SRO crowd that fit into the Big Tent. The Malian master of the ngoni (a small, banjo precursor) and a large ensemble of players cut through the chatter and noise of the Tent with their intricate patterns of notes, singing and, of course, beats. I was glad I was on my feet as I had a lot of trouble keeping them from moving.

I then opted to quiet down and see bassist Katie Thiroux's set at Max. While a great bass player with a sweet voice, Moffett was a hard bass act to follow. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed her choices of tunes to play and the fact that some were picked from odd places, including a couple transcribed from YouTube.

Headed out into the night and home feeling that good feeling I get after I've just soaked up some great music. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A quiet ending to the third night of XRIJF

She had some hard acts to follow, but Katie Thiroux's unusual choices of music kept me in my seat. They included transcriptions from YouTube of a Jimmy Giuffre and another tune from the 50s, thus showing the influence of her age. Singing over bass will invite comparison with Esperanza Spaulding, but the two come from different places in the spectrum. Nice quiet place to end the third night of XRIJF. A quiet ending to the third night of XRIJF
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Chuchito hard act to follow, but Moffett tears it up one-handed (almost)

Charnett Moffett soloed through most of his second set, showing his incredible mastery of his instument the bass. The set was influenced strongly with Mideastern and Indian flavors, although the sounds of funk and other influences also found their. Joined toward the end by his band on sitar, tabla and drums (and later by piano and trumpet), Moffett continued to tear up his instrument with riffs so fast that they seemed to just merge into one, changing sound. Incredible ...

Chuchito hard act to follow, but Moffett tears it up one-handed (almost)

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Gettin started on 3d night of XRIJF...

I had to stand in line for Chuchito Valdes. Not an uncommon occurrence at XRIJF, but surprisingly the first for me at this festival. Chuchito is hitting the stage for his first set at Montage and bringing a bit of Havana into this very un-Havana city. Opening set with a smoking mambo! Crowded and they're lovin it.

And now to listen...

Gettin started on 3d night of XRIJF...

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Day 2 at XRIJF: Meetup that wasn't and other notes

As I noted in my pick post for Saturday, I was going to meet with a few alumni of the University of Chicago (I am the contact/president of the regional alumni club) early and possibly escort them to one or more sets at the festival. For various reasons, the meetup didn't happen. I got a chance, while waiting for the few that might show, to hear more of the great high school jazz bands that play on the Jazz Street Stage early. The audience is very supportive (and one might expect that as many of them are related to those on stage), but everyone enjoys them. Buffalo's Academy of Visual and Performing Arts was a standout for me as their choice of music and playing was so much different from the rest.

The first set on my itinerary was the Terry Clarke Trio was wonderful, with Greg Osby on saxophone and Don Thompson on piano and bass, alternatively.  His most recent album, It's About Time (Blue Music Group), won best traditional jazz album last year in Canada's Juno Awards. The interplay between them sometimes seemed like they were one instrument, with interspersed solos of great sensitivity. Again, Xerox is a great hall for trio work.  Followed up that with some of Torben Waldorff's group at Nordic Jazz Now in the Church of the Reformation. In addition to Seamus Blake's great sax work (which I've enjoyed before when he's come with his own band and others to Exodus to Jazz), I enjoyed the Waldorff's guitar, which was full of clean lines and not focused on the wow factor and overplaying that sometimes accompanies guitar-led groups. Waldorff was stepping back and letting the others shine. Walked through the increasing rain over to Christ Church to catch Brass Jaw. Although there was a distraction sitting a bit too near, the playing by these 4 Scotsmen on saxes (alto, tenor and baritone) and trumpet were deep into the jazz tradition, but had a new take on it. They used the soaring space of Christ Church to great effect, moving in and around each other as they took solos, pointing their horns in different directions, and on some songs just getting off the stage and walking throughout the church while playing. The notes careened around the space (especially those of trumpeter Ryan Quigley) like Super Balls, bouncing into your ears from different directions and sometimes all directions. As Ron Netsky notes in City's Jazz Blog, "[t]hey took the audience on a journey from straight-ahead to avant-garde and back, and we stuck with them every step of the way." Finally, sloshed over to Abilene to check out the Blaggards. While I meant only to have a beer, listen and check out the space a bit, I met some friends and ended up staying until the set of this group, described by Jeff Spevak on Twitter (yes, Jeff is on Twitter) as "drunken irish texans, ... going supernova on beer-waving jazzbos ... Pogues, meet social distortion." Pretty apt description. The Abilene space (the bar is one of my favorites in town) is a great addition to the festival, in my opinion. They've definitely got the best beer selection in the festival (in the bar). While walking from place to place I heard locals Filthy Funk with the powerful voice of Black August's Danielle Ponder just killing it on the Jazz Street Stage. Frank DeBlase thinks she may have helped open up the heavens just after they concluded their first set.

For many other attendees, the fest was all about Catherine Russell and the second night appearance of the boys from St. Petersburg, Billy's Band, who completed two more sets in Kilbourn Hall on Saturday, bot of which held their audiences in their seats for the entire set (which is unusual in this festival as there are sometimes tight timeframes for those of us who like to squeeze too much into each night).  Will Yurman's first multimedia essay (for June 11) is about the latter.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.