29 posts categorized "XRIJF 2012"

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

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

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

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

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

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


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Penultimate choices ... Day 8 of XRIJF

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

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

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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

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

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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

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

XRIJF image

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

XRIJF image

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Day 3 at XRIJF: Decisions, decisions, decisions

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

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

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

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


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Benny Green Trio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF Day 1: Some weather in NYC creates opportunity


Beginning of the day...

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

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

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

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

Still going after it was all over...

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF mea culpa ... I give up!

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

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

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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

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

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

 On the free venues, there's even more:

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

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

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

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

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Karrin Allyson

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Gregoire Maret Quintet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Tommy Smith & KARMA

Tuesday, June 26th, Xerox Auditorium at Xerox Plaza @ 6:30 and 9:00 pm

Tommy Smith imageHailed by critics as the toughest and most creative group of his career, saxophonist Tommy Smith’s KARMA leads a band of virtuosic musicians on a deeply grooving acid jazz adventure that draws on influences from around the world. The band features Tommy Smith (saxes, shakuhatchi, synth), Kevin Glasgow (electric bass), Steve Hamilton (piano, synth), and Alyn Cosker (drums). Born in Edinburgh in 1967, Tommy Smith won best soloist and best group titles at Edinburgh International Jazz Festival at the ripe old age of 14, and recorded his first album at a mere 15. After studying at Berklee College of Music, Smith joined Gary Burton's group and toured worldwide. He signed to Blue Note Records in 1989 and then formed his own record company, Spartacus, on which he has now released 24 CDs as a leader. His many compositions include four saxophone concertos, the symphonic work Edinburgh for Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, The Morning of the Imminent for Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth, the Glasgow Jazz Festival commission Beasts of Scotland, and a series of large scale works, including Planet Wave, Beauty and the Beast, Torah and the world's first meeting between jazz and Japanese taiko drumming, The World of the Gods, for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, which he had directed since 1995. In June 2010, Smith was awarded a professorship by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where he is artisic director of jazz. 

The KARMA project is somewhat of a departure for Smith. As John Fordham wrote in the UK Guardian:

Smith can play the daylights out of full-on post-bop or explore north-Euro ambiance, but this is a hard-hitting fusion album—one that sounds pretty familiar at first, with its hammering backbeats (from the ferocious Alyn Cosker), slick unison choruses and Headhunters keyboard and bass guitar effects. But Smith is much too smart for the obvious, and this set for what he calls his "grunge band" turns out to be a rare splicing of rich-toned, pipe-like themes, fiercely guttural up-tempo tenor improv, Arabic and Irish music, tight grooving that suggests Weather Report or Chris Potter's Underground band, and some haunting atmospherics from his shakuhachi bamboo flute. Smith's compositions are way ahead of the usual slam-bang fusion forays, and the sombrely pensive Star (based on an Irish folk song) is a great sax-ballad performance.

Here is a promotional video from Smith's site about Karma:

And here is the band playing Karma live at the Capstone Theatre, Liverpool, to give you a taste of the live set in a setting similar to what you'll see here:

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band

June 29th, Kilbourn Hall @ 6:00 and 10:00 pm

Every year one or more of the old lions of jazz comes to XRIJF and for those of us who have listened to these giants of the bebop era and before for years, hearing them live is usually on the bucket list, as it will be this year on mine. However, from what I hear and read Roy Haynes is not going quietly into his elder years (how could any drummer do that...) and remains very active and a powerful drummer.

Haynes is one of the most recorded drummers in jazz with a career spanning across over 60 years. He has played in a wide range of styles ranging from swing and bebop to jazz fusion and avant-garde. XRIJF imageHe has an expressive, personal style that is voiced in the "Snap Crackle" nickname given him in the 50s. Roy Haynes has worked with jazz goliaths like Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughn, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny and countless others. In recent years, Haynes has also played with popular rock acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers Band, and Phish. Haynes is an NEA Jazz Master and a sharp dresser, being named one of Esquire’s Best Dressed Men in America at one point.  The Fountain of Youth Band is a group of young 20-something musicians, usually including Jaleel Shaw on saxophone, David Wong on bass, and Martin Bejerano on keys. 

To get a taste, listen to Haynes on NPR's JazzSet, hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater here, and read a recent article about Haynes and the Fountain of Youth Band by Daniel Lehner on AllAboutJazz.com. I've also found several videos to check out, including one with the Fountain of Youth Band at Dizzy's in NYC:

...And another of the group in Barcelona in 2010:

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra

June 22nd, Nordic Jazz Now in the Lutheran Church Of The Reformation, 7:30 and 9:30 pm

Anyone who follows my blog and my wanderings around the music scene here in Rochester and elsewhere (such as my former home, Chicago), or looks at my collection of CDs and LPs knows that I have a wide and somewhat eclectic set of ears when it comes to music, including jazz. One of the things I love about the XRIJF is that it is nine days offering many opportunities to explore jazz and other music from the rest of the world and discoveries music and musicians that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra's mix of jazz and world music influences offers just that. Like some other picks that I've made and will make, this will not be your "cup o' tea", but if you're willing to try something different, check them out.

Press imagesGoran Kajfeš is one of Sweden's top jazz trumpeters and a sought after session player, touring musician and producer. Kajfeš has performed with Robyn, José Gonzales, Mando Diao, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lester Bowie and The Soundrack of our Lives to name a few. Of Croation heritage, Kajfeš grew up in Sweden in a family full of musicians and artists. He started off his solo career in 2001 and has since been acclaimed as a talented musician on the Scandinavian scene. A trumpeter, Kajfeš now leads the Subtropic Arkestra, which usually consists of seven musicians including Per "Rusktrask" Johansson on baritone sax and flute, Jonas Kullhammar (oh, yeah, Kulhammar can't stay away from the XRIJF it seems and we love him here) on tenor sax and flute, Jesper Nordenström on organ, Andreas Söderström on guitar, Johan Berthling on bass, and Johan Holmegard on drums. In 2011, Kajfeš was awarded the Nordic Music Prize for his most recent album X/Y, where the jury said the following:

A very distinctive voice unexpectedly united the jury, everybody instantly recognized the love that has gone into the playing and, also, the packaging. It's an ambitious and warm fusion of sonic elements, from jazz with both African and Eastern influences to electronica....This double album really does something that is quite rare: it communicates the pure joy of music.

For a taste of the Goran Kajfeš and the Subtropic Arkestra, here they are live doing Sand Boogie off the X/Y CD, at the Nefertiti in Gothenburg, Sweden from last year:

And here they are doing Dinner with Inner in another from last year, along with some impromptu interpretive dance by a young audience member:

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz@Rochester Picks for XRIJF 2012: Gerald Clayton Trio

June 23rd, Max at Eastman Place, 6:15 & 10:00 pm

image of Gerald ClaytonIt is possible that I won't go hear Gerald Clayton when he plays with his Trio at Max on the 23rd, but only because I've seen him several times this year, both at concerts in the great Exodus to Jazz. In the intimate setting of Max, this Trio will be a real treat.

Born in the Netherlands in 1984, Clayton grew up mostly in Los Angeles in a family of musicians including his father, bassist/composer John Clayton, and uncle, saxophonist Jeff Clayton. As professional jazz musician, he has performed with some of the most established names in Jazz such as Lewis Nash, Al Foster, Terrell Stafford and Clark Terry, including duo piano concerts with artists as diverse as Hank Jones, Benny Green, Kenny Barron, Mulgrew Miller and Tamir Hendelman, with whom he "dueled" on piano here in January of this year for Exodus to Jazz in a benefit for the Museum of Kids Art.  He has also played with a number of the next generation of jazz innovators such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Dayna Stephens, and Kendrick Scott. From 2006-2008, Clayton toured extensively with Roy Hargrove in his quintet, big band, and funk groups and is currently a member of the Clayton Brothers Quintet. Clayton received a Grammy nomination this year for his CD Bond: The Paris Sessions (affiliate link) in the top category of Best Instrumental Jazz Album. Clayton has also been nominated this year for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for his composition Battle Circle from the New Song and Dance album with the Clayton Brothers, which itself had been nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. 

Clayton's playing and his trio has a sound that, while steeped well in the tradition, also has a more modern edge, alternatively introspective and powerful. To give you a taste, here's a video of the Trio playing at the Harker Concert Series (in fact, it's over 30 minutes of the set):

Here is the Trio playing Dizzy Gillespie's Con Alma in May:

And playing last month at Smalls in the Village in February 2009:

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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.

Jazz Around Town: XRIJF and local headliners

XRIJF logo The folks over at XRIJF have announced some of the headliners for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, which will be running from June 22-30th this year. The fourt announced yesterday include a returning for Norah Jones, who appeared at the first Jazz Fest before she was "discovered" and will appear on June 29th, as well as Diana Krall on Friday, June 22nd, Dweezil Zappa playing Zappa the father on Tuesday, June 26th, Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin, but on banjo) & The Steep Canyon Rangers on Wednesday on June 27th. Tickets go on sale Friday and can be purchased on the XRIJF website. In addition to that, XRIJF and the Eastman School of Music have teamed up to present Bonnie Raitt on May 27th (tickets for that also go on sale on Friday). While that's a ways off, here's the stuff going on over the next seven days... enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2011

  • Jazz & Wine Happy Hour with The Swooners @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 5:00 pm
  • Bob Hanley @ Prosecco Italian Restaurant & Bar, 1550 Route 332, Farmington, 5:30 pm
  • Anthony Gianavola @ Lemoncello, 6:00 pm
  • Michael Vidala @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Joe Santora Trio with Emily Kirchoff @ Michael's Valley Grill, 7:00 pm
  • Nate Rawls Group @ Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm
  • Fred Costello & Roger Eckers Duo @ Portobello, 1369 Pittsford-Mendon Rd., 7:30 pm
  • Hot Second featuring Will Zimmer @ Tala Vera Cantina, 8:00 pm
  • Adrian DiMatteo @ Strathallan Hotel, 8:30 pm
  • Mambo Kings @ Sticky Lips BBQ Juke Joint, 9:00 pm
  • The Meta Accord @ The Blue Room, 9:00 pm

Friday, January 27, 2011

  • Johnny Matt Band @ Wegmans-Eastway, 5:30 pm
  • Happy Days @ Bistro 135, 5:00 pm
  • Joe Santora Trio with Emily Kirchoff @ Michael's Valley Grill, 7:00 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes @ Glengarry Inn at Eagle Vale, 4400 Nine Mile Point Road, Rt 250 Fairport, 6:30 pm
  • Holiday @ Prosecco Italian Restaurant & Bar, 6:30 pm
  • Community Dialogue Series: Last Friday Heritage Jazz Series:Thelonious Monk: The Man, His Music @ Baobab Cultural Center, 7:00 pm
  • Gap Mangione & The New Blues Band @ Horizons Lounge at Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 8:30 pm
  • Fred Costello & Roger Eckers Duo @ Charley Brown's Restaurant, 1675 Penfield Rd., 7:30 pm 
  • Tinted Image @ Bistro 135, 8:00 pm
  • Sofrito @ Little Theatre Cafe, 8:30 pm
  • Uptown Groove @ Grill at Strathallan, 8:30 pm
  • Jimmie Highsmith Experience @ Tala Vera Cantina, 9:00 pm
  • Sossity Entertainment presents Art Beaty with special guest Todd East @ Lovin Cup, 9:00 pm

Saturday, January 28, 2011

  • Sofrito @ Bistro 135, 6:30 pm
  • Holiday @ Prosecco Italian Restaurant & Bar, 6:30 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi and Shared Genes @ Prime Steak House, 42 E Main St., Webster, 6:30 pm
  • The Westview Project with Doug Stone @ Pomodoro Grill & Wine Bar (University Ave.), 7:00 pm
  • Fred Costello & Roger Eckers Duo @ Charley Brown's Restaurant, 1675 Penfield Rd., 7:30 pm
  • Cornell Concert Series presents an evening with Jason Moran and special guest Dave Holland @ Barnes Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, 8:00 pm
  • The White Hots @ Lemoncello, 8:00 pm
  • Alana Calhoon @ Strathallan Hotel, 8:30 pm
  • Tinted Image @ Horizons Lounge at Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 8:30 pm
  • East End Jazz Boys @ Havana Moes, 9:30 pm

Sunday, January 29, 2012

  • Bill Slater Solo Piano (Brunch) @ Woodcliff Hotel, call for time
  • CNY Jazz  presents January Jazz Fest with Nancy Kelly, Chris Vadala and the Central New York Jazz Orchestra and a lot more @ Mohegan Manor, 58 Oswego St., Baldwinsville, noon (follow link for lineup)
  • Gregory Porter @ Hunt Real Estate Jazz Series at Albright-Knox Gallery (Buffalo), 2:00 pm

Monday, January 30, 2012

  • Gap Mangione Solo Piano Series @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 5:30 pm
  • Mark Bader @ Bistro 135, 5:30 pm
  • Tony Gianavola @ Beale Street Cafe, 7:00 pm
  • Mike Kaupa Duo Project with Ben Thomas @ Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

  • Happy Hour with Tinted Image @ Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, 5:30 pm
  • Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes  @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Norman Tibbils @ Lemoncello, 6:00 pm
  • Scott Krier @ Prosecco Italian Restaurant & Bar, 6:30 pm
  • White Hots & Tina Albright @ Monroe's Restaurant, 7:00 pm
  • Jon Seiger and the Allstars @ Stardust Ballroom Series at Edgerton Community Center, 7:30 pm

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

  • Soul Express @ Bistro 135, 6:00 pm
  • Greg Chako @ Lemoncello, 6:00 pm
  • Robert Chevrier @ Pomodoro Monroe Avenue, 6:30 pm
  • Paradigm Shift @ Pomodoro's Grill & Wine Bar (University Ave.), 7:30 pm
  • Uptown Groove  @ Little Theatre Cafe, 7:30 pm

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

  • Tia Fuller @ 42nd Annual Penfield Jazz Fund Raiser Concerts, Penfield High School, Friday-Saturday, February 3-4, 7:30 pm (more info on Penfield's website)
  • Exodus to Jazz Presents Houston Person Quartet @ Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Saturday, February 11, 8:00 pm (two 1-hour sets)
  • Exodus to Jazz presents 480East @ Water Street Music Hall, 8:00 pm (new date and venue)
  • Jazz90.1 Presents Annual Pancake Breakfast @ Greece Olympia High School, Saturday, March 10th, 10:00 am–1:00 pm (tickets go on sale February 6th)
  • Cornell Concert Series presents The Bad Plus @ Barnes Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, Friday March 30, 8:00 pm

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

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

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.