17 posts categorized "XRIJF 2015"

Tie a toe-tag on it ... the 2015 XRIJF is no longer with us

KatieErnstXRIJFCan't believe it! Nine days have already passed. Like almost every other of the nine days of the Rochester International Jazz Festival provided me both new sounds and great experiences

I started out at Montage with the Renee Rosnes Quartet. The Montage is often the venue I finish the jazz festival at, as it often has some of the high energy acts that I sometimes want to close out the festival.  I wanted to hear Renee Rosnes and the early show fit my schedule.  Renee brought a stellar quartet with her, including bassist Peter Washington and saxophonist Jimmy Greene, and drummer Lewis Nash. The set highlighted all of their talents and was a great start to the last night.

After a break, I headed into Christ Church to hear Go Go Penguin. This young band from Manchester, UK, which just finished recording an album for Blue Note, had been promoted as one of the festival's "sleepers" by XRIJF producer John Nugent as early as the March announcement of the lineup.  Nugent wasn't wrong. Drawing from bands like E.S.T. and the Bad Plus, this young UK band's talent was evident from the first song they played at the second set (their second in the US...). Unfortunately (for me), their CDs were sold out when I walked out. 

I finished up this year's XRIJF at Max with a friend, Katie Ernst, an Eastman School of Music grad who after graduating returned to Chicago area and has been active in its jazz scene (saw her there a couple of years ago when I was there for my 30th college reunion). This young bassist and singer brought her "Little Words' project to the XRIJF this year. With "Little Words," Ernst put the poetry of Dorothy Parker to music. She was joined by her band with tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, pianist Stuart Mindeman, and drummer Andrew Green. Words run through the band as they played some of Minderman's music based on poems by Langston Hughes. 

I'll try to write some kind of a wrap up post a little later after I have a chance to digest this year's XRIJF.  

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

From Kurt Rosenwinkel's guitar to feeling the air pulse from Ikebe Shakedown's base, Day 8 of XRIJF was a study in contrasts ....

KurtRosenwinkelAs I start preparing to go down to Gibbs Street for the final day of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, I'm thinking back to last night as a study in contrast. I started out in Kilbourn Hall with the ethereal mastery of the Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet, with a stellar band including a second helping of Eric Revis on bass, Aaron Parks on piano, and Alan Mednard on drums. Not too familiar yet with Rosenwinkel, I found his use of a headset mike to channel vocalizations through his guitar added to the music. It was understated, not cheesy in the Frampton "do you feel like I do" way. Not all of the songs were in the ethereal vein, especially A Shifting Design driven by Revis and Mednard. 

I thought about hitting the Yellowjackets next, but while walking toward Harro East and the Lutheran Church decided instead to go in there and hear the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra with Ingrid Jensen. You ask why they were at the Nordic Jazz Now series?  Saxophonist, composer and arranger Christine Jensen  and her sister and trumpeter Ingrid are both born Canadians (Christine based in Montreal; Ingrid in New York), but Christine has been associated with a Swedish composer arranger and the group Nordic Connect and, based on the their name, may have some Nordic roots. Close enough for me.  Christine brought a 19-piece orchestra of Canadian musicians for the Rochester gigs and that large ensemble sound was great in this great sound space of the the Lutheran Church. It was great hearing this orchestra play Dancing Sunlight,a cut I've had in my library since its release in 2010. Glad I was diverted (sorry Yellowjackets, although I'm sure you'll survive my absence....).  

After getting some grub and a beverage, I headed over to the Montage for something completely different... Ikebe Shakedown.  They play music that is full of funk and Afro-beat influences and last night it was LOUD.  There were bass riffs played where I actually felt air hitting my face and felt the pressure in my chest (hoped it would loosen up the phlegm that has been filling my head due to allergies). I grew up in the seventies so my hearing is already compromised.... This band will great at the outdoor stage on Chestnut and East at 5:00 pm. 


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Hymn to the 7th Day of the Rochester International Jazz Festival...

To start out Thursday, Day 7 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, I caught Dave Douglas High Risk early to make sure I heard this new project for a trumpeter I have been following for awhile. I caught most of their great, high energy set, accented with the electronics of Shigeto in addition to Douglas, Mark Guiliana and JT Maron. Douglas is one of those artists who is always bringing new projects. He is also a pioneer in bringing his (and others') music out himself, starting the Greenleaf Records label years ago, serving his diverse and creative approach to his music and providing a similar creative space for other artists. Here's hoping that he brings another project to XRIJF soon (this was his first time here).

Ran over to the Xerox Auditorium for Stanley Clarke Band. I've missed Clarke when he's been to previous XRIJFs, so didn't want to lose this opportunity to hear him play. The auditorium quickly filled to near capacity, which is saying a lot as it sits close to 700 I think. Clark had 3 young band mates, all 20 or younger. The band started out with an early Return to Forever tune, which Clarke noted was written before his band members' fathers were born. The drummer was on fire and his pianist/keyboard play, just 19, was ripping off amazing solos throughout. There was an air of sheer joy as they played together and it was infectious.

After a break with some pizza, I ended the night with Ali Jackson Trio at Max, the drummer for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. I'd been hearing good things about the first set on the street and decided to stick around despite an intense desire to head home and get some sleep. Jackson's set was mellow and standard-filled, a counterpoint to the rest of my night. However, despite the standards, Jackson and his band mates did not play them straight, but brought idiosyncratic shifts and flavors to them.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A sweet Suite to Afro-Cuban Jazz... Day 6 at the XRIJF

Last night was one of those nights at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival where, for me, it was impossible to see all of the shows that I wanted to check out due to timing. I didn't have a "middle" point between my 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm concerts. All the acts I was hoping to catch were clustered around those times. So between 7:00 and 9:00 pm, I just floated around hearing this and that, and spent some time at Havana Moe's. Good enough for me....

Started out at Jazz Starts Here noontime series with my buddies in Paradigm Shift. Got some sun while I listened to their groove-filled set, which was well-attended in the garden of the Central Library at noon. Headed home after to finish my regular Wednesday post of the live jazz happening outside the XRIJF before heading downtown again for the festival.

First stop was a Kilbourn to hear the Antonio Sanchez Migration group (pictured). They brought Sanchez's new Meridian Suite, the second suite heard in Kilbourn during this year's XRIJF. While I expect that some thought they would be playing something from the soundtrack that Sanchez wrote for the movie Birdman, it was a real treat, alternatively blistering and more interspective, with a vocalist who sang vocalese interacting with saxophonist Seamus Blake and pianist John Escreet.

In between I hung out with some friends at Havana Moes and dropped into the Christ Church's Made in the UK series to catch some of Troyka before heading into the Rochester Club for the Afro-Cuban jazz of Hilario Duran and Ingnacio Berroa. Berroa, who had started playing with Duran back in Cuba when they were fourteen years old, was a monster on the drums and regaled the full-house audience with stories about the origins of the music and playing with Dizzy Gillespie. Great Afro-Cuban arrangements of standards like A Night In Tunisia, which Berroa noted Dizzy had told him he never visited, Monk and others. Berroa, who now lives in New York (Duran calls Toronto home now) noted that it had been something like 35 years since he had appeared here due to how hard it was to get into the U.S. to play and that he'd see us in 2055. I'm hoping that as the U.S. opens up the relationship with Cuba that the XRIJF considers starting an Afro-Cuban series for the festival.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A little mix of XRIJF and the other live jazz in town (Live jazz in ROC, June 25-July 1)

MoutinFactoryQtRather than write a second post about Day 5 of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, I'll do a limited one here with the thing I do all year round.  As I hit day five, the wear and tear of days of work and nights of music, street food (actually mostly food trucks), beer and cigars started to take its inevitable effect. Moving a bit slower... zombie like, saying hello to passer after they've passed... you know the drill. But the other drill you know too, is that it was another night of great music.

My night was again filled with very different music, from the light touch and amazing musicianship of the Fred Hersch and his trio in Kilbourn, through German jazz pianist Julia Hulismann and her Trio playing in a more European/ECM vein, to the Moutin twins and their Moutin Factory Quintet. The latter was a blistering set that went almost 30 minutes past usual closing time. 

Just to be clear, the listings below DO NOT include those for the jazz festival.  You will find that elsewhere on this site and on the XRIJF website or on the XRIJF App.

Don't forget the noontime Jazz Starts Here concerts at the Central Library, which will be running the remainder of the week. I provided the details below here. Also, there's a lot of jazz happening near the XRIJF that I haven't covered here (because I wasn't advised it was happening). Check out the following and other venues in the area for more listings (or let me know if you can).

After the "fold" (if there is one) you will find the next seven days of live jazz in and around Rochester. Let me know if something is missing and I'll add it in.

Continue reading "A little mix of XRIJF and the other live jazz in town (Live jazz in ROC, June 25-July 1)" »

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

And now for something completely different on Monday at the XRIJF....

For most of this year's Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, I've been avoiding artists whom I've heard before, especially those I've heard multiple times. Such is not the case with vibist Joe Locke, who grew up in Rochester before heading out into becoming a major jazz artists. I go to hear him every time he's here for a few reasons: His personal connection to this city always leads to a lot of energy when he plays here and he always brings something different. Locke always has new projects in the works and I love the way these projects take on a theme. This year he brought his Love is a Pendulum project, a suite of songs inspired by Barbara Sfraga's poem of the same name. All based on stanzas of the poem, which he read before playing, the suite ranged from the ebullient and powerful to quiet and beautiful. The other reason I hear Joe play every time he comes to town is that he always brings a kick-ass group of musicians with him. The concert in the 2015 XRIJF in Kilbourn was no exception, with his long-time collaborator Terreon Gully on drums, Richard Rodriguez on bass, and the incredible Robert Rodriguez on piano.

And now for something completely different.... I hoofed it over to the Lutheran Church to catch the Eivind Opsvik Overseas group. While their powerful cacophony was challenging for many of the audience members, closing my eyes and listening closely I found so much structure in that seeming chaos. Other of their pieces had a powerful groove. Although it was intense, it was satisfying....

And now for something completely different... I had intended at first to go hear Jane Bunnett's Cuban group, but after hearing many on the street talking about the great performances they were hearing from singer Kat Edmondson, I decided to head over to Montage to catch her final of four performances in two venues at this year's XRIJF. I'm pretty sure a good portion of the audience had been to the three previous performances (and perhaps saw her last time she was at XRIJF)! After the intensity of Overseas, her quirky voice and wonderful songwriting provided a great counterpoint and an object lesson in how much diverse, great music you can find at the festival.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A light night for me on Day 3 of XRIJF, but not light on music

Nils Berg CinemaScope

As I noted before, I gave my blistered foot a rest last night, but still got in a lot of great music. Started at the 4 pm premiere of the new Lyric Theatre venue on East Ave with Joey Alexander. As the Democrat & Chronicle's Jeff Spevak noted last night, you really don't need to add "11-year old" in front of his name as the kid plays jazz piano like a seasoned veteran many decades beyond his years. His playing of Thelonious Monk's challenging Epistrophy was off the hook. Myself, Spevak and the crowd of @1000 were having a bit of trouble keeping our jaws from hitting the high pews of the former Christ Scientist church. I'm really looking forward to the music, including jazz, that we hear that XRIJF promoters John Nugent and Marc Iacona are intending to program throughout the year in this hall and in the smaller theatre that sits behind it.

After resting a bit at my East Ave. haunt Moe's, I managed to get in and get a seat pretty quickly for Kneebody's 1st set at Max. This band's members are familar with Rochester as they met while studying at the Eastman School of Music. Their high energy and eclectic set of originals written by members of the band (both there and absent) was a highlight.

My final stop on Sunday night was at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation's Nordic Jazz Now to check out Nils Berg's CinemaScope project. This idea really captures the essence of both this series and of the XRIJF. An outfit of musicians from Sweden playing their first gig in North America (other than the bassist, who was in the previous two bands in the church) improvising over video captured from YouTube and Vimeo from all over the world, from an Afghani boy singing, to a banjo player from Maryland, to music and dancers from Chennai in Southern India and beyond. As the early show at the church is in the middle of the schedule, there is often a large exodus during the set, but CinemaScope was clearly captivating the audience, who gave the band a rousing standing O at the end of the set.

I then caught a bit of the Made in the UK Series group Brian Molley Quartet at Christ Church before deciding to go back to my haunt for a nightcap and head home. Before heading home, however, I stood with a large group of people in the park at Christ Church watching the mesmerizing lights of the RoCo art gallery's presentation of Cubes, an interactive light sculpture using technology developed by Alexander Green and Symmetry Labs. The LED lights that were embedded in metal cubes stacked about 15 feet hight were connected via this technology to (what else) techno music being "spun" on the computer.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

It's easy on East tonight at the XRIJF ....

Image by Studio MichaelinoAs the third day of the XRIJF begins, it looks like the rain has passed and we'll be clear and comfortable tonight. I'm taking it easy. While there's a lot of great music out tonight, I need to limit the walking and standing in line to see if I can keep this blister on my foot from developing into something really cramps my (somewhat questionable) style. Starting at my favorite spot on East ... Havana Moe's for a cigar and some good conversation with my friends. Some music coming out of Stromboli's across the street (another venue that is not IN the XRIJF, but is filling the street with music.

Day 2 was another great night of music. Dontae Winslow was a great time, the man is so full of that spirit of a man who seems to be right where he wants to be right now. The set ran from Charlie Parker to one of Winslow's about growing up in a city (his was Baltimore). I then caught some of The Splendor at the Lutheran Church. The band includes one of the members of midaircondo, which appeared here in 2007 with their effects driven improvisation. She (I won't attempt played more reeds this time, but there was a whiff of midaircondo in the air. On to the Eric Revis Trio. Although not for everyone, I really dug Revis's aggressive attack on bass and his band of pianist Kris Davis and drummer Gerald Cleaver was killing.

The image of me at "work" was taken and "retouched" by Studio Michaelino.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A blistering first night of jazz at XRIJF ...

One down, eight more to go.... and unfortunately, I started out this year's Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival with a blister on the ball of my right foot. This is not a good thing at the beginning of XRIJF. You see, recently I've been trying to walk a lot more, counting steps with my FitBit like so many others. Bought some new kicks and walked a bit too much on them early on, including almost 7 miles last Saturday. Luckily, this year's festival is turning out as I expected and I'm not walking back and forth to try to catch every possible opportunity. I'm taking it easy for the time being.

Day 1 of XRIJF was full of jazz. Although I started out with the New Mastersounds bringing the funk, I managed to hear a part of Kavita Shah's set. Loved her eclectic choices of song (I'm a fan of fado and her rendition of Cesaria Evora's Soldade was the bomb). Then after catching some great sandwich action at the BrickNMotor food truck, caught Music Music Music at the Lutheran Church. This trio of Swedes played a great set of trio jazz, intricate and complex, and very satisfying. Missed them last time they appeared, so was glad I took a chance to hear them this year. Ended the night with Dave Gibson's BOOM!, some great post-bop by a quintet of great, young players from NYC, headed by trombonist Gibson. Their second set was killing.

My aching feet will keep me from hoofing too much between venues or I'll never make it to Day 9. As usual, you'll catch more of what I'm hearing if you check out Jazz@Rochester on Twitter and, new this year, some images from the festival on Instagram. I'll be hobbling along....


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Check out the ROC Musicians, ESM & High School Bands at XRIJF ... then check them out the rest of the year here

Rochester is blessed with a number of things that serve as a foundation for the fact that you can go out and hear great live jazz throughout the year, not just at the XRIJF, including a very large number of talented musicians who call the Rochester area home, the Eastman School of Music jazz program (and the music programs of the other Rochester area universities and colleges), and some wonderful high school jazz music programs. The festival includes a sample of each and almost all of them are free shows. 

Because Jazz@Rochester focuses on our local live jazz the year round, I wanted to gather them all in one place. Almost every day there is live jazz in more than one venue in and around Rochester.  These are the people that make that happen:

  • June 19th 
    • 3:45 pm: Buckman Heights Elementary School (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 4:30 pm: Arcadia High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: Hilton High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:45 & 7:45 pm: Bill Dobbins Plays Strayhorn (Hatch Recital Hall)
    • 6:00 pm: ECMS Jazz Combo with Bob Sneider and Paul Hofmann (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: Prime Time Brass (Big Tent)
    • 7:00 pm: Spectra (East Ave. & Chestnut St. Stage)
  • June 20th
    • 3:45 pm: Gates-Chili High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 4:30 pm: Brighton High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: Newark High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: ECMS Jazz Combos with Mike Kaupa (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: 78 RPM Big Band (Big Tent)
    • 7:00 & 9:15 pm: Chet Catallo & the Cats (Little Theatre)
  • June 21st
    • 3:45 pm: MCC Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 4:30 pm: Penfield High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: Spencerport High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm Penfield Rotary Big Band (Big Tent)
    • 6:00 pm: ESM Honors Collegiate Small Group (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 7:00 & 9:00 pm Hard Logic (RG&E-LiDestri Spirit Stage)
  • June 22nd
    • 12:00 pm: Jazz Starts at the Library with Mike Kaupa (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
    • 1:00 pm: Jazz Workshop for Young Music Students (Eastman School of Music,  Ray Wright Room (Room 120))
    • 4:30 pm: W. Irondequoit High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: Fairport High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: Jack Allen Big Band (Big Tent)
    • 6:00 pm: ESM Honors Collegiate Small Group (Jazz Street Stage) (also will be the CD Release for guitarist Gabe Condon)
    • 7:00 pm: Significant Other (RG&E-LiDestri Spirit Stage)
  • June 23rd
    • 12:00 pm: Jazz Starts at the Library with Danny Ziemann (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
    • 1:00 pm: Jazz Workshop for Young Music Students (Eastman School of Music, Ray Wright Room (Room 120))
    • 4:30 pm: Athena High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: Eastridge High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 & 10:00 pm: Gap Mangione (The Rochester Club)
    • 6:00 pm: New Horizons Big Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: Carl Atkins & New Energy Big Band (Big Tent)
    • 7:00 pm: Jimmie Highsmith (RG&E-LiDestri Spirit Stage)
    • 7:30 pm: Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 8:30 pm: New Horizons Vintage Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 8:30 & 10:00 pm: Dirk Quinn Band Rochester (Big Tent)
    • 9:30 pm: Music Educators Big Band (Jazz Street Stage)
  • June 24th
    • 12:00 pm: Jazz Starts at the Library with Paradigm Shift–Mel Henderson (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
    • 1:00 pm: Jazz Workshop for Young Music Students (Eastman School of Music,  Ray Wright Room (Room 120))
    • 4:30 pm: Canandaigua High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: Honeoye Falls-Lima High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: ESM-XRIJF Scholarships Alumni (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: Brockport Community Big Band (Big Tent)
    • 7:00 pm: Roses & Revolutions (RG&E-LiDestri Spirit Stage)
  • June 25th
    • 12:00 pm: Jazz Starts at the Library with Doug Stone (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
    • 1:00 pm: Jazz Workshop for Young Music Students (Eastman School of Music,  Ray Wright Room (Room 120))
    • 4:30 pm: Brockport High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: Sutherland High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:45 & 7:45 pm: Harold Danko (Hatch Recital Hall)
    • 6:00 pm: Greater Rochester Jazz Orchestra (Big Tent)
    • 6:00 pm: ECMS Saxology 1 & 2 Directed by Doug Stone (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 7:00 pm: Teagan & the Tweeds (RG&E-LiDestri Spirit Stage)
  • June 26th
    • 12:00 pm: Jazz Starts at the Library with Mike Melito (Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County)
    • 1:00 pm: Jazz Workshop for Young Music Students (Eastman School of Music,  Ray Wright Room (Room 120))
    • 4:30 pm: Harley High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: Greece Olympia High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: Greece Jazz Band (Big Tent)
    • 6:00 pm: ECMS Latin Jazz & JR Jazz (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 7:00 pm: Robin McKelle & the Flytones *East Ave. & Chestnut St. Stage)
    • 8:30 pm: Freshly Ground (Big Tent)
  • 27-Jun
    • 3:00 pm: Bill Tiberio Band (East Ave. & Chestnut St. Stage)
    • 4:30 pm: Webster Schroeder High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 5:15 pm: School of the Arts High School Jazz Band (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 6:00 pm: Rochester Metro Jazz Orchestra (Big Tent)
    • 6:00 pm: ESM Honors Collegiate Small Group (Jazz Street Stage)
    • 7:00 & 9:15 pm: Carl Atkins & Culture Clash (Little Theatre)
    • 7:45 & 9:45 pm: Bobby Henrie & the Goners (Squeezers Roots & Americana Stage at the Sibley Building)

In addition, there are shows with local music going on in venues within the "footprint" of XRIJF. So far, I've dug out the following, some of jazz, some not (links are to their calendars or other source so you can check out for yourself, tell me if you know of others):

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Jazz blogger as TV commentator ... for now I'm sticking to the blog (and my day job)

Following an interview with XRIJF producers John Nugent and Marc Iacona, there is short segment on the climate for jazz around Rochester with yours truly and bassist (and ESM prof) Jeff Campbell on this vidoe from WXXI-TV's Need to Knowprogram, hosted by Hélène Biandudi Hofer.    

While I think I have a face for radio and as an editor and writer I am more comfortable with the written word, Jeff more than made up for it. It was an adventure and I thank WXXI and Hélène for giving me the opportunity. I'll have to work on my commentator chops in the remote chance that I'll be invited back.... 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Let your used instrument do what it was meant to do ... make music! Donate it to the REF at the XRIJF!

image from rochestereducation.orgThat oboe or keyboard may be gathering dust in a closet or gathering knick-knacks as a makeshift table. Wherever that used musical instrument resides, the Rochester Education Foundation wants you to donate it this year while you're at the Rochester International Jazz Festival. "We can put your musical instrument to work and help changea child's life," says Patricia Braus, executive director of Rochester Education Foundation. It's with these young people where the future of jazz (and other music) resides.

The Foundation will once again have a booth this year at the XRIJF, collecting used instruments and musical materials to donate to city students. The REF has donated more than 1,100 musical instruments to be used by city students since launching its Spring for Music Opportunities program a decade ago. The festival has become a pathway for donation of hundreds of musical instruments for Rochester city school students for the past six years. Donors give musical instruments, music stands, sheet music and other musical materials to REF at the booth.

The booth is located this year in the Merchandise Tent on Gibbs Street through a generous donation by M&T Bank. Donations can be dropped off any evening from 5-8 pm and will be staffed by volunteers from M&T Bank, the Rochester City School District music department, REF staff and others. The program provides donors with a tax receipt for their donations.

You're not using it ... give it (and a Rochester student) a new lease on life and the ability to do what it was built for ... make music!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

How about some lunchtime jazz? Our 2015 XRIJF jazz starts here (at the Central LIbrary)

JazzStartsHere_2015As in past years, the XRIJF will be presenting a Jazz Starts Here series of noon concerts at the Central Library of Monroe County with great local jazz for you to eat with your lunch. 

Here's the lineup for this year's Jazz Starts Here:

I believe that performances will be in the Dorris Carlson Reading Garden, which is a great space to sit, eat your lunch and listen to some great jazz from some great local artists and groups (if I'm not right, or if it rains, the concerts will be Kate Gleason Auditorium for bad weather).All concerts will be at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County. The Central Library is located at 115 South Avenue in downtown Rochester, phone: (585) 428-7300. All shows are free. No tickets are required.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Hear that? Or this? Or something else at the 2015 XRIJF

XRIJF logoAs I noted in my "introduction post" recently, I am sharing a complete list of the artists I'm thinking about checking out during the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, rather than separate posts on each of the dates as I have done in past years. I encourage you check out the full line up for each date on the XRIJF website as the XRIJF have provided much more on the artist pages to help you decide on who you want to hear.  For the most part, I think that one can see all of my main choices in a single night, but I've also included "maybes" that I also want to hear but couldn't likely fit in. 

This is my first pass, but not necessarily my last....

Friday, June 19

  • Cecile McLorin Salvant
  • David Gibson Boom!
  • Kavita Shah
  • Music Music Music
  • Maybes: New Mastersounds (I have heard that these guys channel The Meters ... I have Cissy Strut as a ringtone ... I may have to check them out)

Saturday, June 20

  • Dontae Winslow & Winslow Dynasty
  • The Splendor
  • Eric Revis Trio
  • Maybes: Jeremy Pelt Quartet & Andrew McCormack Quartet

Sunday, June 21

  • Joey Alexander
  • Kneebody
  • Nils Berg Cinemascope
  • Maybes: Jane Bunnett and Maqueque & New West Guitar Group

Monday, June 22

  • Joe Locke "Love is a Pendulum"
  • Trio Red
  • Eivind Opsvik Overseas
  • Maybes: Harkness Herriott Duo & Kat Edmonson

Tuesday, June 23

  • Fred Hersch Trio
  • Moutin Factory Quintet
  • Julia Hulsmann Trio
  • Maybes: Cloudmakers Trio

Wednesday, June 24

  • Antonio Sanchez & Migration
  • Ignacio Berroa & Hilario Duran Afro Cuban Jazz & Beyond"
  • Omer Avital Quintet
  • Maybes: Mitch Frohman Latin Jazz Quartet

Thursday, Jun. 25

  • Bill Charlap @ Lyric Theatre
  • Dave Douglas & High Risk
  • Ali Jackson Trio
  • Maybes: Halie Loren & Theo Croker

Friday, June 26

  • Yellowjackets
  • Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra with Ingrid Jensen
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet
  • Maybes: Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio (loved them last year and want to hear what this new group does after a year under their belt)

Saturday, June 27

  • Renee Rosnes Quartet
  • GoGo Penguin (Nugent keeps saying this group is one of the "sleepers" so got to check them out).
  • Katie Ernst "Little Words"
  • Maybes: Artstdir & Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (his live shows are just too much fun...)

Please add a comment below or on Facebook or Twitter to let us know who you are looking forward to during the XRIJF!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

An introduction to Jazz@Rochester's 2015 XRIJF coverage ....

XRIJF logoI have already written about being in a quandary about how Jazz@Rochester will cover the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival this year. Now that I've had some time to digest the rich smorgasbord of new and familiar artists who are going to be playing during this year's XRIJF, I'm ready to get started.

In my "quandary" post, I noted that the XRIJF had really stepped it up this year in their artist pages for the festival, regularly including links to the artists websites, and to their music on YouTube videos, Soundcloud or Spotify. These links have also been incorporated into the new Discover functionality in this year's XRIJF App for iPhone and Android. In prior years, these pages often seemed more or less slapped together and I often found myself filling in some of the missing material, at least for the artists that I had picked to be in my posts of Picks for each day of the festival, to give my readers something more to go on in choosing who they would be hearing during the festival.

This year, I will share a complete list of the artists I'm thinking about checking out during the festival (soon) and then I'll pick out some of them to delve into a bit more deeply, adding some more to what is available on their XRIJF artist pages. As I write them, if you want to check them out, you'll find them by clicking on the XRIJF Picks category in the middle column.

I want to make a couple of things clear here in this post about these picks:

  • My XRIJF Picks, for the most part, reflect my very eclectic approach to music in general and jazz in particular. I want to expand my ears and the XRIJF gives me a great opportunity to find new sounds and new artists and, more importantly, to hear them live. Most will fit within the "jazz" genre, but any who know me and follow this blog should be aware that I define that genre pretty broadly. As I noted before, there are not as many "bucket list" artists at this year's festival, artists who I must hear. This frees me ... I love that. As festival music producer John Nugent always says, "it's not who you know, it's who you don't know...."
  • My Picks this year will not include any of the great local artists and groups who will be appearing during the 2015 XRIJF. I want to make it clear why. I go to gigs and support local jazz artists throughout the year in this blog and I will be checking out as many of them as my schedule will allow (and the above mentioned freedom will allow more of that this year). I will also have coverage of the local acts who are at the XRIJF and continue my Wednesday posts listing the live jazz that will continue to be heard outside the confines of the XRIJF footprint during its nine days. However, the XRIJF offers me a unique opportunity to hear music from artists and groups beyond the Western New York area. I encourage you to check out as many of our amazing local artists during the festival and then continue to go out and here them after it is over.  

Let us know what you think about the lineup and whatever else you want to discuss about the coming XRIJF in the comments below, on other posts as I publish them, or on Twitter and Facebook. I've also started an Instagram account and, while there's nothing there today, I will begin adding images to it soon. I’d love to have a conversation with you here, there … or you can talk amongst yourselves!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF ... There's a 2015 app for that!

XRIJF app imageThe official Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival smartphone apps for Android and iPhone are now available for download. I have downloaded mine and it is a real improvement over previous versions. The 2015 app has a number of new features, including:

  • A new Discovery home page provides you bios, audio excerpts, direct links to artist web sites and more. XRIJF has really stepped up their game this year on the bios with more links, especially to Soundcloud, Spotify and other streams so you can hear the artists first. 
  • The ability to set up your own customized schedule with the Favorites tool, which will also send you alerts shortly before your selections will be starting. No more need for breaking out that spreadsheet now! You can also share your favorites with friends by connecting the app to your Facebook account or via email.
  • A new Multimedia section that will feature videos posted during the festival of artist interviews and more.
  • An interactive Photo Booth that allows you to take photos of your activities during the fest and share them with other app users and your friends (with a nice inset logo of "Rochester International Jazz Festival").
  • For those of you who are unfamiliar with the layout of the XRIJF, the app has Google map links on each show page and on the venue map.
  • Browsing by day or venue, or pull down to search the schedule or the artists.
  • You can buy tickets with the app.
  • Instant alerts if there is a schedule change, sell-out or special news (users need to enable push notifications for this to work, of course)
  • Get info on getting around the fest, parking, shuttle service, food, street closings, FAQs, travel, sponsor activities and more.
  • Connect to the the festival's latest social media latest posts including Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, all in one place (and without having an account).
This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

T minus 1 month and counting ... XRIJF is coming soon!

XRIJF logoNow that I’ve had a chance to pore over the schedule a bit, I thought I’d write something to get Jazz@Rochester’s coverage of the Rochester International Jazz Festival started. I’ve been procrastinating (what else is new…?) as I wasn’t sure how to approach coverage this year. I’m still not sure, but as of today, with the XRIJF only one month out and I have to start somewhere. So hear goes …. 

On first glance during and shortly after the press conference in March, I was thinking “geez, there’s not much here that I want to hear this year,” but as I have spent some time (and some listening), I’ve revised my thinking. Festival music producer John Nugent’s oft-quoted aphorism, “it’s not who you know, it’s who you don’t know” has always worked for me. While there were few “bucket list” jazz artists appearing during the XRIJF running from June 19th to the 27th, there are a lot of artists and music that I’m going to check out. In the past, some music I still have on my version of "heavy rotation” (given that I haven’t heard many of my CDs and LPs in the past 10 years, any artist I play more than once or twice a year fits that definition) is by artists I “took a chance on” during a previous RIJF. Indeed, making sure your schedule gets you in to hear the “bucket list" artists can crowd out the opportunity for serendipitous discovery of new sounds. Fewer on the "bucket list," more opportunity....

As is typical for XRIJF, in the 2015 lineup there are a number of artists returning who have appeared in recent editions of the festival.  I’ll let someone else do the math (and I’m sure someone will) as, for me, that isn’t automatically a black mark. That’s the thing with jazz and other types of music that involve improvisation—what you hear in 2013 or 2014 is unlikely to be what you’ll be hearing in 2015, even from the same artists. A change in venue or exposure to a bigger or different audience can lead to a completely distinct experience. There are some artists who appear many times who bring something fresh every time they come.  If they ARE doing the same old thing over and over, then that’s another story… and I'll leave and listen to something new.

There are some new venues at XRIJF this year, which I think starts to show hints of the coming development of our hometown jazz festival and its future growth, hopefully along with a resurgent downtown Rochester. First, there is the Lyric Theatre, 440 East Ave (just east of Alexander). This former church is on the way to becoming a major arts venue across the musical spectrum, but as I understand it, XRIJF Music Director John Nugent and Festival Producer Marc Iacona will be doing programming for the venue. During this year’s XRIJF, that solo concert venue will feature one show daily from 4 to 5 pm Sunday, June 21 through Thursday, June 25. I haven’t confirmed, but I hope there will be a shuttle bus available as there has been in the past for some venues. The second new venue is a combination of two former venues in a new space. Abilene will no longer be an XRIJF venue, with its Americana music is being pulled together with the more straightup local rock/pop of the Squeezer’s stage that has recently been in a tent at the Inn On Broadway, to become the Squeezers Roots & Americana Stage at the Sibley Building, 25 Franklin Street (entrance on Main). This appears to be the beginning of moving the XRIJF footprint toward the developing Midtown area, with both Sibley and the Midtown Tower (along with other nearby properties) to be occupied in the next two years. Other venue news includes that the Harro East Ballroom Club Pass Venue will be open for two additional nights this year with two shows nightly all nine days. Additionally, the 6:00 pm shows at the Rochester Regional Health System Big Tent will be free, featuring regional big bands, with the later shows being Club Pass shows.

So, back to the music…. In the Big House (Eastman Theatre), the main jazz attractions (plural for the headliners is sometimes unusual) will of course be Steve Gadd 70th Birthday Celebration, with a “special guest” (June 26th), Diana Krall (June 19th), and if you stretch a bit, Herb Alpert & Lani Hall (June 20th).

In closing, I still don’t know how I will be covering the festival itself in these pages. Before the festival I’ll try to write some posts about some of the artists I want to see and why. Not sure whether I’ll do the day-by-day that I've done in the past, however. During the nine days of the XRIJF, as I’ve told many of you before, I have found myself more focused on being a listener, not a blogger. When I started covering this festival in 2006, there was not a lot of coverage by the mainstream media. Now it seems more like saturation coverage (at least for Rochester). Despite my little blog’s focus on jazz in Rochester, surprisingly, we don’t get a lot of traffic during the XRIJF itself as we struggle to be heard above the din of the other coverage. That’s OK! Really! I think that’s a sign of how successful the Festival is. If last year is any measure, you’ll find me on Twitter and Facebook more than on these pages. There I will be able to share things I hear and experience in real time. I will, however, be focused on the jazz at the festival (although from time to time, I reserve the right to listen to those that cross over into other "genres" since jazz is not my only passion). 

Let us know what you think about the lineup and whatever else you want to discuss about the coming XRIJF in the comments below, on other posts as I publish them, or on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to have a conversation with you … or you can talk amongst yourselves! Let others know what we're doing here so that they join in the conversation, too.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.