Thoughts on Cataract Surgery

This is not something that I had any expectation I was headed for this summer.  Last winter, as we turned east, I noticed that someone seemed to have blurred all the highway signs.  I was sure that the signs were wearing out, the reflective material was falling off, for some reason I could no longer read them until it was almost too late to make the exits.  Fortunately  the GPS was giving plenty of warning and Carol was on duty as navigator when I was at the wheel.  When she was at the wheel I did not have to worry about reading the signs, too much, besides I have the small binoculars handy to read ahead.

I’ve had the first eye done Tuesday, two weeks after the first diagnosis.  The other eye will be done in three weeks.  It will be a while before  have the full benefit of the new lens since it is capable of accommodation and some healing and practice needs to take place before I will experience that.  already, as so many have said the distant vision is wonderful and the colors have changed.  This is all the more apparent since both eyes were in about the same condition so I have a clear A-B comparison. 

I cannot talk much about the procedure as my primary memory is staring into a white light and at some point asking Dr Lindahl where he was in the procedure, at which point he said the lens had been removed and he was preparing to insert the new lens.  My next memory was Carol coming to get me out of the recovery room. 

XRIJF Nights 8 & 9

Runnin’ out of steam

It is Sunday afternoon and I am resting at home and trying to catch up with life after taking the last nine days off.  Somehow I never even got to track our peregrinations from Friday Night so here goes, from memory.

We started at Montage again to hear Brad Shepik.  Enjoyable, long wait in line, we were very near the front when we arrived.  The music was excellent and we were rocking along with it until we both felt it was getting a bit repetitious.   So we cut out and headed over to Xerox Auditorium to hear Little Red Suitcase.  This was a WOW for us.  Two nicely matched voices with some really weird instrumentation including penny whistles, a slightly out of tune old accordion and others including a piano with various things stuffed in the strings to alter the sound.  We really enjoyed them and even thought about coming back for more, but there is already not enough time to hear everything we want to hear.

We went off the reservation a bit (half a block) to Spot for dinner.  Carol found a lovely salad, something she had been dreaming about, and I had a nice sandwich.  It was a change from food on the street.  We went on to the Big Tent for Djabe.  There were no seats to be had so we stood at the rail behind the sound setup and enjoyed the show from there.  A big treat was John Nugent’s joining the group with his sax for a couple of numbers.  He is great with the sax as well as at promoting jazz in Rochester. 

We still had some hearing left so we decided to venture back into Abilene for Bryan Lee & The Blues Power Band.  We got there in time for front row seats.  Carol could not sit still so she went to stand further back in the crowd that assembled.  Seated where I was it became apparent that loss of hearing was not going to be a joke.  At one point I shoved my fingers in my ears and my neighbor, seeing this, took out a bag of fresh earplugs and offered them to me.  Gratefully, I stuffed them in my ears and enjoyed the rest of the set immensely.

Timing was good when they wrapped up  and we headed over to jazz Street for Abbots Custard for Carol and popcorn for me.  The street was swarming as the early show of Jeff Beck had let out and the 11 PM show was filling.   We strolled up to East Avenue and the closing strains of Booker T & the MGs gave us a following wind as we began our walk home.

Add four to the count.

Saturday we set out early for the walk to Montage, again, to for Ibrahim Electric.  We met many of the same people in line that we had met before and some new people.  The activity level on the street was high as it appeared that the forecast storms had decided to go elsewhere and it was a warm, balmy evening.  There were now two stages on East one at Chestnut and the other at Alexander.  With East Ave closed off from Goodman to Main there was a lot of detouring for drivers.  Even walking we eventually had to detour to get home.  Ibrahim Electric were electrifying we stayed in our seats from the first note to the last and then begged for more.  When we recovered our breath we headed out the door and over to Java Joe’s for sandwiches.  Carol went to look elsewhere, but could not find a salad nearby so joined me for a veggie sandwich. 

Having eaten too fast we headed over to Lutheran Church of the Reformation (to give them their full name) to hear Mikko Innanen & Innkvistio.  They had had airline luggage issues and were missing their CDs to sell, a trombone and the synthesizer player’s pants – he was in shorts.  The trombonist also plays sax, very well, and they revised their program and did some improvisation to take advantage of the equipment they had.   At the end of the set we quick timed over to Christ Church to hear Dennis Rollins Velocity Trio.  We hadn’t planned it, but this was the last Club Venue we were to hear and what a way to go out. All three performers were engaged and alive to the music.  There was no sitting still for any of us and the hour flew by far too quickly.  As we headed for the door we both realized that we could not possibly go on to another venue for the 10 PM show.  We had hit the wall together and we wandered the streets of the festival, basking in the heavy bass of the three street stages and the big tent without really engaging any of it.  We met friends all doing the same thing.  Some people were talking about asking the promoters to add a tenth night next year for the tenth annual XRIJF.  I don’t think I could take it.

As we headed out East Ave we got closer and closer to the Alexander street stage with Smash Mouth.  I can vouch for it’s being loud with lots of bass.  We put in our ear plugs and detoured up the alley a half block before Alexander and worked our way over to Park Ave where peace and quiet reigned.   We got home and collapsed. 

It was a GREAT Xerox Rochester Jazz Festival.

The count: add three more venues, total 7 since night 7’s total count of 33.  Grand total of 40 venues in 9 nights, all for $105 each.  This was a great entertainment bargain, the greatest I can imagine.  We won’t forget and look forward to attending again.

XRIJF Night 7

A Ramble

Carol had a certification course at LifeSpan that ran until 5 so we agreed to meet at Harro East keeping up the Cuban theme we have been following, she joined me at the usual table in plenty of time to hear Pablo Menendez & MEZCLA a Cuban group here on a Cultural Exchange.  Although they suffered from the Harro muddy sound we enjoyed the set and stayed for most of it. 

We rambled over to Xerox for the early set of Joyce.  Her singing was very nice, but how much Portuguese do I need/want to listen to, besides some interesting music was to be expected at the Lutheran Church.  So we strolled over there, with a stop at Java Joe’s for sandwiches to fortify us for the rest of the night, to find the hall filling, filled, no seats available downstairs and we decided not to give up our SRO spots to explore the balcony.  Rather than my writing at length about the pleasure of the session  with Palle Mikkelborg just read Jeff Spivak’s column in the Friday Democrat & Chronicle.  We stayed through the entire set and were slow to leave when it was done. 

But leave we did.  We wandered past  the festivities on Jazz Street bypassing the jam in front of Java Joe’s this time down the alley to get on over to Christ Church to hear Get The Blessing, yet another great show.  I must admit that the names they give their pieces left one thinking about more food.  They played pieces called, Sushi, Doughnut, Starfish, you get the point.  The music was better than the names.

At 9:30 it hardly seemed likely we would get seats for Joe Locke Group Featuring Vocalist Kenny Washington in Kilbourn, people had been in line since before 9 for the 10 PM show.  We were going to walk by anyhow so we walked in the door and ended up getting seated before the show began.  It was a great show and Kenny Washington sang up a storm while Joe Locke and the group played their hearts out.  It was a great finale to a wonderful evening of music.  Check out Spevak’s column linked above.

The count: last night we were at 28 shows, we appear to have attended five shows on Thursday bringing the total to 33.

No ideas for tonight, yet.

XRIJF Night 6

A mish mash!

Our trek to the Festival started out all wrong.  As we discussed whether to walk or drive I decided to copy all of the document files (My Documents) from Carol’s computer onto a back up external drive the reason is a whole other story.  It went far faster than I expected and when I checked, the entire My Pictures folder was not on the external drive.  It also had vanished from the computer!  Yeah we have backups up to January, but there have been backup problems and time gets in the way and . . . The computer is now at Microworx for restoration. 

We drove!  our first stop was Rochester Contemporary (in the midst of the Festival area) for a private party put on by City Newspaper to thank advertisers and others associated with the paper.  We decided to walk over to Xerox Auditorium where Rochester/Roland All-Star Accordion Jam! was on.  We figured it was different enough to be worth a listen.  Start with false advertising.  Joseph Natoli took the stage and spent 30 minutes demonstrating the various tricks an accordion mashed up with a synthesizer could do.  There was a bass, drum kit and another accordion on stage, but no evidence of performers.  I know what the instrument sounds like and can appreciate it.  I know what a synthesizer can do and can enjoy it.  But I came for Jazz and got what amounted to a sales pitch.  Onward!  I have no idea or interest in what might have taken place in the last half of the hour.

We walked into Christ Church where John Taylor was playing solo on the piano and stayed for the rest of the set.  We hustled on over to Lutheran Church for the Nordic Jazz Eivind Opsvik Overseas was doing unnatural things with a guitar, bass etc.  It resulted in some interesting music.  The reviewer in the Democrat and Chronicle described the the departure after the first number as Lemmings, we breasted the tide and found good seats and stayed for two numbers.  We left at this point because Hackensaw Boys were performing at Abilene the Americana venue.  Our interest was aroused because they are from Charlottesville, VA where our son Dan and his family live and participate in the music scene.  I called him to get his opinion of the group, which was very high, but he was a bit surprised that they were performing at a Jazz Festival and that we were going to hear them. 

We heard the last three numbers of their first set and really enjoyed them.  I must go out and get a hubcap and two number 10 cans for my percussion outfit now.  The real miracle is that I can still hear this morning. 

Where was I? oh yes out on the street between Harro East and Abilene and getting hungry by now.  We headed for jazz Street (Gibbs Street in case you forgot) and the vendors where the chill wind and feeling of rain was keeping the crowds down a bit.  This made buying some food easier and we sat on the curb and ate while the line for Steve Turre Quartet in Kilbourn Hall grew and grew behind us.  For some reason we didn’t get in the line, but went over to the Big Tent to hear Das Contras a Scottish Quartet who really put out some great sound.  We waited through the half hour break and listened to the beginning of their second set.  During the second number a very drunk woman from the audience clambered up on stage and threw her arms around the neck of each of the musicians in turn.  It was amazing that they were able to keep on playing without a missed beat, including the drummer who played through an extended, rousing, conclusion with her hanging on his neck.  Security finally arrived to guide her back stage and hopefully to recovery.

We had not yet had enough so we walked over to Kilbourn for Steve Turre Quartet (see above).  There is a wonderful review of the performance in the D&C and I agree with Jeff Spivak entirely on this one.  Turre concluded his final number at 11:15 and then was headed back out to do another when we left in total exhaustion. 

OMG I just counted up the venues and see we made it to 6 of them and that doesn’t count the entertainment at the party and we started on the street late.  By my count we have listened to 28 groups so far and there are still three nights to go. 

I may update this post later with a plan for tonight, although if you compare my plan for last night with the actual you will see we can’t even count on starting where we plan. 

XRIJF Night 5

Hop, Skip, Jump.

Some how we could not get a good map of what we planned put together before hand.  Carol had to meet me there while I held a place in line so we agreed to start at Montage where Miami Sax Quartet was performing.  We like the performance so much that we stayed right there through the set which ran a bit late. 

We left and decided to go to Rochester Club Ballroom where the Sicilian group was just wrapping up, but the food and service were reputed to be excellent.  We never found out.  As we arrived the group was just finishing up and the temperature in the room was so cold I developed goose bumps.  Carol started shivering so we left, the various alligator items on the menu did nothing to encourage us to stay.  We found what to eat on  Jazz Street.  Carol at Ludwigs and I had a Jambalaya plate from a stand.  We hopped over to Lutheran Church to catch the end of the set of Samuel Hallkvist Center which turned out to be very exciting and very avant-garde, too much so for a lot of people. We enjoyed but did not make it back for a full set.

We  skipped down the street to Abilene where Rosie Ledet & The Zydeco Playboys were performing in the tent over the parking lot.  Lots of beer, lots of people and great Zydeco music.  We stuck out the balance of the set and were really moving with the beat by the time they wound it down. 

On the way back to Jazz street we stopped at the Big Tent to hear Alison Brown Quartet.  Click on the link to learn more about this really bright banjo player.  We never got seated, but I am not sure we would have stayed in our seats in any event.  This was not Jazz, but it sure was great and there was a lot of jazz in the performance.  We loved it and stayed all the way through.

Jumped on over to Max for Bill Dobbins Trio with Chuck Israels & Rich Thompson.  This was very cool jazz.  The audience seemed to be mostly musicians.  Members of the Eastman Jazz Ensemble were there as was Hilario Duran who had played at Max the night before.  We stopped to talk with Jack Presberg the doctor with the best piano Jazz hands around, at the next table.  We had had maybe too much up tempo and rousing music and after 45 minutes we decided that tiredness and the hope of Abbots Custard warranted a slightly early departure.  Abbots was already closed 🙁

Haven’t plotted out tonight yet.  We have a City Newspaper party at Rochester Contemporary Art on East Ave so we may not get into a 6 PM show unless the rain holds off the crowds.  The phone is on except when it is off for shows.

Late add of proposed map: Christ Church at 6:45 Lutheran Church at 7:30 Big Tent at 8:30 Montage at 10 – go home at 11 and start all over tomorrow

XRIJF Day 4 (really should be Night 4)

From the sublime to the sublime to the . . .

Words cannot do Stanley Jordan justice.  By the time he was done people were crying, were saying he was channeling some alternate universe, was on a higher plane than the rest of us.  Check him out on YouTube.  Jack Garner introduced him as four guitars in one man.  He used both hands on the neck of his guitar, each playing a different part, then he added the piano, (where did that third hand come from?) and when he finally had to admit he was short a hand he used his chin, or was it his teeth, on the top of neck to strum an open chord he found someplace among the other notes he was already playing.  Oh yes, he took his music from Mozart, Bartok, jazz standards, and anyplace else he could find them.  On YouTube you will find videos with him performing with Les Paul and with Chet Atkins. 

It was hard to imagine we could be further moved until we heard Viktoria Tolstoy at the Lutheran Church.  As predicted by the review of her performance on Sunday the first half was fine, but by the second half of the show the tight connection of her band and singing united to thrill us into sitting very still so as not miss a nuance.  Where to go from that?

Could not get into the Tent to hear Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, it was packed with a line out to Main Street.  So we went on to Xerox to hear Robin McKelle a local performer who has made her mark in Europe and returned to Rochester, at least to own a house and play for us.  We could not get in on the main floor and had to ascend to the upper reaches of Xerox Aud, the balcony.  Great view of the tops of heads, everyone is a bit foreshortened from up there but the sound is great.  We expected a fine show from the previews and from people who heard her earlier show, but our expectations were reduced because of the two great shows we had already heard.  Wrong! she was wonderful.  Her style is more polished performance with some small talk but the substance was great and her band were really together.  Three for three.

Could we keep the string going?  It might have been, but with such great shows under our belt the Kilbourn group Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba’s material seemed repetitious and not really interesting.  As a stand alone show it was probably stupendous, but it had some mighty competition.  We moved on  after 25 minutes to Max to hear the second Cuban pianist Hilario Duran Trio.  His cerebral performance (quoting the D&C reviewer) was also exceedingly good, but we were tired and Carol could not get into it as much as I could, so we started walking for home before the last number.

The tally; we were in five venues for performances on night 4 brining the total number of performances on our Club Pass to 17, so far.  Where can you find a better entertainment value?  $105 invested in December (based on one Club Pass) and we have already had $350 worth of great performances with five nights to go.  I wish my stock investments performed as well.

Night 5 will start at Montage with Miami Sax Quartet and we plan to get to Abilene for Rosie Ledet & The Zydeco Playboys.  Looking at the list it seems we will also try to get to the Lutheran Church – I’m beginning to feel like a member already – and Xerox. 

Click on any of the links to read more about the performers and follow a link up to see the whole schedule – it is daunting to view in its entirety.  Actually each day it is a challenge to map out a route, taking into account the groups we want to see and the logistics of time, place and expected wait time in line.  Dinner is mostly a matter of picking up something handheld to chow on while walking to the next venue.  Onward!


We got off to a great start.  We left the house walking at 3:40 and arrived at the front of Montage at 4:15 or so.  We were not the first to arrive, two other groups were represented by individuals holding place.  By 4:30 the line was filling and by 4:45 the line was beyond the area where it is probable that you would get into the hall.  Chuchito Valdes was the featured artist.  He is Cuban from a line of Cuban pianists and the anticipation was very high.  He played continuously with no break to talk to the audience other than to say THANK YOU at the very end.  We thanked him with two standing ovations and a lot of cheering.  It was great to hear such a different approach to the piano.  It was very high energy.

Onward to Lutheran Church and the Stefan Karlsson Trio.  They were very good, very smooth and well thought out.  After the energy of the prior show, it was a bit low key for me and we left after about 30 minutes to hurry on over to Xerox Auditorium to catch Dmitry Baevsky Quartet from Russia.  We needn’t have hurried, there was plenty of room.  Carol and I agreed that they were pretty good lounge group, have a drink sit around and talk with some smooth jazz in the background.  Thirty minutes of that and we had had enough.

Off to Max to hear Katie Thiroux Trio.  We were surprised to walk right in at 9:45 for the 10 O’clock show.  Sunday night and 5 venues competing for the crowd and she is a definite newcomer.  We split on our appraisal.  Carol, with her vocal training, felt that Katie has a ways to go.  I really liked her singing and the scat.  Yeah I know there were some intonation problems, but she is really cute 🙂

We don’t have a plan yet for tonight other than to get there early and to hear Viktoria Tolstoy at Lutheran and, if possible Robin McKelle at Xerox.   That looks like a conflict, but we will see what plays out.  Now I have to post this and preview the rest on tonight’s acts on YouTube to see what else we must hear.

XRIJF Day two

That’s Xerox Rochester International jazz Festival for the those not in Rochester.

Last night we started out at 5:30 (in line by 4:15) at Harro East, which many of us remember as the auditorium of the JY, to hear Catherine Russell sing for her third trip to the festival in four years.  We had heard her before and didn’t want to miss this year.  The sound in the venue was right on for her and she sang many of the songs from the 20’s that were performed by Fats Waller and later by Louis Armstrong and the band her father lead.  It was a great start to what turned into a wonderful evening even with the scattered rain and chill in the air. 

From there we went to Christ Church to hear a group called Brass Jaw, think of it 3 sax’s and a trumpet in an 1800’s church.  They had arrived an hour before the performance at the end of a 38 hour trek from England with a lengthy stop in Ireland – where apparently they got no rest.  They certainly filled the hall and with sound and with audience.  We stayed through because we were enjoying it so much.

We ate our sandwiches on the hoof (sorry Carol) as we headed to Lutheran Church of the Reformation – it should have been a five minute walk, but the crowds gathering around the two street stages impeded progress.  We arrived to find the church full to almost overflowing to hear Torben Waldorff Quartet with Torben on the guitar.  We advanced our seating toward the center as the set progressed waiting for the last note to fade before dashing out the door to find it raining.  Fortunately the car was across the street with our rain gear so we got out the coats and headed over to Kilbourn Hall to get in line for Billy’s Band. 

This was their fourth performance in two nights and the hall rapidly filled to the limit.  We were way down front and there were some high school jazz musicians sitting in front of us and their enthusiasm was infectious.  The performance was over the top and is was great to see them on a stage where they could move around.  The last time we saw them was at Max which is a nice venue, but the stage is conducive to a group that stays in one place for the performance.

We tried to go to the after hours club across town, but parking was difficult, it was raining and by now it was 11:30 pm.  I must admit after seven hours in the crowds and four of them listening intently to great acts, I was tired.  We made it home before falling asleep.

Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

O. K. so we are not on the road.  Gee 2 is in storage for a bit while we catch up with things in Rochester. 

This week – nine nights actually – is devoted to the Jazz Festival in the title.  We have Club Passes, bought last December, just in case, which give us access to ten venues doing two shows a night for the nine nights of the festival.  That is a possibility of ninety different club shows.  Plus there are free shows – four or five a night, plus 6 headliner events which we have not bought tickets for, yet.  Missed Gladys Knight last night. 

The line up is incredible.  The opening night we went to four shows.  We stared with Mose Allison in Kilbourn Hall and left after 30 minutes to catch Stan Tracey at Christ Church (all UK performers there) and then after a stop to pick up sandwiches and eat them we were on to Lutheran Church where the theme is Nordic Jazz.  We then got in line at 8:45 for a 10 o’clock show at Max featuring Michael Klaeshammer.  This was a show where we saw no one leave – of course we were sitting way up front.  The show was supposed to end at 11, but Klaeshammer asked if anyone wanted to leave and then played on until 11:15 when the clean up crew wanted to get in.  We walked the 3 miles home and it was just enough of a walk to get us over the excitement so we could get to sleep. 

We have a line up planned for tonight starting with Catherine Russell at 5:30.  If you are in Rochester you will know where to find us through next Saturday.  If you really want to locate us text me, send email (my phone is with me me) or try to call me, I may answer if I am not in a show and can hear the ring.

Those of you in other cities or on the road, if you love Jazz, plan on joining us this year or next.  This is one of the biggest jazz Festivals around.  They project attendance of 150,000 in a metro area of a million.  Last year was 133,000.