Jazz Festival 2012 – IX

I cannot believe that we are approaching the last night of the 2012 Jazz Festival in Rochester.  In a year with more cancelled shows because of weather and air traffic delays than I can remember, there have been terrific shows every night.

Lat night we started in Kilbourn Hall with Roy Hains.  He is over 80 and a superb drummer.  As is typical of many older performers, he would as soon talk as play.  He started his introduction with some soft shoe tap and some story telling and give and take with his group and the audience.  Someone shouted out “play some music.”  Roy asked who that was, he shouted back “your producer”, it was John Nugent one of the two producers of the festival.  Roy then hit the drums and except for one more verbal exchange he played some wonderful standards and it was a pleasure and a joy to hear some great standards well played.

We moved on after picking up some food to Abilene where Peter Karp and Sue Foley were playing some wonderful country music.  Peter played on a National Steel Resonator Guitar when he wasn’t on the keyboard and I won’t pretend to know what Sue was playing on, although it was shaped like a Fender with some interesting patterns on it.  The sound was great and not overbearing as it can sometimes be.  The show was marred for us when a clutz in a Volunteer Green shirt banged into me sloshing some of my beer onto Carol.  He smirked and kept on moving without so much as an “oh sorry”.  The gal behind the bar gave Carol some napkins to do a preliminary cleanup.  From there we moseyed over to Christ Church for some way too mellow trio work by Orlando LaFleming.  We were still jumping from Abilene and it was hard to slow down, especially since the Church has no AC and inadequate airflow, it was HOT in there.

We decided to move on to Montage.  This was hindered by the set up of another free stage  on Chestnut Street which is the street one needs to take to get to Montage.  We worked our way through the crowd and the loud sounds coming from the stage provided by Jimmie Vaughn & the tilt-a-Whirl Band Featuring Lou Ann Barton. In Montage we saw the stage set for way too many people.  Carol counted to 21 as the group kept entering in front of us.  This stage seems packed with a quintet on it.  These were all Eastman students performing under the leadership of Ryan Truesdell playing the music of Bill Evans.  Some of the music came from two of his recordings, but much of what they played had been rearranged by Evans for a concert at the Apollo in 1959 and has never been recorded.  The group was really good and once again we were hearing some classic jazz even if the particular arrangements had not been heard since 1959.

Tonight is another mishmash and I may report tomorrow, if I have the energy, on what we actually get too.  We are planning on starting at Hatch, which is the acoustic only, solo venue. JoAnne Brackeen is reputed to be a superb pianist and this is the venue for that kind of performance.

Jazz Fest 2012 – VIII

Night 7 was another night of late shows and no shows.  We had really wanted to hear Mark McKnight at Christ Church, but read early on that Bill Dobbins would be substituting for him with no explanation on the FaceBook page.  We like Bill Dobbins a lot, but can hear him most any week, someplace in the area.  We got in line early at Harro East to hear Ruthie Foster and the Family Band and the rumor had it her flight from Austin via Chicago was delayed.  There was no word on the FaceBook page so we waited outside then we waited inside.  Fortunately we were having fun at the table so the wait inside was sort of OK.  Then her band started playing and keeping us updated with her flight status which by then I was tracking on Flightview App.  She came in an hour late and played three numbers and took a break.  Although they did not clear the hall and we could have stayed on we elected to move.  

After eating some really bad street food (I should not have gotten on the scale this morning) we went to Abilene to hear  Pokey laFarge and the South City Three.  They were a hoot, right out the mountains of the Carolinas and really very good.  We stayed to the end of the set and then moved on to Terje Rypdell at Xerox.  The hall was an icebox, Carol put on all the extra covers she had and shivered.  I just shivered having brought nothing with me since the outdoor temps never got below 80.  We did not understand the music.  The group was huge, some 18 people on stage, with keyboard and Hammond B3 two drum kits, four reeds, at one time all of them were playing bass clarinet! (I don’t remember ever seeing more than one of them in a group).  There was overdub audio vocalizations and one of them was “lets all get together” which was the antithesis of what was happening, as each group of musicians seemed to be headed in different directions.  Palle MIkkelborg  wandered about the stage playing his trumpet through exaggerated electronic effects to little apparent purpose.  We wondered, as we left, why we had stayed so long.   I think it was in hopes of hearing some resolution.  If there was, we left after 70 minutes without hearing it.  We got into Max to hear Taurey Butler Trio at the recommendation of Linda and Ken Graci who we finally saw for the first time.  Butler is huge and the piano seemed to quail in his presence, but oh can he play and his sidemen were also wonderful.

Tonight our route looks rather simpler although you never know.  The plan is Ray Haynes at Kilbourn, Peter Karp and Sue Foley at Abilene, Orlando Fleming at Christ Church and Gil Evans and Ryan Truesdale at Montage. No Lutheran Church tonight as one Rypdell performance is sufficient. Check back tomorrow to see what we actually do.

Jazz Fest 2012 – VII

Can that be right?  Day 7 already, where did this week go?  Last night was OMG!!!

Our grandson Josh met us outside Montage where we waited, and waited, and waited – well it was our fault we waited so long, Carol got there a little after 4 and no one was in line for the 6PM performance yet, they started arriving 2 minutes later.  Eventually we got seated with plenty of time to get a snack and a beer before the group, Kneebody, took the stage with Sax, Trumpet, drums, keyboard and bass.  Four of the five are Eastman graduates and we really enjoyed their music.  I would refer you to City Newspaper for a good review of the show with which I agree.  Josh told us he enjoyed it as well.

After sandwiches from Java Joe for Josh and me and a salad from Ludwig for Carol we found our way into Kodak Hall for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.  Josh marveled as I greeted Matt, one of the ushers who is a neighbor on East Ave and fellow gym rat at World Gym and then met a high school classmate, Ted Voll in the upper lobby.  I think Josh is convinced we know everyone in Rochester.  I am not sure how to write about the show.  The Blue Grass was marvelous, Steve Martin is a superb musician and the entire company was on a very high level of professionalism.  We laughed til it hurt, we cheered until our hands hurt and our throuts were raw and they came back for an encore that rivaled anything they had done until then with the fiddler taking off like a man possessed.  If anyone reading this has not attended a performance and is anywhere near where they are performing, don’t miss the chance.  We bought our tickets late on the “secondary market” at box office prices and got lucky with 2 front row Loge seats and a center row MM in the Orchestra.

Before we even had a chance to process the Steve Martin show we found our way into Max where Sherantha Beddage was performing some very straight jazz with his Baritone Sax and Quartet.  We stayed through.  I am not sure Josh has heard much straight jazz, but when I suggested, at 10:45, that we didn’t have to stay he said he wanted to hear the rest.  Maybe he was just being polite, but he seemed to be as engrossed in the music as we were.  

Haven’t had time to process what we will hear tonight, but we will be down early since we have to be out of the house by 3:15 so the real estate agent can show it.  Next year our walk will only be half a mile instead of 2 1/2 as it has been since we started attending.

Jazz Fest 2012 – V & VI

Midpoint, already? Didn’t this just start?  We are already tired and thoroughly into the mood.

Last nights journey started at Harro East with Jeff Lorber Fusion.  I am not sure what fusion means in this case, it was just great music with Lorber working with a piano and keyboard, sometimes one with each hand and a great group with him.  They passed the music around featuring the each instrument numerous times.  We stayed for about 45 minutes and then left to catch the Mike Cottone Trio at The Rochester Club.  This was a double win for us.  Once we got in after wait that did not seem brief we really enjoyed Cottone and his trio.  The music was well performed straight Jazz with no electronic monkey business.  The menu had attracted Carol because it seemed to include some reasonable veggie choices.  It being Jazz Fest food is food for me, just fuel to keep me going, but the fuel at Rochester Club was a cut above, really enjoyable along with the music.  Now they just need to get the air conditioning under control, brrr.

After the set was over we went to Lutheran Church to hear Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio, don’t ask me to pronounce the name, I can barely type it.  She plays a very controlled and expressive piano and her bass and drums provide wonderful support.  We stayed for the entire set before leaving to continue our ritual journey to Christ Church where Fraser Fifeld was playing on Scottish Pipes.  Actually he only did a small bit with a bellows driven bagpipe.  The rest he played on whisltes that looked like small chanters.  He and his guitar support spent rather more time then we cared for twiddling knobs to get just the right loops going.  I am not opposed to the use of electronic enhancement and modification, I rather enjoy it, but it should be seamless and seldom is.  We left early to get in line to hear Terence Blanchard in Kilbourn.  When we got there at 9:50 the doors were closed and the sold out sign was up.  We settled in to wait for enough people to leave so they could admit those waiting in line.  Unfortunately we were forced to experience Calle Uno on the Jazz Street Stage.  I cannot say whether they were good, bad or indifferent, they were painfully loud from  a block away.  Our ever ready earplugs were useless against the onslaught of loud discordant noise.  Why does every group on that stage think that louder is better?  why do they have to cause physical pain?  We endured and got in to Kilbourn and enjoyed an hour of Terence Blanchard and company even though we were 30 minutes late.  I will admit that when he doubled the trumpet line electronically he sounded more like a locomotive whistle then two trumpets and I could have done without that.  But that is a quibble, the total performance was transfixing and we didn’t want it to end even though we were exhausted.  We missed Eldar, who by all accounts was the best of show so far.  People waited in line to get into Hatch Hall, the smallest venue from 3 PM until show time at 5:45.

– – – –

Bill Towler commented last night that he couldn’t keep up with these posts and apparently neither can I.  I never got to post the 4th nights experience above and now it is time to talk about night 5 and what we are doing tonight, Wednesday night 6.

We got to Max way too early last night, like 4:10 for a 6:15 show.  We were impatient to leave the house and walked faster than usual.  Jayme Stone Group features Jayme on the 5 string banjo backed by violin, cello, string bass and tabla.  The music ranged over even greater diversity than the instrumentation would lead one to expect.  It was wonderful and very few left during the performance.  At one point Jayme was bowing the banjo and  the cello was being plucked, go figure.  He also performed a Bach Invention with the Banjo taking the right hand and the cello taking the left hand.  Mix in some Bulgarian folk and mountain folk and you get the idea.  On from there to Lutheran Church for a couple of numbers by IPA, not the beer, which carried discordant to a new high (or is that low).  Two numbers was all we could take before moving on to Abilene where Clinton Curtis was heavily into country, although the volume was high, it was not into earplug range and we really enjoyed it until we decided to move on to Christ Church where the “Made in the UK” event was featuring NeWt.  Three men in kilts making funny noises on guitar drums and trombone!  We were not really in to it and left half way into the second number to get in line at Kilbourn to hear Benny Green Trio.  This piano jazz trio really was wonderful playing straight Jazz mostly written by Benny.  They wrapped the show at 11:20 and then came back to play a jazz standard for an encore.  The hall was half empty and those who left missed out.

Tonight our grandson Josh is meeting us to hear Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers at 8.  We hope to have him join us at 4 or 5 and we will wait in line to hear either Eliane Elias Quartet at Kilbourne or Shirantha Beddage Quintet at Max unless we go someplace else.  After the Steve Martin show it is an open question as to what we will do.  If it runs late, past 10, we will head home early otherwise we may take in whatever we missed earlier depending on what we hear.  We will be paying to take Josh in with us where ever we go as we do not have a spare club pass – anyone have one to loan? (joke!)

Jazz Fest 2012 – IV

We are at Day 4 and just barely warmed up.  Well the weather has actually cooled off.  We were at George Eastman House for a couple of hours yesterday and as we prepared to walk the rest of the way to the Festival (GEH is about a third of the way from our townhouse to the Festival) it started to rain.  We turned around and headed for the house to get the car while calling our friends the Goldman’s who live inside the Festival area for permission to park in their driveway.  Permission received and we had our car as close to the venues as it is possible to park.  Although it rained again, it happened while we were in Max listening to Brandi Disterheft and it cleared before we left to walk to the car.

Last night we heard Ninety Miles at Kilbourn and had no desire to leave even when they ran 20 minutes over.  Great performance and wonderful sound.  Look for the disk by that name if you are interested.  The name refers to the distance from the US to Cuba where the disk was recorded.  On from there to Hatch where Kristian Blak played a straight through set on the solo piano, drawing on Faero Island hymns and folk tunes as well as his compositions for Yggdrasil.  Had he taken a break, we might have left, but we were sitting front row center maybe 10 feet from him.  We enjoyed the music and the performance,  but it was a bit esoteric (that is saying a lot coming from me).  On from there to Christ Church and Breach.  After the guitar player got to twiddling his knobs and playing with his delay lines and loops we had had enough.  There was not much music in what he was doing to keep us interested.  On to Max, finally!  We arrived about 40 minuted before the show and they had already let people in.  There was no line and we were able to walk right in and find seats to hear Brandi Disterheft give the bass a real workout.  The jazz was pretty straight and the performances were a pleasure to listen to.

Only four shows and only two that were really a joy to listen to, but hey where else can you get to make so many choices in an evening and get two of them right?

Tonight looks like a bit of a mixed bag.  We are going to start at Harro with Jeff Lorber Fusion and maybe jump to either Kilbourn, Terrence Blanchard Quintet or Rochester Club – we are bringing winter clothes to stay warm there – Mike Cottone Quartet.  After that Lutheran Church, Sunna Gunnlaugs, Christ Church, Fraser Fifeld (he plays bag pipes and saxophone among other instruments) and we are still undecided whether to go to Kilbourn, see above, or Abilene for Kim Lenz & the Jaguars.  We might end up doing all of the above, in which case we may try to sleep in tomorrow – until 7 – really late for us.

Jazz Fest 2012 – III

On to day 3!  Last night we tracked our plan pretty well.  Started at Harro East with Mike Stern Group and never left until the last note stopped ringing. We enjoyed sitting with Marla and Frank.  Ran over to Kilbourn for Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble.  He is a nut (really) never looked at the audience and had his head down until he picked up his trumpet and then oh boy! We only stayed for one number, thought it was the last because he was over time and were out the door when the he started the last number.  We stopped for food on the street and went into Kodak Hall for Esperanza Spalding Radio Music society.  We were enthralled at her performance of a major work she wrote and performed with the very large group.  She talked, sang, played both string bass and bass guitar (not at the same time) for close to 90 minutes.  After she resolved that work, she continued on with work by others for another 30 minutes or so.  We wanted to hear Gerald Clayton Trio at Max, but the line, after they had let everyone in, seemed like too long a wait so we went to the Big Tent for Sultans of Swing a Canadian Quintet who were very good.  Had not heard a 6 string violin before, that we could remember.  He was able to reach down to Viola range with his lower strings.  Plenty of gypsy style and other styles mixed in.  It was great fun and did not require the level of concentration on our part that Spalding’s work had.

Tonight’s plan 90 Miles at Kilbourn, Eivr Paldottir, at Lutheran Church, Breach Trio at Christ Church and maybe finally Max where Brandi Disterhoff is playing.  Of course as always there are plenty of other performances that are interesting including Kristian Blak in Hatch and even Ha Ha Tonka at Abilene.  I think we will give the Big Tent a miss as it is yet another Canadian Group playing Gypsy style folk.

I cannot list all the people we stopped to chat with along the way, too many and I fear my memory will fail me anyhow.  I do not keep notes.

Jazz Festival 2012 – II

OK, so the best laid plans . . . etc  Christian McBride’s plane never left the ground in NYC so we waited in line from 4:20 until 5:00 only to have the news that the show was off.  Our next first choice at Max had a line that was two full shows worth by the time we got there.  No way were we getting in to hear Karrin Allyson, for that matter with her show half over both then and at 10:30 PM the line was formidable.  We got in line for Don Thompson & Neil Swainson at Hatch Hall, great new venue as part of the Eastman School expansion.  They were excellent, but a bit mellow for the mood of opening performance of the 9 days so after 40 minutes we left and found our way to Montage to hear Tessa Souter working interesting Jazz variants on classical music themes. After a stop for dinner, sandwiches preordered from Java Joe, we moved on to our preplanned schedule at Lutheran Church, Goran Kaifes, Subtropic Arkestra which turned up the volume and inventiveness a whole notch.  We stayed for the entire show and then went to Christ Church, yeah I know what a way to celebrate Shabbat from church to church, where UK groups are featured.  We heard most of Get the Blessing (the groups name) trumpet, sax, guitar and DRUMS.  They offered just a bit of humor mixed in with their performance, the intro to Pentopia was a story about five legged hyenas in Europe, naturally the music was in 5/4 time.  Finally, well not quite finally we went to the Big Tent to hear L’Orkestre Des Pas Perdus, it was more feeling then hearing, even with earplugs and moving to the back of the tent the bass was felt in the chest and the ears were ringing, time to move away.  Still couldn’t get into Max so we went to The Rochester Club, Italian Jazz! Lucio Ferrara Trio performing very straight ahead Jazz.  Nice way to round out the evening even though they have the A/C way too cold for us.  If my count is correct, we got to 6 performances.

Tonight we will hear headliner Esperanza Spalding in Kodak Hall at 8.  We plan to start out at Harro East Mike Stern Group at 5:30 with a possible jump to Kilbourn for the Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble or Max for Mathias Eick before picking up dinner and heading to Kodak Hall. The main link for more information about the groups and links to some of their music is http://www.rochesterjazz.com/artist_lineup/?option=view_by_date

If anyone reading this is in Rochester and knows someone who would like a single ticket to Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, 4 PM show, I have one available.  It is listed on Craigslist and I am carrying it with me to sell to the first person with $62 cash (box office price plus box office charge) to ask.  You can reach me by email, by commenting here or use my phone if you have it.

Jazz Festival 2012 I

We are in Rochester for the duration of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest, here after XRIJF.  we have Club Passes that will gain us entry, first come first served to eleven venues each of the coming nine nights.  Each night each venue will host an artist or group for two hour long performances.  The timing is such that it is possible to take in four to six performances each night if you are prepared to leave early and arrive late for several performances.  In addition there are 5 free stages and 6 headliner shows in Kodak Hall of Eastman Theater.  For the complete lineup click here

We have looked over tonight’s offerings and have chosen to start with Christian McBride Inside Straight in Kilbourn Hall at 6 PM, we will be in line before 5 for that.  The route we have laid out takes us to Lutheran Church at 7:30 for Goran Arkestra and Christ Church at 8:45 for Get the Blessing and finishing at the Big Tent at 10 with L’orkestra Des Pas Perdus.  It is very unlikely that this is what will actually happen, but you never know.  Tomorrow I will try to post the actual route along with tomorrow’s plan.  But tomorrow’s plan includes Esperanza Spaulding in Kodak Hall from 8 until?

Dinner is picked up on the fly and all is mixed with interesting people and the occasional beer, depending on the venue.  Since we are walking, we will leave the house by 4, only 45 minutes from now so time to sign off and get into Jazz Fest mode.

Exploring Western NY

We traveled back to the Buffalo area in GWhiz (the temporary name until it finds its own name) to address several  items that were not working as expected.  A couple we knew about before we left the Colton RV in early May, such as the dryer not drying and the DVD player not opening its tray.  The need for other minor adjustments became apparent in our first weekend camping.  

Although the work was scheduled for Monday, we arrived mid afternoon on Saturday with the idea of being tourists in the area.  The first thing any tourist coming to the area would do is go to Niagara Falls.  We did and we went immediately to the Canadian side which has the best views of the Falls.  Having our Nexus passes made crossing the border using the Whirlpool Street Bridge a snap, no wait, no questions, no traffic.  We drove through the Falls area and paid an exorbitant sum to park and then walked from the power house almost to the Rainbow Bridge.  We got soaked by the mist as we passed the brink of the Horseshoe Falls and we saw people in all manner of dress speaking many languages.  The area was a mob scene, we suspect many leftover from the Nick Wallenda tightrope walk of the previous night.  It was clear we were not going to make it back to the coach for dinner and we decided to eat at the Buffet at the Skylon Tower.  This tower was opened in 1965 and in all our many visits to the Falls area we do not remember ever paying to ride to the top.  It was worth the wait.  The buffet was pretty good and the view from our table at a window facing directly over the Falls was incredible.  We were enjoying ourselves and soon made acquaintance with the people at the next table, who it turned out were from Buffalo! and who had not been to the tower in years.  

Sunday we worked around the coach re reorganizing our stuff to make life more comfortable.  An unfortunate side affect of this continuous reorganizing is that we find ourselves not knowing where anything is and looking where it was two reogs ago.  If life on G-2 is any predictor, this will slow down to a cycle or two a year.  Note, it will not stop as there are always new ideas how to make life comfortable in tight quarters.

Monday we knew we would not have the coach available to us while it was in the service bay.  We have wanted to get to Gray Cliff one of the many Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area, but it is a bit off the path that is readily reachable in a coach and not on the route to anyplace.  It is on the shore of Lake Erie about 20 miles west of Buffalo.  We arrived early for the Extended Tour which includes all the rooms in the house and an extensive outdoor tour as well.  Rather than spend hours to try to make my pictures do the place justice, follow this link. Check out the history and how the Larkin Company made  its money,   Carol and I were laughing and all we could think of was Soapy Smith in Skagway Alaska in the 1890’s.  His con was selling soap and convincing people that there were some bars with $100 bills wrapped around them.  The docent lead tour was quite good although it was sad to see the condition the house is in.  Clearly this house needs lots of money for restoration both from time and weather and the not so careful remodeling by Piarist Fathers, an order of Roman Catholic Priests from Hungary who bought the house from the Martin family.   There are other FLW buildings to see should we find the need to play tourist in Buffalo again.  

We received the coach back late afternoon and I must say that most of the work appeared to have been done well.  The issue with the DVD player/Surround sound system turned out to be problematic.  My complaint was that the tray would not open.  During installation of the new unit the tray opened!  End of story the complaint is resolved.  Actually that was the only time it opened and that was not in response to the “open” button on the unit.  The next morning I sought out our service writer, Colin, and asked to have the tech, Paul, (great name) come to the coach and show us how it worked.  Three hours later, having sought out the master AV hub in the coach, hidden in a cabinet behind a screwed in wall panel, Paul had located an HDMI cable end that appeared to be distorted from installation.  with that cable unplugged everything began to work according to the instructions.  Paul straightened the connector and tried it again and everything continued and continues to work.  We had lunch and left for Four Mile Creek State Park.

Four Mile Creek is, . . . wait for it, . . .  four miles from where the Niagara River enters into Lake Ontario.  The park is mostly campground with close to 300 sites many with 30 and 50 amp electric, none with water or sanitary dump on site.  It was probably a quarter occupied on the Tuesday night we were there.  We walked the circumference after setting up and again in the morning before breakfast.  It would be an ideal spot to stay for a visit to the Falls or to Niagara on the Lake.

In the morning we set out for Rochester with the aim of stopping at a winery or two along Route 18, Lakeshore Drive.  At Black Willow winery we found a mediocre red and a couple of decent whites as well as a mead that we bought a bottle of.  We trundled on down the road looking for the next winery, Marjim Manor, and a place to stop to eat lunch.  We got to Olcutt Beach and turned into Krull Park only to find Main Street closed leaving us to drive down the dead end along the lake where we found a parking lot large enough to swing the rig around without disconnecting the car.  This task is not hard, but it is annoying and this day it would have been particularly annoying as the temperatures were in the high 80’s and the humidity was even higher.  We parked along the entrance road and prepared our lunch.  As we carried our meal to a picnic bench on a prominence overlooking the lake, we noted many people were gather at the far edge of the park.  Then we heard a cacophony of sirens, whistles and other emergency vehicle noises approaching.  It turns out Olcutt Beach had been named the Fishing Capital of the United States and this was the day the recognition on WFN was happening.  In case you didn’t know – we sure didn’t – WFN is World Fishing Network, all Fishing,  nothing but Fishing 24/7 on a cable and or satellite service someplace near you.  This is really big time for Olcutt Beach even their NY Assembly Representative managed to show up and speak, try and stop one of them.

Enough excitement for a weekend that extended into Wednesday.  We followed 78 to I 90 and put GWhiz to bed at Victor Ministore.  for a while.