Yesterday I wrote about the “merely excellent” and the “incredibly superb.” I need to recalibrate that scale to “merely exceptional” and “outrageously superb.” We took in two of the latter and three of the former. I’m glad, sort of, that the Jazz Fest is over because I am running out of superlatives. We got in line to hear Kurt Elling in Kilbourn Hall at 3:15 – the performance was at 6 and the doors opened at 5:15. There were already 50 people or so in line when we got there. We chatted with people who we have stood in line with before, both this year and in years past and even some friends from “the other world” when Jazz Fest is not on. Eventually we made our way into the hall and got to our favorite seats, back row of the front section on the right center aisle, but you knew that if you have read prior postings.
On time the Eastman student who is responsible for making the preconcert announcement about fire regulations made his way to the microphone and told us that this was the last time he would get to do this after a three year stint. He got a standing, howling ovation when he was done telling us where the fire doors are and to move calmly and quietly to the nearest exit when so told. This may be the first time this legal gobbledygook has received such warm response. It was an indication of the high spirits of the audience. Elling took the stage and in the first few bars he displayed his four octave range and his ability to sustain notes beyond any expectation from the human voice. His is a voice and a style that harks back to the 50’s or maybe even the 40’s and had me thinking about Frank Sinatra. His scat was exceptional and at the peak of anything I can remember hearing live or recorded. His repertoire certainly went back into my youth and that made it even more fun. Some who did not enjoy the show were younger or said they never cared for the “Chairman of the Board”.
We had sort of thought we might leave a bit early to take in the show at the Little, but there was no way I was leaving while he was singing. Eventually he concluded and we left the “outrageously superb” and headed to Christ Church for one number of “merely exceptional” piano playing by Gwilym Simcock. Solo piano does not work well in that venue even though his playing was really wonderful. We left there and after a brief stop for fuel we continued on to Lutheran Church for Torben Waldorff’s Quartet where we settled in for more exceptionally superb music. This was turning into an awesome night. We left after three numbers to catch Blaggards at Abilene. They are billed as “Stout Irish Rock” and they are from Houston TX. The walls of Harro (the former JYM&WA) across the street were rocking as we approached. It seemed likely the volume alone would deny us entry, but we forged on and made it into the tent where they were blowing out the tent walls. While we were there they played “What do you do with the Drunken Sailor?” which is there theme song. It is hard to limit them to “merely exceptional” but I am working with a scale of 1 to 10 and am already at 12 in terms of my enjoyment.
Once again I had to leave to get in line. I left Carol rocking and headed to Max expecting to rush into the line for Five Play. I got waylaid at the Verizon booth, don’t ask, in part because I could see that the line was not as long as expected. Carol got to the line before me. Five Play is five women from the Diva Jazz Orchestra. We had heard the Sax player, Janelle Reichman, the night before at the Jam Session and were determined to hear the group. They were “outrageously superb” and the audience was fixed in the seats for an hour and 15 minutes. The music was standards with a wonderful interpretation and improv. They closed with Caravan composed by Juan Tizol and first performed by Duke Ellington in 1936 (thank you wiki). This was just wonderful to hear and we didn’t want it to end, but end it did and so did the 12th Annual Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.
But the evening was not quite over for us. We picked up Abbots Custard only chocolate was left by now and walked to State Street Bar and Grill. We listened to a couple of sets including as always John Nugent and Bob Sneider as 1:20 went by and Bill Dobbins took the piano bench we decided enough was really to much and we declared our own end to the Festival.
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