Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival – Night 9 – The End for 2013

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.

For City’s Daily Jazz Blog click here


XRIJF Day 8

We can hardly believe it.  Back in February we bought tickets to Peter Frampton Guitar Circus for the 8th day of the Festival and it has come and gone.  But back to the beginning.  Last night (afternoon really) we got in line at Max at 4 under a dripping sky with no shelter to await the 6:15 show of Hilario Duran Trio.  We were joined in line by many friends both from our “other” life and “line friends.” Fortunately the drizzle abated and we were left to stand in the cool damp until the sound check was completed by about 5:30.  Mercifully the volunteers in charge at Max have elected to open the doors as soon as the hall is available, rather than waiting until 30 minutes before which is Jazz Fest Rules.  Of course at venues with food to sell this works to the venue’s advantage as well as those waiting, a true win-win.

Going into the 8th night of music there is a tendency to get a bit jaded.  A group that is “merely” excellent and would be a wonderful show at any other time of year becomes “merely” excellent.  Where is the incredibly superb I was hoping for? This was the case with Duran and his group they really were excellent and a pleasure to listen to, but so were many other shows we’ve heard this festival and we were not totally thrilled as we might have been hearing them in a stand alone show at a club.  Also we were anticipating the Frampton show.  We left about 10 minutes before the show was over to claim our seats in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater (gad I hate that name, especially now that Kodak is a fading memory – how ironic is that?).  We were on the left center aisle in the 2nd row of the Loge with a great view of the performers and of the phone screens of the people in front of us who did not understand the meaning of “no photography/no video/no recording” like so many others all week long.  I haven’t been tempted since I really don’t need a fuzzy dark picture of a performer on stage when I can get online a sharp well lit picture.  —___ stepping down from my soap box.

Robert Cray Band opened the show with thirty minutes of great playing and singing.  There was then a thirty minute break while they reset the stage, removing all of Robert Cray’s equipment and shuffling Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus equipment forward and conducting a swift sound check before bringing on Peter Frampton.  Like so many he has grown older and grayer and balder.  He has also become a more mature performer sustaining a 90 minute show with energy and variety that kept me moving in my seat.  He brought on Don Felder, also from a past that I had not followed but now find I enjoy.  I would complain that the bass and drums were louder than necessary and prevented me from hearing many of the nuances that I am sure were there.  However they were not so loud as to drive me to earplugs or an early departure. Frampton and the other guitar players changed off instruments at every song change in a manner that was balletic.  The change of guitar in each case signaled at different kind of music and it was clear that the instruments were carefully matched to the tune and the genre.  We stayed glued to our seats through the long ovation to be rewarded with a great encore.

We swept out onto the street, having survived long lines at our respective facilities, and headed for Montage and a planned rendezvous with the Towlers.  It was not to be, we got in sight of the door and saw a waiting line 25 minutes into the set and there were smokers.  We veered off and after a stop at Abbots for Almond Chocolate Custard we worked our way to the Big Tent with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.  We arrived in the middle of “The Saints’ and the place was rocking.  We found a place to lean and joined in until the Tent was closed at 11.  We headed immediately to State Street Grill Jam Session which was packed. We found places to stand and heard a wide variety of local talent and Festival Performers.  Janelle Reichman, tenor sax with Five Play, was a standout.  We are determined to hear her group at Max at 10 tonight.  While standing and listening when one set ended some idiot loudly whistled his approval in Carol’s ear causing a lot of discomfort for her for the rest of the evening.  If you must whistle, scream, yodel your approval PLEASE be sure no one’s ear is in line, you could cause pain and hearing loss.  If I knew who the culprit was, I would press charges for assault.  –__ second soapbox in one post, remarkable.

Tonight’s plan, if it can be called that, starts at Kilbourn with Kurt Elling, it is almost time to get in line, it is 1:35 as I write.  Then we are thinking about trying to get into the Little for Amy Lynn and The Gun  Show.  Failing that Christ Church, Gwilym Simcock, and/or Lutheran Church, Tobin Waldorff’s Wah-Wah.  As noted we plan to wrap at Max with Five Play, before heading over to State Street until time to collapse.

I’ll post a wrap sometime tomorrow and then go silent for a bit.

XRIJF Night 7

Had a great night, we “only” got to four venues and they were all wonderful music experiences.  There was plenty of buzz that Ravi Coltrane was going to be packed and it would be a good idea to be in line early.  We thought we were early arriving at the venue at 3:15 for a 6 PM show.  The line was already down Jazz Street and we were at the turn into the alley.  Plenty of interesting folk to talk with as always so the time went by easily.  We managed to get our favorite seats on the right center aisle at the back of the front section.  Easy access to the exit should that become necessary and great site line unless there is a pianist who sets the piano with the keyboard to the left.  Most of them seem to have set the piano so the keyboard is toward the audience to keep them in closer communication with their group.  This was not even a issue with Coltrane, the sax was front and slightly left of center.  We enjoyed the entire performance – what’s not to enjoy with a great sax player backed by fine sidemen.  We sadly left just before the last number to get in line outside Hatch to hear Harold Levy.

We had heard him the night before with Trio Globo and were intrigued at what he would do in Hatch which is used for solo piano with no enhancement, it is a pure acoustic venue and has limited seating. Levy came out and started playing without any introduction.  Midway through he seemed to remember he had his harmonicas along and got one out for one number.  At the end of the performance a standing extended applause brought him back for an encore.  Before he played he commented as have so many others about the wonderful piano, the wonderful hall and the great audience.  His words, paraphrased, “You listened so intently you almost frightened me.”  Then he played one more piece starting with the harmonica.  


Where to go from there?  We had a plan, but we were hungry.  So we stopped at Bricks & Motor food truck where Carol had the CousCous and I had a lobster roll which we carried over to the Big Tent where we found a table and relaxed for 10 minutes.  Then we headed over to Lutheran Church for Jacob Karlzon 3 (JK3).  This is the group that got delayed in Iceland the day before.  Well, two got delayed and Karlzon got in and performed with Valery Tolstoy on Wednesday instead of Thursday.  In any event Karlzon played piano and some electronics that actually added to the experience and his bassist and drummer were both wonderful and well worth the wait  We stayed through the entire performance and then beat it though the beginning rain to Max for Carmen Souza.  She is one hot number!  We only heard the last third of her performance and would gladly hear her again tonight in Xerox if we didn’t have main stage tickets for Peter Frampton Guitar Circus.  


No way to do both and that is the blessing and curse of XRIJF.  We are going to try to get into Hilario Duran  Trio at Max at 6:15.  Find some food there and get over to Kodak Hall in time to find our seats by 7:30.  If that gets out by 9:30, who knows where the buzz will take us, maybe to Lutheran or if later to the Big Tent for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (if we can’t hear them from a block away).


After tonight there is only one more night of Jazz Fest.  I am ready to resume life in the real world, but I really am going to have withdrawal from planning, running and writing about it.  Also Carol is going to have to relearn how to cook.  We haven’t had a dinner home since June 20!

XRIJF Night 6

Got our runnin’ shoes on.  We got in line early at Montage to hear Golding, Stewart and Bernstein.  The Towelers were headed there as well.  Since we got in on the first batch of 25 we grabbed a table for 4 and they were able to join us.  Great table, even had service.  By the time we had drunk our drinks we decided it was time to move on.  Couldn’t get into Max for Aaron Goldberg so we reversed course to Xerox Auditorium for Trio Globo with Howard Levy (long ‘e’).  They would have blown my socks off had I been wearing any.  Levy plays piano and harmonica, both supremely.  How do you sustain a note while simultaneously playing chords up and down the scale on one small harmonica?  The drummer did an extended solo on tambourine eliciting more sounds than I knew the instrument had and playing with several different rhythm styles.  All the while the cello was a bowed instrument a plucked instrument and played guitar fashion at various times. He used a Bartok cello piece as the basis for a wonderful trip into another space.  The hall was packed if not sold out and we stayed to the last note, buying a couple of cds on the way out.

Next we headed, still with the Towlers (how amazing is it for us to stick with another couple through three changes of venue?), for Lutheran Church where the Trio had morphed into a lady vocalist with piano – that would be Karlzon and Tolstoy (yes from that family).  Unfortunately Mary Anna and I decided to head for Abilene and more Zydeco leaving Carol and Bill to catch up with us.  We never made it into the venue.  The sound in the line was painful, neither of us wanted to get any closer.  We picked up our partners back at Lutheran and went our separate ways.  Carol and I got some dinner, her at Ludwigs and me back to the cajun, blackened chicken.  Then we got in line at Max for Aaron Goldberg Trio.  It was a long wait, but it was worth it.  Three masterful musicians communicating with the music seamlessly.  We stayed to the end.  Then we walked to our apartment for a refresher before heading out again to the State Street Bar and Grill Jam Session.  The jazz continued to flow and when Bob Sneider declared a break at 1 AM we decided it was enough, I could barely keep my eyes open.

We are leaving the apartment at EARLY at 3:30ish to get in line for Ravi Coltrane at Kilbourn.  I hope that isn’t too late.  The buzz is fierce.  We will most likely be standing in the rain along with many others.  Our plans for the evening are a jumble.  My planner shows Zoe Rahman, Howard Levy, Gamak and Carmen Souza.  We may also get to Lutheran Church for whoever is actually playing there.

On to the street!

XRIJF Day 5

Now that you have had a moment to read Day 4 here comes Day 5 – and it is beginning to feel about that fast.  We are past the midpoint and it has just kept getting better.  We just had to hear Alfredo Rodriguez again, this time at Hatch Recital Hall.  He was wonderful solo.  Less glitz and more solid musical performance.  He played almost without interruption for 45 minutes, pausing long enough to tell us what he had played and would be playing and to thank us for the warm reception he had received.  In my estimation the best description of his playing was lyrical.  There was almost no turnover in the audience once he began and the hall was sold out.  We quickly moved on to Max to Michael Wollny Trio while I dined on Max’ chicken Caesar salad.  Carol took a pass on food for the time being.  We enjoyed the performance but were not wildly enthusiastic.  At the end we quickly moved on to Christ Church to catch the last half of Julian Arguelles Quartet.  They had setup rather deep into the performance area and the sound, always a problem in Christ Church in any event,was more lost than usual.  It seemed a shame as the group sounded pretty good despite the loss of sound and echo.

We stayed to the end and then headed for Lutheran Church where Eero Koivistoinen Quartet was playing (I dare you pronounce that or the names of the rest of the Finnish performers).  Carol dropped off on the way to pick up dinner at Ludwigs on Jazz Street.  Eventually I continued on to the church and Carol caught up with me a bit later, blessing on simple technology – texting (or should that be txtng).  Much to our surprise this group from Finland played some wonderful straight ahead jazz.  The melodies were new to us, but the performance style was straight forward with none of the usual quirkiness of Nordic performance.  If I get the count right that was our fourth performance and it was only 9 PM!

Onward to Xerox Auditorium.  We had not been there yet this year.  It is large, the doors bang whenever someone leaves or enters and sometimes it is cold, also it tends to swallow sound, all reasons to stay away unless you really, really want to hear the performer.  We REALLY REALLY wanted to hear Anat Cohen play clarinet and sax with her great piano, bass and drummer.  So did a lot of other people.  I don’t think anyone got locked out, but the hall was packed.  So far this is my favorite of the first five nights and may go down as the best performance overall.  In fact if there is a better one I hope I don’t miss it.  Anat and her group chose a wonderful mix and the Brazilian works she chose were, to use her words, high energy.  After they left the stage and the house lights came up, the audience refused to leave and took up rhythmic clapping.  Clearly thrilled, Anat retook the stage and gave a wonderful slow, quiet performance that left us wanting yet more.  I have never heard a clarinet played so quietly, I have never heard an audience so silent.  We were thrilled.  We tried to buy a CD for her to sign, but the last one was snatched up as we reached for it. We left the hall to find it raining.  We had already been to Max and Kilbourn and the Big Tent is way loud and out of the way from our apartment from Xerox, so we called it an early night and were drying off in the apartment by 10:30.

Tonight’s route looks like Goldings, Stewart and Bernstein (NOT a law firm) at Montage then Max for a wrap on that show – Aaron Goldberg – then on to Lutheran for Jacob Kartzon.  Xerox to hear Trio Globo and a wrap at Kilbourn for Gretchen Parlato.  I’ll let you know what actually happen tomorrow.

XRIJF Night 4

Where is this Festival vanishing to?  Somewhere between bliss and exhaustion.  Last night, Monday, we had big plans that somehow got sidetracked.  Alfredo Rodriguez Trio at 6 at Kilbourn was the first stumbling block.  We couldn’t leave our seats.  We didn’t stop moving, couldn’t actually, but there was no way we were leaving while they were playing.  His take on Cuban music and his use of electronics and the drummer and bassist were all captivating.  The music was certainly not traditional Jazz, but it was clearly in the modern Jazz idiom with lots of interchange among the musicians and experimentation with new sounds along with really solid musicianship.  The drummer was among the best we can remember.  We are planning to hear Rodriguez solo tonight at Hatch at 5:45. By the time we got out of the hall it was 7:20 and too late for Max.

We really felt we needed to continue with high energy music so after a stop on Jazz Street for fuel we went on to Abilene for Chris O’Leary on Harmonica with two saxaphones, drums, guitar and bass.  The music was Blues and . . .  and answered our need for high energy.  We left there by 9 and knew that we wanted to hear Eric Alexander-Harold Mabern Quartet at Montage at 10 so we went to get on line.  We got in early and got seats near the front.  Carol really wanted to hear Michael Mwenso at Christ Church so she left me holding a seat for her.  When she returned she found me with Roz and John Goldman and John’s brother and sister-in-law Jim and Carol.  It was a nice party while we waited for the performance.  I will skip over the Goldberg/Goldman/Goldstein stories and get to the music.  It was wonderful classic Jazz with Alexander on sax, mostly, and Harold Mabern on piano, mostly.  Mabern must be 80 and his piano playing was wonderful.  He got to the mic and told a few stories before singing some blues while Alexander took the keyboard.  Then they returned to their original arrangement and entertained us until past closing.  I must not finish before mentioning the drummer who, in one ride, switched between sticks and brushes every measure for many measures.  It was quite a feat and he did it while keeping the beat and the thought intact.

It was over, almost.  We stopped by the apartment for a snack before heading across the river to State Street Grill and the late night jam session.  There we finally heard John Sneider, trumpet, playing with his brother Bob who leads the Jam session and who we know from various venues in Rochester.  Harold Mabern found his way to the keyboard and seemed content to sit in with whatever was happening with the group on stage.  John Nugent took the stage for a while and there was another trumpet who we could not identify, but who had the chops to be in there.  As the music was ramping up at 1 AM Carol I called it quits.  The only way to stay up later is to sleep until noon, not in our book of tricks this year.

Tonight we have laid out an easier program, maybe.  Hatch to begin with to hear more of Rodriguez, then maybe a stop at Lutheran Church for Eero Koivistoinen Quartet before going to Xerox Auditorium for Anat Cohen and finishing at Max with Michael Wollny.  No late night Jam as I made a plan to have breakfast at 7:30 AM.

XRIJF Night 3

We slept in Sunday morning, well 7:55 is sleeping in for us.  A walk in a park and lunch at Revelry with grandson Josh started the day and set us up for more fun come late afternoon.  The line up started with  Stretch Orchestra at Montage.  I could refer you to the review in City http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/jazz-fest-2013-citys-daily-jazz-blogs/Content?oid=2240080 for our opinion since we agree wholeheartedly.  We couldn’t sit still and certainly were not thinking about leaving before the last note had been played.  Have you ever seen a guitarist (for lack of a better description) turn the instrument over and rub the strings on his shirt to get the sound he wanted?  He also played electric mandolin and mandocello.  The rest of the group included a drummer who seemed almost normal and a cello (yes, that is not a typo) playing the part normally assigned to a bass and also mixing in as cello.

Next stop Harro East for Beau Soleil avec Michael Doucet.  Fun time with Zydeco a little tamed down from what we are used to in the Louisiana dance halls, but quite suitable for sitting and listening in a concert setting.  We stayed on through and had a chat with the Towlers before moving on to Abilene and Marti Brom.  Picked up some food and grooved to the sound for the last half of the set.  We really enjoyed the music and we even were able to crowd forward to see the stage and performers. By now it was 8:45 we decided our next choice at Christ Church would be a pass so we wandered over to the Big Tent where Carol picked up a lovely salad from the Bricks&Motor Food Truck on Main and I got too much popcorn.  We wandered into the tent to look at as well as listen to Ritmoseis.  It was worth the stop and we didn’t even need earplugs, maybe we just don’t have as much hearing left as we think.  From there we hopped to Rochester Club and Mike Brignola.  We didn’t last long enough to order a drink.  Reading the chart off a music stand at Jazz Fest, I don’t think so!  Quick shift to Max where Rafael Zaldivar was performing with his trio.  His playing was interesting if somewhat disjointed.  It was here that our late night on Saturday caught up with us and we both dozed in our seats.  Fortunately the applause, tepid as it was, woke us when the set ended.

Looking back, it appears we listened to at least two numbers in each of seven venues last night.  No wonder we skipped the Jam Session and fell into bed exhausted.  Today started with a lovely lunch at 2 Vine with Marianne Zeitlin and her daughter Leora.  We hadn’t seen Marianne since last summer nor Leora since we visited in Las Crucis for Passover.

Tonight the plan is Alfredo Rodriguez at Kilbourn with a possible jump to Tsukamoto & Takeshi at Max followed by Greenfield-Rosenberg at the Little.  If we have the stamina on to a wrap at Montage for Eric Alexander.  That’s four, somehow I suspect that will change as we meet others and hear what they like.  Jam Session is a maybe since we have no plans for the morning.

XRIJF Night 2

We started the night on line for Dr Lonnie Smith at Kilbourn at 4:15 PM (6 PM show).  We were well within range to get in but way back in the pack.  For those who know the layout we were in stinky pass way down the alley between two rows of port-a-johns.  The crowd was friendly and we made new friends who I am sure we will see on line again this week.  He is Tim, no idea what her name is.

Dr Smith blew the house down with his Hammond B3 organ and synthesizer and Apple computer, not to mention a great drummer and guitarist.  We couldn’t sit still and were sad when 7 O’clock rolled around, but we had to leave to get on to another performer.  We missed his encore šŸ™

We ran to Abilene for John Mooney & Bluesiana, talk about a change of pace!  We got in before the crowd had peaked and were able to get some food from the Tavern 58 table before the music started.  We really enjoyed listening and bopping to the group.  Mooney was playing mostly on a National Steel Guitar with resonator and he was accompanied by bass, keyboard and harmonica from there . . .

we trotted to Christ Church where we found ourselves back in line to hear YolanDa Brown on Sax with a quartet backing her up.  She was playing a great show when we got in just short of half way through.  Late in the show she came down into the audience to acknowledge her family members who were present.  She elected to climb through the row in front of us while continuing to play the soprano sax.  When she was directly in front of us she found the seat empty and sat down and continued playing.  We really enjoyed the performance, but were ready to move on to. . .

Rochester Club where Halle Loren trio was performing.  We got seats with our knees pressing against the stage.  In found myself staring at her knees and had to work to look up when she was using the stage front microphone.  The City review was gently unkind.  She is much more of a quiet club performer, suited to an environment where people engage in quiet conversation with her in the background.  Carol left early to get an Abbots (soft ice cream), I had enjoyed some salsa and chips and stayed another couple of numbers before rejoining her on the street.

We moved on towards the apartment with a detour to The Rochester Plaza State Street Grill for the late night Jam Session.  Along about 12:30 Terell Stafford took the stage with John Nugent (producer) and MIke Cottone along with Bob Sneider and his trio.  They rocked the place for about 25 minutes and after they took a break Carol and I decided it was too far past bed time to even consider waiting around for the next set.  Well we thought about it but we had to get up to spend time with grandson Josh at 10:30 so we called it a night.

Tonight we are starting at Montage with Stretch and planning on closing at Rochester Club withMike Brignola and Friends.  In between we will try to fit in The Sneider Brothers, Christian Wallumrod, and Rafael Zaldivar.

To see the actual lineups click on http://www.rochesterjazz.com/artist_lineup/?option=view_by_date for City Newspaper Reveiws click here.

Until tomorrow!

XIRJF Night 1

We really slept well this morning.  The Jazz last night was wonderful and we never made it to the Jam session because the last show we went to at Max went on and on and we couldn’t leave.  But back to the late afternoon: We walked over to get in line at Harro East for Nikki Yanofsky at 4:15 expecting to be almost at the front of the line – WRONG! We were further from the door than we have ever been and questioned the likelihood of getting in.  We made it! and so did the next hundred or so behind us, the place was packed and many were standing as the show began.  There was almost no turnover so standees remained standees.  We had great seats at a table down front.  Nikki sang with power and emotion.  The selections ranged from Louis Armstrong to pop music we didn’t recognize.  Her group were wonderful providing her with great backing and showing a lot of talent.  Some of her Ella F scat was enough to bring tears of joy.  We drifted out of the Ballroom on a cloud of excitement for what was to come.

A stop at Christ Church was disappointing as Cleveland Watkiss was not there, just his group playing solid jazz trio, but not what we were looking for.  The Little with Kat Edmonson was sold out with a long lone waiting to take any seat that might be vacated, we kept moving.  We had already eaten by this point so we made our war to Lutheran Church for Trondheim Jazz Orchestra.  The intro left us wondering if we had wondered into a different land.  Two “performers” who never played any music, drifted around the hall with bronze bowls making them ring in what seemed to be a cleansing of the spirits and they finished by diving their hands into a glass bowl filled with what turned out to be a white powder and coating their faces.  The musicians appeared from the back of the hall and worked their way onto the stage playing as they came forward.  The music was discordant and disconnected.  Knowing the nature of Nordic Jazz events we stuck around to see where it all was going.  As the hour progressed the weirdness never entirely stopped but the music became more coherent.  I could comment on the section where the tenor sax player put an empty aluminum soda can in the bell for a ringing effect.  Also the vocalist who vocalized without words or even recognizable scat.  We stayed for the entire show and were rewarded with an extraordinary performance.  They are performing tonight again at the Xerox Auditorium.

We got in line really early outside Max to hear Patricia Barber.  She is definitely different.  She sings and plays piano and her group included guitar, double bass and drums.  That is one huge understatement.  Her facial expressions must be mirroring what is passing through her mind as she extracts wonderment from the piano.  She speaks out as she plays, and as the group plays, at one point yelling “shit” in excitement.  Her hand gestures guide the performance.  At one point, late in the show, she got up from the piano, leaving her group to play on while she went out of the hall to get another cup of coffee.  She never seemed to notice the 11 PM closing time and kept on playing until 11:30, very few left at anytime and the hall was packed and rapt though out. It was a great first night.

For anyone attending who is reading this our preliminary plan for tonight is Lonnie Smith at Kilbourn, Yolanda Brown at Christ Church, John Mooney and the Bluesianas at Abilene and Halle Loren Trio at Rochester Club.

There are several others we would like to hear, but the evening is only 5 hours – well 6 – and four performances are a lot if they are good.  If we are disappointed, we will move on and might make a couple of others.  See you on Jazz Street!

XRIJF or Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest – The Marathon Begins!

For those of you who have followed this blog over the years you know we are go just a bit crazy for the Jazz Fest.  It is nine nights of way too much music to really take in.  We are plotting how to get to six performances tonight!

But first I must back up to last week, the Good Sam Rally in Syracuse.  We arrived at the NY State Fairground in rain and mud.  Somehow we got the coach positioned and had a really great spot so we could walk to the exhibit hall, unless we had stuff to carry, then we had to drive all the way around the outside of the fairgrounds, fortunately we had exhibitor parking permits.  We stood on our feet on a concrete floor from 9 to 5 for four days.  Fortunately we had been forewarned and had a nice cushy pad to stand on.  In all my years of working I never worked so hard for such an extended period of time.  I’ve always wondered how the exhibitors at these events do it day after day and show after show.  Now I wonder even more.  I doubt we will do it again, but we really did have fun while we were doing it.

Today, the first day of summer, the first day of Jazz Fest is the also the first day of our 49th year as a married couple.  Yes, we were married June 21 1964, it was a hot sunny day just like today promises to be.

So we are working through the schedule and it looks like we will start at 5:30 at Harro East to hear Nikki Yanofsky.  See you fans in line outside the Harro East by 4:45.  After that it depends, we are hoping to hear Patricia Barber, Cleveland Watkiss, Trondheim Jazz and for laughs and giggles the Hackensaw Boys, oh yes I left out Christian McBride.  Full report on actual results with a lineup for tomorrow in the morning.

As I have noted before, we sold our townhouse and moved into an apartment in downtown Rochester. The result is we are much closer to the center of the Jazz Festival and even closer to The Rochester Plaza where the late night jam session starts at 10:30.  It is just the other side of the river so I expect we will stop in for a bit.  Couldn’t do that from the townhouse as the walk back late at night would have been too far and to drive meant finding parking.

More tomorrow.