XRIJF 14th Edition is Over

We started with three female vocalists on Day One, June 19th and we ended Day Nine with a female vocalist. That was about all they had in common and what we saw and heard in between was as broad a definition of “Jazz” as anyone could consider. The range was from Bluegrass to avant gard and from quiet and intimate piano solo in Hatch Hall to loud and boisterous in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater.

Last night we started with Steep Canyon Rangers who had been in town for two prior Jazz Fests with Steve Martin and were back on the main stage without him and there were plenty of unsold seats for the 4 PM and only concert. Nugent and Iacona made a decision to open the unsold balcony seats to Club Pass holders. They got the news out on Friday morning in the daily Jazz Festival News email and with a push to all Club Pass holders. Although we had not planned on that concert the chill, rainy day made it seem like a good idea. Also at 4 PM it would not interfere with other venues we wanted to go to. We started in an indoor lineup for the balcony seats at 3 having walked through the first serious rain of the festival this year. I really enjoyed their performance, they did not go beyond the bounds of what could be expected from a fine Bluegrass sextet. There was some wonderful quartet harmony singing and the drummer worked his box drum like a full drum kit although during the encore he come out and used the string bass strings as a percussion instrument with his sticks.

We danced out of the hall into the rain, although we were sheltered by the Eastman Marquee, right around to Kilbourn Hall for Clifton Anderson Quintet. We found seats one row up from Ron Netsky and we had a chat about the crazy intense volume of the outdoor stages. In a neighboring seat was a man whose name I have forgotten who specializes in the effect of sound on people who agreed that the levels used in entertainment were beyond what would be permitted in a work setting. The hall filled slowly, never reaching sold out before the six man quintet came on stage. Not sure when it morphed from a quintet to a sextet. The tenor sax player was clearly the added person, his playing was wonderful to hear, but he did not appear to be well and when not playing he left the stage altogether. Once again we were treated to a great bass solo as well as piano and the leader Clifton Anderson on trombone was extraordinary. He took a solo that went on and on, I did not believe he could have the strength and wind needed to play such an extended solo, I did not want it to end. They came back for an encore and took off on “The Sun Will Come Out” from Annie the Musical.

We strolled out from that to something completely different, The Wood Brothers at Harro East. I guess they decided that with all the rain they cold ignore the capacity rules. The place was packed with people standing every place. Somehow I found two stools and space at a table to perch right behind the rows of chairs. Great seats for viewing and hearing. This set headed into a place we had not been, with audience members pressing up to the stage as the beat got wilder. When they concluded their last number they left a screaming mob wanting more. They come back out and did another number totally acoustic. It was amazing how quiet the hall got as everyone listened intently. A third of the way back we heard clearly and I was able to understand the words better than when they were amplified. That was the second totally acoustic number we heard, not counting the solo pianists in Hatch and Lyric, and I would love to hear more musicians show their ability in this way.

We came out of Harro into the rain, yes it was really raining and it put a damper on all the planned outdoor events even though we did hear the groups performing and saw crowds standing and sitting under umbrellas. I am sure that those were the hard core, we were more than glad to escape into The Rochester Club for a quiet dinner while waiting for Alex Pangman to perform at 10 PM. We have avoided this venue because first the music in the past has been lounge music, great for background listening, not so great for intense listening, second the place has been refrigerated down to meat locker temperatures. Last night Alex appeared dressed in style from the 1930s or 40s and her music was all from that era or earlier. There was swing and boogie woogie and some straight ahead standards, including an instrumental version of Tea for Two which has figured in a number of performances this past 9 days. We had a great time and would go to hear Alex Pangman again and I promise Carol to bring my dancing shoes the next time!

Back into the rain! We stopped by the apartment to freshen up a bit before heading to the Plaza for the jam session. As we hit Saint Paul street we had second thoughts, it was late, we were tired and it was pouring harder than ever. We agreed that Alex would be the last sound of the festival we would carry forward until the next time we get to XRIJF. And we can keep that acronym for now as Xerox has renewed their contract for the next three years.

I don’t do a lot of selfies, but here we are as XRIJF winds down in Rochester Club

I am not sure when I will post again, probably in a week or so, but the topic will be very different.

XRIJF Day 9 and Review of Day 8

We are down to the wire, this is the ninth and last night of the Festival. Our plan is kind of loose after the start. The Festival newsletter announced that club pass holders have a bonus, free admission, first come first served, to Steep Canyon Rangers at 4 PM in Kodak Hall. Good for us not for the Festival, clearly they have a lot of empty seats. We will be there! We plan to go to Kilbourn for Clifton Anderson Trio and then on to Harro East for The Wood Brothers. Since the food at Harro is pretty good we will probably satisfy the stomach’s needs there and then move on to either the Big Tent or Christ Church (or both). We plan to finish the Festival with our first stop at The Rochester Club for Alex Pangman. We will see how the predicted rains and chill affect the street vibe and attendance levels.

Last night we started at Harro East at 5:30 with the Yellow Jackets, and no for you Rochesterians reading this they have nothing to do with the University of Rochester or their acapella group of the same name. We couldn’t sit still through their performance and certainly couldn’t even begin to think of leaving. They have been at the Festival before and we have heard them more than once. If they come back when we are here, we will be in the audience again! As we headed for Lutheran Church for Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra with  Ingrid Jensen we had time so we stopped in at Kilbourn for Kurt Rosenwinkle New Quartet. We got seats down front and heard the last number. This was enough to encourage us to return at 10 for the full show.

We stopped in front of the big tent for Wegman’s Sushi before we headed over to Lutheran where it turns out the Jensen group are Canadian not Scandinavian. With something like 20 saxophones and brass on stage it was quite a full house and the sound was very full and even melodic. Ingrid plays trumpet and between brilliant solos and support bits she spent an inordinate amount of time repeating a cycle of adjustments and clearings of her trumpet. I wouldn’t say anything about that except that it became distracting into the third number. We did stay to the end and might have considered coming back tonight if she hadn’t announced that the music would be more “pop” oriented.

After Lutheran, Freshly Ground was just starting in the Big Tent and we took our line chairs and settled in just behind the sound booth for the show. This was a less than brilliant location as the guys in the booth spent a lot of time apparently tracking down some glitch that didn’t seem to be affecting the performance, in my ears. The Afro Pop group is very good and if the rains don’t dampen the crowds ardor they should be a real crowd pleaser at 7 on the East and Chestnut stage. A bit of a side note, Ron Netsky commented on volume levels in his blog the other day so during this seemingly very loud performance I downloaded a Sound Meter App on my phone and got reading of 80 to 83 Db. Later I got the same reading in Kilbourn for Rosenwinkle. The meter says this is the equivalent of a busy street or Alarm Clock. We walked over to Kilbourn at 9:30 expecting to be in line for a few minutes. Instead we walked right in and were able to get our preferred seats. The hall was half empty. It did fill some by show time, but never approached sold out. We did enjoy the rather esoteric performance and I only napped a couple of times, it is definitely catching up with me.

After that we were off to the Plaza for the Jam Session. This night plenty of performers showed up to play including trumpet, sax, trombone and guitar. The featured guitarist for the first set we heard was John Nugent’s wife who has some fine chops of her own. At one point as we were standing watching Steve Gadd came over to Carol and suggested she take the seat he was vacating. We actually got to sit until we could no longer keep our eyes open.

XRIJF Day 8 and Review of Day 7

I don’t have a plan for tonight, yet. Carol and I need to get our heads together and come to an agreement and I want to get this posted and she is busy with other things. My picks are The Yellowjackets, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Arstidir, Christine Jensen, and Chatham County Line. It doesn’t seem likely we will get to all of them, but after last night, you never know.

Day 7 we pretty much followed our plan until 10 PM. We really enjoyed Theo Crocker in Kilbourn Hall. Once again we found ourselves sitting next to Ron Netsky chatting about the Festival and the process of writing these blogs and how it differs from other types of writing. Of course he has the advantage of an editor and a deadline (not sure that is an advantage) I just write to please me and Carol sometimes. This also functions as my personal journal so I am inclined to ramble on sometimes – I guess that is what I am doing now. Back to Jazz. The group with Theo were well matched and they all provided excellent solos as well as group performances (I’m reaching for a word that is eluding me). Carol had her heart set on hearing Mama Corn at the Little. Nothing like charging out of fine Jazz to a rambunctious Bluegrass group whose use of corn in their name tells you something about the level of their humor. Their playing and singing were really marvelous and we stayed through the show enjoying every minute, even the corny jokes.

Our plan was to get some food after this act and then head to Xerox to hear Stanley Clarke Band. The food part was easy as Java Joe’s has extended their sandwich hours and they still had some choices in the case when we walked in at 8:20. Carol had brought her food from home and we took a table just inside the door where the sound from Soul Stew on the Jazz Street Stage was muffled down to a tolerable level. Walking past the stage the sound level was painful. We then trotted over to Xerox, well we trotted once we waded though the full body massage next to the stage. At Xerox we joined a steady stream of people headed to the same destination. I asked the volunteer with the clicker at the door what the count to that point was and she said 544. The hall has a big sign “Max Capacity 700”. By the time everyone was settled they were at that capacity. Stanley Clarke is a big draw even with a band of very young performers. The drummer was incredible, Carol says he was inventing new sounds as he went. I won’t argue (wouldn’t win anyhow). I am not sure I ever remember hearing a drummer maintain double time on the bass drum for such an extended time while blending in everything else at his command. He took one ride that went more than five minutes (remember Take Five) and the audience and the band were ready for him to go longer. Stanley Clarke played a couple of numbers with the group on bass guitar and then switched to stand up bass and took off on a solo excursion that must have lasted 25 or 30 minutes – I was not checking my watch. So after Wednesday night when Omer burned the place down with his bass on that very stage, Clarke finished the job. There was no energy left in the audience until the rest of the band took off to fill us with the desire for MORE!

What followed was really anticlimax and we were not able to sit still for long. We stopped in to Montage for Hallie Loren and I know she had a great voice and the sound was fine even in the outer bar – we couldn’t get into the music room, but the number we heard was a standard and we had no desire to stay for more. We moved on to Max where Ali Jackson Trio were doing a marvelous performance, but again it was tame for the mood we were in. The only group that seemed likely to hold our attention was Sonny Knight and the Lakers in the Big Tent so that is where we closed the formal part of the night. Carol got her Abbots Chocolate and I had some popcorn to go with the mood.

We dropped our stuff at the apartment and walked over to the Plaza. This seemed to be a night for vocalists and not all of them were very good. We had fun sitting at a table talking until some time after 1 when we called it a night and headed across the river.

XRIJF Day 7 and a Review of Day 6

When I started listening and planning for tonight it was clear I was at a dead loss, everything, well most everything, was ending up GREEN. It just is not possible to fit it all in. I think I said the same thing yesterday. After Carol and I sat down together we came up with the following plan. We will get in line at Kilbourn to hear Theo Crocker and then run to the Little to hear Mama Corn, talk about contrast. Then depending on our mood and street talk we could head for Lutheran Church and Obra International or possibly Squeezers for some country by Peter Rowan. Maybe we will just break and grab some food someplace. Stanley Clark at Xerox is a definite possibility and we are thinking of winding up at Montage for Hallie Loren. If you really want to catch up with us on the Street try a txt if you have our number, not a chance of getting a call heard 🙂 email might work also if I remember to look.

Last night, Wednesday, well really yesterday afternoon, we walked the 1.5 miles from our apartment to Lyric Theater, 440 East Ave, again. This time to hear Fred Hersch, solo piano work his variations on Jazz standards, some a little less known at least to me. When I realized he was playing around with Caravans, Ellington, I knew I had heard enough pianists for one Jazz Festival. This year they seem to out number the female vocalists. I’m not complaining just mentioning that sometimes more than enough of a great thing is getting to be too much for me, sort of like too much great Lake Champlain Chocolate at one sitting. We moved on at a rather hurried pace to get to Montage for Mitch Frohman Latin jazz Quartet. We were meeting grandson Josh there where he would spend as much of the evening as he wanted with us. We had great seats and Josh got there well before the club sold out. We enjoyed the performance although we would have liked a little more up tempo music. Maybe we were wishing Frohman was as young as the rest of his group. We wandered over to the Big Tent where Josh and I indulged in Wegman’s Sushi and Carol brought a salad from Ludwig’s. Then we headed over to Xerox for Omer Avital Quintet. This may have been the highlight of the entire Festival for us. The saxophone players, especially Joel Frahm, were phenomenal and while Omer held himself in the back most of the time his dancing with his bass was infectious. Indeed, at one point I suggested to Josh that they were having too much fun. Even as they performed there were signals and quick conversations and the music would change and head off in a new direction. At one point Omer suggested to the drummer Jonathan Blake some change and Blake picked up a sheaf of chart at least five feet long and pitched it into the wings as if to suggest that they were headed into unplanned territory. Omer did one long solo on the bass that was just magnificent – I’m running out of superlatives here. Both Carol and Josh grabbed the CD and had Omer autograph them. This is the first CD we have bought this week. 

Following Omer, Josh headed off to spend some time with Rhoma and we headed to Max for Julia Biel. Maybe if we had not just come from Omer Avital we would have thought she was great. Instead we found her to be very good and most enjoyable, hardly a condemnation but everything is relative.

We closed out the formal evening with that and headed to the Plaza for the Jam Session. John Nugent was just getting up on stage as we arrived. Shortly he was joined by Joel Frahm and then Omer took over the bass and other performers we had seen started rotating across the stage.

The “stage” at the Rochester Plaza

Shortly after 1 AM Carol and I declared total exhaustion and the inability to take in anymore music. So off to the apartment  and to sleep – or was that off to sleep and then to the apartment? We did get up late, for us and thus I am writing this as the clock has passed noon.

Look for you on the Street or where ever. Three more nights, it is hard to believe we are on the back end of yet another XRIJF.

Day 6 and Review of Day 5

We are having a problem with tonight’s schedule. We want to see/hear everything! Well more than it seems possible to get to. So far our must hears are Fred Hersch at the Lyric, Mitch Frohman Latin Jazz Quartet at Montage Roddy Ellias (my pick, Carol is not so sure) at the Little, Omer Avital Quintet at Xerox ( I used a new color on my chart for that one – my usual must see is Green but I used Red), with a finish at Kilbourn with Antonio Sanchez and Migration. As usual this is all subject to change as we listen and talk with others.

Last night we followed the plan exactly which is amazing since we had planned on getting to 6 venues. It was a night heavy with piano. We started with two solo pianists, first Kenny Werner at Lyric, our first venture into the new venue. We really enjoyed his playing and the nice sound in the great hall. I will leave detailed reviews to the Music blog in City since I barely have time to write this today. From there we went to Hatch, hoping to get in to hear George Collgan. We were disappointed to find less than a dozen people in line ahead of us and the hall seemed very empty to us. We were NOT disappointed in the performance and stayed until the last note finished reverberating. the fact that he played a lot of Ellington and T Monk may have had something to do with our attentive listening.

We stopped for dinner with friends at Ludwigs then forged on to Lutheran Church where we stayed for two numbers of Julia Hulamen Piano Trio before heading off to Squeezers Roots on the second floor of Sibley Building for Rob & Trey, guitar and Dobro where we waited in line for a bit to get in then had good viewing and hearing from the back near the food stand. Next stop Xerox for Harry Allen Quartet. As we left there we received a txt from Mary that they had a table for 4 at Max where Aaron Diehl Trio was playing.  As we ran I txted we were on thee way. It was a great set and it set us dancing into the street tired but exhilarated.

After a brief stop at the apartment to drop the chairs and packs, we headed over to the Plaza for the jam session.  John Nugent was already on stage with Bob Schneider Trio and shortly he was joined by Harry Allen and another sax player. The sax trio was great and the do was fine after John left.  By 12:30 we were beat and with four days to go we decided to husband our strength and head out for the night.when we got home I checked the pedometer on my phone and found that we had walked over 5 miles.

XRIJF Day 5 Review of Day 4

We were on the run last night. Somehow we got to five venues and had time for dinner on Main Street. We met friends from lines on previous nights and previous years. We also met Mary and Tom who have Club Passes for the first time. We get together with them in Rochester and in Phoenix as we travel. The night started with Kat Edmonson at Montage, Kat has a unique voice that some find a bit irritating, but I really enjoy. The club was packed and there was very little traffic during the performance, a sign that most of the people were happy with her voice and performance. Our next stop was Christ Church for Trio Red. They sound like a good group, but we were sitting in the back and the sound was so muddy from the very live acoustics and the drum that it was hard to hear and we left after one number to move on to Squeezers for Blue Highway. When we got there the place was full and there was a line to get in and the show wasn’t even scheduled to start for 15 minutes. We moved on.

We decided to stop on Main St for “dinner” and soon had lots of friends, old and new while I enjoyed  my Louisiana blackened chicken plate and Carol her salad. The conversation was mostly “who have you heard and where next?” We were drawn into the Big Tent where Soul Rebels were blowing the walls out with great funk. We stayed for a couple of numbers, as long as our ears could stand, and then moved on to Xerox for Such Sweet Thunder an ensemble of musicians including a string quartet with flute substituting for first violin and the Bob Sneider Trio and others. We stayed through a couple of numbers and moved on more because we really wanted to hear Jane Bunnet and Maqueque at Max. The street talk was very good. Four of the women that make up the group never made it over the border from Canada due to the idiots at US State Department who are blocking everyone  needing a visa because their antique computer system is down worldwide! Somehow Jane found four substitutes with work papers who were beyond marvelous. We had thought of leaving mid performance to hear some Joe Locke at Kilbourn but 11 PM came and went without our noticing. 
Whew! five performances bringing our running total to 18 and tonight may be another 5 or possibly 6. We plan to start at Lyric Theater to hear Kenny Werner then George Collgan at Hatch (two solo pianos in a row!) on to Julia Hulsmann at Lutheran Church and a breakaway to Squeezers for Rob & Trey. If we have the energy, Harry Allen Quartet at Xerox and wrapping the evening at Max again for Aaron Diehl. 
Last night we made it to the jam session and heard some great saxophone playing before deciding that the short break at 12:30 was our cue to go home and to bed. We may try to get there tonight as well.
See you on Jazz Street! someplace!

XRIJF Day 4 and Review of Day 3

The quick review, we adored Tessa Souter and Raul Midon, we enjoyed Kneecap and found Nils Berg Cinemascope a bit cliche. We dropped in on Montage, Three Guitars and would have preferred the three guitars without the vocalist, not that she was bad just a distraction from the guitars.

We have heard Tessa Souter at four of her now five appearances at Jazz Fest and will keep coming back if she is invited again. I think our biggest mistake of the evening was not returning for the 10 PM show. She was far better than what we did get to in the 10 o’clock time slot. Her group was excellent and Dana Leong on cello may have been the finest surprise, to us, of the evening. In his hands the cello performed the role of bass, percussion and multi-toned instrument. Souter maintained a “conversation” with the cello as well as the drummer, Keita Ogawa who used his hands as much or more than the sticks and also wielded something that looked more like a whisk broom for a couple of numbers. Her music was as mostly her own composition and arrangement and held us rapt for an hour and 20 minutes – just a slight over run.

On to Lutheran Church for Nils Berg Cinemascope. The concept of using video from YouTube is a modern update of what we saw at Visual Studies Workshop in the 1990’s. It was interesting then, we found it a bit cliche` today. Maybe we were not in the mood for the music or maybe the distraction of the video was too much for us, we walked half way through the performance and stopped outside the Big Tent for some food, Wegman’s Sushi for me, edamame for Carol, before moving on to Xerox for Raul Midon. While eating we met friends from “other life” and people we have spent time in line with over the years and shared experiences.

Raul Midon is a very special performance. There were a guitarist, hand drummer, trumpet, sax and pianist on stage. All of them were Midon, often several at the same time. His opening number featured guitar, hand drum, and trumpet as well as vocalist.  This blind from birth performer played the drum with his right hand and the guitar with his left, hammering on the notes on the neck and vocalized the trumpet parts. In another number he played a straight rock beat on the guitar while also playing a wandering bass line and using the body of the guitar as a bass drum all while vocalizing on top of it. His explanation for how he can do this is he “has nothing but time all day to practice” I doubt that many in the audience bought that explanation. If he had kept going for another hour, I do believe most of us would have stayed put to listen. He will perform again today at 4 at Lyric Theater, do consider going there  if you missed him last night.

On our way back to Jazz Street we stopped at Montage, our first stop there this year, for Three Guitars. We arrived in time to hear too much talking and then Evergreen which was lit with garish green LED lights facing the audience, UGLY, but then much of Montage is pretty ugly. We really enjoyed the number and were less happy when they brought out their vocalist for what they said would be the rest of the set. She is good, but after Souter and the vocalists we have been hearing she is nothing special and we left after one number to see what Kneecap was all about. If anyone is counting (I am), that was our fifth venue for the night. They play with a lot of intensity and a lot of repetition. I wondered how long the saxophone player could keep up his cycle without breaking to “really” breath. In the end, Carol suggested an early departure and I said I wanted to wait for the end of the number to see how they resolved it. to our surprise there was no resolution, they just stopped and that was the end of the set.

We called it quits for the night, electing not go to the Plaza for the Jam Session, we are already getting a bit tired.

Tonight we are planning on hearing Kat Edmonson at Montage then possibly on to Tito Red at Christ Church and on to Blue Highways at Squeezers and wrapping at Kilbourn with Joe Locke. If we do that it will be five venues again. I will report in the morning.

So far we have been in 13 venues, I am counting!

XRIJF Day 3 and Review of Day 2

We almost followed the plan exactly, but at the last minute we jumped to Ben Greene Trio at Kilbourn because there was no line at 10:05 and there was a short line at Max for Dontae Winslow. However first to Joey Alexander, the 11 year old wunderkind from Indonesia. The hype was extreme and the expectations were so high that once again we were in line for a 5:45 show at 3 PM. We were far from alone, by 4:30 it was apparent that late (!) arrivals were not going to get into the small – 250 seat – Hatch Hall. We had watched the YouTube and read the reviews, but still wondered if it could be worth the wait. It was! and he is performing again today, the first performance in a new venue, Lyric Opera formerly the Christian Science Church on East Ave. If you didn’t hear him yesterday and you are in town, GO! He played with the maturity one would expect from a seasoned performer with years of experience. He played Thelonius Monk and John Coltrane and was more than equal to the challenge. He is still a little boy in appearance and stage presence until he faces the piano and gathers his attention to perform then you could close your eyes and not be aware of his youth.

We recovered from that incredible performance and set off to the Little Theater as planned to hear Chet Catallao and the Cats. Chet played guitar with Spiro Gyro for many years. His group of drums, percussion, bass and keyboards rocked the Little for the full hour leaving us wanting more. I particularly enjoyed “Finger Pickin’ Good”. It was loud and satisfying. Following that we took a break and Carol got out her  sandwich while I got my favorite Louisiana Blackened Chicken plate to eat at tables set up on Main Street. Carol may kill me for this selfie:

As we digested we walked, or should I say waded, through the mobs to get to Xerox for Eric Revis Trio. Revis has been playing bass for a long time see his bio here. The performance was wonderful and the music had us thinking we had taken a different turn and ended up in Lutheran Church. In classic music terms it was more like Reich than Copeland. It would be hard to call it melodic. The pianist never even turned to face the audience. She had four pages of sheet music in front of her, actually two full pages and two half pages and she never seemed to refer to them. We were captivated and stayed through most of the show, leaving in time to wade back through the mob listening to Blood, Sweat and Tears – we got to hear some of that as we walked. Confronted with people waiting to get into Max for Dontae Winslow and no line at Kilbourn for Ben Green, as mentioned at the top of this post, we opted to hear Ben Green planing to leave after 30 minutes to jump to Max. Somehow we found ourselves glued to our seats until 11:20 when the trio finished its overtime encore piece. 
We stopped by the apartment to drop off the chairs and snag some ice cream before heading across the river to the Plaza for some more music. As we arrived John Nugent was sitting in on sax and Bill Dobbins was at the piano with the Bob Sneider and trio on stage. John invited Grace Kelley, tenor sax, to sit in and a bass sax player, whose name I didn’t get, joined the mix as John left for the night. As the set was reaching its last number a pianist sat down at the keyboard and joined in to wrap up the set. It was 1AM and Sneider called for a 15 minute break. I looked at Carol and we decided to call it a night.
Our grandson Josh had texted that he wanted to come over for breakfast and that was very high on our list of priorities especially as today, Sunday the 21st of June, is not only Father’s Day, but our 51st Anniversary. It is hard to believe so many years have passed, but all we need to do is look at our boys to know it is true. Breakfast with Josh is very special for us, we hope he can join us on Wednesday night, when he has a night off, for some music.
But I get ahead of myself. Tonight we have agreed to line up for Tessa Souter in Kilbourn then Nils Berg Cinemascope in Lutheran, just to see/hear what it is all about. Then on to Xerox for Raul Midon winding up at either Max, Kneebody, or Montage, New West Guitar. If we still have the strength we will venture over to the Plaza for a final wrap of the night.

XRIJF Day 2 and Review of Day 1

We showed up with our tripod chairs in line for Cecile McLorin Salvant outside Kilbourn Hall at just a bit after 3 PM. The day was cool and the sun was bright and we were 20th or so in line. Just a bit early for doors opening at 5:30. The street seemed empty until we realized that all the food vendors had been moved off Jazz Street on to Main and East leaving more room for people to mill about when they arrived. Still the line at Max, across from us, had only 2 people in it at 4 for doors opening at 5:45. Where is everyone? We asked.  The traffic started building a bit by 3:30 as ticket holders began to arrive for Diana Krall’s 4 PM show. By 4:30 our line began to fill down the alley and around the corner on Swan and out to East Ave, YES! it is Jazz Fest and the people are indeed coming.

From our early start we were able to get prime seating up above the vomitorium (a real word to describe the entry thought the audience) where the leg room is best and the site line to the stage is unobstructed and the sound is wonderful. The aisle seat was already taken by City News critic Ron Netsky, media has its privileges. We had an interesting conversation, check him out at City Newspaper Music Blog. The moment John Nugent’s young daughter came out to introduce the producer, the audience went silent in expectation. Cecile McLorin Salvant and her group took the stage and we were immediately transported by her voice with its great power and range. Read Netsky’s blog for a critic’s view, we agree with him. For all the power she displayed the most powerful and moving number came near the end when she stepped away from the microphone and had all the sound enhancement powered down for a pure acoustic number, Bessie Smith’s “Blue Spirit Blues” She has the power and the hall is very suited to this kind of risk taking.

We stayed on through the last note before taking to the street so I could pick up a sandwich I had preordered at Java Joes and we could eat quickly before heading over to Lutheran Church for Music Music Music. The hall was almost full and the music was very definitely from a different part of the world. We stayed through the performance then threaded our way through the building crowds to Xerox Auditorium for Ranee Lee, another vocalist with a different style and take on the music. She expressed great delight at finally being able to perform at XRIJF and gave a wonderful performance along with a very capable group of musicians. We hoped the guitarist would sit in at the Jam Session later in the night. It was not to be. As that show ended we headed out for Max to hear Kavita Shah without a lot of hope we would be able to get right in.

Once again we had to thread the crowds at the Chestnut Street Stage Where the Mavericks (don’t ask me) were performing and then past the Jazz Street Stage where Sauce Boss was setting up. It is sort of a full body massage to move through the crowds encumbered with our chairs and packs, but everyone is good humored and out to enjoy themselves. To our amazement the door was open when we got to Max and we found seating off to the side for another amazing female vocalist performance. Kavita Shah performs mostly music she has written either original or derivative and sings with an incredible range of voices and styles. I noted click notes and throat vocalizations as well as beautiful pure sound. Wow! and the night was only middle aged.

On to the Rochester Plaza Hotel and Bob Sneider Trio Jam Session. This is the most crowded venue of the festival. It is in the hotel lounge, just off the lobby (there is no wall separating the two) and under normal circumstances it would be crowded with 30 or 40 people. Needless to say there are many more than that in the space and standing room is at a premium. The treat is when performers come in from their stages and decide to sit in with the group just because they want to keep playing. Last night the Dobro player and the pianist from Hillbender, a country group we had missed, sat in for 30 minutes or so. Sneider called a break at 12:30 and we decided to save some energy for Day 2 and called it quits ourselves for the short walk across the pedestrian bridge to our apartment.

Oh yes, Day 2. I fear we will get in line real early again, Hatch only seats 250 and Joey Alexander promises to be a sellout. He just turned 12 and is reputed to be one of the best jazz pianists around. The sound samples I have listened to do nothing to contradict that assessment. So 3 PM for 5:15 doors open for 5:45 show. Next up we will try to get into the Little for Chet Catallo and the Cats. Failing that, there are excellent performers at Christ Church and Lutheran Church which are sort of on the way back, or we might continue on to Squeezers for Honeycutters. In any event we will head for Xerox and Eric Revis Trio at 9 and then once again try our luck at Max at 10 for Dontae Winslow and Winslow Dynasty. I haven’t thought about where we will eat yet.

Quick recap, last night we got to everything as planned and stuck to our plan, almost totally unheard of in all our years of attending the Festival! Our count is 4 concerts going into Day 2.

If you are interested in references to places and groups that I have not fully defined or more biography on the performers there is lots of material at http://www.rochesterjazz.com/


We are so excited. Yesterday (Thursday June 18) I walked over to the ticket office and picked up our Club Passes:

I have also spent hours listening to music samples for all the Club performers for just the first two days. We have planned an initial “route” through Day 1. First stop will be Cecile McLorin Salvant in Kilbourn Hall. This means we expect to be in line by 3 PM for doors open at 5:30 for 6 PM show. We heard her last year and with that experience we are really looking forward to more. I expect we may break for food after that show and then head for Lutheran Church for Music Music Music and or Squeezers (in the Sibley Building) for Hillbenders who we heard at Abilene last year. Next stop Xerox Auditorium for Ranee Lee and with any luck we will finish the night at Max for Kavita Shah. That would give us three female vocalists in one night. Of course, if we have any strength left we will stop by the Plaza for the late night jam session.
As soon as I post this I will get on with listening and choosing a route for Day 3 as soon as I put Day 2 together. This is really work 🙂 but there is so much music to sample it must be done. We have decided not to go to any of the Main Stage events like Diana Krall because that takes away the opportunity to hear 3 or more groups.  
An aside, the JCC announced they are bringing in John Sebastian and Dave Grisman in the Fall. We have our tickets for that as it is just days before we plan to leave Rochester, not to return until mid summer, we will miss XRIJF next year, we think.