For any new readers; XRIJF is Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. It runs for 9 nights and includes free concerts on the streets, main stage events in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater and concerts in 11 (that’s eleven) venues within a brisk 10 minute walk. For more information go to http://www.rochesterjazz.com/ Carol and I have 9 night Club Passes giving us access to all the venues for the duration. In past years we have averaged about 6 shows a night, which means leaving a few after just one or two numbers.
So Day 1: It started out dripping and threatening to rain hard as we walked from our apartment the few blocks to the hub of the Festival on Jazz Street – Gibbs Street 356 days of the year. We stopped by Kilbourn Hall to pick up wrist bands showing we had our place in line reserved and went out to wander the streets to see who was about. I don’t think I can detail all the people we saw. It is amazing, within 30 minutes we had sat and chatted with a classmate, Susie Plunkett, who we go back to kindergarten at 23 school with and with people we had stood in line with two years ago. Somehow we only got to 3 shows, but they were marvelous and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to walk out to get to something else. we started in Kilbourn with Tierney Sutton Band. They are a very tight group and she has a very powerful voice and has a great variety of styles. Loved her scat and her performance of a number from West Side Story was breath taking, both in her fidelity to the original and the emotion and power she brought to it.
We stayed on for her encore and then hoofed it around the corner to Hatch Recital hall for Roberta Pickett on solo piano. The sound in Hatch is marvelous and she filled it with a varied program of standards and work she has arranged from settings that were never intended for solo piano. We were transfixed, sitting in the second row 2 in from the left aisle. Again we stayed on through her encore before moving on.
By now it was almost 9 PM – where was this evening going – and we hadn’t eaten anything yet. We wanted to hear Barbra Lica and her group at Max at 10 and the line was already forming. We set our chairs in the line and took turns going to get some food. I ate in the line and as we filed into the hall I found Carol with her dinner already in the hall. We joined a couple we had sat next to in Montage two years ago at a central table. They remembered us – Carol’s hair certainly is memorable and we them. Lica’s group are Canadian which they were sure to let us know and this is their first appearance at XRIJF. They were thrilled to be here and we were delighted they were too. She has a distinctive style and a breathy almost little girl voice. Her group are really solid and provide superb support. they are playing again tonight at Montage and anyone who missed them ought to consider listening to at least a number or two. Unusual for a 10 PM show at Max the crowd did not diminish as the the closing hour approached. Everyone seemed determined to hear it all.
Not quite the last show: We walked in the growing drizzle back to our apartment to drop off the chairs and the bags and walk across the street to the Radisson, the new home for Jazz Fest musicians and the Jam Session. The Hall is certainly bigger and more open than the club at the former Plaza. It is almost too comfortable. There was no sense on being on top of each other and clawing for space at the bar. It was quieter so we could even hear the music. I remain to be convinced that it will be a better experience.
Tonight: Our list for tonight includes Billy Child’s Quartet at Kilbourn; Eivor at Lutheran Church (she is gorgeous); Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet at Xerox Aud and Igor Butman Quartet at Max. Watch this space for the next report.