Drawn In

Drummer and keyboard player on nEast Main Street in Rochester, New York

These guys, performing on the street near Hatch Hall, posed for me while they were playing. The drums were about five times louder than the keyboard.

We didn’t know the names so we listened to the samples and were left with only a few choices for the opening night of the Jazz Fest. More time to watch the three World Cup matches we had time shifted.

Seventeen years in and we are still able to find free parking downtown. We walked by the old Milestones, what was once a venue for the festival, James Blood Ulmer comes to mind, and a solo guitarist was playing in the parking lot patio. He had a foot pedal rigged to play a tamborine and an old suitcase that played like a bass drum. Can’t even remember what he sounded like. We were on our way to the Xerox Auditorium and we were drawn into the Rhythm Dogs performance in front of the Inn on Broadway. Drawn that is by the rock solid R&B drummer, Laris Ashford. Anybody could have played anything in front of that guy. We only lasted a few minutes because it was painfully loud.

Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez at Xerox Auditorium were a pure joy to hear. We had heard both at past festivals in completely different settings, Rodriguez with his trio at Kilbourn and Martinez leading Cuban dance/pop ensembles. They played fast and furious and then slow and pretty. The classically trained pianist’s free flowing melodies worked magic with the rhythms of the Cuban streets. We were tempted to return for the second set but the World Cup called.

Marius Neset at the Lutheran Church went from dreamy pretty to frenetic in the same song. Their material was richly orchestrated and executed with near precision. We sat between the piano and vibraphone and those two instruments sounded especially good in stereo harmony. Their arrangements were mostly joyous and the band was clearly having fun so the progressive tendencies remained infectious.

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