We have been to every Rochester International Jazz Festival and I take a few notes on the acts we catch.
The “Club Pass” is the way to go with the Jazz Fest. Strolling or in some cases, running from club to club downtown to catch a big name in jazz or a complete unknown for nine nights in a row is exhilarating. We bought our passes at Wegmans in the middle of the winter for something like $45. They were sixty dollars by the time the festival started but still worth every penny. This is one of the coolest things to happen in Rochester in a long time. On opening night this year we caught Dave Liebman and his group. Dave played on some of my favorite Miles Davis albums in the early seventies like “On The Corner” and “Bitches Brew”. He was also the sax player on John McLaughlin’s “My Goals Beyond”. He was rough and tumble, melodic and out. Very enjoyable.
Sonny Fortune and Rashied Ali stole the show at this year’s Jazz Fest. They tore this place up. Sonny also played with Miles on Get Up With It” and “Agartha” and “Pangea”. Those last two are some of the heaviest, darkest, funkiest, real acid jazz in Miles’ catalog. Rashied Ali played with John Coltrane on “Sun Star”, Stellar Regions”, “Offering” and the drum and sax duo called “Interstellar Space”.
Montage is the best room in the city to see live music. It’s perfect for jazz. These two blew the roof off the place opening both sets with an hour long “Pursuance” from “A Love Supreme”. Rashied swithed to brushes for a beautiful rendition of “In A Sentimental Mood” and in the second set they did “Someday My Prince Will Come”. This was some of the best live music we have ever seen and heard. Worth the entire Jazz Pass.
The festival is truly international. This year there were Hungarians and Fins and this exotic group from the Faro Islands called Yggdrasil. The vocalist was otherworldly and had us in a trance. The atrium at Max’s under the Eastman Library is an ideal spot for esoteric jazz and world music.
From Finland, the U Street All Stars were a young, straight ahead, be-bop band that wrote all their material. The two sax players started most tunes with unison and harmony parts and then they were off trading solos. The drummer wrote the last two tunes we heard and in his solo his floor tom collapsed. The band all laughed and the drummer finished his solo. The guitar player was angular and fun to watch. This band was a real treat.
We saw may more acts this year but these were the only ones I took photos of