The Suffers at Rochester International Jazz Festival

We were downtown earlier than we needed to be be so we stopped in Harro to hear The Suffers, a Gulf Coast band. The lead singer said people ask what Gulf Coast music is and we say it's anything we want it to be.

Vincent Herring Quartet at Rochester International Jazz Festival

The Vincent Herring Quartet at Kilbourn was very easy on the ears, what I would call "straight ahead jazz." The bass player, Yasushi Nakamara, was fantastic and the drummer was the former director of the Juilliard School of Music. I could have stayed right there for the whole set and been happy but a band was staring over at Xerox that we wanted to see.

Quinn Lawrence Ban at Rochester International Jazz Festival

The Quinn Lawrence Band was doing an Amy Winehouse version of Valerie when we stopped in the RGE tent.

GoGo Penguin at Rochester International Jazz Festival

GoGo Penguin sounded much better in Xerox Auditorium than they did in the Church last year. Their trip-hop jazz is moving a little closer to progressive fusion but they are so melodic they will always be interesting. They repeat lines, almost like loops, fractured lines that sound like a vinyl record skipping and they construct arrangements out of these. Songs end just as mysteriously as they form.

Pilc Moutin Hoenig at Rochester International Jazz Festival

Finally. We heard our favorite band of this jazz festival. The band was introduced, the bass player plucked a few notes and the drummer answered with a few strategically placed taps. Were they just checking their levels? No, they were starting a dialog, one that turned into a cat and mouse game before taking on the form of a fully developed piece. But just as we were digesting that development the piano player stood up and walked away. The bass and drums were revealed in a dramatic new light. He sat back down and piece evolved into something else.

Was Pilc Moutin Hoenig's set all improvised? Surely they revisit favorite themes. The three were great players but their greatest strength was their arranging. They fearlessly deconstructed their music in the same way they constructed it. The trio was confident enough to explore smaller configurations. Just think of the possible combinations. Piano and bass, bass and drums, bass and piano. Just piano, just bass, just drums. And when it came down to just one instrument wasn't so much a solo as it was music, played on one instrument. Pilc whistled a tune while accompanying himself with a one note piano repetition. It was brilliant.

They continually let things gracefully fall apart. One of them would duck out of the arrangement and the song immediately took on a new shape. They did this over and over again through the whole night. About thirty minutes into their set they found themselves all playing an ending and they went with it. There was applause. And they went back to work.

photos by P Doddy - click photos to advance > next page >