I would loved to have been able to see Heather O’Reilly play tonight against the Flash but then I would have missed this.
We queued up for Bill Frisell’s “Guitar In The Space Age” at Kilbourn and ran into our jazz buddy, Hal, who was recovering from a sports injury. We compared notes on the upcoming acts and broke into the dinner we had packed. Hugh from Nod was up from Utica and in line ahead of us. The time went by fast.
Kenny Wollesen was on drums. Tony Scheer, who has played with everyone from The Lounge Lizzards to Willie Nelson, was on electric bass and Buffalo native, Greg Leisz, played pedal steel and additional guitar. Frisell’s idea of guitar in the space age is decidedly American. We probably do have more junk floating around up there than any other country. The band toyed with Western swing with Hawaiian touches, a two-beat Americana thing, the Kinks “Tired of Waiting,” something funky that sounded a bit like “Mustang Sally” or “Walking The Dog,” Leisz sounded fantastic on slide but he switched to guitar for the middle of the set and that somehow managed to dilute what we came to hear. Brian Wilson’s “In My Room” was rich, “Telstar” was perfect and their version of “Surfer Girl” almost made me cry.
“I tell you this every time I play here. They wouldn’t let me in this school,” Frisell said, from the hall in the eastman School of Music. “45 years later I come back playing surf music to a standing ovation.”
Anybody remember where Backstreets was? I think it might have become a gay bar before it went under. They got busted at one point because the owners had illegally tapped into a power line out front and rigged so their utility bills were next to nil. I think I played there with New Math. Maybe it was Personal Effects. You could get near deadly shocks from the PA system by touching the mic and the monitor at the same time or something like that.
It was a hard rockin’ joint on Charlotte Street before the turned it into a gay club and they have pretty much torn down every building on that side of the street. Well, that is where we have parked for the last few nights of Jazz Fest. It might be a brownfield. In fact it is a brown field as in all mud. We refuse to pay to park downtown. That’s the way it has always been. There are spots.
Festival Promoter John Nugent pulled a rabbit out of his hat by scheduling Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express on one of the big East Avenues stages going head to head with Trombone Shorty to close out the 12th annual Rochester International Jazz Festival.
Monty was our festival favorite from a few years ago and this setting – Monty sitting amidst two bands, his jazz trio with drums and double bass on the left and his reggae heavy Jamaican band on the right – was nothing short of magical. Each band was featured and they traded portions of songs and all played at once while Monty winged it in true jazz master fashion. A seasoned performer and top shelf entertainer, Monty easily handled two electrical outages in the middle of the set by picking up his melodica and getting the crowd to sing along on the Banana Boat song.
It’s going to be so nice to stay home tonight and watch Spain vs. Brazil on the small screen.
Peggi was chatting in the back of Xerox Auditorium while I held her seat. A big guy, who was breathing heavily after climbing the stairs, started to sit in Peggi’s spot so I told him it was taken. He said I looked quieter than the people on the other side of the aisle and then he proceeded to talk my ear off. He said he had taken online harmonica lessons from Howard Levy, the piano player in the group we were about to hear, Trio Globo. Levy used to play with Bela Fleck and the other two parts of the trio played with Paul winter Consort.
According to my new friend Levy plays chromatically and can play any note in any key on any harmonica where most players have harmonicas for each key. He does all this by “overblowing and underblowing” to bend the notes. “Howard is the show,” he said emphatically. And then added, Don’t worry about me. I’ll shut up as soon as the band starts.”
Anat Cohen, the night before in this same room, had incorporated world music into a jazz setting with such remarkable sophistication I found it hard to sit through Trio Globo so I left. That’s why they call it a “Jazz Pass.“
After twelve years it finally happened. Not one of the big-ticket, Eastman Theater acts booked at the Rochester International Jazz Fest has anything to do with jazz, unless you count David Sanborn. I am certainly no purist but I drift toward the off beat while the festival goes mainstream and there wasn’t much to choose from last night.
We started with the French trio, Thiefs, at the Xerox Auditorium. While waiting in line I took this photo of the about to be renovated Midtown Tower and I was thinking about the early eighties Personal Effects gigs in the ballroom that juts out of the fourteenth floor. A security guard interrupted my drift with a stern warning, “This is private property and no photography is allowed.”
The Theifs were pretty cool but not quite ready for prime time. The drummer and lead singer was shy of all things. The trio of sax, bass and drums all had effects pedals. The tenor player had more effects boxes than Bob Martin and sampled a few loops to add to the rhythm guitar sounds the drummer was getting from the box on his floor tom.
We ran into our jazz buddy, Hal, on the street. He had already walked out of Kat Edmundson (“the girl with the squeaky voice”) at the Little, the replacement act at Christ Church and Patricia Barber when the fire alarm went off at Max’s. We were sort of at a loss as of what to do. The yee haw Hackensaw Boys, Quincy Jones Presents: Nikki Yanofsky, the comedy Trondheim Jazz Orchestra? We opted for Dr. John in the street. I felt sorry for him banging out his gris gris stuff at another festival.
We stopped by the back of the big tent to listen to a bit of Pedrito Martinez Group. We were sort of afraid to go in the front door because the group had been so loud at their Montage show that they chased people out the doors. The next thing we knew, three of the members came out the back of the tent while Pedrito was doing his percussion solo. I was amazed how quickly they pulled out their smart phones. The cowbell player (in the blue), a key player in Afro Cuban music, invited us back in so we took in the rest of their show from the side of the stage. They sounded fantastic.
We were the first ones in line outside the Rochester Club for Luca Ciarla Quartet while the line for the Cuban band at Kilbourn, a show that started at the same time, had already wrapped around the corner and was confusing itself with the line we started. The “Mediterranean Gypsy Jazz” moniker works well for these guys. Laid back, warm and friendly, their personalties carry over to their sound. The crowd went nuts when violin, accordion, double bass and hand drums got into overdrive but they kept the volume in check and always followed it up with something sweet. From Monk to Nino Roto like tunes they reached beyond the gypsy songbook. The accordion player was outstanding.
The line we found in front of Harro East (remember when this place was the Triangle Theater and Wease worked the door and they had all those great reggae acts?) was gone so we stopped in for few songs. I like Catherine Russell’s great voice when she’s not belting it out.
We were kind of looking forward to the Monophonics, the “psychedelic soul” band from the Bay Area. I liked the single we listened to in the iTunes store, a real digital single, two songs for $1.98 and packaged with a big hole 45 and off white sleeve graphic. But, damn, there was nothing psychedelic about them. They were as loud as hell. The guy in front of us had his hands over his ears until he left. The tent was packed with glum looking people in plastic chairs. The gruff vocalist behind the B3 managed to get seven or eight kids up dancing to “Slippin’ Into Darkness” as we slipped out the back.
We were talking earlier to a fellow Jazz Fest passenger, a stranger, who said he has a problem with the Xerox venue because he always falls asleep. The auditorium’s warm sound is perfect for some acts and Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is one of them. Man, did they sound great! Like the Flaming Lips, a fellow Tulsa band but on the rock side, they are adventurous. Aptly named, the Odyssey wander all over the musical map, with songs arranged but open like a free-range playground. We’ve seen these guys at two earlier festivals and they keep getting better and crazier.
The couple in front of us in the line for Tom Harrell were like a bad trip. The woman was dying to talk, to anyone, and there we were. I tried to give detached answers to her questions but when she asked me if I needed help threading the cloth lanyard through my jazz pass I just said, “No,” in a scolding tone.
Behind us a mom was helping her son set up a busking station. She even chummed the waters or primed the pump by putting a dollar bill in the open trumpet case. She probably dressed him too because he looked like he had stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. As he warmed up his lip the guy in front of us said, “Maybe he’ll use the money for lessons.” The kid played the theme to an Ellington song and I clapped. The guy said, “Don’t encourage him.”
We made an extra effort to get out early on the first night of Jazz Fest 11 and we were in good shape for down front seats at Kilbourn Hall for the bass player Christian McBride but word spread that he was stuck in Newark airport due to wind. You’d think McBride could have made an extra effort to leave a few hours before the show or just driven up here.
Hatch Recital Hall, the newest addition to the Jazz Fest venue list is easily the best sounding room in the line-up. It’s not a room, it’s a performance space and it only holds about two hundred people. It’s like sitting in front of a big speaker but in this case the tweeter is a Steinway Grand and the woofer is a gorgeous sounding stand up bass in the capable hands of Canadians Don Thompson and Neil Swainson. They have played together for thirty years and know over two thousand songs so they were melodic and lyrical as twenty first century musicians can be.
We had seen “Get The Blessing” before at an earlier Jazz Fest and we gave their straight ahead trip hop a second try. Elements of jazz, the two horns, with plenty of effects on top of a clubby rhythm section in the cavernous Christ Church seems like it could work. The drummer and bass player had success with Portishead but here their instruments had a wide dull rumble sound like a rock band down the street rehearsing.
Goran Kafjes Subtropic Arkestra at the Lutheran Church borrowed the the name of Sun Ra’s band. They built their songs around somewhat repetitive keyboard progressions and with seven players they managed to sound like a big band but they didn’t swing like Ra or visit the astral planes. Jonas Kullhammer was in the band which was sort of odd. He was such a dynamo with his own quartet in years past. But still I liked this band quite a bit. It was trumpet player, Goran Kafjes’, birthday and their music was fun like a Bollywood soundtrack.
Ingmar Bergman comes from the Faroe Islands and there is something of that austere quality in Yggdrasil’s delicate sensitive music. Like the early, hippie, new age ensembles Paul Winter Consort or Oregon, they look for inspiration close to the earth. Yggdrasil performed a beautiful nine part piece devoted to the Inuit and Native American tribes of North and South America. With chanting, piano, bass, flutes, violin, drums and an electric guitar player in a Pink Floyd shirt they were quite extraordinary.
I probably take a picture of the Rochester Gas & Electric (there’s a monopoly for you) power plant every year during the annual Jazz Fest. I put my three year old, pocket, point & shoot in “Scene, Night Portrait” mode, set the timer and placed it on the curb.
We rode downtown with John Gilmore and were almost there when I realized I had left my Jazz Pass in our car so I wouldn’t forget it. Peggi had listened to the sound samples and had a club hopping route sketched out but this wrinkle rearranged the evening for us. We started with Katherine Russell and then ran into Rick and Monica in the newly carpeted tent. They highly recommended the Scottish sax quartet at Christ Church so we left and walked in the rain stood in back of the church while they played their opening number. The church was packed but I hatched a plan for a seat. I figured someone would hate them and walk out when the song finished. We planned to walk right down the center isle and grab the seats of whoever left. We kept walking toward the alter and no one left. We got to the front row (or pew) and a couple got up. Best seats in the house and the saxes sounded fantastic with the cathedral ambiance.
Does the Great Blue Heron sound anything like a vuvuzela? Not really but I’m trying to make sense of this collision of coincidence. Rich sent us a photo of a Heron in Sausalito and we just spent some time watching one practice tai chi in Eastman Lake. The World Cup and the Rochester Jazz Fest both start today! I’m a little worried about how we’re going to keep up with our work in the next few weeks.
Maybe it is just the sort of distraction we need to wean us from obsessive Jazz Festival devotion. The organizers added a new venue, a tent in parking lot at Abilene. We were excited about hearing jazz over there but then found out all those acts are Americana, a categorization that bothers me. And the success of the last eight years seems to have only diluted the presence of American jazz. Still no Ornette, Pharoah, Joe McPhee, McCoy Tyner, Art Ensemble but Bernie Williams is here. We have the Club Pass and we’ll wander and we always find some cool stuff so I’m optimistic. Pay no attention to me.
Jeff and Margaret had a post jazz fest party last night. Jeff played cds from the bands that performed here and we actually stood around talking about the acts we had seen at the festival. “What was your favorite act?” was a good conversation starter as the crowd mingled on the back deck. Jeff took a poll and reported the results while standing on a chair. Monty Alexander and Jonas Kullhammar were tied for first place. Dick Storms and Scott Regan picked bands that we didn’t even see so there was plenty to go around.
As good as it was, the conversation eventually turned to how it could be better. These were just a few of the conversation points. More US/NYC bands and less from across the pond. Does the government subsidy of those bands make them cheaper than US bands? How about multiple stages up and down East Avenue with local jazz acts instead of the two big stages with big name biker acts? Why isn’t the Little Cafe a venue for the night? The big, white Jazz Fest mass of a logo is almost impossible to shoot around for photographers. The web site is sort of sad. No imbedded YouTube videos, sometimes no links to sound files and no blog feature to give your feedback. And if you gave the organizers your email address you got a useless email everyday trying to sell you stuff. But these are all minor quibbles. It is amazing that these guys pulled this thing off again. A successful jazz fest! Who can complain?
I mentioned seeing Gary Brandt at the Petter Molvaer show in an earlier post and he emailed us this followup.
“I got to the church at 6, and discovered that not only was I first on line, I was the line for 20 minutes. A guy comes around the corner and asks if this is where Nils is playing and is this the door. After chatting, I asked him where he was from. His reply, ”I flew in an hour ago for this from NYC.” The next two people to the line were from Toronto, and the next three were from northern jersey. We were all there for Nils and Arve. And yes, I spent 80 dollars and was quite happy.”
Joe Lovano opened the last night of Day 9 with a different Us Five than his YouTube video. This one featured only one drummer and his wife, Judi Silvano, in that order. Joe moves about the stage with a wireless mic and tosses off melodies like he is in the middle of a lively conversation and most of the animation was between the amazing drummer, Francisco Mela, and Joe. Judi’s skat, Cameron Brown’s bass, (he’s recorded with Archie Shepp and Mal Waldron) James Weidman’s piano made this a rich musical experience. Joe Lovano is big league.
Delirium at first seemed like a toy band. But that is only in comparison to Joe Lovano. This Finish quartet has been together for ten years and they sound it. Their arrangements are crisp and cleanly delivered with lots of unison horn. They are all great players but the tenor sax player was exceptional. They have their own European (more pageantry and less blues based) jazz sound and it’s a lot of fun. Their last tune was entitled, “Let’s Have Some Pie”.
Aaron Parks has one of the goofiest haircuts I’ve seen in a while. We were excited to see the Respect Sextet’s Ted Poor in the drum chair and gave these guys about a half hour but never warmed up to them. Aaron’s flowing, lyrical piano style seemed to butt heads with Ted’s rambunctious rough edges and the bass player was not holding this all together. Can’t we have Respect Sextet here every year?
We finished the Fest at Montage with the Antonio Ciacca Group. We had see Antonio at Kilbourn a few years back and really loved his playing. He came out limping (literally) tonight and seemed kind of tired. We were sitting right next to his piano but he was not loud enough. The tenor sax player was great. Everybody is great. This festival just keeps getting better and better. We said hi to and thanked co-promoter Marc Iacona on the way out (he was a former student of Peggi’s) but we can’t thank him enough.
We spent some time following links to sound files for Friday’s line-up. We watched a video of Pat Martino and couldn’t even count the number of strings on the bass player’s instrument but we guessed there were seven so we nixed that show. Turns out he played with an organist and no bass player. We heard he was great. We chose to start with Arve Henriksen, a trumpet player from Norway, who was performing with a dj at the Lutheran Church. We thought there would be a bigger line for this event but it was pretty laid back. We chatted with friends while they mowed the lawn at the church. Hal told us there was a review of Arve and Nils Petter Molvaer (we saw Nils here the night before) in today’s New York Times.
Thank god churches are are hurting for patrons (except for the Evangelicals) these days because all these beautiful urban buildings are now available as performance spaces. The Cowboy Junkies recorded the Trinity Sessions in a Toronto Church letting the ambiance of the hall define their whole sound. Ani DiFranco bought an old church in Buffalo and converted it to a performance space and Doug Rice has recently converted an old Baptist church on Atlantic Avenue into MUCC. Arve Hendriksen let the room breathe and he made the most of it with his beautiful sparse but melodically rich trumpet playing. And looked completely relaxed sitting on the piano bench while the dj sampled the horn live and processed the horn parts adding them to the mix. I closed my eyes and heard an Arabic falsetto voice chanting and assumed the dj had added a vocal loop. When I looked up it was Arve singing into the mic. If only church going was this meditative and restorative. We stopped over at Abilene and then came back for the second set.
We stuck our head in the tent a few years ago to check out Ryan Shaw and gave him another chance last night. We met Brian and Olga in line and Brian reached into his bag for his glasses to read the program. He put them on and they steamed up. The temperature in his bag was quite bit cooler that the air temperature because he had some sort of liquid refreshment in there. We do love the early Detroit r&b era that Ryan Shaw is mining but this muscular approach, not just his buff build but the five string bass and heavy hitting drummer, takes the sweetness out it. I couldn’t get past the ready cell phone on his belt.
We ran into Jeff and Mary Kaye on the street and followed them over to the Xerox Auditorium to check out Joe Baione on the vibes. He looked like Jeff Daniels and played in a loose limbed manner that was clearly at odds with the studied approach of his bandmates. I wanted to like the Milt Jackson tune they were doing but I couldn’t get past the disconnect.
We saw the Russians from Second approach on the street. They were wearing their “Artist” badges and enjoying themselves in our strange land. Peggi had them sign her program.
Gary Brandt and a number of fans were in line early for Nils Petter Molvaer at the Lutheran Church. These were people without Jazz passes who were ready to plunk down cash for this guy. We knew nothing about him other than the sound files that we had spot-checked before leaving the house. Nils plays trumpet through two mics, one with an arsenal of effects boxes and one with only reverb. Both the guitar player and Nils had an Apple laptop to augment and mix their sound with. Their spacious, austere sound worked perfectly in the church and it all would have been more relaxing if we didn’t have to watch the performers fussing with the equipment. But I know that is now part of the modern performers’ dialog. The drummer in Nils Petter Molvaer did not have his own laptop but he did have to lock into some loops. I thought their sound was more interesting without the programmed tracks and this guy sounded fantastic playing the drums with his bare hands like he did for the first part of the set. In a song called “Gong” he soloed with a cymbal in his hands while standing in front of a mic confirming that these guys would have sound better without all the non organic trappings.
Never mind that Monty Alexander looked about twenty years younger in the promo photo. He stole the show last night and may be our favorite act at the Jazz Fest. We almost didn’t go but there was line for Tony Kofi at Christ Church so we tried Kilbourn. We sat next to an older woman who greeted us with a smile. I said, “You already saw Monty didn’t you?” She said, “How did you know?” Peggi said, “You have that Monty glow.” She had a Wegman’s bag next to her on the floor, one of the new green ones with the limes on them. She showed us a photo that she had Monty sign after the first show. It was her and Monty outside of Birdland in NYC a few years ago but she was a regular at the Roundtowner in the seventies when Monty came through town on a regular basis. We had heard Monty at Art Park about ten years ago and we were bothered by hs hyperactive quoting of so many songs that you forget what song he is playing. He did a bit of that last night and his sidemen seemed to shake their heads at the cornball tactic but it was all in the name of a thoroughly entertaining show. And entertaining alone would sell him short. He did a song of his called “Hope” with a bowed bass solo that almost made me cry it was so beautiful.
Monty’s drummer could be the best drummer in the world. I was blown away by this guy’s incredible control. He had the perfect touch with every beat. No exaggeration! Both the drummer and bass player had genuine smiles on their faces the entire set. Monty had a blast finding his groove and hit his master showman stride singing Day O and Nat King Cole’s “Lorraine” with a Nat imitation. He reached into into a black bag to pull out a melodica to play amazing versions of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and “Running Away” and then an instrumental that we recognized from Augustus Pablo.
What a gas it was seeing Chico Hamilton play drums at 89 years of age. He was around when the hi-hat was invented. His band recaptured that 50’s west coast sound, both mellow and slinky. Chico’s “Original Ellington Suite” lp with Eric Dolphy is one of my favorite albums and it was a real treat to see him live.
Over at the Lutheran Church Jack Garner introduced Jonas Kullhammar by thanking the Church for bringing a different kind of spirituality to its chambers.He said, “Sometimes the most beautiful prayer is a sax solo.”. Right on!
Jonas Kullhammar was even better in church. The band took a trip to Niagara Falls and the House of Guitars between dates here and they had dinner at Dinosaur Bar BQ. They dig into tunes like Coltrane’s band did, the ballads too, and they go all out. The drummer did an amazing solo on his cymbals. This Swedish band puts their own stamp on this formerly American idiom and make it exciting. These guys are the best band at the fest and we haven’t even heard the rest.
The Andrey Razin & Second Approach Trio over at Montage was small but mighty. These three stock Russians came off like siblings putting on a performance for their family. Lucky us, we were invited and we sat right up front at a table with Hal, Tom Burke and Barbara Fox, Brian Peterson and Tom and Paul Brandwein. Second Approach mixed opera and jazz and cartoon music. Nothing was lost in translation. The vocalists does not sing in any language but music. They were not just wacky, they dove into uncharted WTF territory. They are performing again tonight at the Xerox Auditorium.
The guy on the left is one of our Jazz Fest buddies. We compare notes, sit with each other and he gave us a Duke Ellington quarter the other day. First black man and/or musician on a US coin. About time. Hal is giving one of the coins to the European performers at the Fest and we caught him passing them out to Jonas Kullhammer as we filed into the Xerox Auditorium.
The Jonas Kullhammar Quartet have been together for eleven years. They sound sound that way but they also sound fresh. Jonas jokes with the crowd between songs about looking for a wife in “Beautiful Rochester”. That charm obviously works for him and it may just open doors to their dense, wild, swinging, musically rich music. All four are tremendous players and fun to watch. Our favorite tune of the night was written by the bass player about a former girlfriend. I plan to request that one tonight when we hear them at the Lutheran Church. I’m happy to say I survived this appearance by the band. When they were here five years ago I lost it.
Peggi led the way as we ran from the Xerox Auditorium in order to catch Soren Kjaergaards Optics at the Lutheran Church. The piano player looks like our nephew, Caleb, will in another ten years and we saw him last year in our favorite act of the year, Blake TarTar. He is a delicate and delightful piano player. The great Andrew Cyrille was on drums and contributed the perfect accompaniment to these abstract and beautiful pieces.
We caught a bit of Stephane Wrembel Trio on the free street stage. I dug the guys unusual drum set up. World music drums that he mostly played with brushes. The bass payer looked like a young Bob Dylan. The band is from France and is not a trio. There was another guitar player out of range of my camera. They sounded like they have played their gypsy jazz music a million times.
We stood outside Christ Church for a while because the Neil Cowley Trio had filled the place. While waiting one of the volunteer workers told us that there was plenty of room over at Max’s because people were leaving in droves after each song. She described their music as “very contemporary”, the way some people describe abstract art that hate. We took this as a good review and made a mental note to check them out. Neil Cowley Trio are pegged as the British Bad Plus and that sort of works. The Bad Plus, though, are more rambunctious and unpredictable.
Jon Ballantyne Trio was abstract. No bass player in a trio will clear the air. Jon Ballantyne played the inside of the piano as well as the keys and the drummer bowed a metal percussion instrument while the bass clarinet explored the wide range of this long instrument. It was the perfect way to end the night.
We ran into my brother, Fran, and then Cyro Baptista on the street just after Cyro’s show at Montage. We were knocked out by the way this woman exhaled her cigarette smoke. It seems every time Cyro Baptista steps out of the house he is peforming with a new band under a new name. He has played with everyone from Paul Simon to Yo Yo Ma. Supergenerous featured Canadian guitarist Kevin Breit and Cyro with a new bass player. We were excited to see them because Cyro’s performance with Beat The Donkey in this same club (Montage) a few years back was sensational. This time around the band barely gelled.
Carolyn Wonderland played the night before at Montage and we heard a few rave reviews from friends who caught her so we made a point to check her out when played for free on the street tonight. She was surrounded by the Headhunter’s trappings but all eyes were on her. She is cute and tough at the same time and an incredible guitarist with a great voice. What else is there? She plays without a pick and sings like Janis Joplin. If she is not already huge, she should be.
We walked down East Avenue to the Alexander Street stage to check out the scene and Medeski, Martin and Wood. They were pretty good but nothing to write home about. Wait, we are home, I almost forgot. We have seen and heard so many amazing groups in the last week, our heads are spinning. We stood in line for Catherine Russell but couldn’t get in. We talked to Tom Kohn, Frank DeBlase and Julia Fiqueres outside of Kilbourn while a fight broke out across the street. Frank said, Now it’s a real festival”. Julia had just interviewed Catherine Russell for WXXI’s Sound Stage. Now it’s over until next year. You’d think we would have had enough but we’re thinking of riding our bikes over to the soccer stadium hear Gato Barbieri open for The Roots this afternoon.
I’ve added my last batch of photos from this year’s Jazz Fest here. Click on 2008 Club Pass.
We were in line early for Billy’s Band at Max’s. Someone came by offering Chap Stick courtesy of Toyota and then free Vitamin water. It said “no sodium” but it tasted salty. Must have been the “natural flavoring”.
Billy’s Band looked like a bunch of hobos. In fact they were hard to photograph because they all huddled in circle like bums around a barrel of burning trash. The Saint Petersburg quartet sounded like Tom Waits but they sang Russian. Most of the material was Tom Waits’ too. Tom Waits is good so Billy’s Band was good. The guitar player looked like Abbie Hoffman or a miniature Armand Schaubroeck from the House of Guitars. The bass player worked the room with his broken English and they were very entertaining.
I’ve added some more photos from the Jazz Fest here. Click on 2008 Club Pass.
We spent the morning out at Monroe Wheelchair looking at chairs that take you from a reclining Lazy Boy position to almost upright in less than a minute. We bought the floor model for Peggi’s mom and the guy gave us a good deal on it. We expected the blue green color to be a problem but Peggi’s mom likes it so far.
JazzFest Day 5: We passed John Nugent on the way into the Lutheran Church for Sweden’s Wildbird & Peacedrums last night. He said, “You won’t be disappointed. This is my favorite act of the whole festival”. They were pretty sensational. Mostly voice and drums, they managed to sound like they were playing folk songs from an undiscovered tribe. I have a recording of prison tunes from down south where the songs are all voice with foot stomping, banging or hand clapping accompaniment. Wildbird & Peacedrums kept reminding me of those blues based tunes but in this case they removed the swing like only the Europeans can. Vocalist Mariam Wallentin sang mostly in English, I think. But I could only catch phrases and imagine what she might be singing about. I really liked this aspect.
Doctor Lonnie Smith made a triumphant return to RIJF with two sets in the tent. He is from Buffalo and he used to play sock hops in this area way back in the day so he is a thoroughly seasoned entertainer. He did impressions of Stevie Wonder of Johnnie Mathis. He smiled a lot. He got down on his knees and crawled under his Aztec organ to do a bass solo on the foot pedals. The band got all revved up and muscular but I liked it when they got slow and groovy.
I’ve added some more photos from the Jazz Fest here. Click on 2008 Club Pass.