22 June 2009

Rochester International Jazz Fest - Night Nine

I couldn't stay long for the last night of jazz fest so I had a short and specific agenda. I arrived too late to get into Joe Lovano but seeing as though I would not be able to make the 10 show, I waited. I waited for a good 45 minutes before they let us in. Lucky for us stragglers, Lovano played for another 45 minutes, a lengthy set by this festival's standards. I arrived to the blissful noise of an odd-time-signatured polyrhythmic freely-improvised near masterpiece. I eyed the singer sitting at the side of the stage with trepidation. But when she, Lovano's wife, rose up to sing, no words came out, her voice was her instrument, an instrument that no man-made instrument could mimic completely. Her range was incredible. She would pick up where her husband's solo left off and travel on her own improvisational journey. Lovano switched often and seamlessly between his unique arsenal of intstruments, including his tenor sax, and what I later learned was an aulochrome (essentially two soprano saxes fused together -- an instrument Rahsaan Roland Kirk would be playing if he were still alive) and a taragot, a Turkish woodwind that looks and plays similarly to a clarinet. Equally interesting was Francisco Mela's drumkit, with its many cymbals, one of which was purposefully cracked, and many toys which he would throw onto his kit creating new and interesting sounds. Cameron Brown on bass was not content to hang back and bang out basslines, he was adjusting and shifting his lines constantly. And James Weidman might be the most selective piano player I have seen, hitting only the necessary notes, nothing more nothing less. I wish I had seen the whole set, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Perhaps I should have left the festival on that note, but I wanted to catch one more bit of Norwegian jazz, which was some of the most consistently good stuff I had seen all week. Delirium though, was a disappointment for me. The trumoet and sax up front were interesting enough, but I found the rhythm section to be completely lifeless, and the music just hung and died because of it. I gave them a good half hour before I called it a night and thus my first RIJF (not counting the lone Bad Plus set I caught last year) came to a close. I will try to add a summary post sometime soon. Already looking forward to next year, they should be selling next year's club passes at this year's festival, or at least immediately following, while it is still fresh in everyone's minds.

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