15 June 2009

Rochester International Jazz Fest - Night Two

After a relatively easy time getting in to shows Friday night, I hit a bit of a snag come Saturday. Arrived on Jazz Street to insurmountable lines at Joey Defrancesco and Erin Bode, so I headed over to Montage for the Terrel Stafford Quartet. Just squeezed in to a packed house at Montage, really the only true club on the club pass. And it isn't typically a jazz club, but they really nail the jazz club feel. And Terrel Stafford was a great act to be catching in that atmosphere. They played a classic straight ahead no frills jazz, but they played it with exuberance and fire. The playing was phenomenal and the band was tight. I later read that the drummer was still in high school! and I am pretty sure Terrel mentioned something about the bassist still being in school too, I assumed college. Youth aside, the drummer was fantastic, hopefully he doesn't unlearn what he hasn't yet learned, because he already has IT. And let's not forget Terrel Stafford who's trumpet playing was of historic excellence. You really knew you were seeing someone special.

Next I made it over to see the final half of Tim Posgate's Banjo Hockey. An interesting lineup of trumpet, clarinet/sax, tuba, and yes, even a banjo. They played mostly composed pieces (read off sheet music) that reminded me of some of Bela Fleck's side projects. Melodic yet layered and complex, soothing yet jarring. I really liked it but was dismayed as a quarter full crowd dwindled after every song, until only a small group remained to hear the final notes.

Stopped in at Nordic Connect and stuck around for a couple of songs hoping they'd get my attention but it was for naught and I made a quick exit to get some dinner and take in some funk, New Orleans-style on the Jazz Street stage with Papa Grows Funk. This was a nice change of pace, but after a slice of pizza, I had more to see. More New Orleans that is. Jon Cleary was just warming up some Fess-style piano boogie over at the big tent. He played a fantastic version of Tipitina and a wonderful tribute to the late Snooks Eaglin. Cleary can pound and belt out a tune with the best of them.

The lines for Joey D and Erin Bode were again astronomical already with an hour left to showtime so I went to hear a little bit of Lianne Carrol scatting and singing, but wasn't drawn enough to stay and decided to wait on line to hear some more of Terrel Stafford. I got in but was stuffed into the back again and had to stand around for a while waiting for the show to begin, my first real wait for music all weekend. Finally the band came on a bit late, and through the first 30 or so minutes they didn't seem to be as on as when I had seen them earlier so I decided to see if I could somehow get in to see Joey Defrancesco for a little bit.

Walked in near the end of Defrancesco's set to a bit of a cheesy ballad and was disappointed to see he wasn't playing a real B3. The band was interestingly 2 keyboards and a drummer and a singer, at least for the time I was there. They closed out the set with "Betty Crocker Blues" and called out RIJF producer John Nugent out to play some sax, and then he and Defrancesco on melodica went at it a bit for a decent jam. The crowd ate it up. He was very appreciative of the crowd's enthusiasm, comparing us to Japanese and European crowds, We go it, he said, and told us it was a spiritual connection. Again, music is a religion. They encored with Take Me Out to the Ballgame (speaking of religion) and got the entire crowd singing, loudly. It was potentially a cheesedog move, but it actually worked quite well.

Sunday I was off to see the Avett Brothers at Water Street but tried to get in a litte jazz beforehand only to be closed out at California Guitar Trio unfortunately. I'm taking a rest day tonight and tomorrow night and will be back on the bus for the rest of the fest, I think...

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