17 June 2009

Rochester International Jazz Fest - Night Five

Sidsel Stromnes, a Norwegian songstress, started off my evening. She sang in perfect English, with no hint of her native accent, and beautifully I might add. Her lyrics were touching and heartfelt, and again, all in English. So when she had trouble coming up with the word to get the audience to snap in one of her songs, it just made me laugh. How was she writing these poetic ballads in English and she didn't even know the word "snap?" While this certainly didn't deter from my enjoyment, I still wasn't too fond of the music. It just wasn't my thing, but she and her band were quite good and the crowd was rapt.

Bonerama played to a surprisingly packed Big Tent. It doesn't appear this venue can reach capacity, but it came damn close here. The three trombone assault blasted through some New Orleans brass and funk. First band that I saw that has truly played loud and it was welcome, though I did see some pop in the earplugs. They had one lone superfan dancer up front for the early set. But when I popped back midway through their late set, there was a huge group of people dancing up front. I wish I had before and after pictures, because it was a hilariously contrasting scene and a great advertisement for what Bonerama can do to a crowd (though perhaps not, as the crowd had dwindled significantly).

Paula Gardiner Trio, from Wales (the 'international' part of the jazzfest's name is no joke), played arhythmic, amelodic pieces. With Gardiner on bass as the centerpiece of the music with constantly moving almost droning lines, the sax (or flute) followed a similar trend in the higher registers, while the drums flourished around it all. The sax became the most rhythmic of all the instruments and it was like a typical role reversal. Huw Warren was slated to join in on piano but in the first 30 minutes of the set was not yet featured unfortunately so I missed out on that.

From somewhat Avant to VERY Avant, up next was Andrei Razin & Second Approach from Russia. They are 30% jazz, 20% classical, 30% opera, and 20% comedy routine. 100% bizarre yet 100% enjoyable. I don't don't know how or why they decided to do what they do, but the fact that they do it and do it well is a source of great amazement to me. Where did they come up with this shit? They left me laughing, smiling, and shaking my head.

The overflow line was too long to wait for Lionel Loueke Trio and it seems I may never make it in to Max this whole week. So the Cuban Dafnis Prieto Sextet it was. From Norway, to New Orleans, to Wales, to Russia, and now off to Cuba. This was quite the trip. The sextet was talented and interesting but somewhat standard for what you'd expect from the instrumentation on stage (saxes, trumpet, rhythm section). Prieto had a very stiff playing style, his body remained almost still, and his arms seemed to move independently, like they were possessed and he had no control over them. Once I caught onto this, I couldn't keep my eyes off of him, it was making me laugh. Peter Apflebaum, seen previously with Jazz Mandolin Project Friday night, made another appearance here and was again fantastic. I wondered though, what was he doing for the past few nights? Did he stay in Rochester? And if so, why hadn't he sat in with anyone else? That is one thing missing from this festival, there are few if any collaborations between all of the artists involved. The setup with each band playing two sets a night probably makes this difficult, but still, it would be nice to see.

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