Tom Harrell slowly walked from stage right. Standing just off center stage in Kilbourn Hall. One movement wove into the next in short, deliberate steps. Long, crumpled coat, raised, and lowered, arms guiding the seven piece chamber ensemble through jazz interpretations of works by Debussy and Ravel. Some familiar moments, some familiar instruments in an unknown song. Like ghosts in the trees.
Arriving earlier than usual on Day One at RIJF, we had a nice walk through the streets as bands tuned up, vendors stocked up, and fans lined up. It was barely past 4 pm and the line was around the fence for Acoustic Alchemy scheduled to play Harro East Ballroom at 5:30.
When first considering the best music of this year, I posed the question to the facebook community. After all the music I had heard over the year, it was surprising how much of it I hadnâ€™t, and how much of that shows up as favorites to those who have heard it.
Born in Paris, raised in the rich landscapes where Impressionists first painted, Stephane Wrembel blends many influences with his Django Reinhardt guitar stylings. The greatest influence seems to be his own dedication to the music.
Open the doors and they will come. Eastman Theater was near to capacity on Sunday, for a celebration a long time in coming. After producing 2,499 shows, John Nugent took the stage himself for his 2,500.
Early on in his first performance at Harro East, Saturday in the Rochester Jazz Festival, multi-instrumentalist Lucky Peterson took to the keys, alternating between Hammond B-3, the Yamaha, vocal accents, actual vocals, and the art of facial expression. Sometimes doing a combination of them at the same time. A most captivating performance.
Mark Murphy took the stage at the Harro East Ballroom in a broad shouldered black suit, blazing red shirt and tie, and the 2011 Rochester International Jazz Fest officially began. It encapsulated the festival experience. Little voyages into cultures and musical neighborhoods as the unfamiliar becomes revealed. Scatting the forgotten word.ï»¿
A few years ago, my colleague Laura Garrison formed a club for WXXI listeners who are passionate about travel. She and former morning host Simon Pontin led a trip to Austria in 2008. Last year, a small group went to Costa Rica with WRURâ€™s Scott Regan. When Laura asked me to co-host a trip to northern Italy in 2011, I was thrilled.
In reviewing the music of 2009, I was struck by how good it actually was. My first thought was that no one recording knocked me out as the run away best of the year, but there were so many exceptional ones, it was hard to pick just ten.
Songwriter Jack Williams stopped by the station today for some live music, and interesting conversation. I found out he is good friends with Dayna Kurtz, whose song Venezuala (on her album: Another Black Feather) has been a favorite of mine since first hearing it. His own music is mostly original with strong guitar accompaniment.