Lucky 7

The seventh edition of the Rochester International Jazz Festival starts a week from today. If you’re going, you’ve probably already started mapping out your plan for the week. There's no need to restrict yourself to just one show each night, but here are my picks for the don't-miss events...along with some words to consider from Holden Caulfield.

Friday, June 13 – Timo Lassy Band at Lutheran Church of the Reformation
Of all the promo discs the RIJF folks sent over to WXXI, Timo's was the one that really jumped out. He's a saxophonist from Finland with an earthy, urgent soul-jazz sound.

Saturday, June 14 – The Bad Plus at Kilbourn Hall
Piano trio from Minnesota bristling with energy and ideas and odd covers (Blondie, Tears for Fears, Nirvana, Bowie).

Sunday, June 15th – WXXI Jazz Films at the Eastman Theater
A free screening of some of our old “At The Top” shows. If you look close you’ll be able to spot a dashing young Tom Hampson in the audience. A dashing older version of Tom will be introducing each episode.

4:00 pm: The Count Basie Orchestra, featuring Jimmy Forrest, Al Grey, Butch Miles and Freddie Greene.
5:00 pm: The Modern Jazz Quartet for a half-hour, followed by French violinist Stéphane Grappelli's Quartet.
6:00 pm: The Woody Herman Orchestra, featuring Eastman graduate Jim Pugh on trombone, followed by Manhattan Wildlife Refuge — the big band of trombonist Bill Watrous.
7:00 pm: The duo of pianist Oscar Peterson and guitarist Joe Pass

Monday, June 16th – Cindy Blackman Quartet at Harro East Ballroom
Here’s a clip of Cindy playing drums with a different band. Hopefully she’ll bring the shades and the afro to Rochester.

Tuesday, June 17th – Jacky Terrason at Max of Eastman Place
One of the few, if not the only, solo piano show of the festival.

Wednesday, June 18th – David Murray at Kilbourn Hall
If you ever feel like a saxophonist isn't quite putting all of himself into a performance, you'll like Murray. He can play soft and quiet, and he can honk and wail, too. You'll be feeling it either way. This one is a close call though, because of the unique potential held out by the Jazz at the Philharmonic show at the Eastman: a bunch of terrific players, not touring together, but onstage for one night. Should be interesting. Could be spectacular.

Thursday, June 19th – Tierney Sutton at Max of Eastman Place
With all due respect to Al Green, Tierney’s the best singer at the festival this year. There’s not much of her on YouTube, so maybe you’ll enjoy the picture. By the way, this is my pick even if she has laryngitis and can’t sing a note.

Friday, June 20th – Al Green at the Eastman Theater
At this point, maybe you’ll be tired of the walking bass and the ride cymbal and the horns going blippity-bloopy. Join the congregation as the Reverend, with that beaming smile, smooths it all out.

Saturday, June 21st – Medeski, Martin & Wood
Funky, fierce, free…outside at the corner of East and Alexander at 9pm.

One last recommendation...Rochester’s own Bob Sneider leads a free jam session every night at the Plaza Hotel on State Street. Festival performers (and other locals) sometimes sit in. Maybe Tierney will show up!

As for Holden Caulfield, about half-way through The Catcher in the Rye, he catches a cab to Ernie’s, a night club in Greenwich Village. The owner plays piano and is “so good, he’s almost corny.” Holden admits, “I don’t know exactly what I mean by that, but I mean it. I certainly like to hear him play, but sometimes you feel like turning his goddamn piano over.” When he arrives the place is jam-packed. “I’m not too sure what the name of the song was that he was playing when I came in, but whatever it was, he was really stinking it up. He was putting all these dumb, show-offy ripples in the high notes, and a lot of other very tricky stuff that gives me a pain in the ass. You should’ve heard the crowd, though, when he was finished. You would’ve puked. They went mad. People always clap for the wrong things.”

»