Yesterday was “family and friends” night at the Rochester International Jazz Fest for me and mine.Â Perhaps I should call it “civilians” night.Â In addition to the diversity of the acts, the diversity and compatibility of access is one of the great aspects about this jazz fest.Â I am coming toÂ fully appreciateÂ the way the “Four Series” theory is coming into practice.Â It is obvious that the organizers of this event have put great thought and planningÂ into the nuances of how different kinds of people will access and experience the multiple entertainment streams.Â Nugent and Iacona are both jazz musicians, and their ability to coordinate this quartet are readily evident after just two days.
What the hell did he just say?
Let me use my experience on Day Two to illustrate what I mean.Â Here is an opportunity for the organizers to get a lot more information from me about myÂ Jazz Fest experience than they will get on the surveys that we are repeatedly asked to fill out on the street.Â I will pay some attention to whereÂ and on what I spent money , who I saw, and with whomÂ I interacted in terms of their festival attendance pattern.
My wife and I live in the Upper Monroe neighborhood here in Rochester, NY.Â We are both schoolteachers with no kids.Â We have attended all six of the festivals, and I am on my fourth Club Pass.Â She does not get theÂ Pass because sheÂ usually comes out to one or two of the Club Pass venues during the week and sees the free shows on the weekends.Â My dad, who lives in Northern Pennsylvania, usually comes up to see one of the Eastman shows because the event falls conveniently near Father’s Day and I am a good son.Â Last year we saw Woody Allen together, and this year I got him tickets toÂ see Jerry Lee Lewis.
So last night, my dad arrived from PA and we headed over to Jazz Street.Â We met Ken and his family, had a few beers and watched Scott Goudie.Â Greg, one of my jazz blogging/Club Pass buds who I met two years ago because of this jazz festival and the online world, came along and stopped to do some coordination with us.Â Greg headed over to see the early Zanussi 5 set, Ken went to catch the end of Stephane Wrembel in the Tent as his family headed home, and we had a sandwich and salad on the sidewalk at Java’s.Â
As the Shuffle Demons arrived and were setting up, Ken and Jane, a friend and first year Club Passer (We’ve hooked her!), came along after the Wrembel set was over.Â My dad headed for the Eastman show, and Jane, Ken, my wife and I headed to see the end of the Mambo Kings on the Chestnut Street stage.Â We had a few beers, jostled with the crowd, and watched the gathering of theÂ Los Lonely Boys fans swell beyond the limits of East Avenue.Â We ran into a variety of people we knew.Â My wife went to meet her sister who was coming down to see Los Lonely Boys, while Ken, Jane, and I headed over to see the second Zanussi 5 set.Â After Zanussi, we caught up with my dad, who was watching the end of the Shuffle Demons after leaving the Eastman Theatre, and my wife and her sister coming from Los Lonely Boys (the jazz festival and our ability to coordinate experiences is enhanced greatly by cellular phones).Â We all headed for State Street to see Bob Sneider and his Jam Session.Â There we met Greg again to record our nightly podcast wrap up.
So why do you or I care?Â Well, I guess I want to illustrate how the organizers have slowly and carefully developed this event by being excellent facilitators of the experience.Â By juxtaposing diverse acts, good location, and access opportunities, the festival has successfully created an experience that appeals to a wide variety of Rochesterians and is now becoming a destination for an increasing number of visitors.
I also love the fact that as one travels around the festival, it is impossible to miss Nuget and Iacona in the thick of things.Â Both are highly visible as they hand out Club Passes, talk to fans, deal with unhappy attendees, and sit in at State Street after hours.
And in addition to appreciating the organizational and improvisationalÂ mastery of the festival as a whole, I heard some great music.Â
Scott Goudie, a Canadian blues guitarist, played a great set at the Jazz Street Stage.Â He grabbed my attention with a rousing rendition of Robert Johnson’s Dust My Broom followed by Preachin’ Blues.Â With tunes by Mose Allison and Tom Waits among others, I really enjoyed the hour.
The Mambo Kings and Los Lonely Boys drew a crowd that evoked memories of Mardi Gras.Â Both groups had people movin’ and groovin’ for several hours.Â
The real treat for me was Zanussi 5 at the Church.Â Three sax players, a bassist, and a drummer provided plenty of cowbell, and any other sound they wanted to make.Â Using quick solos and a variety of interesting sounds created through the collective effort of multiple instruments, these Norwegians gave me one more Nordic act upon which to lavish praise.Â These guys combineÂ traditionally crafted pieces with a penchant for going wild, usually in the same song.Â Their encore was one of the best I’ve seen at the festival, and communicated a wonderful sense of humor that is becoming a trademark of theÂ festival’s Viking set.
So looking ahead to Day Three, I plan on branching out and seeing some of the acts that are off the beaten path.Â I think I’ll hit the Smugtown Stompers and the Dave Glasser Quartet before heading to the East End.Â Among the contenders for my attention will be Sakia Laroo, Lalo, Revision, Lotte Anker, and Mr. Something Something.Â As usual, I will miss something good, but it can’t be helped.
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