June 21, 2008

Rochester International Jazz Festival 2008 Day 6 and Day 8


The 2008 Rochester International Jazz Fest is in full swing, and this page has been taken over and re-dubbed for the week.  If you are looking for other RIJF goers who seek virtual and face-to-face interactions, check these guys out:

I’ll add others during the week as I find them.  I’m always looking for discussion, argument, and reflections on one of my favorite weeks of the year, so please e-mail or comment, and maybe even say hello at a show.

“I’ve got a bad liver and a broken heart…”  Tom Waits 1976

“I am a sick man.  I am a spiteful man.  I think there is something wrong with my liver.”  Fyodor Dostoevsky 1864

I saw Billy’s Bandlast night and I am not sure yet what to think.  Dressed like Tolstoy and singing lyrics that are Dostoevskyesque (Dostoevskian?) they are on one hand a very good Tom Waits tribute/cover band and on the other a group of excellent musicians reclaiming and applying an aura and aesthetic that is very Russian.  I’m just not sure where the percentages are yet.  Feel free to make your own judgement.

There were times when the act was so dead-on in the channeling of Waits that it bordered on creepy, but at other moments the detailed shuffling choreography and original music in Russian were strikingly beautiful.  It will take further experience for me to decide if these guys are ripping Waits off, or building on his foundation, but I’m leaning towards the latter.  Either way, I enjoyed the set.  As musical theater it was excellent and entertaining.  The judgement of the crowd was certainly positive as it demanded and received an encore of Waits’ Blue Valentines.  I was hoping for Cold Cold Ground, but I was happy they came back.  On a side note, I think Billy Novik’s voice sounds more like Louis Armstrong than Tom Waits, so they could easily expand their jazz repertoire.  Don’t forget, Modeski, Martin, and Wood’s debut album was Notes from the Underground, and they are playing tonight.

While I took Thursday off, I did catch Wild Magnolias and Jake Shimabukurothe day before.  Jeff Spevak of the D & C mirrored my own assessment in his take on the New Orleans group, so see him about it.  Shimabukuro is a different matter.  He was difficult see on Wednesday once the buzz got out, and my wife and I were lucky to get in line early enough to receive a red ticket being given out before the show.  (I don’t if that was High Fidelity, or RIJF, but it was a basically good idea for managing the crowd.)  Shimbaukuro is the real deal, and while the venue and crowd lessened my enjoyment, I’ll have to give him another shot if he returns in the future.  I was leaving when he showed up at State Street later that night, but I heard that he wowed the crowd, including local guitarist Bob Sneider who plays master of ceremonies at the nightly gig.

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