During the Jazz Festival last year, a secret society formed here at WXXI. In order to join, you had to be a little bit sick of hearing about the Jazz Festival. It was a small group, to be sure, and I cannot reveal the participants. I think they bonded in part because they felt left out of the daily who-did-you-see-last-night-and-who-are-you-seeing-tonight conversations.
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Marc Iacona and John Nugent put out their open hands, palms down, and with heads bowed, raised and lowered their arms to each other. But the real praise on stage last night at the Eastman Theater was for God and the gift he gave Al Green.
Julia Figueras told me first. Then I heard it from Dave Sluberski, WXXI's audio engineer. The Bad Plus brought a singer with them for their Rochester International Jazz Festival appearance. A singer?! I admit I was skeptical. The trio works so well on their own, a singer could only get in the way, I thought.
In his introduction, Jack Garner noted the irony of having a band from Finland perform in the hottest venue at the festival – hot temperature-wise, that is. The Lutheran Church of the Reformation was sweltering last night as the Timo Lassy Band took the stage, or the altar. They began with African Rumble and Early Move, tunes I featured on What’s New a few weeks back.
Nat Hentoff is stalking me.
First I saw his American Legacy article on women in jazz.
Then he pops up in this Lenny Bruce book I've been reading, “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People: An Autobiography.” While on the stand at the comedian’s obscenity trial, Ralph Gleason reads an excerpt from one of Nat’s articles about Lenny.
A lot of times, live music impresses, or fails to, based on your expectations going in. We’ve all been surprised by some obscure opening act. We’ve all been disappointed by a familiar headliner. But there are some performers who are so iconic that their mere presence is off-the-charts exciting. I felt this way about seeing Miles Davis and Chuck Berry years ago, and I felt it again this weekend in Toronto.
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.
I have a friend who works at the Democrat & Chronicle and she has this idea that classical music ought to be covered more like sports events. Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, apparently agrees. In this video, he likens the backstage segments of the Met’s HD simulcasts to a locker room visit during half time at the Super Bowl.
Hillary Clinton spoke first tonight, in New York. When she was done, they played Tina Turner's Simply the Best. When Barack Obama finished up in St. Paul, Bruce Springsteen's The Rising could be heard.
Simply the Best goes like this...
I call you when I need you, my heart's on fire
You come to me, come to me wild and wild
When you come to me
Give me everything I need
Give me a lifetime of promises and a world of dreams
Speak a language of love like you know what it means
And it can't be wrong
Take my heart and make it strong baby
You're simply the best, better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I've ever met
I'm stuck on your heart, and hang on every word you say
Tear us apart, baby I would rather be dead
It’s not like people haven’t told me. Critics have been raving about Lucinda Williams since I volunteered as a DJ at WCVF in Fredonia, when her self-titled record on the Rough Trade label came out. I still remember holding the LP in my hands, and playing "Crescent City" every other shift. Other than that one song, she was a bit rough around the edges for me back then. Maybe now I have enough rough edges myself, but for some reason, her songs have taken me over during the past couple weeks. I borrowed a friend’s iPod recently and spent a sunny afternoon listening to "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" and "Essence" at Highland Park and it was one of those times - a stretch of an hour or two when you are just in the thrall, transported.
One song, "I Envy The Wind," really got to me…