Beginning with the final show, the final song, of the 2008 Rochester International Jazz Fest, I'll be revisiting some of the more curious and memorable performances from this year's festival. Along the way I'll mix in shows from the 2007 RIJF, as well.
In each of the past three years one of my highlights has been ensembles with at least one member in common, Kevin Breit. Last year with Sisters Euclid, he closed out the festival with a riveting instrumental cover of a Neil Young composition.
Two years ago I caught him in the Tent with Folk Alarm Five. Each song it's own little short story, or character portrait. If you knew the title of the song, the music was a perfect portrayal of that topic or persona. I think one song was called "Used Car Salesman". Imagine that described in music. Somehow Folk Alarm Five nailed it each time.
Turns out Kevin Breit was here at least one other time, in one of the legendary shows, accompanying Norah Jones at Max's in Eastman Place just after she broke big.
This year's edition was a band called Supergenerous, featuring Ian de Souza on bass, who was also in Sister's Euclid, and wizard of percussion and mullti-instrumental madman, Cyro Baptista.
There in spirit was the recorded voice of Cassandra Wilson singing what could have been the most unlikely cover song of the festival, "Home on the Range".
Much like Folk Alarm Five, Supergenerous carves images from the music. Titles like "God Didn't Make No Walmart" and "Pining for Fall" give the listener a good starting point on these musical journeys.
Unlikely covers make for an effective shift, at least in my listening experience. The indescribable assortment of percussion devices and sounds kept the music and visuals changing in Baptista's wizard-like way. But it was the cover of Steve Earle's "I Ain't Never Satisfied", that was almost most surprising. A real tribute to the song, and plaintive vocals. The most normal thing in their show has stayed with me for days, either because it was so surprising, or it because it was done so well. Maybe a combination.
Tip of the hat to Steve Earle, too.
Still it was the inventive original compositions that made this a top five show from 2008. Best represented by another of their songs, "World Without Words".
May have to do some research to find which band he's in next year, but it' a good bet that show will surprise you.
Check out Supergenerous in their own words with photos, and music in a superb multi-media presentations by Will Yurman from the Democrat and Chronicle:
And for a whole different take on Supergenerous, photos and personal insights into other jazz fest shows, go to The Refrigerator with Peggi and Paul Dodd:
Click on this year's Jazz Pass.