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Roll call

Our guide to picking and choosing

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To take full advantage of all RIJF has to offer, you have some planning to do. Read this section for short descriptions of almost every act in the festival. Our critics --- Frank De Blase, Ron Netsky, Chad Oliveiri, and Saby Reyes-Kulkarni --- have tried to give you the information you need to decide which acts you want to catch.

The boxes are organized by day and order of appearance, but keep in mind that many musicians perform more than once. So refer to our full festival calendar to see when an artist will first appear. Also, check out the box on logistics for all the venue and ticket information.


Friday, June 10

New School University Jazz Quartet

Just in case you were afraid jazz was getting a little stodgy, this New York quartet stars 19-year-old jazz prodigy Curtis MacDonald. A native of Calgary, Canada, MacDonald has been rubbing elbows and blowing his alto sax with the pros since he was nine. He frequently appears at The Sweet Rhythms Club in Greenwich Village. (FD)

Hilton Ruiz Trio

Among the most elegant Afro-Cuban pianists of the last several decades, Hilton Ruiz has played and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Chico Freeman, and many more. His latest album, A New York Story, featuring saxophonist George Coleman, is a delight from start to finish. Another festival highlight, highly recommended. (RN)

Bill Frisell Trio

See interview.

Denis Parker

They resuscitated rock 'n' roll, and the Brits' affinity for another American art form --- the blues --- also saved it in its early-'60s death throes. One of the saving English was bluesman Denis Parker. Parker now resides in Newfoundland, but his blues standards and originals are pure, low-down Americana. (FD)

Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil founder Kristian Blak was born in Denmark, but he has spent most of the last two decades in the Faroe Islands (in the North Atlantic between Iceland and Norway). That's where he assembled a band with a name based on the idea of the world tree from Norse mythology. When the group appeared at a previous RIJF, audiences loved its ethereal sound. (RN)

Paula West Quartet

On her recent album, Come What May, Paula West is accompanied by an all-star array of sidemen, including Don Byron, Bobby Hutcherson, and Bill Charlap. West more than holds her own in this company, delivering subtly hued renditions of classics like "Lush Life" and "Blues in the Night." (RN)

Sex Mob

The somewhat misleadingly-named Sex Mob jumbles together Dixieland, dub, free jazz, and waltz. The striking thing about the band is its commitment to creating what can only be described as a party atmosphere. Sometimes, the party just goes right off the deep end --- or starts there and somehow finds its way back to shore. At a recent recording session, for example, for the band's latest album Dime Store Grind Palace (the first set of original material after four albums dedicated to other composers' songbooks), bandleader-trumpet player Steven Bernstein purposely didn't show anyone else the material he wrote. (SRK)

autorickshaw

RIJF has always offered a healthy dose of world music, and one of this year's more unusual ensembles is autorickshaw. The group hails from Canada, but its roots are in southern India. Along with Indian tunes, autorickshaw includes jazz classics like "Caravan" and "A Night in Tunisia" in its repertoire. (RN)

Sonny Rollins

If Sonny Rollins were merely one of the greatest tenor saxophonists in the history of music, his place would be secure in the pantheon of jazz greats. But from the beginning of his career Rollins has been far more than a top-notch player. He has written some of the most enduring tunes of the 20th century. Hardly a jam session goes by without someone calling "St. Thomas," "Oleo," or "Airegin." At his last RIJF appearance, Rollins proved that slowing down is not on his agenda. He took one of the longest and most endlessly fascinating solos I have ever heard, venturing out farther and farther but never losing track of the rhythm or structure of the composition. He is a living legend, and this is one of the festival's must-see concerts. (RN)

Gap Mangione Quartet

From his early recordings with his brother Chuck to his latest piano solo and big band CDs, pianist Gap Mangione has been one of Rochester's favorite musicians. His quartet should please the crowd with a mix of standards and originals. (RN)

Harold Danko Trio

Eastman School of Music professor Harold Danko honed his piano skills with Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, and many others. His own trio and quartet albums rival the work of any pianist recording today. His latest CD, Hinesight, is a tribute to Earl Hines. (RN)

Bob Sneider Trio

RIJF acts may change from year to year but late each night, at the Crowne Plaza's State Street Bar and Grill, you can count on the excellent Bob Sneider Trio to host a rousing jam session. You never know who will show up to play after a gig. George Benson, Chris Potter, and Eric Alexander have sat in, as have a wide range of local musicians, from students to pros. Don't miss it. (RN)


Saturday, June 11

Night of the Cookers

Night of the Cookers' 1965 Blue Note recording, Live At Club La Marchal, is considered the quintessential hard-bop album. Hard bop epitomized the late '50s and early '60s jazz era with its swinging groove, extended harmonies, and the incorporation of soul, blues, and gospel. Veterans from that record --- flautist James Spaulding and drummer Pete La Roca Sims --- head up this new inception of the group. (FD)

Al Copley

Piano-pumpin' cat Al Copley will goose this year's occasionally abstract lineup with sweet shuffle and swing. Before transplanting his piano stool to France, Copley spent 16 years with the legendary Roomful of Blues --- which he co-founded with Duke Robillard. Copley plays classic boogie-woogie and jump blues with pimp swagger a la Bullmoose and Wynonie; it's ribald, accessible, and undeniable. Copley proves that the blues ain't nothin' more than jazz without the coat and tie. (FD)

Juana Molina

See interview.

Steve Turre Quartet

Steve Turre earned his wings on the trombone with Rahsaan Roland Kirk as early as 1968. In the early 1970s he played with Santana and Ray Charles. Since then he's worked with many jazz greats, including McCoy Tyner and Dizzy Gillespie. In recent years he has not only earned a reputation as one of the top trombonists in jazz, he has also distinguished himself from virtually all other musicians by playing conch shells with alarming clarity. (RN)

Chaka Khan

It was 1973 when the voice of Chaka Khan first hit the airwaves with Rufus, one of the finest funk groups of all time. With soaring vocals and a chant-like chorus, "Tell Me Something Good" was a huge hit. After racking up the gold and platinum albums Khan left the group, but she had no trouble continuing her hit streak with tunes like "I'm Every Woman" and Prince's "I Feel For You." Prince went on to produce her recent CD, Come 2 My House. Her latest album, Classikhan, finds Khan singing jazz and pop standards accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Khan is a powerful performer with no shortage of great tunes like "Papillion" and "Ain't Nobody" to deliver. (RN)

Will Downing

Just reading Will Downing's album titles over the last several years tells you all you need to know. Pleasures of the Night, All the Man You Need, Sensual Journey: Downing is attempting to claim some of the territory once occupied by Marvin Gaye. Over the years he had some flirtations with jazz, including a cover of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," but his latest album, Emotions, is squarely in the soul tradition. (RN)

Josh Irving Quartet

Josh Irving, a 28-year-old Rochester native, originally studied classical music. But he was profoundly inspired as a young player by the jazz improvisation of Rochester's Paul Smoker (whose Notet also makes an RIJF appearance) and Berklee professor-Fringe saxophonist George Garzone. Irving and his quartet strike a balance between progressive and traditional. Adventurous but eminently listenable, their work swings hard, with Irving's solos subtly subverting the music while still appearing to stay within its bounds. (SRK)


Sunday, June 12

David Weiss Sextet

This year's RIJF has no shortage of top-notch musicians and arrangers, but pound for musical pound, it will be hard to beat David Weiss's group. Weiss is an extraordinary young trumpet player with an equally extraordinary band. On his latest album, The Mirror, cut after cut of mostly original tunes is beautifully composed and arranged with outstanding solos coming from every direction. (RN)

Ravi Coltrane Quartet

See interview.

Dave Mancini Quartet

Since graduating from the Eastman School of Music, Dave Mancini has worked with a Who's Who of jazz greats including Rosemary Clooney, Doc Severinsen, Maynard Ferguson, and Tony Bennett. Well-known for his clinics and workshops, Mancini has also found time to perform with his own group and release the spirited album Salt Peanuts. (RN)

Charles Ellison Quartet

Concordia University jazz professor Charles Ellison circles the globe preaching jazz --- either by blowing it out his trumpet or through his work as jazz historian for the Smithsonian. He has been a member of the Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra since 1991. (FD)

Willem Breuker Kollektief

It's based in Amsterdam, but the Kollektief has become a Rochester staple over the last decade or so. And we probably owe that to the insistence of Bop Shop owner Tom Kohn, who has booked several of the Kollektief's local shows and contributed to the planning for this year's RIJF. It's remarkable to think the Kollektief has been doing its thing for 30 years now. Mainly because what it does is so utterly spontaneous and joyous, it can't possibly be sustained. While many of Holland's best free players (percussionist Han Bennink, pianist Cor Fuhler) are also some of that country's most hilarious musicians, humor and the avant-garde don't exactly come attached here in the States. The 10-member Kollektief is one of the funniest acts around. Add to that their astonishing interplay and their ability to traverse whole genres at breakneck speed, and you've got an evening of accessible and downright silly outward jazz. (CO)

Dov Hammer

In the blues, all roads lead to the Delta (or Chicago), even if you're Israel's premier bluesman. Dov Hammer hangs his hat (and blows his harp) in Tel Aviv, but he was born in Chicago, and so were his blues. Starting out on bass, Hammer switched to the harmonica during his stint in the Israeli army. (FD)

Paradigm Shift w/Wycliffe Gordon

On their new CD, Shifting Times, band members Mel Henderson, Gerry Youngman, and Jared Schonig are joined by stars like Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup, and Joe Locke. One tune from the album, Stevie Wonder's "Big Brother," has become a local radio staple, and deservedly so. With the addition of Gordon at RIJF, the band should be at its best. (RN)

Ted Poor & Third Wheel

Rochester jazz fans will remember him as the drummer in the Respect Sextet. Or maybe they'll recall Maria Schneider declaring, "I want to take him with me," from the stage of the Eastman Theatre at the 2003 RIJF. Any way you look at it, Ted Poor is a great drummer. Third Wheel finds him in a trio with Ralph Allesi on trumpet and Ben Monder on guitar. Not to be missed. (RN)


Monday, June 13

Joe LaBarbera 5tet

Joe LaBarbera has been a well-known drummer on the Rochester scene since his mid-1960s work with Joe Romano and his '70s stint with Chuck Mangione. Although he has played with countless greats, including Tony Bennett, Art Farmer, and Jim Hall, he may be best known for the two years he spent touring with Bill Evans until the pianist's death in 1980. LaBarbera's own quintet, featuring Eastman School trumpet faculty member Clay Jenkins, is a wonderful group. On recordings like Mark Time and Live, propelled by LaBarbera's drumming, the group sustains a vital edge. (RN)

The Bad Plus

There's been a lot of controversy over whether the Bad Plus is really a jazz group. Who cares? It's a hoot. Listen to "Layin' a Strip for the Higher-Self State Line" on Bad Plus's Give album and ask yourself whether it's not the most joyous thing you've heard all year. The power trio consists of Reid Anderson on bass, Ethan Iverson on piano, and David King on the most explosive set of drums outside of a heavy metal band. They are having a blast and so will you. Line up early for this one. (RN)

Toby Koenigsberg Trio

All the keen keyboard chops and insight Toby Koenigsberg shares with his University of Oregon jazz students are culled from his Eastman School of Music education and his time on stage. Koenigsberg has studied piano under Bill Dobbins, Harold Danko, Gary Verace, and Fred Sturm. He has performed with Marian McPartland, Bill Holman, Ben Monder, and Rich Perry (who will be featured saxophonist on Koenigsberg's next release). This trio format will showcase Koenigsberg's thoughtful, straightforward playing style with a combo of melody and improvisation. (FD)

Chiara Civello

She may have been born and raised in Rome, but Chiara Civello has fully assimilated the American singer-songwriter tradition. After attending the Berklee College of Music and playing the Boston club scene, Civello has also emerged as a wonderful interpreter of Brazilian music. Her compositions, notably "Last Quarter Moon," the title tune of her debut album, contain an exuberant youthful charm. (RN)

Orange Alert

Pete Carney's Orange Alert has been dubbed acid jazz but don't let that fool you. Sure, there's sampling and scratching and the occasional trippy instrumental departure, but Orange Alert is more direct than you might think. The group even veers into straight-up funk now and then amidst the pleasant experimentation and casual, chilled-out grooves. (FD)

Alex Torres y Su Orquestra

There will be a lot of smoking bands at RIJF, but none will be hotter than Alex Torres y Su Orquestra. Torres' band is based in Amsterdam, New York, but his soul is firmly rooted in the islands of the Caribbean. His recent album, Punta de Vista, is full of great horn charts and smoky, Cuban-style vocals. This year's festival challenge: Go hear Torres and try to keep still. (RN)


Tuesday, June 14

Karl-Martin Almqvist

Every once in a while a musician you've never heard of knocks your socks off. Sweden-based saxophonist Karl-Martin Almqvist has studied in the US and he's played with top musicians like Pat Metheny and Jon Faddis. But it's his CD, Full Circle, that's won me over. Every straight-ahead cut is a fresh blast of Scandinavian air. (RN)

Mamadou Diabate & Balla Kouyate

Some of the more exciting acts of any jazz festival are those that don't necessarily fall within anyone's definition of jazz but whose spirit somehow still fits. Both from Mali, Mamadou Diabate and Balla Kouyate play in the jeli or griot tradition, an oral storytelling form performed throughout West Africa by an artist caste responsible for preserving and relaying cultural identity. The Diabate family is highly regarded in this tradition; like his father and many of his ancestors, Mamadou plays the harp-like kora. And, like many of the other artists appearing at RIJF, Diabate works to infuse tradition with new approaches. He has collaborated with jazz, blues, and Celtic musicians. Kouyate accompanies him on balafon, which is similar to the Western vibraphone. (SRK)

Manuel Valera Quartet

Considering the maturity of his piano technique, it's difficult to believe that Manuel Valera is a mere 24 years old. Then again, the fact that he was born in Cuba, the son of saxophonist Manuel Valera Sr., and has played with Paquito D'Rivera, Claudio Roditi, the Machito Orchestra, and many others may explain some of his precocious talent. His debut album, Forma Nueva, is a superb, straight-ahead start to a most promising career. (RN)

Ernie Krivda

Early in his career Ernie Krivda played in the bands of Jimmy Dorsey and Quincy Jones; in recent decades he has led his own groups. The fact that Krivda was chosen as the featured saxophonist for a concert in tribute to Stan Getz --- and that he pulled it off beautifully --- speaks volumes about the talent of this Cleveland musician. (RN)

Steve Swell --- Slammin' The Infinite

Trombonist Steve Swell has played it straight with jazzers like Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich and gone weird with outsiders like Anthony Braxton. As a member of the so-called "traditional avant-garde" school, the Jersey-born Swell constructs music that starts out smoothly walking before dissonantly sprinting and ultimately galloping out of control. Not for the novice or faint of heart. (FD)

Strunz & Farah

If you are looking to be dazzled by the blinding speed and harmonic beauty of the Flamenco guitar, Strunz & Farah will not disappoint. Jorge Strunz hails from Costa Rica, Ardeshir Farah from Iran, but they sound like they grew up on the streets of Barcelona, surrounded by rhythmic clapping and romantic dancing. (RN)

Chick Corea

In the late 1960s, when he was a young pianist in Miles Davis' band, Chick Corea was among the first to introduce the electric keyboard into jazz. But that was just the beginning of a career that would blossom through each subsequent decade. Leading groups like Circle and Return to Forever in the '70s, Corea was at the forefront of the fusion movement that broadened the jazz audience in the age of rock. While Corea has lead several more groups since the '70s, maintaining his prowess in both the electronic and acoustic realms, he has also established himself as one of the most distinctive composers in jazz. His best-known tune, "Spain," not only broke new ground in jazz composition, it also came as close as any recent jazz tune to becoming a pop hit. Corea, whose performances range from concertos with orchestras to solo concerts, will visit RIJF with his latest group, Touchstone. (RN)

Tiempo Libre

Mixing traditional Cuban music with Afro-Cuban jazz and straight-up jazz, Miami-based Tiempo Libre is a Latin-rhythm-driven frenzy. This seven-piece band's almost over-the-top groove will surely cause more than a few to pop out of joint. Early in this young (4-year-old) band's career they received blessings from the late Celia Cruz and have gone on to bring their fiery polyrhythmic joy to the world. (FD)


Wednesday, June 15

Lew Tabackin Trio

Philly town's Lew Tabackin pulls double duty on flute and tenor sax. After a stint in the army, he moved to New Jersey in 1965 where he got to work with Tal Farlow and Don Friedman before moving into big band territory playing in bands led by Cab Calloway, Les and Larry Elgart, Maynard Ferguson, and Joe Henderson. Tabackin is widely known and admired for exploring his instruments melodically, rhythmically, and dynamically. (FD)

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

See interview.

Don McCaslin Quartet

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin is not yet 30, but he has already earned a reputation as one of the finest sax players of his generation. While a student at Boston's Berklee College of Music he toured with Gary Burton, and he's been in demand as a sideman ever since. McCaslin is a member of another RIJF group, Circle Wide, but his own quartet should showcase more of his distinctive vision. (RN)

Shuffle Demons

From the sound of its raucous Greatest Hits album, Shuffle Demons is the best party band in Canada. The odd instrumentation --- bass, drums, and three saxophones --- is somehow the perfect combination on tunes that careen between Zappaesque absurdity, Tower of Power precision, and an earthy wit reminiscent of the Fugs. (RN)


Thursday, June 16

Moutin Reunion

Identical twin brothers Francois and Louis Moutin grew up in Paris absorbing their parents' collection of American jazz and blues. Louis (drums) and Francois (bass) recruited Bapriste Trotignon on piano and Rick Margitza on tenor and soprano saxophones to form the Moutin Reunion Quartet. Judging by their recently released Red Moon, this is a formidable ensemble. (RN)

Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet

The rich and raspy notes Harry Allen blows out of his tenor sax are all smoky noir and late night. The sound of his NYC-based quartet is perfect for closing the deal with a date that's on the fence or for lamenting over coffee after you strike out. (FD)

Trio East

Clay Jenkins' trumpet, Rich Thompson's drums, and Jeff Campbell's bass are the ingredients in Trio East. Their recent album, Stop-Start, features a haunting arrangement of Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," a progressive treatment of Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma," and a rousing rendition of Lee Morgan's excellent title tune. (RN)

Lynn Arriale Trio

On its latest album the Lynn Arriale Trio covers "Come Together" and "Iko, Iko," but the compositions that prove most exciting are those written by Arriale herself. With the excellent support of Jay Anderson on bass and Steve Davis on drums, Arriale plays with a winning sense of abandon on hard-driving originals like "Braziliana." She also plays beautifully on more sensitive cuts like "Red is the Rose." (RN)

Mad Science

George Colligan played trumpet before he gained serious attention behind the piano. Now he plays Hammond B3 organ and synthesizer with a little piano and drums as well. Colligan's band, Mad Science, incorporates all of his multi-instrumental talents in a surprisingly tame setting. Colligan's reputation as a reliable session musician tends to precede him, and the music of Mad Science occasionally has an all-too-familiar feel as instruments repeatedly double their light, bouncy lines. Colligan's still quite young (born in 1969), so his style continues to evolve. He has a reputation for inventiveness, which we're sure will come through in his live set if it doesn't exactly shine in our audio samples. (CO)

Dave Brubeck

Anyone who had the good fortune to hear him at the 2003 RIJF knows that Dave Brubeck, now in his eighth decade, is as active and brilliant as ever. On two recent CDs he showcases his unerring ability to make any piece his own. Private Brubeck Remembers is an album of contemporary solo performances of 14 WWII-era songs, including a gorgeous interpretation of "For All We Know" and "Where or When." "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," which closes the album, begins as a wistful ballad, but Brubeck transforms it into a bold declaration before ending the song as a plea. On his latest disc, London Flat, London Sharp, Brubeck demonstrates that he has lost none of his quirky compositional prowess. The title tune's ascending and descending melodies could only come from the man who brought classics like "The Duke," "Blue Rondo a la Turk," and "It's a Raggy Waltz" into the world. (RN)

Circle Wide

Using Miles Davis' pre-fusion experimental period as a reference point, drummer-composer and Circle Wide leader George Schuller allows his pieces to serve as a frame that gives the ensemble's other players ample room. The result is an overall sound that breathes. Circle Wide also favors a quirky, lighthearted approach to fusing different jazz styles. Like other acts in New York's avant-garde downtown scene, Circle Wide pushes post-bop into its uncertain future (will they start calling it post-post-bop any time soon?) but also tends to dance on the margins of the styles it touches on. (SRK)


Friday, June 17

Jacob Anderskov Trio

On his recent albums Even Worse and On the Loose, pianist Jacob Anderskov demonstrates his dexterity in a world of varied and unorthodox time signatures, odd syncopation, and a bass (Michael Formanek's) that sometimes sounds like it's signaling something more ominous than the arrival of the shark in Jaws. Anderskov and his trio are adventurers and their sets should be some of the most progressive of the festival. (RN)

Wallace Roney

Wallace Roney has collaborated with veterans like Chick Corea and Kenny Barron, but he is best known for his solo work recalling Miles Davis. This is not, however, a case of imitation. It is more the result of a mentor-student relationship. When Davis put together a band for the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1991 to re-create his early-1960s collaborations with Gil Evans, he selected a young trumpeter, Wallace Roney, to fill the trumpet chair. And Roney has obviously absorbed many stylistic lessons from the master. His latest album, Prototype, contains wonderful echoes of Davis on ballads like the title tune and "Let's Stay Together," on funk tunes like "Cyberspace," and on straight-ahead songs like "Then and Now." Because of a car accident, Roney's group had to cancel an appearance at last year's festival. His show is bound to be one of the most highly anticipated this year. (RN)

Eivind Opsvik

Eivind Opsvik is one driven Norwegian jazz bassist. He moved to New York City in 1998 and has since been a manic member of that city's jazz scene, collaborating and pitching in on a number of projects and groups. 2003's Overseas was his first release as bandleader --- he gathered some of his favorite NYC musicians to play his compositions. For a free jazzer, Opsvik doesn't write overly cerebral songs. These are slices of life, snatches at mood, and the loose, air-filled pieces seem to be vehicles for Opsvik's fascination with instruments and what each musician is capable of bringing to the party. This young one sounds willing to try anything. So if at times the sound is too jangled, too obscure, or just doesn't seem to gel: wait. Another one's right around the corner. (Erica Curtis)

Gianluca Mosole

When Gianluca Mosole breaks away from some of the too-smooth arrangements (as he does on "Nardis" from his Delirio album) he proves to be an excellent guitarist. His band, called Fusion Project, has made a name for itself in Mosole's native Italy. Join them for a trip back to the 1970s. (RN)

Paul Smoker Notet

Rochester's Paul Smoker applies avant-garde classical influences to the trumpet. Smoker is a longtime teacher who now focuses mainly on composing and playing in a number of projects. His trumpet-playing has a thick, brooding quality which makes it all the more dramatic when he veers between archetypal scale runs and more static, minimal lines. (SRK)

Anders Bergcrantz

In Sweden he's been named Jazz Musician of the Year and has won Album of the Year honors, but you've probably never heard of Anders Bergcrantz. When you hear how he punctuates the air with his trumpet, you will not soon forget him. He can cry through his horn on ballads like "Stella by Starlight" or jump through hoops on a fast-paced rendition of "Footprints." And he's a fine composer to boot. (RN)

Raul Midon

Guitarist-composer Raul Midon hybridizes Latin, r&b, and jazz with an unabashed emphasis on pop. Unlike, say, Quincy Jones or the likeminded Italian artist Jovanotti, who brilliantly filter soulful musical forms through pop via sophisticated, heavily layered arrangements, Midon's work centers around his acoustic guitar and vocals. He prefers to suggest other styles with his fingertips. While he is not shy of radio-friendly convention, he avoids the cluttered, overpowering bombast that plagues modern pop music. Ironically, his lyrical emphasis on optimism ends up bringing a dour, weight-of-the-world sense to his music --- a much-needed breath of fresh air in the navel-gazing world of pop. (SRK)

Chris Botti

Chris Botti may be a pretty-boy trumpet stud in the tradition of early Chet Baker, but he is not without talent. It's just that his beautiful tone is usually wrapped in hokey arrangements and smothered by schmaltzy strings. In the past he earned his stripes as the horn man of choice for Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Natalie Merchant, and many others. (RN)

Madeleine Peyroux

If you've heard her on the radio, you might wonder how Madeleine Peyroux came into her gorgeous, unique sound. First, she honed her singing skill on the streets of Paris with musicians passing the hat for francs. That might explain the comparisons of her voice with that of Billie Holiday, a jazz legend --- and influence --- perhaps more appreciated in Europe. Second, her album, Careless Love, brilliantly produced by Larry Klein, contains an eclectic mix of songs, every one of which Peyroux makes her own. Eliot Smith's "Between the Bars," will make you think of Billie Holiday's "Don't Explain"; Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love" has just the right continental touch; and Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" is delivered with an irresistible Ahmad Jamal-like lope. But Peyroux can also bring new life to some very old songs (like "Lonesome Road"), just like you'd expect from a street singer in Paris. (RN)

Matt Catingub w/The Greece Jazz Band

Man, can that Matt Catingub swing. He has performed (vocals and alto sax) and arranged with everyone from Louie Bellson to Lou Rawls and even (gollee!) Jim Nabors. He currently conducts the Honolulu Symphony Pops and fronts his own outfit, The Big Kahuna And The Copa Cat Pack. His band for RIJF will be The Greece Jazz Band. Formed in 1997, The Greece Jazz Band is a 25-plus all-volunteer big band. The joint is gonna jump, kind of like a Royal Crown Revue show without the pachuco sneer. (FD)

Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentleman

Jon Cleary was born in England, and like a lot of his countrymen, he fell under the spell of American blues, funk, and soul. He was drawn across the ocean to New Orleans and, after absorbing the scene for a few years, he emerged a fully formed funkster. After apprenticing with Walter "Wolfman" Washington, he formed his own band, grooving in the tradition of Bonnie Raitt (who he has also toured with). (RN)


Saturday, June 18

John Scofield Band

Since his days with Miles Davis in the 1980s, John Scofield has carved out a niche in the realm of jazz guitar. It's fast, fluid, gritty, and in your face. In the recent past Scofield has recorded with Medeski, Martin & Wood and toured with his own jam-band outfit, bringing him a slew of new young fans. His latest album, En Route, features his trio live at New York's Blue Note. It's a more straight-ahead effort with Steve Swallow on bass and Bill Stewart on drums, but Scofield loses none of the raunchiness of his guitar sound, until he settles down for a beautiful rendition of Burt Bachrach's "Alfie." (RN)

Soul Stew

Toronto sextet Soul Stew has its heart --- and feet --- in all the right places: Motown, Stax Volt, and the classic soul traditions of Philadelphia all serve as the group's primary feeding ground for inspiration. Where some jazz suffers from an overly polite presentation that causes distance between performer and the audience, Soul Stew doesn't intend for you to just sit there tapping your feet. If you start to jones for a healthy shot in the arm of Marvin Gay and Sly and the Family Stone, look no further. (SRK)

David Eyges/Arthur Blythe/Abe Speller

You may think cello, sax, and drums form an unlikely combination of instruments for a jazz trio. That is, until you hear David Eyges, Arthur Blythe, and Abe Speller. Blythe is the best known of the three and a forceful presence on the group's album, Ace. He's been doing great work on the alto saxophone since the 1960s. But Eyges shines too, expanding the cello from bowed beauty to percussive bass-like accompaniment. (RN)

New Birth Brass Band

New Birth Brass Band trumpeter James Andrews is known as "Satchmo Of The Ghetto" around his neighborhood in New Orleans. The very soul of American jazz is rooted in New Orleans. It is the fatherland. And these seven players are its disciples. (FD)

Craig Roberts & The Jumpin' Jive Band

This year's RIJF has upped the accessibility factor with the introduction of a little more swing and, in the case of Craig Roberts & The Jumpin' Jive Band, its uppity cousin, jive. The aptly fedora'd Roberts sings and plays guitar to classics by Basie, Jordan, Waller, and Calloway. Hi-di-hi-di-hi-di-ho, if you ask me. (FD)

Danielia

Let's call this the new soul. It's pretty hard nowadays to put soul in your music without sounding at best referential or at worst derivative. But somehow, NYC's Danielia Cotton pulls it off. The woman sings big and plays big with a nod to what would be called classic rock if it weren't so damn fresh. Danielia Cotton is just what we need: a little rock 'n' roll to augment the festival's reigning jazz. (FD)

Dave Pietro and Banda Brazil

Alto-saxer Dave Pietro blows the type of mellow cool that rivals romance. A player's player, Pietro has played with everybody: The Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Harry Connick Jr., and John Pizzarelli. He was also lead alto sax with The Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra from 1994 to 2003. (FD)

Derek Trucks Band

A prodigy on the blues guitar, Derek Trucks was on the road playing gigs all though his teenage years. By the time he was in his 20s his reputation was so strong he was asked to tour with the Allman Brothers Band, playing slide guitar. But it's his first-rate, free-form improvising group that should bring a large crowd to the outdoor festival stage. (RN)

In This Guide...

    Rochester International Jazz Festival 2005

    'Some nice music'
    500 musicians. 100 acts.

    Giant footsteps

    Ravi Coltrane forges his own path on the saxophone
    Ravi Coltrane forges his own path on the saxophone

    In her dreams

    Juana Molina’s nighttime missives have been keeping us happily awake
    Juana Molina’s nighttime missives have been keeping us happily awake

    On screen: 'Miles Electric'

    The jazz film makes a welcome reappearance in the RIJF lineup this year. On Wednesday, June 15, at the Eastman Theatre, you can relive the great plugged-in controversy as it related to Davis, not Dylan, during a free 8 p.m. screening of Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue.

    Get your jazz on

    The Rochester International Jazz Festival's fourth year is its biggest so far, and seeing your favorite acts may take a little planning. Three concert series

    Bending chords

    Bill Frisell re-invents the jazz guitar
    Bill Frisell re-invents the jazz guitar

    Music from the first voice

    Kahil El'Zabar takes percussion from Africa to America
    Kahil El'Zabar takes percussion from Africa to America

    Bass ambitions

    Jay Leonhart strokes at Swing 'n Jazz
    Jay Leonhart strokes at Swing 'n Jazz

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