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RIJF names three headliners for 2020


 [ UPDATED 2/26/20 ] This article has been updated to reflect additional concert announcements concerning this year's headliners at the Rochester International Jazz Festival.

The 2020 Rochester International Jazz Festival is closer than you think, and the upcoming iteration of the nine-day marathon festival once again features popular headlining acts that have forged influential creative legacies over the years by  merging multiple genres.

Buffalo jazz fusion group Spyro Gyra, pianist Monty Alexander with Rochester's Garth Fagan Dance, and disco innovator Nile Rodgers and his band Chic are all playing the Kodak Hall stage at Eastman Theatre in late June as jazz fest headliners. Tickets for all three performances go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, December 6. For more information, visit

Jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra.
On Tuesday, June 23,  Spyro Gyra brings its proprietary blend of smooth jazz, R&B,  pop, and Caribbean influences that first made the Western New York band a success back in the 1970s. This performance marks saxophonist Jay Beckenstein and company's first appearance at the Rochester jazz festival.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Garth Fagan Dance, the beloved Rochester-based dance company teams up with the revered pianist Monty Alexander and his Sextet to interpret quintessential jazz works through both music and movement. The Wednesday, June 24 performance is a rare collaboration , especially in the marquee spot at the festival.

Simply put,  guitarist-songwriter Nile Rodgers has written, co-written, or produced  many of disco and dance-pop music's most enduring songs: "Good Times," "Le Freak," Sister Sledge's "We Are a Family," "Let's Dance" by David Bowie,  the Daft Punk hit "Get Lucky," and many more. Rodgers and his classic band Chic play their winning brand of soul, funk, and R&B on Friday, June 26, closing the Kodak Hall concerts at the 2020 festival.

Additional headliners take the Rochester International Jazz Festival firmly in the direction of country music. The  trio Puss N Boots — jazz vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Norah Jones (yes, that Norah Jones) and Sasha Dobson, along with bassist Catherine Popper — will play the on Friday, June 19. The headlining concert on Saturday, June 20 features country music star Wynonna Judd with her band The Big Noise, along with musical support from A Country Tribute Celebration playing the music of Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, and Eric Church. Both concerts take place at Eastman Theatre's Kodak Hall, with tickets going on sale Friday, February 28, at 10 a.m.