Written by: David N. Boyer
Photography by: David Boyer Photography
(aka: "Bippy" Cartoonist / Caricaturist)
SPOILER ALERT! Yes, I'm going to be clever here and give you the ending first! If you really like Jazz, or enjoy seeing many venues with a very wide range of music, don't mind crowds over 185,000 plus, being swept in the undertow of a large mass of concert goers rain or shine, then plan on attending the 14th Series 2015 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (XRIJF) June 19-27, 2015. The concert producers realize they have the trust of many people to stage and schedule some of the best music genres and performers from all over the world. Many performers have Rochester and Western New York roots. Almost no concert goer walks away disappointed. Thousands are impressed with their spirits recharged to experience this internationally known jazz festival year after sell out year. Concert enthusiasts can order tickets or club passes early at the jazz festival website www.rochesterjazz.com.
An Interview with Chet Catallo of Spyro Gyra:
This year, everyone in jazz was celebrated at the XRIJF. From a student trumpeter, taught by Bob Sneider at the Eastman School of Music, to a major record album performer and composer, Chet Catallo of Spyro Gyra, the wide range of music presentations was exciting, and the talent was consistently excellent.
Originally from Buffalo, New York and now with, Chet Catallo and the Cats, Chet was kind enough to give us a candid interview. We were very humbled and grateful to Mr. Catallo! You can follow his music on www.ChetCatallo.com. Watch the award winning Chet Catallo, of the well known jazz ensemble, Spyro Gyra, talk about his music writing, new projects, and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:
The History of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
Rochester, NY has been a long time incubator and education center for music talent since at least the days of George Eastman, the founder of The Eastman Kodak Company. Mr. Eastman was a philanthropist as well, with a passion for music. He wanted to promote an appreciation of American music and musicians. In 1921, Mr. Eastman helped establish the Eastman School of Music, which is part of the University of Rochester and very central to all the Jazz Festival physical stages, club venues and attractions on GIBBS Street and EAST Avenue of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. It's also referred to as "XRIJF." You may want to commit that acronym to your music brain. See www.esm.rochester.edu for more information about the Eastman School of Music, because they are truly at the heart of this festival.
John Nugent and Marc Iacona are the two people of an entire dream team who have created and continue to run the XRIJF since 2002. John Nugent is a Co-Producer/Artistic Director (sax performer) and Marc Iacona is a Producer and Executive Director (trumpet performer). John Nugent stated in the program press releases:
"It is always my mission to secure the very finest creative improvisers from all over the world for your enjoyment. We will always live true to our motto: "It's not who you know, it's who you don't know!"
Marc Iacona also stated, "Our goal each June is that our community and visitors to Rochester end each evening with a smile in their hearts having become introduced to many new and familiar gifted local, national and international artists. Also gratifying is the economic impact realized for our City and (Monroe) County throughout the festival."
I have seen both men on stage perform and jam with musicians in both intimate and huge crowd gatherings - and the fans respond. In 2013, Western New York had one of the coldest winters on record. The mighty Niagara Falls was frozen solid. The underground frost line dropped a foot (31cm) or more for some homes causing broken water line problems that never happened before. So people for the June 20-28, XRIJF 2014 were really ready to get their spirit and mind rejuvenated. They wanted to be immersed in the massive, yet peaceful and courteous crowds, forming sort of, in my view, "a music center of worship."
The 2014 XRIJF Line-Up and Festivities:
Some of the major acts and performers were: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Buddy Guy, Janelle Monåe, Nikki Hill, Roy Hargrove, Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, featuring Edie Brickell (both shows were sold out in advance), Cécile McLorin Salvant, Flat Earth Society, Vijay Iyer Trio, Akiko Tsuruga, Jason Marsalis, The Deciders, Sun Trio, Louis Hayes, Dianne Schuur, Lou Gramm Band, Cyndi Cain, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Honey Island Swamp Band, Nate Rawls, Earth Wind and Fire, Soul Stew (eight time visiting band to this festival from Toronto, Canada), and Prime Time Funk. Again this is just a partial list, the full line up can be viewed at http://www.rochesterjazz.com/artist_lineup/.
During the performances, music spread above and beyond the officially scheduled acts of the club pass venues and stages. Several restaurants clamored to get live talent to play for patrons enjoying festive food and drink. Folk musician, Dick Bolt played at a Sunday Church service. Buskers who could hold their own musically, dotted the sidewalks for donations by a swarm of pedestrian traffic the city has not seen in a while. People were truly happy to see these unofficial performances that celebrated enriching live music.
The "hidden gem" free venue I attended in the evenings was the "After Party" Jam Session hosted by the Bob Sneider Trio at the Rochester Plaza State Street Bar & Grill. It was advertised to start at 10:30 pm. But it's wise to grab a seat much sooner to beat the crowds. Why? Because you never know who will stop by or play for an intimate appreciative audience!
Enrich your life with good music! ~ Dave Boyer
There will be more photos, videos and impressions to share of this jazz festival at David Boyer's Photography website.
Visit David at www.DaveBoyerPhoto.com.
Photo captions as posted in this article:
1) l-r Chet Catallo, master guitarist, musician, composer, producer and teacher and David Boyer, photographer. Chet Catallo composed, produced and played with Spyro Gyra from Buffalo NY. He is a six time Grammy nominee. Now he is featuring, "Chet Catallo & THE Cats" (www.ChetCatallo.com).
2) l-r John Nugent on sax, Co-Producer/Artistic Director of the XRIJF jams with his long time friend Bob Sneider on guitar at the "After Party" jam session.
3) A view of just part of the huge crowds of fans on Gibbs street enjoying free concerts, food and merchandise vendors.
4) Michael Sherman on electric guitar was one of many performers at this event.