June 09, 2007

I'm Back ... I Think!

It's been a couple months since I moved in, and even longer since I've been set up at home with the internet. I finally finished unpacking (more or less) over Memorial Day weekend, and Mr. Cable Guy came and hooked me up this morning.

Can't say that there's that much to catch up on though in terms of the time I've been "away." Haven't done much knitting and the hockey playoffs were heartbreaking. 'Nuff said.

Serendipitously, I appear to be back online just in time for the Rochester International Jazz Festival. I defer to my betters for their analyses of the performances, but you'll find me here spouting out my own naive impressions.

I love all kinds of music but I enjoy jazz the way I enjoy art -- I am not particularly well versed, but I know what I like and what I don't like. For more thoughtful reviews, I'd recommend going here, here and here.

Last year I got my feet wet in the jazz festival hitting the free shows. I was lucky to get a taste of Club Pass life when Kelly scored a pair for a night, and after that I was determined to get on the bandwagon for this year. After yesterday's opening performances I'm glad I did, and thank Ken & Seth for letting me tag along with them.

With all the best intentions to jet out of work early, got stuck at the office finishing up a few things. The gig at the Montage had already started by the time I caught up with the guys.

Perhaps it was because I was sweat-drenched from the suffocating humidity; perhaps it was because our server first passed me over and then forgot my drink until much later; perhaps it was the lackluster acoustics. Whatever the reason, that first trio didn't impress me. There was no chemistry between the musicians and I felt like I was watching three separate performers. The drummer tried too hard and the bassist didn't try hard enough. The pianist was the only real talent in the group. Seth contends in their defense, that there was a lot of talking when the trio started [before I got there] while they were trying to find their way, so there was likely a bit of mutual disrespect going on. It probably didn't help that most of the audience was expecting to see a very different act, and had virtually disappeared by the end of their set. Still, I've seen and heard better.

Luckily, that opening didn't portend poorly (and I'd note that both Seth and Ken enjoyed the Montage performance). After connecting with their friend Greg (likely the most knowledgeable local aficionado), we stopped in briefly to catch a few numbers by the Shuffle Demons before hitting the Lutheran Church of the Reformation for an incredible performance by the Peter Asplund Quartet. My biggest beef with the first group we saw was the lack of chemistry -- Peter Asplund's crew however was the epitome of chemistry working at its finest. I was pleasantly surprised by the church's acoustics, which turned out to be the perfect venue to catch this quartet. Asplund's trumpeting is akin to fine storytelling -- the kind where you're hanging onto every word until the end.

Esperanza Spalding was our final stop of the night -- and what a great way to end it. It's impossible not to get caught up in this twenty-something's playful scat. She adds a flavorful Brazilian touch and was clearly just having a blast. The energy emanated from the band and spread through the packed house (I'd note that we caught her second set of the night). Drummer Francisco Mela stole my heart. The performance was just pure fun.

On that note (pun not intended, really!), I'm off to take care of some errands before hitting tonight's sets.

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