June 11, 2007

Weekend O' Jazz: The Recap


My Irish Creme latte and I enjoyed the Newark High School Jazz Band's free outdoor performance before Kari, Ben and Ken arrived. After catching up with Kari for a bit, I made my way to the Big Tent to see what the Stephane Wrembale Trio was all about. Well, it was all about some captivating gypsy jazz with the most incredible percussionist I've had the pleasure to enjoy. The ensemble as a whole put forth a fun, energetic set, but I was particularly keen on David Langlois and his lap contraption that he played marvelously with thimbled fingers. I didn't get as close-up of a look as I would have liked, but it appeared to be a washboard with a mini-cymbal, clay pot and pie tin attached atop of it. The performance was first-rate. Ken meandered into the tent for the latter part of the set, and upon its conclusion we went in search of Seth.

We connected with Seth and his family and opted for some more outdoor entertainment. We caught the end of the Mambo Kings and stuck around for a few numbers by the Los Lonely Boys -- a group I discovered accidentally a few years ago, and was psyched to catch for a few live tunes. Apparently, all of Rochester was pretty psyched to catch them, as the crowd proved difficult to squeeze out of when time came for us to make our way to the Reformation Church for Zanussi 5.

But get to the church on time, we did [of course the My Fair Lady tune is now running through my head] and little did we know the treat we were in for. I confess, I was a bit skeptical after the first thirty seconds, but before I knew it, I was entranced. If orderly chaos has a musical equivalent, this Norwegian quintet centered on saxophone play is it. I can't explain the music except to say that it was, in a word, Awesome. The musicians created richly multi-layered sounds, satisfying cravings I didn't know I had. Each piece left me feeling the same way I feel upon reading a great book -- totally and utterly satisfied. I imagine this is how the Apostles felt at Pentecost. [And I'm not a religious one]. How fitting for this group to have played in the Church.

The night was still young, so we trooped over to the Crowne Plaza Hotel for the after-hours jam session and caught the final two sets. When I got home, it was 2:30 AM.


After leisurely sleeping in, I stopped by the office to put in a couple hours, which mainly consisted of setting up shop in my new office space. Grabbed a late lunch at Cibon -- my new favorite place -- before heading over to Jazz Street. Upon arrival, I ran into Greg, and shortly thereafter Seth ran into us. Ken was not far behind, and we lined up for the Fred Hersch Trio. The line formed rather early, and I managed to get a little bit of knitting done while waiting in line:


A while back Jenna asked if I'm becoming a sock knitter. Not really, but they're just so darn portable! At any rate, this sock will soon be looking like its mate (and yes, I've been working on the same pair for the past few months! Sock 1 finished up in a matter of days, but time languished between then and the start of Sock 2):


Fred Hersch and his bandmates gave a solid performance in the traditional style. I confess though that it was mellower than I anticipated, and at the end left me feeling a little sleepy. That may have been the reason for why I responded the way I did when we moved on to check out Lotte Anker. Going into the "free jazz" performance, we were 2 for 2 on the Nordic Jazz Now Series at the Church. Seth bought his first CD in ages after Lotte's performance, but yours truly ... well she had a bit of a nap. We stayed long enough for two [long] numbers -- the first one seemed to me just noise. I likened my response to that of babies falling asleep when they're bombarded with too many sounds, and end up just blocking everything out. Don't get me wrong -- she wasn't bad -- she was just interesting, and to me, indecipherable. There were measures here and there that were flavorful and promising -- just not enough to hook me, I guess. To me, she's the Jackson Pollock of jazz.

After Lotte, we parted ways with Greg and sat in for Mr. Something Something at the Big Tent. The band was quite good. The vocals, not so much. Mr. Something Something wanted to be Sting. The thing is, there's only one Sting.

Sunday's finale was at Max and we rushed over to try and get seats before Lalo took the stage. Unfortunately, only meager ones were to be found. They didn't seem so horrible at first, but as the show progressed, stragglers came in and stood in front of us, blocking our views. Seth left in frustration before the set concluded, and Ken and I exited not too soon thereafter. It was too bad, because I really enjoyed the performance. Lalo manipulated the vibraphone with grace and wit, enhanced by the fine complementary performance of partner Jack West on his 8-stringed guitar. The two were clearly enjoying themselves, which added yet another layer to their output.

All in all, a great weekend. Hitting the festival during the work week is a bit daunting, but this gal plans on giving it a go.

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