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DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE DemocratandChronicle.com SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 2010 5 XEROX ROCHESTER INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL Billy's Band shows off hipster credibility s. Vi A V-Vil In Living Artists with upstate ties offer their talents at jazz fest, 1C Palle Mikkelborg brings his zen to Nordic Now Series, 5C Schedule and map, 3C mer did have a few moments when the stage was shimmying beneath his trio. He has a youthful, airy style and a way of connecting with the audience, getting the crowd to sing along with "Ain't She Sweet." The ladies love him. Worthy of note Guitarist Andreas Ob-erg was supposed to light the fire in the quartet he was sharing with pianist Marian Petrescu at the Nordic Jazz Now series at Lutheran Church of the Reformation. But he wasn't allowed into the country on some kind of a passport problem, and violinist Christian Howes was quickly brought in from that Nordic outpost, Columbus, Ohio.
A fill-in? He blew the house away. Hazmat Modine on the free Jazz Street stage was Captain Beefheart meets some kind of Jim Kweskin horn band, including tuba and, when one harmonica WILL YURMAN staff photographer Vadim "Billy" Novik of Billy's Band, sporting a Tom Waits-like look, plays his bass at the Harro East on the opening day of the Rochester Jazz Festival on Friday. JEFF SPEVAK STAFF MUSIC CRITIC What an incongruity. As the ninth Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival opened Friday beneath beautiful blue afternoon skies in the East End, with Gibbs Street closed off for the next nine days, bands of freshly scrubbed high school jazz students studiously played under the watchful eyes of their teachers, perhaps hopeful of one day emulating the magnificent jazz stars who have come to our city. Stars such as Billy's Band, all the way from St.
Petersburg, Russia, the first big show of the day, playing the Harro East Ballroom. Here are the questions they're asking this morning: Jazz can sound like that, as though it's being played on instruments found in an alley? A jazz band can dress like that, like hung-over sleepless beatniks of misfortune? A jazz singer can sound like that, like last call at the absinthe asylum? Sorry, jazz teachers of America, but yes. Billy's Band is jazz at the brink of humanity, yet the group is still able to step back from the abyss and show off its hipster credibility. These guys are ripped poets, with their pidgin English, reminding us that jazz can be a mood. For front man Vadim "Billy" Novik, and the low-life rhythm of his Billy's Band, the epiphany came when he first heard the Tom Waits album For- DEM0CRATAND CHR0NICLE.COM JAZZ Check out our comprehensive site, where you can find the latest in photos, slide shows, videos, stories and blogs.
ON TWITTER Follow staff writers Jeff Spevak (ff jeff spevakl) and Anna Reguero (gannareguero) from the festival. ON IPAD See audio slide shows about jazz fest musicians. doesn't do it, two. At the 10 p.m. show at Kilbourn, the dry wit of Mose Allison, the 82-year-old pianist, served him well.
Allison contributes views of the world that reject much of today's modern geegaws, and this crowd seems to go along with the idea. JSPEVAK 5 DemocratandChronicle.com valid witb anv discount or coupons. I SI More jazz teachers wailed at the Harro chandeliers while Novik crooned, "I want to build a nest in your hair." When they ventured into Russian folk music, with the doomsy harmonies, it was like a Black Sea cruise ship sailing off into the distance, in flames. They're tuned into all aspects of American music. A tremendous gospel moment of hand-clapping and howling calls to Jesus followed Novik's advice to ease the pain from a dog bite by covering the wound with a piece of the dog's skin.
Today's jazz haiku Tattered shirts of doom Hang on the jazzmen's shoulders Like used, torn souls Today's crime blotter Novik wanted to downplay the issue, but some creep crept into the hotel room of two of the Billy's Band guys Thursday night, slipped money out of wallets (leaving credit cards alone) and made off with a laptop (set up for the Russian Cyrillic alphabet; good luck with that). Ain't he sweet One thing you've got to admire about Michael Kaeshammer is, we just don't have enough whistlers. Entertaining a standing-room-only crowd at Max of Eastman Place and entertaining may not be enough of a word the pianist does have a winning, upbeat Harry Connick Jr. way about him. The music is New Orleans by way of Canada, name-checking Allen Toussaint and Professor Longhair, and Kaesham- Buy One "World's Greatest Cheeseburger" i JLAYJJJUi Not other 'mmapggj Expires 71110 3J EXCLUSIVE NEW SERVICE Hoar Instant Info on AIIY Homo from AI3Y Phono! CONCERT REVIEW Gladys eign Affairs.
There are no apologies for that influence. Playing the packed first show, with a line trailing out the door of hopeful folks who wanted in, Billy's Band even ventured into Waits' kitchen with "Clap Hands" and "Way Down in the Hole." "Blue Valentine," with just sax and Novik on electric guitar, was a heartbreaker. The band's own songs explore rarely touched territory such as psychiatric clinics, backed by romantic sax and accordion. Novik, in a Waitsian pork-pie Stetson hat and his shirt buttoned in the wrong holes, even sat at the front of the stage and, with his big double-bass in his lap, strummed it like a guitar. T7 1 i Knignt She said she intended to take us on a journey, and then performed a series of songs from nearly all the stages of her career including "If I Were Your Woman," "Make Yours a Happy Home" (which she sang for the film Clau-dine), "The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me," and "The Nitty Gritty." She really got the crowd with her first Grammy winner, "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)." Her reading was filled with emotion and powerful vocalizing, causing the first of the night's three standing ovations.
Another memorable moment was Knight's tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, a lovely version of George and Ira Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," proof that Knight is as at home with the great up Eastman stage i K.4 153 nam camaro nss TRANSFOKr.lfirtlS EDITION Automatic, RS pkg.STKTC1 811 MSRP $37,975 to if i I4v 6 6 3 Brought to you by: KFHrV-irSl MyRocHome.com '''I' 'J- I n.WWb. Uy TO! Sm trfl 2009 COnVETTH ZOG 2LZ, Navigation, Spicier design chrome wheels STKC1 815. MSRP $82,400 it Buy for 1 1 ngnis Tin Pan Alley songs as with Motown magic. And she got a potent groove going on "I've Got to Use My Imagination." After strutting the stage for the up-tempo tune, she laughingly told the appreciative audience, "I knew when I came out here tonight that you were going to make me hurt myself. But I'll do it for you." The show built toward the final one-two punch.
First there was a rockin' reading of her original "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (which I prefer to Marvin Gaye's later hit). She even included a bit of audience participation. Then, of course, she ended with her mega-hit, "Midnight Train to Georgia" to the night's final standing ovation. All in all, a fine opening for the 2010 Rochester jazz festival. MSRP $22,015 77 cargo tray.
STKS6703. tea' fteo' 'or T3 nwre a 'epa Leaces r. nrl n'M excluded. Must present or mention Ad at Md 1 e7bytt010 AND 0 up to 72mos or Less $5,000 Rebate Total i ikmJ 1 "li' JACK GARNER Gladys Knight and the Pip lit up the Eastman Theatre on Friday night, opening the ninth annual Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival head-liner series with a soulful set in a nearly sold-out Kodak Hall. I say "Pip," because Gladys' brother, Bubba Knight, the last surviving member of the Pips, made a surprise appearance midway through Gladys' 80-minute show.
He sang a version of Al Green's "Love and Happiness." It was an entertaining slice of nostalgia for old Pips fans, but, of course, the night belonged to Gladys Knight, who was always the engine that made the group run, until she went solo in 1989. She had and still has one of the most passionate, deeply soulful voices in music. Knight also has a fine sense of drama, and it shows in how she tells a story with her songs, through gestures and expressions that extend the life of the already impressive vocals. She connects with the audience, and conveys freshness in music that she's been singing for up to 40 years. As she said: "Some of you weren't born yet when I sang these songs." Knight came out in a gray-and-black spangled suit, and performed before a band with two keyboardists, a guitarist, bassist, drummer and percussionist.
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