Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on June 17, 2011 · Page 17
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page 17

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Rochester, New York
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Friday, June 17, 2011
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Page 17
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FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2011 3C XEROX ROCHESTER INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL Frisell experiments with wild side DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE DemocratandChronicle.com JEFF SPEVAK Staff music critic It's a competitive field, but Bill Frisell has set a new standard for This Stuff Is Either Incredibly Great Or I Don't Get It, Jazz Division. Thursday night's first set at a packed Kilbourn Hall was the most wildly experimental of Frisell's four appearances at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Frisell veterans expecting heartbreaking versions of "Shenandoah" left empty handed. At this level, violinists may abstain from the bow, preferring to pluck at their instruments, which Eyvind Kang did as the trio eased into its first piece. With drummer Rudy Royston gently brushing his cymbals, Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers redefined ease. It was a good three minutes before Frisell patiently adjusting knobs and foot pedals attached to his red electric guitar produced anything that sounded like a note intended to accompany his band mates. You couldn't pinpoint a geographic starting point for this sound. Vaguely Asian, if only for Kang's violin, but also late-night desert, like the soundtrack for a David Lynch film. "Beautiful Dreamers" completely ignored the potential of their instruments to produce melody. Chuck Mangione would run screaming from the packed room. Everyone seemed to be thinking: Are they making this up? Well, yes, it's jazz. This was crazier than Dylan going electric, or k.d. lang on Jazz Street standing in line for a pulled-pork sandwich. For moments it would make sense, then fall away into confusion. Frisell never paused to explain. But by the smile on his face and nods to his fellow musicians, it appeared everything was going according to plan. Then, 20 minutes into the show and, suddenly, hip jazz riffs emerged! It was like the sun appearing through the smoke of a forest fire. From there on, the comfort of conformity HEADLINE SHOW Admiring audience gets 'fabulous' JACK GARNER Wishing a happy 10th birthday to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, k. d. lang brought her lower-case name and new Siss Boom Bang band to a sold-out Eastman Theatre on Thursday night, but expressed a bit of confusion about whether what she does really counts as jazz. Well, we've gotten used to artistic director John Nugent's ever-broadening definition of jazz and welcome it. And these veteran jazz ears heard a lot of vocalizing with deep feeling and effective improvised timing, and her band proved to be a quintet of talented, supportive musicians who could also find space for their own r.: , ;?;) vim til 1 W I iPp S mm, is- ftp iwi Perry White, left, and Richard Underhill play with the Shuffle Demons at Montage Grill on the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, annette leinstaff photographer ONLINE At Democratand Chronicle.comjazz: Our comprehensive coverage, plus videos about jazz artists, photos and blogs throughout the festival. On Twitter: Follow Jeff Spevak (jeffspevak1) and Anna Reguero (areguero), and add your own tweets to our live blog by adding the hashtag rocjazz. Enter your haiku: Join Jeff Spevak by expressing your reactions to the fest in haikus. The best will be published. Send to cathyr DemocratandChronicle.com with the subject line "haiku" or tweet with the rocjazz hashtag. came and went without warning. This Kilbourn Hall jazz audience had just been challenged as never before. And, quite frankly, that made it one of the most exciting moments of the festival, since the noted vegetarian k.d. lang actually didn't help herself to any pulled pork. To sort out the confusion, I tracked down Frisell in his lair beneath the Kilbourn Hall stage. "He's getting crazier," Kang warned. Why? "It's the world," said Frisell, who gracefully wrote down his set list, and the composers. Afterward, I shared it with friends waiting in the Kilbourn lobby. No one could believe that this was what they had just heard, but Frisell is an honest man: k. d. lang drew several ovations Thursday, annette LEINSTAFF PHOTOGRAPHER fresh statements. So I say who cares? Good music is good music, whatever the label, and you'll note, this Canadian lady earned three standing 1. "Nobody's Fault But Mine," Blind Willie Johnson. 2. Untitled, Frisell. 3. "Subconscious-Lee," Lee Konitz. 4. "St. Louis Blues," W.C. Handy. 5. "Keep on the Sunny Side," The Carter Family. 6. "Baba Drame," Boubacar Traore Encore: "Benny's Bugle," Benny Goodman, the Charlie Christian version. TODAY'S JAZZ HAIKU Weird notes on this side proper melodies go there, push the Frisell switch PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE Pee Wee Ellis' return to Rochester, where he lived from age 14 to 20, was greeted by a packed Harro East Ballroom for his second set. The Pee Wee Ellis Funk Assembly was Ellis ovations and two encores. Joining in the ovations was the previous night's star, trumpeter Chris Botti, who watched the entire set from the front row. Later, when the audience spilled out of the theater, he was overheard saying, "She was fabulous." lang strolled onto the stage, dressed entirely in black, with an acoustic guitar strung over her back, much like Johnny Cash The Woman in Black. She launched into "I Confess," from her new album, the first with her new studio and touring band. Her voice was potent from the get-go. One audience member screamed, "You've got the voice of an angel." If that's true, it's the voice of wmn-wf. ww.tJi (SiM $ Artists: WE NEED YOUR DESIGNS FOR OUR OFFICIAL FASHION WEEK T-SHIRT. It's Fashion With A Function! FOR ENTRY INFORMATION AND DETAILS GO TO: www.fashionwoekofrochestcr.org on sax, accompanied by a quartet that included Rochester guitarist Bob Sneider. Best known for his work with James Brown's and Van Morrison's albums, this is Pee Wee's Big Adventure. But the Funk Assembly was neither Brown's supercharged funk or the soulful pop-jazz of his work with Morrison. He drew from his new album, songs built on a rhythm section of funk and a jazzy, solo-filled blanket of piano, bass, guitar and Ellis' tenor. He calls it "smunk," or "smooth funk." BROTHERS IN VOLUME The Spampinato Brothers figured out a way to overcome the sound problems and crowd noise that plagued Elizabeth Cook's show at Abilene Bar & Lounge two nights ago. They turned it up to 11. You want to talk about that new truck you just bought? Not on the Spampinatos' time. Brothers Joey and Johnny are alumni of one of the most-revered bar bands in rockdom, NRBQ, and they kept alive much of that spirit with a professional set that was all rock, no between-set filler. A night of excellent originals strong-lunged, powerfully dramatic angel who would never be content to serenade from a cloud. She can be effective with a soft line or two, but lang gets most of her mileage from the notes she finds way down deep and lets fly across the receptive audience. For added emphasis, she also demonstrates an effective falsetto, which she reserves for those special high notes. And, at the core of her singing is that incredibly smooth, flawless pitch. Most of the 80-minute set was drawn from Sing It Loud, the new album from lang and the Siss Boom Bang. The songs tend to be deeply felt ballads of varying tempos, supported by bedrock guitars and em 7JS r y f v.. .;v f r." A Bringing Thursday, the seventh day of and covers that wear well with age, including "Sea Cruise" and "Baby You're Out of Time." THE MANGIONE INSTITUTION Imagine coming to our international jazz festival to see a guy, Gap Mangione, who lives here, and plays here two or three times a week. But the nine days are filled with local musicians, and Mangione is on the schedule here every year. Now he's a fixture at the Viva Italiano series at the Rochester Club. Mangione's quartet lightly shifted from Tommy Dorsey to a swinging version of Bob Dylan's "Watching the River Flow." As a reminder of the Mangione contribution to jazz and don't forget, Gap was on a major label himself for a spell the pianist pulled out a fairly anonymous piece, a delightfully melodic "If You Know Me Any Longer Than Tomorrow," with a nice guitar solo from Dan Schmidt. Like the more-familiar "The Land of Make Believe" that followed, it was written by the Mangione who's never played the festival in its 10 years, brother Chuck. JSPEVAKDemocratandChronicle.com show from lang phatic drums. The two guitarists often favored the deeper, darker twangs of their instruments (reminding me of Angelo Badalamenti's spooky music for Twin Peaks, back in the '90s.) The best of the new material included the smoky "A Sleep With No Dreaming," the lusty, all-stops-out "Sugar Buzz," and one of her encores, "Inglewood," a song about how the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. A veteran activist for gay rights and avowed lesbian for nearly 20 years, lang delved into her social politics only a few times, mostly for gentle humor, or when she smiled acknowledgement of a sign x J r j r-"-; r PaN5fJH Rochester's Fashion TODAY'S PICKS Tension will be high in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre tonight, as a spin of a giant wheel onstage determines which song Elvis Costello & the Im-posters will play. That show, the highlight of Day Eight of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, has long been sold out. But there are many other possibilities: Trombone Shorty, Chestnut Street Stage, 9 p.m. This free show features the guy whose funk and rock was the hit of last year's festival. Now he gets a whole street to himself. The New Orleans native plays the trombone, as advertised, but also the trumpet and sings. Slavic Soul Party opens on the stage at 7 p.m. In the Country, Montage, 6 and 10 p.m. Yet another of those talented yet odd Nordic bands, these Norwegians were here a couple of years ago playing beautifully atmospheric music, with amusing between-songs stories about fishing by flashlight. The band also plays the Nordic Now series on Saturday. Jonas Kullhammar Quartet, Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 and 9 p.m. A festival favorite making a third appearance at the event, these Swedish hipsters, featuring the tenor saxophonist, not only know their way around bebop, but they have a taste for the avant garde as well. The quartet plays again Saturday at Max of Eastman Place. Eilen Jewel, Abilene Bar & Lounge, 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. Jewel, an Idaho native who now makes the Boston area her home, has played the Rochester area several times in the last couple of years, including gigs at Abilene and the German House. She's all about twang and heartbreak, a female Hank Williams for the 21st century. -JEFF SPEVAK from two women in the audience that stated they were "Just Married." She turned serious for one of the night's two strongest moments the performance of her new album's title track, "Sing It Loud," with its lyrics that "it's a song that will go on long after I'm gone. ... Sing it loud so everyone will know who you are." Still, it was an older song that brought the night's biggest cheers and most heartfelt ovation, her justifiably famous, nearly operatic take on Leonard Cohen's poignant classic, "Hallelujah." It was a memorable moment at the Vancouver Olympics in February 2010. And at the 10th annual Rochester jazz fest Thursday night. p i ?r"""" I rrau To The World

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