Can’t-Miss Acts for Every Musical Taste at the 2016 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

Roc Xerox Jazz Fest 16The 15th edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest is almost upon us. Jazz Street is nearly open and the Flour City is about to be blessed with nine consecutive nights of wall-to-wall world-class musical performances by acts from across the globe, from June 24 through July 2. There’s too much to see and hear, and each of us only has two eyes and two ears with which to take it all in. So, decisions must be made. Hit this, not that. But what? Well, that’s why we’re here. Continuing a tradition started last year, we’ve again mapped out five must-see acts for every fan, including shows from the club pass series, headliners and free shows. There’s something for everyone, so what are you ready for?


Ready for What’s Next
Interested in seeing the young stars before they make it big? Do you yearn to be able to say you saw them when? You’ll want to be at these sets:

Judith Hill
Emerging from backing vocal duties for greats like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, and a run on the fourth season of The Voice, she’s ready to make an impact of her own. Her debut album, Back In Time, produced by Prince, was released last year to critical acclaim. So just to sum up, she’s worked with Stevie, Michael and Prince. Yeah, you might want to keep an eye on this one.
June 27, Squeezers Stage at Anthology
, 7:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Tia Fuller Quartet
Also boasting credits as a member of a top pop stars band, she is a featured member of Beyonce’s all-female band. If you want to see sax spitfire, definitely make time for Fuller’s return to the XRIJF stage.
July 2, Max of Eastman Place
, 6:15 p.m. and 10 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Rai Thistlethwayte
Classically trained, rock filtered and coming around to a soulful-jazz hybrid in his latest ventures, this Australian turned Los Angelino is set to simultaneously move your feet and melt your heart.
June 30, Squeezers Stage at Anthology, 7:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.; 
$30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Sarah McKenzie
June 24, Max of Eastman Place, 6:15 p.m. and 10 p.m.
June 25, Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.; 
$30 or Club Pass at either venue

Joey Alexander Trio
June 28, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater, 8 p.m.; $40, opening for Chick Corea

Ready for the Legendary
These are the seasoned veterans. The known quantities. It’s tough to pass up the opportunity to catch any of these jazz legends.

Chick Corea “Trilogy” Trio
Celebrating his 75th year, Corea has been one of the most versatile pianists of his time, and is out to prove it this year. Coming to Rochester with his “Trilogy” Trio, consisting of legends in their own right Christian McBride on bass and Brian Blade on drums, this is the jazz crown jewel of this year’s festival.
June 28, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater, 8 p.m.; $40

Nicholas Payton
This New Orleans native known for his uncannily expert trumpet playing from a very young age, Payton has now been around the block a few times, earning respect and admiration from all who cross his path. One to never rest on his laurels, you can never be too sure what he’ll be bringing our way.
June 27, Kilbourn Hall, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.$35 or Club Pass

Brecker Brothers Reunion
Randy Brecker’s career on the trumpet and flugelhorn weaved through hard bop, fusion, rock, soul and international with legends from Art Blakey to Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa. As a tribute to his late brother Michael, he has reunited their old band to recreate some of their old music magic.
June 24, Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Dizzy Gillespie’s Afro-Cuban Experience
July 2, Kilbourn Hall, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.$35 or Club Pass

Chris Botti
June 30, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 8 p.m.; $55

Ready for Adventure
If you want to be wowed, challenged and mystified, make sure you have a seat for these sets. It is here you will find the most interesting band names as well. When you’re still not satisfied, go see whatever is happening at the Nordic Jazz Now series.

Scofield – Lovano Quartet
Avant and groove masters combining forces for the benefit of attentive ears everywhere. This will be intriguing, innovative and infections—the long sought after three ‘i’s.
June 24, Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.$30 or Club Pass

Mammal Hands
Following in the footsteps of former Made in the UK series favorites GoGo Penguin, Neil Cowley Trio and others, here comes another outside-the-box piano trio. Boasting melodic compositions combining elements of electronic, world, classical, rock and of course, jazz, these guys are likely become another fan favorite.
June 29, Lutheran Church
, 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Pugs and Crows
Thoughtful instrumental folk-rock-jazz created by an ensemble of two guitars, double bass, violin, piano and bass, this could likely be the highlight of the newly minted Oh Canada! series.
July 1, Rochester Club, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.$30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Flat Earth Society
July 1, Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
July 2, Lutheran Church, 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass for either venue

Nacka Forum
June 28, Kilbourn Hall, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.$35 or Club Pass
June 29, Lutheran Church, 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Ready to Party
If you want to move while you listen, these are the acts that will have the crowd out of their chairs and on their feet. Don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes. P.S. There is a large contingent of dance-ready bands at this years festival, and these five are merely scratching the surface.

Red Baraat
Dubbed “the best party band in the years” by NPR, this eight-piece group from Brooklyn blends styles the world-over and distills it into one of the most infectious and fun live sets you’ll ever see.
July 1, Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.$30 or Club Pass

Another eight-piece band, this time from the left coast, these cats play an all-American blend of funk and soul that is making waves across the country.
July 1, Squeezers Stage at Anthology, 7:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.
July 2, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass for either venue

Lucky Chops
A top pick of NPR’s Bob Boilen at this years SXSW, here’s another brass band with a big sound ready to make the world a happier place.
July 2, City of Rochester Midtown Stage, 7 p.m.FREE

Also make time for…
June 30, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
July 1, Montage Music Hall, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.; 
$30 or Club Pass for either venue

June 24, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.$30 or Club Pass

Ready to Rock
Don’t let the name fool you. It says it’s a jazz festival, but there’s oh so much more. If you’re ready to pump your fist and bang your head, there’s a show for that.

Gregg Allman
With the Allman Brothers done for good, this is your chance to take a spin with the Midnight Rider and Sweet Melissa from the legend that started it all.
July 1, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 8 p.m.; $65 – $95

Fitz and the Tantrums
These indie-rock darlings will certainly capture the youth vote at the festival. Touring in support of their just-released self-titled albums, they’ve got what Rolling Stone calls “irrepressible energy: hopped-up rhythms, shout-it-out choruses and hooted background vocals.”
June 24, City of Rochester East Ave and Chestnut Street Stage, 9 p.m.FREE

Grace Potter
She has slowly grown and morphed herself into a rock goddess. Her career has touched on soul, jam, rock and pop, but has never stayed put for very long, rather it remains in a constant state of reinvention.
June 24, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 8 p.m.; $55 – $85

Also make time for…
Nikki Hill
June 29, City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; FREE

The Wood Brothers
July 2, City of Rochester East Ave and Chestnut Street Stage, 9 p.m.FREE

See the full lineup and all of the festival details at

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