The NYS Music Guide to the 2017 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

Starting June 23, and up until July 1, Rochester will once again become one of the hottest destinations for live jazz, and music in general. Once a year, for a nine-day stretch, the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest brings this medium-sized city wall-to-wall big city talent from across the globe. Headliners at the glorious Eastman Theatre, the Club Series making use of every viable hall in the East End neighborhood, and free shows filling the streets with sound; it’s a music lover’s paradise. With so much to see and hear, and only two eyes and two ears with which to take it all in, decisions must be made. Hit this, not that. But what? Well, that’s why we’re here. Here again we have compiled must-see acts for every type of fan. No matter what tune you’re singing as you stroll down Jazz Street, there’s something for you. Don’t forget to check out our tips for the best way to enjoy your time at the Rochester Jazz Fest.


“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”
Are you more of a traditionalist? You’ll want to be at these sets:

Miguel Zenon
Puerto-Rican saxophonist Zenon is a Grammy winner and a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow. He brings his longtime quartet and the music from his fantastic new release, Tipico, which blends his Latin roots and adventurous hard bop for a sound that can be reminiscent of Horace Silver, with more than a few unexpected turns.
June 26, Kilbourn Hall
, 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.; $35 or Club Pass

Billy Childs Quartet
Previously seen on a XRIJF stage as the pianist in Chris Botti’s band, Childs brings his own quartet this year, playing from his own impressive songbook. Perhaps he will throw in a Laura Nyro cover or two from his Reimagining Laura Nyro record, but more likely the set will lean heavily on his superb 2017 release, Rebirth.
June 24, Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.; $35 or Club Pass

4 By Monk By 4
Four piano masters celebrating the works of a trailblazer and legend of jazz, Thelonious Monk. Kenny Barron, Benny Green, George Cables and Cyrus Chestnut will combine forces to do the man justice, playing together in various combinations. This has the all the makings of a special night of music.
June 29, Lyric Theatre, 4:00 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass
June 30, Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.; $35 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Kendrick Scott Oracle
June 27, Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Hot Club of Cowtown
June 28, Big Tent, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.;$30 or Club Pass


“It don’t mean a thang if it ain’t got that twang”
In the, well this ain’t jazz category, here are some acts for the lovers of the tried and true roots and Americana tradition.

The Jerry Douglas Band
The unquestioned best dobro player around, Douglas might best be known these days for his work in Alison Krauss’ band, but he has been kicking around in the newgrass scene since it’s inception. He’ll be with his new band previewing his new album What If, which is out in mid-August.
June 24, City of Rochester East Ave and Chestnut Street Stage, 9 p.m.FREE

John Paul White
White found great success as the male half of the much acclaimed folk duo, The Civil Wars. Moving on from that project, White returned to his solo roots, plumbing the depths of Americana for his second solo effort, Buelah, released last year.
June 25, Squeezers Stage at Anthology, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

The Dustbowl Revival
An eight-piece that combines bluegrass, gospel, New Orleans swing and blues, they are no mere string revival band, mixing in some brass to throw it all for a unique loop.
June 29, Montage Music Hall, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Jack Broadbent
June 25, Montage Music Hall, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Lera Lynn
June 26, Squeezers Stage at Anthology, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30p.m.; $30 or Club Pass


“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got six strings”
The festival has an unusually strong slate of guitar slingers this year.

Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan
If the Jazz Fest existed for the singular purpose of getting Frisell to Rochester every couple of years it would be well worth it. Your favorite guitar player’s favorite guitar player, he is returning for his seventh festival. Every time he brings a different band and it never disappoints. This year he is presenting a duo set with bassist Thomas Morgan.
June 25, Kilbourn Hall, 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.; $35 or Club Pass

Matthew Stevens
A major contributor to the sound behind Esperanza Spalding’s standout 2016 hit Emily’s D+Evolution, Stevens is out with a stunning brain melter of an album of his own this year, Preverbal. Angular and adventurous, you’re in for a thrilling ride at these sets.
July 1, Wilder Room
, 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Eric Krasno
The guitarist for jamband and XRIJF veterans Soulive, Krasno returns for a set with his own band. He has mixed in more rock and blues to the funk and soul, and even added vocals to the repertoire, but there’ll still be plenty of improvisation to go around.
June 30, Squeezers Stage at Anthology, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Charlie Hunter Trio
June 27, Squeezers Stage at Anthology, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

International Orange
July 1, The Little Theatre, 7:00 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

 
“It don’t mean a thing if I ain’t moving my thing”
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.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Paul Janeway, an energetic singer with an electric and unique voice, leads this eight-piece soul band that turns heads wherever they go, wherever they’re heard. The streets will be a sea of dancers when they unleash music from their latest, Sea of Noise.
June 23, City of Rochester East Ave and Chestnut Street Stage, 9 p.m.FREE

The Nth Power
Soulful groove and dance music from a group borne from a late-night jam session at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, this is a young band quickly making a name for themselves for their electrifying live shows.
June 23, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Electric Kif
Another energetic soulful quartet, this Miami band started as a side project for the members but quickly grew into something special and lasting.
June 28, Squeezers Stage at Anthology, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Huntertones
June 23, Montage Music Hall, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
June 24, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass for either venue

New Breed Brass Band
June 26, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
June 27, Montage Music Hall, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
$30 or Club Pass for either venue


“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that sing”
If you want some vocals with your jazz, check out these shows.

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox
Scott Bradlee invited different musicians to play today’s popular music in specific classic styles and quickly grew his concept into a YouTube sensation. Be prepared to hear familiar songs as you’ve never heard them before. It makes for a truly unique and exciting live performance like you’ve never seen before. Browse the endless string of videos at his web site and you’ll get the idea fairly quickly.
June 27, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 8 p.m.; $45 – $85

Mavis Staples
One of the few true living legends featured at this year’s festival, Mavis Staples is an American treasure that is still making new and relevant music. If you’re looking for some soul and gospel, accept no substitute.
June 28, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 8 p.m.; $25 – $65

Eivor
As long as you’re in a church, you may as well listen to a voice from the heavens. From Norway’s Faroe Islands, Eivor will do nothing if not mystify you.
June 24, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People
June 29, City of Rochester Midtown Stage, 7:00 p.m.; FREE

Youn Sun Nah
June 29, Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass


“It don’t mean a thung if it ain’t fresh and young”
People have been calling for the death of jazz for decades, but the youth keep reinvigorating the genre. Check out these younger acts to keep hip to what’s new. But if you want to catch the youngest talent, plan to catch some of the school bands gracing the Jazz Street stage throughout the festival.

Phronesis
This piano trio is making a very welcome return to the XRIJF lineup. The London Jazz News sums them up nicely: “established as one of the great trios. Three players, moving as one – head, heart and hands.”
June 29, Christ Church, 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Neil Cowley Trio
Like Phronesis, another brilliant British piano trio making their Jazz Fest return. These guys lean more heavily on the hook-laden melodies, adding a pop and rock sensibility to their compositions.
June 24, Christ Church, 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Donny McCaslin Group
The band behind David Bowie’s universally-lauded final album, Blackstar, this is jazz highly influenced and informed by that experience.
July 1, Xerox Auditorium, 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Binker and Moses
June 30, Christ Church, 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Jacob Collier
June 23, Squeezers Stage at Anthology, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30p.m.; $30 or Club Pass


“Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah”
And now for something a little different. When you invite bands from around the world you can get into some interesting and adventurous stuff.

Shabaka and the Ancestors
London-ite Shabaka Hutchens put together this ensemble of South African musicians, which recorded one of the most thrilling new records of 2016, The Wisdom of Elders. Spiritual afrocentric jazz that is equal parts soul-stirring and soul-soothing, in the vein of Coltrane or Sun Ra.
June 25, Harro East Ballroom, 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Dakha Brakha
This Ukrainian quartet plays music from another side of the world. Unusual, both visually and aurally, but quickly familiar and enjoyable, they blend tribal rhythms, chant-like singing and an odd mix of instruments into an infectious melting-pot of sound. This set will have Jazz Street talking.
June 29, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Dinosaur
Led by trumpeter Laura Jurd, this young quartet plays creative instrumental music that rests in the crux of jazz, rock, electronic and funk.
June 26, Christ Church, 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Also make time for…
Klabbesbank
June 28, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

Ikonostasis
June 26, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; $30 or Club Pass

See the full lineup and all of the festival details at RochesterJazz.com.