Monday, June 30, 2008

On Comparing Jazz Festivals.....

I had a fabulous time in Rochester....saw Lou Donaldson with a wonderful young Hammond B3 player, a Japanese woman and a wonderful Japanese drummer. Also met him at breakfast the next day in the Rochester Plaza. And that is one of the great things about this's intimacy..its' FESTIVAL feeling, everything happens in a few was readily available and very good, with vegan choices even! I went the jam sessions almost every night of the 4 nights I was there and SO did many of the musicians because they were staying in the same hotel!! Got a chance to chat with Joe Locke and 2 of his band members, the Ricky Rodriguez and Roberto Rodriguez at breakfast....what a great guy he is and HOW COME he hasn't been to Toronto in all this time I've lived here??? Please SOMEONE book him... Yes, I have a little crush on Joe....:) Dr. Lonni Smith did such a great show in the tent I had to go back again the same night...awesome, powerful and playful....even doing a Johnny Mathis impersonation and playing the Hammond B3 with his nose....:) Speaking of B3 players....didn't get to see Barbara Dennerlein who I haven't seen since I lived in Edmonton....she said no one wanted to book her in Canada?! One of the best jazz shows I've ever experienced was seeing her with Ray Anderson and his band in the Yardbird Suite.... Jake Shimabikuro a sweet and energetic young ukelele player....yes, ukelele blew me away although I only caught 2 numbers of his at the jazz jam....we weren't early enough to get into his club gig at High Fidelity....the crowd was lining up 1 1/2 hours before....he puts me in mind of Lenny Breau and I told him so....he blushed and admitted that was one of his major heroes!! Seeing all the wonderful Eastman students and visiting musicians playing together was such a treat. Our T.O. guys were represented as well, Bill King's Saturday Night Fish Fry and Robi Botos along with Roberto Occhipinti and Frank Botos...people literally rushed the stage at Max's of Eastman after Robi's show to heap praise on him. Of course the REALLY big treat of the festival was seeing (and yes, I'm listening to him right now) BOZ SCAGGS!!!! I've been a big fan since I was a teenager and have never seen him perform hadn't a few other concertgoers as I discovered....he didn't disappoint....a nearly 2 hour show and 2 encore numbers, blues based. Great band and backup singers. He opened with "Lowdown" which got the audience from the get go.... Kudos to John Nugent..who I wonder if has achieved a scientific breakthrough in cloning himself as he seems to be everywhere....checking passes one night with his 2 children and wife, introducing shows and being greeted like the star he is by the audience everytime AND coming to the jazz jams every night and blowing his saxophone with great ferocity!! And then there is Toronto....from the sublime to the ridiculous as they say....I didn't feel compelled to go and see anything here when I got back, save for the always fabulous P.J. Perry at the Rex and Lizz Wright on the closing day. It seems a case of the same ole, same ole and I'm afraid this is my last year volunteering for them...since they seem to get less appreciative of all the free labour year after year...too bad
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