Cyrille Aimee was as sweet as can be during her early set at Max. The French vocalist started out rather standard where her talent and tone shone on tunes such as “Young At Heart” and Nina Simone’s “Love Me, Leave Me.” But from there she morphed from storied songstress to scat princess.
Her scat was less percussive than most --- I think it’s because she didn’t plug a lot of Z’s or B’s. She even went head to head with the string bass riffing in unison until they hit a fork and each went their own way before returning to weave around each other. This was jazz the way I like it: exploratory, fresh, rooted in a certain amount of vintage voodoo, and cool, cool, cool.
No matter who you put behind Rochester bluesman Joe Beard the man rises to the top, as he did on The Squeezer’s Stage. With his tight, terse twang and soulful croon and bellow, Beard played his heart out and laid it down with casual cool and savvy.
With the stage looking like a giant fireplace, George Thorogood took the Chestnut Street stage with the Destroyers but without his (gasp) guitar, and just sang the opening number “Born To Be Bad.” George Thorogood without a guitar; now that’s a sure sign of the apocalypse, daddy-o.
He picked it up the next tune and proceeded to take care of business. He primped and preened and flirted with the enormous crowd, letting the mighty black Gibson roar. I’ve seen Thorogood roughly 20 times and though I love him --- he turned me onto Hound Dog Taylor, after all --- this wasn’t his best show.
The band sounded a little tired and even lost Thorogood for an instant during the opening of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” a song that Thorogood used to take forever just to get through the intro, really working the audience into a lather. But now he plays it short. I just loved -- and miss -- the part where Thorogood would say “Everybody’s funny, now you funny, too.”
George Thorogood has played some magical shows that stick in my brain, like the War Memorial with Johnny Winter circa 1984. He knocked my sox off. Unfortunately tonight, they stayed on.
Took one more traipse down Chestnut to Abilene as Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys were laying it down thick and swingin’ like Bob Wills with a death wish. It was a rockin’ scene-and-a-half as the music spilled out to the crowd outside as well as those boppin’ inside.
I took my last photo of this year’s most excellent Jazz Fest then spiked my camera like a football. What a great nine days for Rochester music fans. I’m here to remind you that it doesn’t have to stop here. Well, actually it does. I’m worn out. Adios. Elvis has left the bathroom.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was corrected to reflect Cyrille Aimee's nationality. The singer is French, not Canadian as was listed previously.