The 13th Edition of the Jazz Fest was one of the best. This year many of the groups I found the most interesting were from overseas. On the last day Gwilym Simcock and the Norma Winstone Trio were both terrific. Norma Winstone is an absolutely top flight singer and this trio featuring an Italian pianist and German reeds player do more than play music, they create art. Can anyone forget Belgium's Flat Earth Society. In the same tradition as groups like the Willem Breuker Kollektief, Pierre Dorge's New Jungle Orchestra and the Italian Instabile Orchestra they gave us a new slant on what a big band might be. Brian Kellock and Tommy Smith from Scotland played tunes from the Great American Songbook with humor and great facility in a memorable show. The Shai Maestro Trio at the Rochester Club was great but didn't get much press.
Other outstanding shows were the Sun Trio from Finland, Nels Cline and Julian Lage, Harris Eisenstat's Golden Gate, Manuel Valera, Bill Frisell and the Pat LaBarbera Quartet. Featuring his brother Joe on drums and fellow Toronto musicians on piano and bass this group was the festivals best example of what straight ahead jazz was and could be. After finishing the set, two Rochester musicians, trumpeters Clay Jenkins and Mike Cottone came on stage for two additional numbers. They sent the already 20 foot high ceilings of the Rochester Club into near earth orbit. A great set.
Can't quit without mentioning Cecile McLoren Salvant and Vijay Iyer. Both played great sets and proved they are artists who are redefining their genres and bringing original voices to the music we call jazz.
There were other show I liked and I am sure many outstanding acts I couldn't fit into my schedule. Anyone have other favorites to add?
I would recommend Flat Earth Society. I saw them in Xerox last night and they play again in Lutheran tonight. Pretty large ensemble, five brass, five reeds, piano, guitar, bass, drums. A lot of rock beats, which I might in another case complain about, but the compositions and solos were really interesting. A lot of positive energy, too.
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