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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy 

I called up Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's trumpeter Glen "The Kid" Marhevka to discuss his band, its brand of swing, its longevity in the swing scene, its hepcat haberdashery, and its impact on swing. That's right — swing, swing, and more swing. I was excited. I had my coffee and my questions ready. Then Marhevka answered the phone and dropped the bomb.

"We're not really a swing band," he said flatly.

Perfect. I ripped up my questions. We were going to have to freestyle this one.

Marhevka clarified: "We're an American band. We play jazz music, we play lounge music, we play music from the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's. We're carrying on the American music tradition. It's just good music."

Yes, it's good music, but don't sell Big Bad Voodoo Daddy cheap; the music doesn't play itself, after all. This is an incredibly tight, spine-bending, wig-tightening, hip-shaking, toe-tapping, jitter-bugging dance band. And that's a fact.

Born in late-1980's Ventura, California, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy burst on the scene at the cusp of the swing craze that would also produce bands like Royal Crown Revue, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, The Atomic Fireballs, The Useless Playboys, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy set itself apart and gained national attention with its appearance in the 1996 cult film "Swingers."

The swing thing got played out; commercialized and saturated. It was used to sell khakis for Chrissakes. A lot of the bands dried up or moved on in a smaller capacity. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy endured. Marhevka credits the tight-knit lineup.

"I think it's just we've assembled a group of guys who are all great friends and who respect each other a lot," he says. "We all joined this band because we love the music that we do; jazz music, swing music, American music. We've worked hard and got lucky that we assembled the right guys."

Despite the swing downturn, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has consistently cranked out a plethora of platters (nine studio albums, to be exact) including the stellar "How Big Can You get?: The Music Of Cab Calloway," and its latest, "It Feels Like Christmas Time," a soon-to-be classic.

And the band still circles the globe playing to adoring fans anywhere and everywhere.

"I think if you put this band in front of any group of people, they all like it a lot," Marhevka says. "It's very versatile. We can play a jazz festival, we can play a rock festival, we can play with symphony orchestras. It's a super-fun, high energy show. People walk away feeling happy."

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performs Friday, June 20, 9 p.m., at the City of Rochester East Avenue & Chestnut Street Stage. This show is free. Bbvd.com.

In This Guide...

    JAZZ FEST 2014: City's Daily Jazz Blogs

    Reviews and photos from the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
    The 2014 Xerox International Jazz Festival runs June 20-28, and City Newspaper will be out EVERY NIGHT of the festival, covering multiple shows. Check in first thing each morning for photos and reviews of the previous night's entertainment, listed below by date.

    Jazz Festival Guide 2014

    CITY Newspaper's guide to the biggest music festival in Rochester! For more coverage, check our website every day of the festival for reviews, blogs, photos and more!

    Festival Information

    The 2014 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival Friday, June 20-Saturday, June 28

    Friday, June 20 - Schedule

    4:30 p.m.: Hilton High School Jazz Band City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 5:15 p.m.: Canandaigua High School Jazz Band City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    Friday, June 20 - Musician Bios

    Akiko Tsuruga Quartet When the Lou Donaldson Quartet played the XRIJF a few years ago, the audience couldn't help but notice a second star on the stage. Behind the B-3 organ playing one great solo after another was Osaka, Japan, native Akiko Tsuruga.

    Saturday, June 21 - Schedule

    3:45 p.m.: Brighton High School Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 4:00 p.m.: Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre (SOLD OUT)

    Jason Marsalis

    With pianist Ellis Marsalis and his famous sons, Wynton (trumpet), Branford (saxophone), Delfeayo (trombone), and Jason (drums/vibes), the Marsalis family of New Orleans can stake a claim as the first family of jazz. But if that conjures up images of a father and his sons jamming in the living room, well... that's just not how it was.

    Saturday, June 21 - Musician Bios

    78 RPM Big Band Starting out as Oktoberfest band The Happy Wanderers, back in 1973, the 16-piece 78 RPM Big Band is based in classic big band, but often branches out into unique versions of contemporary cuts. (JC) 78rpmband.com

    Sunday, June 22 - Schedule

    3:45 p.m.: West Irondequoit High School Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 4:30 p.m.: Newark High School Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    Cécile McLorin Salvant

    If you go to hear Cécile McLorin Salvant at Kilbourn Hall, you might find yourself squirming in your seat. McLorin Salvant has no qualms about singing songs like "You Bring Out The Savage In Me," a tune few have dared to touch since Valaida Snow sang it in the 1930's."I've had time to delve into the history of early 20th-century American music, vaudeville, minstrel shows, coon songs, and some jungle music," McLorin Salvant says.

    Sunday, June 22 - Musician Bios

    Benedikt Jahnel Trio With titles of tunes like "Equilibrium" and "Modular Concepts," you might think the Benedikt Jahnel Trio is too cerebral to enjoy the wonder of jazz. On the contrary, the German-born pianist is a joyous player, with a shimmering, melodic sound and a dynamic touch.

    Monday, June 23 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: John Nyerges Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: John Sneider Student Workshop Eastman School of Music (Room 120) (FREE)

    Vijay Iyer

    If you visit the website of pianist-composer Vijay Iyer, you will be greeted with a blurred portrait of a man, vaguely recognizable as Iyer, dashing through an urban landscape. It's a fitting visual metaphor for the frenetic musical journey Iyer has taken over the past two decades.

    Monday, June 23 - Musician Bios

    Bonerama No, it's not a Vanessa Del Rio flick, it's a four-trombone-powered outfit from New Orleans that makes Phil Spector's "wall of sound" seem like a cardboard fence. This 'bone barrage is the brass band equivalent of a muscle car with a horny teenager at the wheel.

    Tuesday, June 24 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: Gabe Condon Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: Sophie Bancroft & Tom Lyne Duo Student Workshop Eastman School of Music Ray Wright Room (Room 120) (FREE)

    Louis Hayes

    Louis Hayes was just 19 and living on Detroit's west side when his reputation caught up with him. Pianist Horace Silver, fresh out of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, had heard about the young drummer.

    Tuesday, June 24 - Musician Bios

    Blind Boy Paxton Despite his abbreviated age, Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton is a master of pre-war, acoustic blues. We're talking the storied sounds of Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson, and Bessie Smith — to name a few — wrought by a multi-instrumentalist in his mid-20's.

    Wednesday, June 25 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: Mel Henderson and Paradigm Shift Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: Jonathan Gee Eastman School of Music RAY WRIGHT ROOM (Room 120)

    Diane Schuur

    Through the snap, crackle, and pop of a long distance phone call, and suffering from jet lag, Diane Schuur's voice is still absolutely beautiful. She has just returned from an engagement in Osaka, Japan.

    Wednesday, June 25 - Musician Bios

    5Head Rochester madcap ska skanksters 5Head are full of pants-optional hi-jinx and contagious back beat that starts at your feet and ends with you attempting dance moves that would have put Fred Astaire in traction. This band features lighthearted fun played by some of the best musicians this town has.

    Thursday, June 26 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: Nate Rawls Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: Ian Shaw Eastman School of Music (Room 120) (FREE)

    Thursday, June 26 - Musician Bios

    Anders Hagberg Quartet If you caught Yggdrasil in one of its appearances at the XRIJF, you've heard the wonderful range of sounds Swedish musician Anders Hagberg coaxes out of his soprano saxophone and flutes. When he plays the gigantic contrabass flute, it's a thrilling journey, filled with percussive breathing and scat-singing, and sounds like the workings of several musicians.

    Friday, June 27 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: Vince Ercolamento Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: Pat LaBarbera Quartet Eastman School of Music Ray Wright Room (Room 120) (FREE)

    Friday, June 27 - Musician Bios

    Bill Frisell's Guitar In the Space Age Every time Bill Frisell has appeared here, it's been with his eyes on the sonic future; sounds and progressions rarely, if ever heard. This time around, he's got his eye on the origins of his instrument.

    Saturday, June 28 - Schedule

    3:45 p.m.: MCC Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 4:30 p.m.: Webster Schroeder High School Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    George Thorogood

    You wanna survive in showbiz? Wanna last in this rock 'n' roll racket?

    Saturday, June 28 - Musician Bios

    Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys Chuck Mead burst on the scene with the three-time Grammy-nominated retro-hillbilly outfit BR549. With the band officially on hiatus, Mead has focused on a solo career and producing the Broadway hit "Million Dollar Quartet."

    Club Pass Schedule Chart

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