If only it were like this all year. Downtown Rochester, crammed with people going from club to club, concert to concert. And this year, with Gibbs Street converted to Jazz Street, and free concerts throughout the two festival weekends, it should be even better.
As the Rochester International Jazz Festival enters its third year, it has become an institution. But it's also a first-class festival that should bring in jazz lovers from way beyond Rochester.
Every year there is one absolute legend acting as an anchor for the festival; this time it's the great Oscar Peterson. But others like Marian McPartland and Bobby McFerrin also occupy space at the top. While these musicians are playing at the Eastman Theatre, there are other greats, and future greats, all over the smaller venues.
If you love jazz, a club pass is a must. For the price of five CDs you can hear Cedar Walton, Mose Allison, Wallace Roney, Brian Lynch, Vijay Iyer, Eric Alexander, Cuong Vu, Russell Malone and Benny Green, David "Fathead" Newman, Sonny Jain, and so many more excellent musicians. And international acts that you've never heard of --- Sliding Hammers, Jonas Kullhammar, Trio da Paz --- will bowl you over.
This is about as good as it gets for a jazz fan in Rochester. Enjoy it.
--- Ron Netsky