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INTERVIEW: Marti Brom 

There's a spot in certain female voices — a transitional spot, if you will — between sweet vibrato and growl. Texas rockabilly songstress Marti Brom traverses this vocal twilight beautifully, leaving a slew of broken hearts in her wake. Brom's voice and overall persona is classic and way beyond your typical rootsy twang and tribute. Marti Brom is the genuine article, and rockabilly royalty.

Most artists list a moment, an event, or artist responsible for opening their ears to music. But for Brom, it just always was that way.

"I always sang," Brom says. "But I was too shy to perform."

Born in St. Louis in 1962, Brom grew up listening to singers like Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield. But it was when she heard Patsy Cline, and then the rocking Janis Martin, that she knew she was onto something.

I collected records," she says. "And I always liked older music. I started off singing more country stuff — you know, Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee. I was also into New Wave music. But my sound still gravitated toward older stuff."

In 1990 Brom and her family moved to Austin, Texas, where Brom, now cured of her stage fright, fell in with the burgeoning rockabilly scene. She initially sat in with cats like High Noon's Shaun Young and Kevin Smith (who incidentally will be performing at this year's XRIJF as bassist in Willie Nelson's band) and Todd Wolfmeyer. She rapidly grew a following inspired by her femme-fatale purr, hillbilly hiccup boogie, and out-and-out wail. But she also pushed the limits of the tradition. Artists like Suzi Quatro, Blondie, and The Pretenders still lit her fuse as well.

"I covered a song Ray Davies wrote, 'I Go To Sleep,' that The Pretenders covered. Luckily I had Nick Curran and Lisa Pankratz in the band at the time so nobody looked at me weird," Brom says.

No, they actually look at her adoringly from all corners of the world. Brom has followings in Europe, Australia, Scandinavia, and Japan. Brom has recently put out two singles. One is a duet with Boston blues-shouting madman Barrence Whitfield, and the other is a tribute she recorded for Martin. These will go on the pile of releases that stand six CDs high.

But you've really got to dig this rockabilly filly live. Thousands of Marti Brom fans can't be wrong.

"There's always been a huge following," she says. "Especially in Finland, where my record label [Goofin' Records] is. It's nice, because I get to travel all over the world and play music." This touring has included sharing the stage with legends like Ronnie Dawson and Rosie Flores, and memorable moments like the night her hero Janis Martin was in the audience.

"There she was," Brom says. "Front and center. I was so thrilled."

Marti Brom performs Sunday, June 23, 7:45 & 9:45 p.m. at the Abilene Roots & Americana Stage (153 Liberty Pole Way). Tickets cost $20-$25, or you can use your Club Pass.

In This Guide...

    Friday June 21 - Schedule

    3:45, 4:30 & 5 p.m.: High School Jazz Bands Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 5:30 p.m.: Quincy Jones Presents: Nikki Yanofsky Harro East Ballroom ($20-$25, or Club Pass)

    INTERVIEW: Pink Martini

    With equal dashes Esquivel lounge and Martin Denny exotica, chilled on retro rocks and poured into a Camelot-era America glass, Pink Martini is the ultimate in sophisticated pop cool and classic, jazzy swing. Since 1994, this ensemble from Portland, Oregon, has traveled the world plugging into orchestras along the way.

    Friday, June 21 - Artist Bios

    Bill Dobbins Bill Dobbins is director of the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and Eastman Studio Orchestra, but European jazz aficionados know him as the long-time conductor of the WDR Big Band (1994-2002) and occasional conductor of the Metropole Orchestra. Dobbins is also an excellent pianist who has played with Clark Terry, Phil Woods, and Peter Erskine.

    Saturday, June 22 - Schedule

    1 p.m.: Student Jazz Workshops Eastman School of Music (Room 120) 3:45, 4:30 & 5:15 p.m.: High School Jazz Bands Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    Saturday, June 22 - Artist Bios

    78 RPM Big Band This group originated in the early 70's as an Oktoberfest band in Western New York. Over the years it has traded the oom-pa-pa-oom for some sweet swing a la Glenn, Tommy, and Artie.

    Sunday, June 23 - Schedule

    1 p.m.: Student Jazz Workshops Eastman School of Music (Room 120) 3:45, 4:30 & 5:15 p.m.: High School Jazz Bands Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    Sunday, June 23 - Artist Bios

    BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet Brothers Michael and David Doucet began touring Louisiana in 1986. Since then their cajun dance music has earned them Grammy nominations and even a Super Bowl performance.

    Jazz Festival Guide 2013

    Exclusive interviews, artist bios and interviews
    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!

    Monday, June 24 - Schedule

    Noon: Mike Kaupa Quartet Central Library (FREE) 4:30 & 5:15 p.m.: High School Jazz Bands Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    Monday, June 24 - Artist Bios

    Alfredo Rodriguez When Alfredo Rodriguez plays a ballad, he leans so far into the piano that you might think he's kissing the keys. In a way he is, with the exquisite touch of his fingers.

    Tuesday, June 25 - Schedule

    Noon: Nick Finzer Central Library (FREE) 4:30 & 5:15 p.m.: High School Jazz Bands Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    INTERVIEW: Anat Cohen

    When Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen steps out of her Brooklyn home, she finds herself between two worlds. Cohen resides in Williamsburg, a vital neighborhood in the New York jazz scene.

    Tuesday, June 25 - Artist Bios

    Alfredo Rodriguez See listing for Monday, June 24. Anat Cohen See feature on page 22.

    Wednesday, Jun 26 - Schedule

    Noon: Ted Nicolosi and Shared Genes Central Library (FREE) 4:30 & 5:15 p.m.: High School Jazz Bands Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    Wednesday, Jun 26 - Artist Bios

    Aaron Goldberg Trio When Wynton Marsalis hired Aaron Goldberg to play piano for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, he called him "a modern improviser of great clarity, finesse, and dexterity." A sought-after sideman, Goldberg has lent his keyboard talents to Betty Carter, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and many others.

    Thursday, June 27 - Schedule

    Noon: Herb Smith Central Library (FREE) 1 p.m.: Student Jazz Workshops Eastman School of Music (Room 120)

    INTERVIEW: Rudresh Mahanthappa

    It's not unusual for a jazz artist to lead several groups, but Rudresh Mahanthappa just might hold the record. He leads or co-leads 10 different ensembles.

    Thursday, June 27 - Artist Bios

    Bob James and David Sanborn with Steve Gadd Saxophonist David Sanborn has played with famous artists from every genre imaginable — David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, the Grateful Dead, Billy Joel, and Eric Clapton are just a few. For this concert he will be joined by keyboardist Bob James, drummer Steve Gadd, and bassist James Genus.

    Friday, June 28 - Schedule

    Noon: Karl Stabnau Central Library (FREE) 1 p.m.: Student Jazz Workshops Eastman School of Music (Room 120)

    INTERVIEW: Gas House Gorillas

    So, five gorillas walk into a bar... But seriously folks, five guys from Brooklyn walk into a joint in Anytown, USA, and promptly take the stage.

    Friday, June 28 - Artist Bios

    Ben Taylor Imagine the expectation that comes with being the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon. Ben Taylor lives up to that expectation, but with a voice all his own.

    Saturday, June 29 - Schedule

    1 p.m.: Student Jazz Workshops Eastman School of Music (Room 120) 3:45, 4:30 & 5:15 p.m.: High School Jazz Bands Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

    Saturday, June 29 - Artist Bios

    Al Chez & the Brothers of Funk No doubt you've seen his mug and heard his horn on the tube. For 15 years he honked his horn on "Late Night with David Letterman."

    Festival Information

    Tickets, Venues, Parking
    The 2013 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival Friday, June 21-Saturday, June 29


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