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Saturday, June 25 - Musician Bios 

Saturday, June 25

Alicia Olatuja (African vocal jazz) Possessing what has been called by some a "strong, lustrous tone," New York City-based singer Alicia Olatuja still intones in a whispered gentleness and sensuous charm. She sings in assorted African dialects which render her lovely voice an instrument to listen to in awe (FD)

The Congress (Rock) Sounding at times like a rock 'n' roll music box, The Congress jams — but doesn't jam it down the listener's throat. The quartet expertly maneuvers its sound of gentle wonder between the more exuberant portions and crescendos of the music. (FD)

Erykah Badu (R&B, hip-hop, neo-soul) Erykah Badu is a regal talent of militant beauty with a subtle sense of humor and not-so-subtle viewpoint. Her voice is a study in jazzy reserve reminiscent of Lady Day. She represents hip hop that delivers a powerful, compelling Message. She is a riveting performer in every style of music she calls upon and ultimately makes her own. (FD)

Jam sessions with Bob Sneider Trio (Jazz) Every night, XRIJF musicians come off the stage fired up. They let off steam when they get back to the Holiday Inn, where the Bob Sneider Trio is deep into the nightly jam session. Sneider is a world-class jazz guitarist with top-notch support from Mike Melito on drums and Phil Flanigan on bass. Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Chris Potter, and Eric Alexander are a tiny fraction of the stars who have sat in with the band. (RN)

John Mooney and Bluesiana (Delta blues) When Rochester ex-pat John Mooney, now of New Orleans, last played the jazz fest, there were no walls, there were no doors, there was no lid left on the joint. Having studied at the feet of the master, Son House, Mooney plays traditional National slide with the added kick of Satan with his boot up your butt. Don’t miss this one (FD)

Jon Ballantyne (Jazz) Jon Ballantyne won the grand prize of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal in 1986. Since then, he has played with Dave Holland, Cecil Taylor, Joe Henderson, Paul Bley, and many others. Over the last three decades, Ballantyne has released 10 albums and played extensively in Europe and Asia. He'll also perform with his trio. (RN)

Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen (New Orleans jazz) Though born in England, keyboard king Jon Cleary has been in New Orleans the majority of his adult life. It's in his blood. He has worked with everyone who is anyone in the Crescent City scene from Snooks Eaglin, Johnny Adams, Jessie Hill, and Allen Toussaint, who arranged the horns for Cleary on his album "Occapella." He spent 10 years in Bonnie Raitt's band, leading her to call him "The 9th wonder of the world." (FD)

Junior Brown (Country) Check out ourfeature on Junior Brown.

Kandace Springs (Soul, pop) NYC singing sensation Kandace Springs jumps out with a voice that's big and beautiful. With praise from cats like Don Was and Prince, Springs sings effortlessly with an easygoing phrasing that lets the soul shine through. Her new Blue Note CD, "Soul Eyes," just landed in June. (FD)

Kent Sangster's Obsessions Octet (World music) It won't take you too long to realize that the Obsessions Octet is not your usual jazz ensemble. True, it is led by the superb saxophonist Kent Sangster, and it's got a formidable rhythm section, but this group also includes a full string quartet, making for a decidedly different form of fusion. (RN)

Makoto Ozone & Tommy Smith (Jazz) Growing up in Japan, Makoto Ozone attended an Oscar Peterson concert at the age of 12. He'd been improvising on the organ, but immediately took up jazz piano. Since moving to the US, he's recorded with Paquito D'Rivera, Gary Burton, and others. At the age of 16, saxophonist Tommy Smith had recorded his first album, and by 18 he was touring with Gary Burton. Since then he's worked with John Scofield, Joe Lovano, and others. (RN);

Mats Eilertsen Trio (Progressive jazz) Mats Eilertsen has earned a reputation as one of the top jazz bassists in Norway. In a trio capable of creating dream-like, wondrous music, Eilertsen is joined by the lyrical pianist Harmen Fraanje and the versatile drummer Thomas Stronen. (RN)

Phil Robson Trio (Hard bop jazz) Last time he visited the XRIJF, Phil Robson made quite an impression with his band Partisans. The brilliantly fluid guitarist and imaginative composer will be joined by Joseph Lepore on bass and drummer Tom Rainey. (RN)

Quinn Bachand's Brishen (Gypsy jazz) Almost every year a star is born at the XRIJF. This year’s model may be Quinn Bachand, a 20-year-old from Victoria, Canada, who plays guitar, fiddle, bouzouki, B3 organ, banjo, and percussion. Apparently he can also sing. With a breezy style rivaling that of Django Reinhardt, Bachand swings like crazy. (RN)

Roses & Revolutions (Pop) At the heart of Roses & Revolutions is a mere duo — guitarist Matt Merritt and vocalist Alyssa Coco — bristling in the atmosphere and orchestration. The band flows full of sunrise and promise, and a smoothness that never gets too sugary or dramatic. It's sort of a young adult contemporary sound: smart with some sass and brass. (FD)

Sarah McKenzie (Jazz) Australian-born, Paris-based musician, Sarah Mckenzie sings like a bird as her fingers fan the keys. She’s as beautiful as her music. What else can be said? I try to articulate more about her and my tang gets tongueled. (FD)

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