Rochester International Jazz Fest Highlights

by George Radney


It’s funny how quickly 9 days can breezy by when you having fun and enjoying the very best there is in serious jazz/festival music.

The festival once again was more about the people you don’t know instead of the people you do. *Christian Sands Trio was my pick for best performance at 2018 RIJF. Christian has electrifying hand speed on the piano and the chemistry he has with his drummer was captivating.

He re invented several jazz classics into modern day upbeat tunes. He’s a must see if you plan on attending other Jazz Festivals later this year. *JazzMeia Horn has a perfect name for a jazz singer; is it live or Memorex? Jazzmeia is a rising star, who you must see live and truly experience her mesmerizing voice. *Miles Electric Band – This consortium of musicians was a last minute replacement for a band named St. Germain.

It turned to be a blessing in disguise, this orchestra led by Miles Davis nephew Vincent Wilburn on drums along with Jeremy Pelt on Trumpet, David Gilmore, Jr. on lead guitar, and 8 other well-seasoned musicians , who have all performed with major recording artist including Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and Chick Corea just to name a few. *Bobby Militello – Buffalo’s own Bobby Militello’s six piece band performed smooth jazz classics like “Joshua”, and my favorite of his set “Milestone”.

*Liz Vice performed with passion, and some of the most heartfelt songs I have ever heard. The Oregon native along with her band were on point with their performance. * Songs of Freedom –The one true diamond in the ruff was singer Alicia Olatuja, who sang with style, grace, and plenty of passion. She’s quite beautiful and a talent to watch in the future.

*Nicholas Payton Front & Center – Mr. Payton’s pianist was superb along with his drummer who both played with fire on “How Deep is the Ocean. Payton is a remarkable trumpet player with the purest sounding notes coming from his trumpet and is a future legend of jazz.

*DEVA Mahal – Is the daughter of legendary Blues artist Taj Mahal and Inshirah a dancer, artist, and educator. She’s an up and coming artist touring off her debut album.
*Butcher Brown – Is a young smooth, funky but well- seasoned R&B jazz fu sion band out of Richmond, Va.

*Tower of Power closed out the jazz Festival on its 50th Anniversary Tour, with a spectacle tribute to James Brown with new lead vocalist Marcus young from Memphis, Tenn. TP’s performance was a fitting conclusion to the 2018 Rochester International Jazz Festival.