Rochester International Jazz Fest First Half Has Been Outstanding!

Up Next: Booker T’s Soul Stax Thursday, June 23 & the Prince Band, New Power Generation Friday June 24th

pictured above Ranky Tanky lead singer Quiana Parler photo /David Jones

by George Radney

After a two-year hiatus due to the Pandemic The 19th Edition of Rochester International Jazz is well underway with excellent performances by Chris Botti on opening night at Parcel 5. Parcel 5 is where Midtown Plaza use to be in the heart of downtown Rochester. It has been transformed in a green space for Concerts and peaceful gatherings under the Lovely Warren administration. 

Thank goodness for Lovely Warren administration coming up with a successful plan for Parcel 5, after the major Blunder by the Bob Duffy administration tearing down a very humble but needed shopping center for our community.    

Legendary composer and arranger Bob James performed at Temple Theater covering new material from his recent release Espresso, and of course the unforgettable theme from TV’s Taxi was an exclamation point on a fine evening of music. 

Ranky Tanky, a Charleston, SC based quintet performs timeless music of Gullah culture. Gullah comes from West African language and means “a people blessed by God.” Their performance was a learning experience of our people and games like patty cakes, using our hands to make noise in a joyful manner all originated back in 1700’s from the Gullah people.

Ravi Coltrane gave us a very inspired show performing new material along with songs written by his mother and father John and Alice Coltrane. Ravi encouraged Alice to return to performance and the recording studio after a long absence. Ravi produced and played on Alice Coltrane’s powerful “Translinear Light” released in 2004. 

The best performance so far at RIJF was by Ms. Lisa Fischer with pianist Taylor Eigsti.  Ms. Lisa Fischer performance can best be described as the female version of Al Jarreau. Ms. Fischer vocal range is off the charts a true songstress going from Opera, Classical, and R&B styles on songs like Roberta Flack “Killing me Softly” to a remixed version of her hit song “How can I ease the Pain” Ms. Fischer ended the powerful set with an original song by Taylor Eigsti “I am”.       

The 2013 Best Documentary Oscar winning film has changed her life and encouraged her to a featured background singer for the likes of Luther Vandross, Rolling Stones, Chaka Khan, and others.

The RIJF runs through Saturday June 25th and a must-see FREE shows Booker T’s Soul Stax and Prince Band New Power Generation (NPG) on Thursday June 23rd and Friday June 24th respectively. 

It’s time to take that short drive down to Rochester for some real feel-good music.  

Go to https://www.rochesterjazz.com for more details .