Music » Music Features

Jazz Fest performers keep other musicians' legacies alive

By

Experimental guitarist Stanley Jordan embodies Jimi Hendrix for a new show that showcases music as if "Jimi were still alive and playing today." - PHOTO PROVIDED.
  • PHOTO PROVIDED.
  • Experimental guitarist Stanley Jordan embodies Jimi Hendrix for a new show that showcases music as if "Jimi were still alive and playing today."
Along with improvisation, jazz was built on artists putting their own stamp on other people’s songs. That’s why it’s not surprising to see the many Rochester International Jazz Festival sets that center around artists covering other artists. Some are complete overhauls; others hew to tradition. But all make for intriguing prospects from the fest’s run from June 21-29 at various venues in the East End. Here’s a guide to some of this year’s highlights in that arena.

In keeping with the multi-genre soul of the festival, Stanley Jordan Plays Jimi Hendrix promises memorable musical cross-pollination. The renowned guitarist, whose first jazz fusion album was released nearly 40 years ago, specializes in a style of playing called tapping — using both hands to tap his fretboard instead of playing over the pickups. It’s a perfect match for the kinds of boundaries Hendrix decimated in his brief career, blending blues and psychedelic rock elements into a distinct and unmistakable guitar sound.

How can a musician make the songs of Hendrix, perhaps the most famous guitarist of all time, sound new? Jordan’s sets at the Temple Theater — on June 21 at 7 and 9:15 p.m. — will do just that, thanks to a conceptual reimagining. As he tells it in the show bio: “This is my fantasy Jimi Hendrix concert if Jimi were still alive and playing today.” It’s a Club Pass show, or $30 at the door.

Eastman Community Music School professors Bob Sneider (guitar) and Paul Hofmann (piano) celebrate the music of the jazz fusion architects in the Pat Metheny Group. - PHOTO PROVIDED.
  • PHOTO PROVIDED.
  • Eastman Community Music School professors Bob Sneider (guitar) and Paul Hofmann (piano) celebrate the music of the jazz fusion architects in the Pat Metheny Group.
The right guitar and piano duo can flex chops for melody and rhythm. Bob Sneider and Paul Hofmann make up the exact kind of improvisatory pair for the task, but their longstanding collaboration also lends itself to formal experiments. Case in point: Bob Sneider and Paul Hofmann Play the Music of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, the Eastman Community Music School professors’ tribute to two giants of jazz fusion.

With Sneider on guitar and Hofmann on keys, Hatch Recital Hall becomes a chamber to celebrate Pat Metheny Group’s key architects. Both sets on June 21, at 5:45 and 7:45 p.m., center around the award-winning music of Metheny and Mays. $30 tickets available at the door, or Club Pass entry.

Before they were the musique du jour of twentysomething tattooed vape hitters, Steely Dan began as the soundtrack of chain-smoking uber-literate hepcats in the 1970s. Everything eventually comes full circle. This makes Bad Sneakers, a local 13-piece band keeping The Dan alive in both sound and name, a truly all-ages affair.
Rochester's own Bad Sneakers preserve the jazz- and funk-inspired rock music of Steely Dan. - PHOTO PROVIDED.
  • PHOTO PROVIDED.
  • Rochester's own Bad Sneakers preserve the jazz- and funk-inspired rock music of Steely Dan.




Any major dude will tell you this crew revels in faithful takes on crowd pleasers like “Kid Charlemagne” as well as head-spinning recreations of Steve Gadd’s “Aja” drum solo. With multiple guitarists, keyboardists and horn players, Bad Sneakers bring no static at all to a pair of sets on June 21. Catch them at the Wilder Room at 6 and 10 p.m. Club Pass show, or $30 at the door.

In the early 1960s, saxophonist Stan Getz and guitar player Charlie Parker teamed up for the “Jazz Samba” album, which helped usher in the bossa nova musical craze in the United States. This year’s Brazilian Jazz Quartet Featuring Diego Figueiredo & Ken Peplowski celebrates that landmark recording with the former, a Brazilian guitarist, and the latter, a Cleveland-born, swing-band clarinet player and saxophonist.

Diego Figueiredo and Ken Peplowski embody the Brazilian jazz and bossa nova sound of the 1962 album "Jazz Samba" album by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz. - PHOTO PROVIDED.
  • PHOTO PROVIDED.
  • Diego Figueiredo and Ken Peplowski embody the Brazilian jazz and bossa nova sound of the 1962 album "Jazz Samba" album by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz.
The two team up for a pair of shows running through the irresistible, instantly lovable music of “Jazz Samba,” first released on Verve Records in 1962. Their June 24 shows at the Rochester Regional Health Big Tent are at 8:30 and 10 p.m.; on June 25, they’ll bring it to the Theater at Innovation Square at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. All shows are $30 at the door, or via Club Pass.

To close out the festival, who better than The Meters to send everyone off? REJUVENATION 50! Celebrating The Meters With George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli, Ivan Neville & Dumpstaphunk, a free show at Parcel 5 on June 29, aims to throw precisely that. Two original members of The Meters, the massively influential New Orleans funk band whose rhythms worked their way into the very fabric of hip-hop from the get-go, will be present and rocking: bassist and singer George Porter Jr. and guitar player Leo Nocentelli.

They’ll be joined by Ivan Neville’s raucous and celebratory group Dumpstaphunk onstage at 9 p.m. to celebrate the legacy of The Meters and its late organ player and keyboardist, Art — Ivan's uncle. As The Meters’ 1974 album Rejuvenation turns 50 this year, the time is right to throw a party. And what a funky party it promises to be.

More information on the Rochester International Jazz Festival, including ticket info, here.

Patrick Hosken is an arts writer for CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].