The 11th annual Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival kicked off yesterday, and Jazz Services is onsite to report. Over the next few days we'll be putting up some blogs about the festival but specifically about the strong showing of British bands who are taking part.
One of the major strands of the festival is the hugely successful Made In The UK series, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2012. Made In The UK is the brainchild of John Ellson, head of international promoters ESIP. For the last five years, artists from the UK have been welcomed over to Rochester to perform, and now the strand is one of the festival highlights, with eight bands performing two concerts a day in the beautiful Christ Church in the centre of town.
2012's festival features a great range of artists from all over the UK, and to begin the Rochester crowds were treated to the quirky “post-jazz” of Bristol-based four-piece Get The Blessing. The band released their most recent album earlier this year and these concerts were part of a tour that takes them to New York and across Canada in the space of a couple of weeks (for the first time, Made In The UK 2012 also features in several Canadian festivals).
One of the great things about Rochester is that it feels like a real festival. The venues are all within walking distance, but rather than just being under the collective umbrella of a festival there's very much a connected feel to them all, helped by the fact that punters can buy a 'club pass' which admits them to nearly all the gigs on the programme - these passes are so popular that they nearly always sell out in advance of the line-up even being announced. As such, the audience was a great mix of both fans and the simply curious, and Rochester seems to be all about discovering new artists. In fact, the official t-shirts come with the slogan, “It's not who you know, it's who you don't know.” As the first of the Made In The UK artists to perform at this year's event, Get The Blessing were a perfect band to illustrate this spirit of musical exploration, and took the audience on a journey that included the weird and the wonderful, with bassist Jim Barr's deadpan delivery between tunes giving listeners a taste of wry English humour. The band played two shows to capacity crowds and went down a storm – you can read the local opinion in Rochester newspaper The Democrat & Chronicle's live review here: LINK
As with all good jazz festivals, the action continued later that night with the festival jam session, held at the Rochester Plaza hotel, and GTB drummer Dylan Howe represented the UK in fine form. Rochester definitely makes a good first impression, with an amazing response to the bands and a real sense of anticipation for what's to come. Speaking of which, Liane Carroll steps up tonight with her trio, and the buzz in definitely in the air. It's easy to see why the Made In The UK series is such a success, and something which festivals all around the world can look to for inspiration.
Check back tomorrow for an update on Liane's performance and news on what else is coming up, and for more info on Rochester, the Made In The UK series and the bands involved, follow the links below.
www.rochesterjazz.com / @XRIJF
www.madeintheukconcerts.co.uk / @madeintheukjazz