Rochester Jazz Fest in full swing

Updated: 06/20/2014 11:23 PM
Created: 06/20/2014 5:35 PM WHEC.com

It brings in millions of dollars to the area and thousands of people from all across the globe. The Jazz Festival is a huge draw to downtown Rochester. The 13th Rochester International Jazz Fest will feature approximately 1500 artists, 325 concerts, 75 free shows and 20 venues.

The JazzFest kicked off on Friday with the Hilton High School Jazz Band and the Canandaigua Academy Jazz Band. Over the next nine days, residents will have the opportunity to see a number of top national artists, some of who are not all jazz musicians, including Homegrown, The Lou Gramm Band, Earth, Wind and Fire and Janelle Monae.

Jazz lovers can check out Roy Hargrove, The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet and Fourplay.

Derrick Lucas, music director for Jazz 90.1, says he loves the different demographics of people the Jazz Fest brings in.

“You won’t find anything like it in the world. It brings in old people and young people. It doesn’t matter what color you are. It doesn’t matter what race you are. It’s about one thing: loving this music. There’s nothing else like it anywhere in the world, and for nine days it’s right here in Rochester,” he said.

Lucas says his favorite part of the festival is the high school students who get to participate.

“I love seeing the young kids play. It gets me so excited. They may not follow through with a music career, but they can tell their grandkids that they played at a jazz festival,” said Lucas.

Night one of the festival featured six-time, Grammy-nominated, singer-songwriter Janelle Monae took the stage at Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre. Monae is known to her fans as a neo-soul artist, not a jazz artist. Her show wasn’t sold out, but Monae played to a huge audience.

This is one of the few times in the history of the International JazzFest that people like Fran Younger of Brighton came to see a performer of her choice, not to just support her husband who loves jazz.

“It’s somebody I really wanted to see. I came to see Elvis Costello here one year, so it gets me listening to jazz,” said Younger.

Producer and Executive Director Marc Iacona says the pride of this festival is its uniqueness and ability to attract a wide range of people.

“We have a UK series. We have different types of genres of jazz, so if you come in and you’re just into the traditional type of jazz, you might be disappointed. Someone who goes and listens to an interpretation of jazz will think it’s cool,” said Iacona.

Derrick Blue and his wife Janelle grew up in Rochester, but they have never been to the JazzFest. They were invited to a show on Friday that completely changed their opinion of the festival.

“I thought it was just plain. Now I came down for the first time in 13 years, and it really changed my thoughts a lot. I can say I’ll be coming for the next 13 or 20 years,” said Blue.

Click here to check out a full list of performer’s for the nine day festival.

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