CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival begins Friday

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It’s a star-studded lineup for the 2023 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, which begins Friday. The festival runs until Saturday, July 1.

On opening night, jazz guitar legend Pat Metheny, who burst onto the scene in the 1970s, will perform at Kodak Hall on Friday night. In addition, award-winning jazz vocalist Gabrielle Cavassa of New Orleans will take the stage at Max of Eastman Place.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the festival. You can see the full lineup and get tickets here.

This year’s lineup includes 300 acts across 19 venues. More than 100 of the shows are free, including the headliners who will take the stage at Parcel 5 behind the view of downtown. There will also be plenty of free performances at the Chestnut Street Stage, near the Eastman School of Music.

On Friday, some free performances include:

  • CSE Music School Band
  • Honeoye Falls Lima High School Jazz Band
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra With Herb Smith
  • All in Brass Band
  • iGNiTE Reggae Band
  • Eldorado Slim Featuring Scott Sharrard of Little Feat
  • Jam Session with Mike Cottone

Businesses in downtown Rochester are already preparing for the festival, including Temple Bar and Grill and Monster Hots, both on East Avenue.

“Certainly we’re staffing up. We’re planning for success,” said Michael O’Leary, owner of Temple Bar and Grill.

The Jazz Festival will be in full swing at the end of this week. O’Leary says he is ready for the crowd.

“If it’s a really successful Jazz Festival we’ll do probably double the business we would normally do during the week,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary has an actual restaurant front. But Steven Plum on the other hand- runs a hot dog cart. He says he’s prepared for the increase in street traffic.

“I’m a local, local full time business here so it’s interesting,” Plum said. “The people that do know, know. The people that don’t know- the out of towners, they don’t know what I do here. But it’s fun to show them what we do here.”

Both business owners told me the Jazz Fest has been bigger in the years before COVID. Being that this is the second year back, they are hoping for that kind of business to be return.

“People were in having dinner. A lot of our business was people between shows would come in, get a drink, get something to eat. So we certainly had a full house during Jazz Fest and we’d love to see that back again,” O’Leary said.

Both owners said they are excited to see how this year pans out. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, who will close out the festival, most recently performed at the festival in 2019 and drew thousands.