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Jazz Fest producers preparing for 2022 edition

Planning for the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival is underway, with plans to hold the popular event in June 2022.

Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, festival producers John Nugent and Mark Iacona have been working continuously and collaborating with colleagues in the music and entertainment industry globally to ensure that the festival’s return will be one to remember, officials said.

“We are extremely excited to bring the Festival back to Downtown Rochester,” said Nugent, who also serves as the event’s artistic director. “It has been a stressful two years of scheduling, postponing, rescheduling and postponing again and again. Finally, though, on June 17, 2022, our much-anticipated 19th edition will open.”

The full lineup and complete festival details will be announced at an annual media event on March 15, 2022.

“Postponing our Jazz Festival for two years in a row has left a void for all of us,” said Executive Director Iacona. “We can look forward once again to hearing vibrant music from around the world in June in downtown Rochester.”

Booking is underway for the 2022 Club Pass Series, giving the right of first refusal to artists originally booked for the 19th Edition. The 2022 Club Pass Series will feature 219 sets of music at 12 venues in downtown Rochester including the Bethel Church, Hatch Hall, the Hyatt Regency Ballroom, Kilbourn Hall, the Little Theatre, the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Max of Eastman Place, Montage Music Hall, Temple Theater, Theater at Innovation Square, Rochester Regional Health Big Tent and the Wilder Room. Several venues will be new in 2022.

Patrons who hold club pass series tickets for the pandemic-postponed 19th edition do not need to do anything as their tickets are automatically valid for the 2022 festival or 2023 festival if they are unable to attend in 2022. As in prior years, club pass tickets may be redeemed for passes at the ticket shop. Hours and dates for the shop will be announced closer to the festival.

Nearly all of the club pass ticket holders kept their tickets for the 2022 festival, so festival producers will not put club passes on sale until spring 2022, and quantities will be limited.

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Jazz Fest to return this summer, but not downtown

The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival has been put back on the calendar this year, festival producers said Thursday.

Producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent have slated the popular event for July 30 to Aug. 7 at Rochester Institute of Technology. Plans are dependent on New York’s public health guidelines being favorable for both travel and large gatherings.

The decision to move forward will be made in the spring, officials said.

The move from downtown Rochester to RIT will allow organizers more flexible space to accommodate health guidelines that likely will dictate increased audience spacing. The move from June to July and August will enable more people to be vaccinated and give the festival optimal use of RIT’s space because it will be between semesters.

“With COVID-19 and health consequences squarely on the minds of all event-goers around the world, we again find ourselves at a crossroads,” said Iacona and Nugent in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to our loyal patrons and sponsors and for countless messages of support as uncertainty prevails. Early February now brings us to a critical junction as we explore how to potentially present a festival, secure programming, and put together the plethora of logistics.”

The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival will return this July and August. (photo provided)
The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival will return this July and August. (photo provided)

The festival’s 19th edition was postponed twice because of the pandemic. It originally was scheduled for June 19 through 27, 2020, then rescheduled for Oct. 2 through 10, 2020, and eventually postponed to June 18 through 26, 2021. More than 208,000 people attend the nine-day annual event, coming from more than half of the states nationwide and 20 countries to see more than 325 shows, and 1,750 artists perform.

“Planning is a challenge when we don’t know what the future will bring. We do know that this year’s festival cannot go on as usual. The way we work and how we live has changed,” Iacona said. “We are very encouraged that vaccines are becoming more available. And if public health guidelines allow us to proceed this summer, we must adapt to this new environment, which will require a more flexible and spacious festival footprint. The RIT campus meets that criteria.”

Officials said Club Pass holders will be able to use their passes at this year’s festival or in 2022 or 2023. The two headliner shows, Spyro Gyra and Puss N Boots, which were scheduled for June, will be canceled and refunds will be provided to all ticketholders. An email is being sent to every ticketholder with refund information.

“The essence of our festival has always been to bring our community together, drawn by the majesty of creative improvised music and celebrating as one entity. While this new location will be a change for us all, and the first time we are not downtown, we will still shine the musical spotlight on greater Rochester,” Nugent said. “We are committed to making every effort to include the city of Rochester and many of our downtown-based partners at this new location. We will create a festive atmosphere including a Jazz Street, assure the ability to walk between venues and offer a shuttle service.”

As plans evolve over the next few months the producers will assess RIT’s many venue options. If public health officials give the green light to proceed, the lineup will be finalized and announced in the spring. As previously announced, producers are committed to honoring agreements with as many artists as possible who were originally booked for the original 19th edition in June 2020.

“RIT embodies community pride and involvement. When asked to serve as the host venue for the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival in 2021, we were happy to comply by offering an expansive setting where COVID safety precautions can be observed,” said RIT President David Munson. “The Jazz Fest aligns well with our mission as a university that works at the intersection of technology, the arts and design. We have almost unlimited space for outdoor performance venues and ample adjacent parking. We’ve also invested more than $8 million in COVID-related infrastructure upgrades, including 3,000 new air purification systems and a variety of touchless technologies. This should provide for a safe and welcoming environment as we plan within public health guidelines. We look forward to doing our part to bring Greater Rochester together for a world-class event.”

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Producers forge ahead on October Jazz Festival

The producers of the annual CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival continue to make plans for a rescheduled show, the duo said Monday.

“This is a message of hope,” said RIJF producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent in a festival update this week. “Music is the soul of all humanity and we all crave the spirit of creative improvised music now more than ever. This has been a trying time for festivals and live events, including RIJF as we have been forced to make painful decisions to either cancel or postpone our events and see a domino effect of financial and emotional burdens, and in some cases devastation.”

Iacona and Nugent said they are continuing to forge ahead to reschedule the popular event for Oct. 2 through Oct. 10 this year.

“These plans are fully predicated on being able to gather safely according to recommendations of our health and government officials,” they said. “If we are able to proceed with our plans, we will follow all guidelines as specified by our health and government officials. We will also take additional precautions to provide our patrons with masks and hand sanitizer.”

As expected, there are four headliner shows that are unable to reschedule for the new dates: Nile Rodgers and CHIC; Wynonna and the Big Noise; Trombone Shorty; and Garth Fagan Dance and Monty Alexander due to artist and/or venue unavailability.

The producers will contact ticket holders for the canceled Eastman Theatre headliner shows directly to find out refund preferences, which include either a full refund or an RIJF credit for the full ticket purchase price toward a future festival headliner ticket, club pass or merchandise purchase in 2021 or 2022.

“This will be a big help to assure the future of the festival following the losses we will be sustaining this year due to these unexpected turn of events,” Nugent and Iacona said.

Club Passes will be good at the postponed festival in October, or for the 20th Anniversary Festival in 2021 or at the 2022 festival.

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Jazz Festival lineup announced

jazzfestCGI Rochester International Jazz Festival producers on Tuesday announced a full lineup that includes more than 320 shows at 20 venues.

Previously announced headliners for the 18th annual show include George Benson; Steve Gadd Band; Patti LaBelle; Jeff Goldblum & the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra; Steve Miller Band with special guest Marty Stuart; and Marc Cohn and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Free show headliners include Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; the Allman Betts Band; and the Legendary Downchild Blues Band 50th Anniversary Tour featuring Dan Aykroyd. Festival producers said more than 100 performances will be free this year.

“Our new title sponsor, CGI Communications, highly respected legendary and emerging jazz musicians and the addition of new Club Pass venues should leave people with much anticipation for our 2019 festival,” Executive Director and Co-producer Marc Iacona said.

The 2019 Jazz Fest will run from June 21 to June 29 and feature the return of two popular international series including Made in the UK and Nordic & Euro Jazz Now, as well as artists coming from Canada, England, Scotland, Sweden, France, Israel, Finland, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Ghana and Brazil.

“For 2019, the canvas of musical colors we’ll present will be brighter than ever,” festival Artistic Director and Co-producer John Nugent said. “Our patrons can look forward to hearing all forms of creative improvised music, from hard bop, soul, funk grooves, classic jazz, big bands to free form, avant-garde and the straight up blues.”

More than 208,000 people attended the 2018 Jazz Fest.

Nugent said the team received more than 2,000 unsolicited email booking requests this year. In addition to new festival sponsor CGI, this year’s print sponsor is Canfield & Tack Inc. and corporate hospitality sponsor is NextCorps.

This year’s Jazz Fest will feature four new venues, including Geva Theatre’s Wilson Stage, Geva’s Fielding Stage, Squeezers Stage at M&T Pavilion and City of Rochester Midtown Stage at Parcel 5.

Nightly jam session will be held at the Hyatt Regency Rochester beginning at 10:30 p.m., while five free student jazz workshops will be available for music students of all ages from June 24 to June 28.

The Rochester International Jazz Festival’s jazz scholarship program has awarded nearly $500,000 in scholarships to 40 students entering Eastman School of Music. This year’s free scholarship concert will be held June 24.

Festivalgoers can purchase headliner tickets, as well as 3-day and 9-day club passes, which provide access to some 220 shows. More information on the Jazz Fest lineup, venues and tickets can be found at the organization’s website.

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First two headliners announced for 2019 Jazz Festival

Rochesterian Steve Gadd and his band will perform at the 28th annual CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival. (Photo provided)
Rochesterian Steve Gadd and his band (Photo provided)

The 2019 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival has booked its first two headline acts: the Steve Gadd Band and George Benson will play the 18th annual festival, which next year runs from June 21 through June 29.

Gadd, a Rochester drummer who rose to fame in the studio scene, has played for Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Eric Clapton and James Taylor. The Steve Gadd Band has released four albums, and its 2016 release, “Way Back Home,” was recorded live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival in 2015. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Gadd and his band will perform June 21 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and 10-time Grammy winner George Benson is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Appreciated as a musician and performer, Benson plays the dual role of expert improviser and vibrant entertainer. He began his career as a guitarist working corner pubs in Pittsburgh and apprenticed with organist Brother Jack McDuff in the early 1960s.

George Benson will perform June 27 at the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival. (Photo provided)
George Benson (Photo provided)

Benson will perform at Kodak Hall June 27. Tickets for both shows go on sale Friday.

The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival is one of the world’s leading jazz fests. It was founded in 2002 and is a multidimensional nine-day festival held annually in downtown Rochester. More than 1,500 artists from around the world perform more than 320 shows at 20 venues.

Attendance has grown from 15,000 at its start to 208,000 in 2018. The economic impact of the jazz fest is estimated at more than $180 million.

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Jazz Fest offers updated app

Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival has released an updated smartphone app ahead of the June music festival.

The free app, for iPhone and Android devices, will allow festival-goers to see artist bios, audio excerpts, links to artist websites and more. The app allows individuals to plan their own customized schedule and receive alerts reminding them of start times.

The app can be connected to Facebook to share favorites and a multimedia section will feature videos posted during the festival. Festival-goers can buy tickets and club passes and get instant alerts of any schedule changes, sell-outs or special news.

This year’s artist lineup includes Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Alison Krauss, Seal, Lake Street Dive, Jill Scott and Boz Scaggs. The event, now in its 17th season, runs for nine days beginning June 22, and features more than 1,500 artists at 20 venues.

More information is available at the festival’s website.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer