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Jason Crane Posts

My new podcast: The Jazz Session

jazz session

It’s here — the first episode of The Jazz Session, my new jazz interview podcast. On the first show, I interview tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart. Stewart has been in New York for the past 16 years, since moving there from his native Toronto. He’s played with quite a roster of jazz artists, from Curtis Fuller, John Hendricks and Clark Terry to Brad Mehldau, Larry Goldings and Jimmy Cobb. Stewart’s new album on Sharp Nine Records is In The Still Of The Night.

You can listen to The Jazz Session at, or better yet:

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NewsTalk 950 in Rochester strengthens its lineup

NewsTalk 950 WROC, former home of the original The Jason Crane Show, is Rochester’s progressive talk station. With the departure of Al Franken from Air America yesterday, WROC took the opportunity to revamp its lineup. The new version is much, much stronger. Here it is:

  • 12 a.m. — Politically Direct (hosted by David Bender, sponsored by People for the American Way)
  • 1 a.m. — Joey Reynolds (old-school variety talk show from WOR in NYC)
  • 6 a.m. — The Bill Press Show
  • 9 a.m. — Stephanie Miller
  • 12 p.m. — Ed Schultz (live instead of taped, as it had been until now)
  • 3 p.m. — Randi Rhodes (also live now instead of taped)
  • 6 p.m. — News 8 (audio of local TV newscast)
  • 6:30 p.m. — Rachel Maddow (for my money, the brightest light to come out of the whole Air America adventure)
  • 8 p.m. — Democracy Now! (finally, a local station dares to air this daily progressive news program from Pacifica)
  • 9 p.m. — Lionel (in my opinion, this show is the low point of the schedule, but you can’t have it all…)
  • 11 p.m. — News 8 (audio of local TV newscast)
  • 11:30 p.m. — Lionel (again)

I’ve got to say that I’m really impressed with this new lineup. Sounds like the program director has a vision for what to do with this station. Kudos!

The full schedule and links to the shows are at the NewsTalk 950 Web site.

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A union remembers

ILWU photo

My mom and dad took this picture in San Francisco this summer, in front of a union headquarters. My guess is the ILWU. Does anyone know for sure?

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My interview with Steve Swallow at All About Jazz

Bassist Steve Swallow and poet Robert Creeley were friends for 30 years. Swallow first read Creeley’s work in the 1950s, and instantly fell in love with what Creeley had to say and the way he said it. Twenty years later, a chance meeting with Creeley led to a personal and professional relationship. Creeley’s work inspired two of Swallow’s albums — Home (ECM, 1980) and his most recent recording, So There (XtraWATT/ECM, 2006).

I talked with Swallow about So There and his relationship with Creeley. Swallow proved himself to be as consummate an appreciator of poetry and life as he is a master of the electric bass. You can read the interview at All About Jazz.

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Bob Sneider, Joe Locke in Vanity Fair

This arrived this morning from guitarist Bob Sneider, who is based here in Rochester:

I do not usually promote someone else’s website. However, this is pretty cool. Just launched this AM on

Annie Leibovitz’s Film Noir photo montage of Hollywood’s A-list features the music of the Bob Sneider/Joe Locke Film Noir Project. John Sneider’s “Black Dahlia” is set to the multi-media slide show (featuring Paul Hofmann, Joe Locke, Grant Stewart, Bob and John Sneider, Martin Wind, Tim Horner and Luisito Quintero). This track is on an upcoming release titled Nocturne For Ava Gardner (release date not set).

The behind-the-scenes video of the Leibowitz photo shoot has “Rumblin'” (Bob Sneider) throughout. This is performed by John Sneider (trumpet), Bob Sneider(guitar) and the late great Bob Stata(bass).

Stay warm,


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Memorial Service for Michael Brecker

Here are the details of a memorial service for saxophonist Michael Brecker, who died in January. I’ll be in New York that evening and hope to attend.

Tuesday, February 20th
Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street
General Admission
Public Invited
Doors open at 5.15pm

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More coverage of the PAETEC Jazz Festival

Music writer Jeff Spevak of Rochester’s daily newspaper, The Democrat & Chronicle, weighs in on the new PAETEC jazz fest in Baltimore:

Jazz fest expands to bigger market
Owners of Rochester event plan a similar gig in Baltimore

Jeff Spevak
Staff music critic

The powerful chords struck by the Rochester International Jazz Festival in its first five years have reached Baltimore.

John Nugent and Marc Iacona, co-owners of the Rochester event, are co-producing a similar festival at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Attendance soared to an estimated 80,000 jazz fans last year at the critically acclaimed Rochester event, which will be the model for the new PAETEC Jazz Festival — named for the Perinton telecommunications company, the primary sponsor of the Aug. 9-11 Baltimore event.

“He likes what he’s seen and what’s been developed in the Rochester event,” Nugent said of Arunas A. Chesonis, the chairman and CEO of PAETEC who is a Baltimore native.

And it may not stop there: “We went to a bunch of different cities, most that we didn’t have any name recognition in PAETEC,” Chesonis said. “Our biggest issue is just to get people to recognize who we are. We found a city eager to embrace us, in a large market. If we can’t get that place rocking as the first pilot program, we have no business trying to get it going anywhere else, which is our intention.”

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor includes a 4,400-seat open-air shed. But much of the event will probably have the same feel as Rochester, with extensive use of music clubs and free outdoor concerts.

The Inner Harbor is operated by another company with local ties, the Baltimore-based management company Cordish Co. Earlier this week, Cordish said that it had agreed with Rochester officials to terminate its contract to run the High Falls Entertainment District. Mayor Robert Duffy confirmed Tuesday that the city and Cordish are parting ways in High Falls.

PAETEC was a small sponsor of previous years of the Rochester festival, and it was the rapid ascent of the event in the jazz world that convinced Chesonis to jump on board with Nugent and Iacona. There are no plans to increase sponsorship locally.

“They’re both good businessmen, very successful not just in Rochester but in a number of other events. They built Rochester from a small festival to a nine-day extravaganza. And Rochester is a wonderful town, but it’s a small market. There are a lot of markets out there with much greater potential.”

Big money at stake

At Wednesday’s news conference in Baltimore, promoters of the new jazz festival noted that last year’s Rochester International Jazz Festival generated $10 million locally.

“If we don’t make a $10 million impact in three days in Baltimore, we’d be very disappointed,” Nugent said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “But we’re looking to bring $20 million to the city.”

Iacona, president of Simcona Electronics, is also an investor in PAETEC and first began working out the details of the jazz partnership with the company five months ago.

No performers’ names were offered at Wednesday morning’s news conference in Baltimore’s City Hall. That is expected to happen in May.

Now in its sixth year, the June 8-16 Rochester International Jazz Festival will announce in April its lineup for the nine-day event, the bulk of which takes place in the East End Entertainment District.

Since 2000, Nugent has also produced the Stockholm Jazz Festival, whose 24th season is July 17-21. It drew 50,000 fans last year.

“We’ll have some big plans to announce for Rochester,” he said by phone from Baltimore on Wednesday. Those plans are expected to include expanding the festival beyond the East End District.

“Marc and I hopefully will be doing some good stuff around the country as well,” Nugent said.

Nugent, who has lived most recently in Toronto but holds dual citizenship, is also reinforcing his personal commitment to Rochester. He’s buying a house in Brighton and is expecting to close the deal on Friday.

“I’m excited to be in town and hopefully contribute to the local arts scene,” he said.

The original story is here.

Again, I couldn’t be happier at the success of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, or at its migration to Baltimore. I have family in the Baltimore area, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time at Inner Harbor. It’ll be a great site for a jazz festival.

I also think John Nugent’s decision to move here to Rochester is a strong sign of his committment to this town and to the RIJF.

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PAETEC Jazz Festival

Here’s the follow-up to this morning’s post about the new jazz festival being launched in Baltimore by John Nugent and Marc Iacona, producers of the RIJF:

PAETEC Jazz Festival to Premiere in Baltimore August 9-11, 2007
Baltimore-born Entrepreneur to Bring the Music Home!

Rochester, NY-January 31, 2007-Get ready Baltimore! The nation’s newest major jazz festival, PAETEC Jazz is coming your way, promising to heat up the music scene this summer for three music-packed days August 9-11.

Festival officials announced the new event at a news conference this morning at Baltimore’s City Hall hosted by newly elected Mayor Sheila Dixon.

“Considering the enduring history that jazz has in Baltimore, this is indeed a great day for the City,” said Mayor Sheila Dixon. “I’m proud to partner with the PAETEC Jazz Festival’s producers, John Nugent and Marc Iacona, and commend Arunas Chesonis of PAETEC, Inc. for helping showcase Baltimore through this great new event. We’re inviting jazz lovers from around the globe to experience a musical encounter unlike anything that’s ever happened in Baltimore. From Billie Holliday to Cab Calloway, jazz has set the musical tone for Baltimore for decades and the PAETEC Jazz Festival gives us yet another opportunity to highlight the offerings of our world class city.”

PAETEC Jazz Festival Baltimore, will be held in multiple indoor venues and outdoor stages set against the impressive backdrop of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and downtown area. A diverse program of more than 40 concerts will embrace all genres of creative improvised music and feature Grammy-winning headliners as well as some of the world’s finest emerging artists. Venues confirmed to date include Pier 6 and Power Plant Live! The complete artist lineup, schedule, and ticket sale information will be announced in May.

PAETEC Jazz Festival Baltimore was conceived by PAETEC Communications, Inc., Chairman and CEO Arunas A. Chesonis, the Baltimore-born entrepreneur whose telecommunications and information technology company has achieved remarkable growth since it was founded in 1998. PAETEC is headquartered in Rochester, NY, and has offices from coast to coast including in Baltimore and nearby Washington DC.

To produce PAETEC Jazz Festival Baltimore, Chesonis, 44, has tapped the rising star festival producer team of John Nugent and Marc Iacona, who have carefully nurtured two growing and highly successful festivals. The Rochester International Jazz Festival, now in its sixth year and attracting record audiences topping 80,000 in 2006, and the Stockholm Jazz Festival, now entering its 24th year, drawing more than 50,000 music fans, have brought significant positive recognition and economic impact to the host communities.

“Baltimore has always been an important market for PAETEC as well as being the home of one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the nation,” said Chesonis. “We’re honored to be a part of what should become an anticipated cultural event in Baltimore, and I personally look forward to hearing some amazing music while enjoying what this city has to offer.”

“We are very excited to bring PAETEC Jazz to the great city of Baltimore,” said Marc Iacona, Co-producer and Executive Director. “John and I are extremely impressed with Arunas’s vision and leadership in helping establish this important new event. Baltimore is a thriving urban center, alive with activity, and will be a spectacular setting for our diverse festival lineup. We look forward to delivering a top level event that will also have a positive economic impact on the region.”

Artistic Director John Nugent said, “Having produced festivals in different parts of the world, my focus and my joy is in putting together talent – creating a musical painting that meshes new musical ideas from emerging artists with music that is familiar and loved. That is what helps build a festival atmosphere that is electrifying. We have been fortunate to create that in Rochester and Stockholm, and now look forward to accomplishing the same high-level quality event for Baltimore. There is so much talent and so many broad creative styles of creative improvised music to choose from. When our new festival canvas comes together in Baltimore, it will be special.”

Sponsor Opportunities

A variety of sponsorship opportunities are available. For information visit or contact Marc Iacona at

News Alerts

Sign up to receive the latest PAETEC Jazz Baltimore news at

About PAETEC Communications

PAETEC Communications, Inc., is an innovative supplier of communications solutions to medium and large businesses and institutions. With the belief that every customer has unique needs, PAETEC offers personalized solutions that include a comprehensive suite of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services delivered over its Private-IP MPLS network. With more than 1,100,000 access line equivalents in service, PAETEC serves more than 15,000 core business customers across the U.S. by offering a full line of telecommunications and Internet services, enterprise communications management software, security solutions, and managed services. The company was the recipient of the 2005 American Business Ethics Award for a mid-size company, presented by the Society of Financial Services Professionals. PAETEC is headquartered in Fairport, N.Y.

About the Producers

PAETEC Jazz Festival Baltimore is Sponsored by PAETEC Communications Inc and produced by John Nugent, Artistic Director, and Marc Iacona, Executive Director, principals in RIJF, LLC, based in Rochester, NY. The team also produces the critically acclaimed and growing Rochester International Jazz Festival, which will feature more than 600 musicians and more than 120 concerts during the nine day event June 8-16, 2007.

Nugent also produces The Stockholm Jazz Festival, which this year celebrates its 24th year July 17-21. As a performer, Nugent, a noted tenor sax player, has traveled the world with many jazz artists including Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Clark Terry, The Woody Herman Orchestra and The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Iacona, a business and community leader, avid trumpeter and philanthropic supporter of the arts, is also President of Simcona Electronics Corporation, a leading electronics distributor based in Rochester New York with offices serving the eastern US, Canada and Asia.

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Ape It Up!

gorilla 2

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RIJF Producers Launch New Festival

This morning, my inbox contained this message from the producers of the Rochester International Jazz Festival:

Media Advisory

For release January 31, 2007

Rochester International Jazz Festival Producers and Baltimore Mayor to Announce Major New Jazz Festival at Press Conference in Baltimore Wednesday

Rochester Companies to Play Key Role


Announcement of a Jazz Festival in the Inner Harbor and areas of downtown Baltimore
in August 2007.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007 – 9:30 A.M.

Mayor Sheila Dixon will unveil the Festival’s official name and logo, introduce the
event’s two producers and corporate sponsor. The festival’s producers, as well as the CEO of the corporate presenting partner, will be available following the press conference for interviews.


Mayor’s Executive Conference Room – 2nd Floor of Baltimore’s City Hall, 100 N. Holliday Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202


  • Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon
  • John Nugent and Marc Iacona, Co-producers and Partners in the Rochester-based
    company, RIJF, LLC

  • Rochester-based Corporate Presenting Partner

As you may already know, John Nugent produces the Stockholm Jazz Festival in Sweden. Now it looks like he’s adding another U.S. festival to his growing production company. That’s exciting news for jazz fans, and exciting news for Baltimore.

I wrote yesterday about the benefits for Rochester of the jazz festival. It looks like Baltimore has already realized the potential of a major cultural event. I’m glad to see their mayor out in front. I was also glad to see Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy at the RIJF press conference last year. Our mantra should be: Remember Montreal!

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Supporting Rochester’s Jazz Festival

The Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester’s daily paper, weighed in this week in support of using the arts as a growth engine for Rochester:

A mix of activities: Jazz Festival’s growth should inspire Music Fest surge

(January 30, 2007) — As part of a larger plan to create a dynamic city, Rochester officials must provide entertainment on a large scale.

So news that the city is headed in that direction with the annual Rochester International Jazz Festival is encouraging.

With just $35,000 last year, the event managed to attract 80,000 people. Imagine what could be done with the $250,000 the city has asked for.

The idea is to expand the festival beyond the East End and hold events in other areas of the city such as High Falls and Corn Hill, creating a more appealing event.

This would be money well- spent. But the focus on the jazz festival creates a question. What about Music Fest?

The event was a product of the Johnson administration, and has primarily highlighted R&B and hip-hop acts. The event has seen some changes over the years — a reduction in the number of days it is held and a change of venue last year to Frontier Field. Charles Reaves, commissioner of recreation and youth services, said keeping the Music Fest going for years to come remains a priority of the city.

He said sponsorship for the event hasn’t grown to the level the city would like to see, but an audience is there.

Broadening the Music Fest to include other genres of music could be a smart way of appealing to more people and keeping the event fresh, though Reaves said variety can be achieved within the R&B and hip-hop genres by offering a mix of new, old and local acts.

He said it’s striking the right mix, as the jazz festival has done, will help to build the Music Fest’s appeal.

Officials will meet soon to determine the details of this year’s event, and the City Council will vote on whether to approve additional funding for the jazz festival. Nurturing both events should be on the top of the city’s to-do list.

That’s a song I’ve been singing for years. You’ll find that opinion and a lot more about the Rochester International Jazz Festival by looking through the RIJF category here at

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