Gap Mangione grew up in Rochester in a household where music filled the house and musicians regularly joined the family for homemade pasta dinners followed by impromptu jazz sessions.

Mangione Brothers with Mama Mangione

Mangione Brothers perform for Mama Mangione

It’s no wonder Gap and his brother Chuck  were inspired to become musicians even before they left high school. Gap played piano and was writing and arranging music for local big bands by the time he was 15.  The two Mangione brothers became known as the Jazz Brothers, launching their illustrious careers in 1960 with an album of the same name.

Today, Gap still loves that big band sound and performs frequently with his full band for events such as Fairport Canal Days on June 5.  On other occasions, you can catch performances of his New Blues Band performing at Woodcliff and elsewhere in the region.

On Friday, June 12, Gap and his New Blues Quintet will open the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival with two headliner performances at 6:15 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Max of Eastman Place.

Gap & New Blues Band at RIJF 2007

Gap & New Blues Band at RIJF 2007

I was curious to get Gap’s insights, he being a native Rochester musician, about  the impact the Rochester International Jazz Festival has had.  Gap has been performing at the festival since its inception 8 years ago.

“The Festival is amazing!  At what other event could you find over 100,000 joyful people celebrating in the streets?” asked Gap.  “It’s really enhanced Rochester’s image as a music city.  We get not only the best musicians in the world performing here, but it also showcases high school bands,  giving encouragement to young musicians. The scholarship program that the festival underwrites is also really important.”

I asked him about the impact of the festival on emerging musicians.

“The festival has launched a lot of careers.  Look at Nora Jones, for example.  She plays the festival to a small crowd in an intimate venue one year and is so popular that, by the next year, she’s “gone gold” and is performing for hundreds of thousands. And that happens…often.”

“Part of this Festival’s success is due to  John (Nugent) and Marc (Ioconna).  Not only are they really talented musicians and savvy business men, but they’re the nicest guys in the world.  The festival really reflects their personalities.”

You can catch Gap Mangione and the New Blues Band’s performance at the Rochester International Jazz Festival on Friday, June 12 at 6:15 p.m. or 10 p.m. at Max of Eastman Place, located at 25 Gibbs Street in downtown Rochester.  Admittance by RIJF Club Pass or $20 single entry at the door.

CLICK HERE for Gap’s performance itinerary.

Photos courtesy Gap Mangione and photographer Josephine Mangione Shank.

In 2002, John Nugent and Marc Iocona launched the Rochester International Jazz Festival as a way to celebrate this country’s only native music form.  The festival soon became a landmark event for the city of Rochester, as well as one of the largest and fastest growing music festivals in the U.S.

Kilbourn Hall - Sell-outs are not unusual at this Festival

Kilbourn Hall - Sell-outs are not unusual

For Nugent, the Co-producer and Artistic Director as well as a renowned tenor saxophonist and Iocona, Co-producer and Executive Director, President of Simcona Electronics and a celebrated trumpeter, the Rochester International Jazz Festival is a labor of love.  It’s also a way to provide a showcase for the work of emerging musicians alongside Internationally-acclaimed artists, which has been one of this event’s hallmarks.

Jazz lovers will find this festival accessible to everyone, no matter what their taste or budget.  The program offers over 200 concerts featuring more than 800 musicians in both free and ticketed venues.  The fact that all of the musical venues are within walking distance of each other in downtown Rochester adds to accessibility.

The elegant Eastman Theatre is one of the ticketed Headliner venues

The elegant Eastman Theatre is one of the ticketed Headliner venues

This year’s Headliners performing at the Eastman Theatre are a formidable group of musicians including jazz greats Smokey Robinson, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Michael McDonald, Taj Mahal and others.  Club passes are not valid for these performances and may be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Enjoy daily complimentary concerts on "Jazz Street" by top performers

Enjoy daily complimentary concerts on "Jazz Street" by top performers

On the opposite end of the spectrum, where no tickets or Club passes are required, the festival offers an exciting array of concerts that are open to the public at no charge.   For the schedule of Free Concert Venues and addresses, click on the links below:

What could be better than the Smugtown Stompers on the Mary Jemison?

Enjoy the Smugtown Stompers aboard the Mary Jemison

You’ll be amazed to find headliners Buckwheat Zydeco, Marshall Tucker Band, Tower of Power, and others performing at the above venues where there is no charge! 

In the next post, we’ll cover some of the Club pass venues.  If you haven’t already ordered your Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival Club Pass, which allows access to dozens of venues and hundreds of concerts across the city, order yours now because they sell out FAST!  The fee is $135 plus a $4 service charge.

Photos Courtesy of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival and:

  • Kilbourn Hall – Peter Parts
  • Eastman Theatre – Garry Geer
  • Jazz Street – Don Ver Ploeg
  • Smugtown Stompers – Garry Geer
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