WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Jeff Spevak

Jeff Spevak has been a Rochester arts reporter for nearly three decades, with seven first-place finishes in the Associated Press New York State Features Writing Awards while working for the Democrat and Chronicle. He has also been published in Musician and High Times magazines, contributed to WXXI, City newspaper and Post magazine, and occasionally performs spoken-word pieces around town. Some of his haikus written during the Rochester jazz festival were self-published in a book of sketches done by Scott Regan, the host of WRUR’s Open Tunings show. Spevak founded an award-winning barbecue team, The Smokin’ Dopes, and believes Bigfoot is real. His book on the life of a Lake Ontario sailor who survived the sinking of his ship during World War II will be published in April of 2019 by Lyons Press.

After 18 years, the secret is out. The Rochester International Jazz Festival isn't really a jazz festival. It’s actually a culture museum of many rooms.

But on Friday night, opening night of the nine-day event, the fest did have its giant jazz moment: the Steve Gadd Band, at Eastman Theatre's Kodak Hall.

Gadd is a bona fide Rochester son: raised in Irondequoit; Eastridge High grad; Eastman School of Music; lived here for years. He's one of the world's most sought-after drummers; when James Taylor visited Gadd, people would see him strolling along the Erie Canal.

Mike Kaupa remembers the good old days of the Jimmy Carter administration, "when there was a lot more money for the arts," he says. "I got a CETA Grant to play jazz in Rochester. That's how I ended up here."

CETA, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, brought Kaupa from Buffalo to Rochester. He remains a significant player on the local scene, and is a teacher at The Harley School, Finger Lakes Community College and the Eastman Community Music School.

Social media offered hopeful hints about Joe Dady’s condition over the last few days. Well-meaning friends, reporting that stem-cell donations from Joe’s brother John might be holding off the rare form of leukemia Joe had been diagnosed with in October.

Perhaps we all just wanted to believe it was so.