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British Invasion: Celebrating 10 years of British Jazz at XRIJF

“Made In the U.K.” launched at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival back in 2008. It’s now spread throughout different parts of the world.

British Jazz star Polly Gibbons made her Rochester debut Wednesday night at Christ Church on East Avenue. People like Carl Semmler in the audience liked her style.

“We like the European, the English take on the jazz music,” he said. “The English has a different way they approach everything. It's kind of cool.

Polly's performance was part of the “Made In the U.K.” series, the festival's way of showcasing that different approach to jazz from across the pond.

“There's a huge scene now in London, and in the whole U.K.,” said James Pearson, pianist and Musical Director for Polly Gibbons Band.

He’s performed at this festival before and knows what an opportunity it is to play in the us.

“To get a chance to play in America is an amazing experience [and] to hear American musicians and often play with them is great.”

“Made In the U.K.” launched at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival back in 2008. It’s now spread throughout different parts of the world. But every year since it’s starts, well-known British musicians looking to expand their talents play nine nights at Christ Church.

“We see the best talent in Europe here every year,” said Carlos Mercado. He’s the stage manager for the series, and a parishioner at Christ Church.

He said more than 6,000 people come to listen to that talent throughout the festival.

"It's a wonderful experience. Music uplifts everybody, jazz is great," said Mercado. "To me, it's what the neighborhood and church can be at its best."

Pearson tells us this festival is what great music and international collaborate can be at their best. He even compares the XRIJF to the Heritage Jazz Festival in New Orleans.

“There's a huge amount of artist that are performing here from Brits to literally the whole globe at the festival. It's one of the proper landmark jazz festivals. [It’s a] Great honor to be a part of it.”

John Ellson was the driving force behind the “Made In the U.K.” series. He passed away earlier this year. Both Pearson and Mercado said they know he would be proud to see the performances this year marking this milestone.

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