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Jazz fest starts on Friday; keeping a steady beat while making some minor tweaks

The 16th annual Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival gets underway this Friday, an event which has grown in both attendance and publicity worldwide over all that time.

One of Rochester’s largest festivals is now in its 16th year, featuring  more than 1,500  and over 325 concerts.

The producers of the festival, John Nugent and Marc Iacona, have made some changes over the years, but Iacona says they don’t feel a need to re-invent the festival every year. He says the organizers do pay attention to the more than 3,000 surveys they received back from festival-goers, but most of those relate to requests for smaller tweaks, not any need for a major overhaul.

Iacona says one reason for the event’s ongoing success, is the buzz it has created among the musicians who have played here.

“They’re also talking, and they’ve been talking for years to say the way they’re treated; not just by us, the producers and our team, but by the crowds, the reception, they’re blown away how into the music the festival, the club pass holders are," Iacona told WXXI News.

While the festival has expanded over the years, Iacona says they are at a pretty comfortable point right now, and they don't want it to get too much larger in terms of venues and artists.

“What we don’t want to do is really dilute a situation where now people have too many choices; so the nice thing about having all the venues within walking distance, that proximity, and two sets in each venue, outside of the free shows that are there, it gives people choices, but not so much that they don’t feel they can get to everything.”

The festival  includes a combination of paid shows, at various clubs and music halls as well as free performances. The event traditionally attracts about 200,000 people over its nine day run.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.