Jazz Avenues August BLOG 2016

by Steve Monroe

…follow @jazzavenues

 

JDensonConCirclescover

Jeff Denson celebrates his recent CD

“Concentric Circles” with a show at the

Atlas Performing Arts Center Sat. Aug. 6.

 

 

Denson homecoming, Nesmith, Cole, Jalenti
top weekend; Carr,  Chestnut, Boykin-Settles on way

One might say it has been a long and winding and yes, artistically successful road for Jeff Denson since he left our environs to learn his craft, travel widely and become a multi-genre performer. His homecoming, CD release concert at the Atlas Performing Arts Center Saturday Aug. 6 promises a fun time for all, those who knew him when, or those just discovering him.
Double bassist and vocalist Denson, an Arlington, Va., native, performs in celebration of his recent recording “Concentric Circles” at the Atlas with bassoonist Paul Hanson, percussionist Eric Kennedy and vibraphonist Warren Wolf .
“Playing music is a deeply spiritual experience for me,” says Denson on his website, “… it is sacred. When it is pure it can be like traveling without moving – a gateway to another world or reality.”
“Concentric Circles,” says his website, “is the fifth album by Denson and after the last three where he explored freely improvised music, a unique take on gospels and hymns, and a tribute to the music of Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz, he has returned to exploring his original compositions in the same vein as his initial recording, Secret World.”

 

 

JeffDenson1

Bassist and vocalist Jeff Denson is a professor

at the University of California, Berkeley.
A professor at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, Calif., Denson says “I have the highest degree that a person can earn in music; however I owe a great deal of my ‘education’ to my experiences on the ‘street’ or on the bandstand.”
(see http://www.jeffdenson.com or http://www.atlasarts.org).

 

 

 

IreneJalenti1

photo credit/www.irenejalenti.com

Vocalist Irene Jalenti entertains at Twins Jazz

Friday and Saturday Aug. 5-6.

 

 

Elsewhere this weekend, classy pianist and vocalist Freddy Cole continues his stay at Blues Alley tonight, Friday Aug.5, through Sunday. Lavenia Nesmith & Friends appear at 6 p.m. tonight at Westminster Presbyterian Church, with Nesmith, vocals, Paul Carr, sax, Wayne Wilentz, piano, James King, bass and Lenny Robinson, drums. Vocalist Irene Jalenti performs at Twins Jazz tonight and tomorrow night, and Brad Linde’s Team Players band is at Twins Jazz Sunday Aug. 7.

In other August events sax master Paul Carr kicks off a series of concerts at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Aug. 12 (see below). Pianist Tim Whalen brings a septet to Twins Jazz Aug. 12-13. The Levine Music School’s Levine Jazz Jam Aug. 13 at the Levine at Strathmore MD campus in North Bethesda ($5 at the door; see http://www.levinemusic.org) is “an opportunity for musicians of any age and proficiency to experience jazz from the inside. In a fun and structured environment facilitated by Levine jazz faculty members, musicians will get a chance to play and improvise on a couple well-known jazz standards.”

 

 

 

 

SONY DSC

Jessica Boykin-Settles Sings Sarah Aug. 26

at Westminster Presbyterian Church
Alto Madness comes to Baltimore Aug. 15 with Richie Cole on alto saxophone, our own Larry Willis, piano, Blake Meister, bass and Billy Williams, drums, at An Die Musik (www.andiemusik.com). Vocalese maestro and Washington DC Jazz Network guru George V. Johnson plays Blues Alley Aug. 16. The inimitable Cyrus Chestnut, Baltimore’s own, settles into Blues Alley for a four-night stay Aug. 18-21. The John Lamkin “Favorites” Quintet is at Takoma Station in D.C. Aug. 19 and at Phaze 10, 855 N. Howard Street in Baltimore Aug. 28. Jessica Boykin-Settles Sings Sarah at Westminster Aug. 26.
The Petworth Jazz Project rolls on this summer at Petworth Recreation Center in D.C. Aug. 27, spotlighting emerging vocalist Cecily Bumbray at the neighborhood park where the very young, young and older folks as well can relax, chit chat, stroll, partake and enjoy fine music and the evening air.

And The Jazz and Cultural Society in Northeast D.C. this month has shows including The Christie Dashiell Quartet Aug. 10; Afro-Cuban Jazz Aug. 11; Bruce Swaim Aug. 17; Fred Foss Aug. 21 and Karen Lovejoy Aug. 24. See http://www.jazzandculturalsociety.com for the complete calendar and more information.

 

Hot sounds blossom at NGA Sculpture Garden

Paul Carr, Sin Miedo and The Moonshine Society are coming soon to provide August jazz in the picturesque National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.
Carr is the always vibrant and entertaining tenor saxophonist, whose latest albums include the romantic pairing of Carr’s golden sax tones and vocalist Sharon Clark’s unique way of phrasing a song on “Carr and Clark,” released earlier this year during Carr’s Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, and the non-stop jams on his “B3 Sessions” release from last year. Seewww.paulcarrjazz.com.

 

 

 

Paul Carr

Paul Carr plays Friday Aug. 5

with Lavenia Nesmith at Westminster

and Aug. 12 at the National Gallery

of Art Sculpture Garden.

 

 

 

As venues go, the garden shows are fresh air, outdoors musical treats of fun, for tourists and residents alike, and Carr’s show promises to be another must-go event for summer jazz lovers. Also coming up at the garden are Sin Miedo Aug. 19 and The Moonshine Society Aug. 26.
Sin Miedo is led by French pianist Didier Prossaird, Sin Miedo has been performing in the DC-Baltimore area for the past 10 years, collaborating with salsa greats Tito Allen and Frankie Vasquez, touring the US and abroad with the Washington Ballet, performing in music halls at Gala Theater and providing Salsa music for the hottest dance nights in the Capital. The repertoire of the band includes original music with Spanish and French lyrics and the Salsa classics of the 70’s to today’s latest hits as well as Latin jazz.
The Moonshine Society, is the “young acclaimed band redefining the blues genre for a new generation,” with band members including Joe Poppen (guitar), Black Betty (vocals), Christopher Brown (bass) and Barry Hart (drums). For live shows or on recordings, guest artists can include those like local jazz legend Ron Holloway on sax. Seewww.moonshinesociety.com.

 

From the 705Network Music — The Theljohn Quartet

Here’s the latest treat from the 705 Network Music folks, the Theljohn Allen Quintet … enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1UX-uR8QgQ&feature=youtu.be
And see http://www.705network.com for much more!

 

 

 

CGrubbsArtscape072016

Carl Grubbs after his Jazz/Strings Ensemble

performance at Artscape in Baltimore last month.

 

 

 

InPerson/InReview … Carl Grubbs’ “Inner Harbor Suite Revisited”

Speaking of art and nature and music few events match the annual Artscape in Baltimore festival, three days this past month, that on the closing evening featured award-winning saxophonist and educator Carl Grubbs’ Jazz/String Ensemble.
The group, a quintet led by Grubbs on alto sax, performed works from the new CD “Inner Harbor Suite Revisited: A Tribute to Baltimore” that results from his 2014 Ruby’s Award grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. A large crowd at the Brown Center in the Maryland Institute College of Art enjoyed Grubbs’ spicy, swinging, bluesy and jamming compositions including “Bossa,” “Water,” “Like Trane,” “Barbara Dear,” and “Saturn.”
Highlights included the heartfelt, soaring lines on sax by Grubbs on the “Barbara Dear,” in honor of his wife—and marketing manager and publicist, grant writer and everything else!—and “Water,” a moving treatise of its own by the singing string section.

 

 

CGJazzStringsartscape072016

The Carl Grubbs Jazz/Strings Ensemble

in performance at Artscape in Baltimore.
The CD was recorded during a May 2015 performance of the ensemble at the Ward Center for the Arts, at The St. Paul’s Schools in Brooklandville, Md., where Grubbs has been the director of jazz studies for several years. Grubbs’ Latin flavored jam “Bossa” with the strings singing their own lilting melody and Grubbs’ edgy, searing sax, leads off a varied, flowing river of his original compositions.
“Like Trane” pops and rolls with the strings again adding a unique color to formerly traditional bop tunes, lifting the mood while also contrasting with the fiery rawness of Grubbs’ sound and accenting the twists and turns of the piece. Other highlights include “Special Moments,” another jam featuring Grubbs’ twists, full stops and varied rhythmic flavors, with Byrd’s piano colors and Lamkin and Kennedy powering on percussion. “Saturn” is a Grubbs’ alto sax tour de force with his free, squawking, high-flying lines, and with an orchestral sweeping majesty to it thanks to the strings, added to Grubbs’ previous recordings of the piece.
And “Harbor Place” is a fitting, melancholy stroll led by Grubbs’ sax, the strings and Charlie Himel’s vibrant bass, recalling when it all began, with Grubb’s acclaimed “Inner Harbor Suite” recording some 22 years ago.
See http://www.contemporaryartsinc.org for more on Grubbs and his new CD.

 

–InReview … Jordan Dixon’s “A Conversation Among Friends”

As a member of “The Few, The Proud, The Marines,” Jordan Dixon has already fashioned a shiny resume. With his debut CD “A Conversation Among Friends,” the tenor saxophonist has now proudly served notice he is a musician and composer deserving wider recognition locally and beyond.
A native of Baton Rouge, he started playing music seriously at the age of 12, and served in the military as a Marine Musician. A few years ago, after his discharge, Dixon moved to the D.C. area to play and study music and has been one of the leading players, with a power and explosiveness on his axe that not many can match, in Allyn Johnson’s University of the District of Columbia jazz ensembles.

 

JordonDixon-AConversationAmong
Johnson, UDC’s director of jazz studies and an eminent pianist in his own right, is the pianist on “A Conversation Among Friends,” along with Dixon bandmates Steve Novosel, bass, Nasar Abadey, drums and J.S. Williams, trumpet.
Dixon’s bold, raw, bluesy tenor sax riffs provide the centerpiece, along with his fine compositional skills, for his CD, with highlights including “Wayward Warrior,” and intriguing lilting jam spurred by Johnson’s rippling runs and Abadey’s splashing drum work. “Hospital Honors” rocks and rolls in the best of the bop tradition, Dixon’s spearing sax lines intense, but also witty and thoughtful. “What You’ve Done for Me (A Ballad for Mr. Gulley)” is too, in the best of the sax man’s ballad tradition, Dixon tender and wistful on his tenor sax.
A notable recording debut for Dixon, you can check out more about “A Conversation Among Friends” and Dixon on http://www.cdbaby.com.

 

Baltimore Jazz Fest coming in October!

For jazz fans everywhere, and in particular those who have been following the discussions in Baltimore about the lack, in that great city with its great jazz heritage, of a jazz festival when many other cities and locales have them, the Baltimore Jazz Alliance has announced the long wait is over.

 

 

BmoreJazzFestLogo
Coming October 1 from 12 noon to 8:30 p.m. is Baltimore Jazz Fest 2016, “a free, family-friendly, full day of Baltimore jazz, held in beautiful Druid Hill Park in the heart of Baltimore City. Produced in partnership with Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks,” according to BJA information.
Featured performs include the Hot Club of Baltimore, the Clarence Ward III All-Stars, Rumba Club, the Dunbar Jazz Ensemble, the Greg Hazta ORGANization, Art Sherrod Jr. and the Baltimore Legends, a group including Bob Butta, John Lamkin Sr. and Carlos Johnson among others. See http://www.baltimorejazz.com for complete information.

Steve Monroe is a Washington, D.C. writer who can be reached at steve@jazzavenues. com and followed at http://www.twitter.com/jazzavenues.

Jazz Avenues July BLOG 2016

By Steve Monroe

… follow @jazzavenues

 

 

robertagam907

Roberta Gambarini entertains at Blues Alley

July 1-3 this weekend.

 

 

 

Carter, Gambarini, Alberico, GUSJC, Grasso brunch
top weekend sounds; Grubbs, Vocal Summit on way

The soulful sounds of Janine Gilbert Carter, the romantic stylings of Roberta Gambarini, Rick Alberico’s hot sax and a jazz brunch highlight this weekend’s offerings, with a jamming month of July jazz on the way between here and Baltimore.
Carter performs at 6 p.m. tonight, July 1, at Westminster Presbyterian Church with Antonio Parker, alto sax, Wes Biles, bass, Vince Smith, piano and Manny Kellogg, drums.
Gambarini, who has wowed DC Jazz Festival audiences in recent years, is at Blues Alley tonight through Sunday, July 3.
Alberico, the upstate New York native, who settled in this area several years ago and has played many venues with his Rick Alberico Jazz Project, plays at Twins Jazz tonight and tomorrow.

A special show Saturday July 2 features the venerable Brother Ah, virtuoso musician and historian of the music and WPFW programmer, presenting “Music of Sun Ra” from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Everlasting Life Cafe, 9185 Central Avenue in Capitol Heights, Md. Tickets are $15. Go to http://www.wpfwfm.org for more information or call 301-717-8057.

 

 

 

 

 

GUSTJCwebsitephoto

The Greater U Street Jazz Collective has

become a regular highight at Mulebone Restaurant.

 

 
The Greater U Street Jazz Collective (GUSJC) begins a run of Saturdays and Sundays at the Mulebone Restaurant tomorrow, Saturday July 2, at 6 p.m.
Sunday July 3 pianist Chris Grasso presents his Jazz Brunch at 1 p.m. with Nicki Parrott and Chuck Redd at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, with Lenny Robinson on drums (www.chrisgrassomusic.com). Sunday night, the Joe Vetter Quartet entertains at Twins Jazz.

 

 

 

 

LennyRobinson Photo

Master percussionist Lenny Robinson plays with

Chris Grasso and Chuck Redd behind vocalist Nicki

Parrott at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Sunday July 3.

 

 

 
Coming up next week is a special event helping impresario Vernard Gray of East River Jazz celebrate his 75th birthday, “Cecily/A Celebration of Womanhood” at 6 p.m. July 7 at Jazz and Cultural Society (www.jazzandculturalsociety.com) in N.E. D.C., with the show dedicated to Gray’s mother, Rae Ella Orendoff Gray. Order tickets by July 1 online at http://www.eastriverjazz.net or by calling 202-262-7571 for the $30 admission with dinner; or for $20 admission only, order online only July 2-6; tickets $25 day of event).
Cecily Bumbray (www.cecilymusic.com) is a young D.C. native vocalist and songwriter drawing acclaim for her performances and her CD, “Cecily.”

Vocalist Rochelle Rice has a CD release party for her debut album, “Wonder,” July 8 at Amy by Strathmore in North Bethesda. See. http://www.rochellericemusic.com for more information.

And Gray has another event Sunday, July 10, at Agora Bar and Grill @The Inn at the Black Olive restaurant in Baltimore, “Keeping It Soulful,” featuring the Craig Alston Ensemble, with Marshall Keys, saxophones, Benjie Poreki, keyboard, Mark Prince drums and Alston on bass. For complete information, see http://www.eastriverjazz.net.

 

 

 

 

 

craigalston1

Craig Alston’s Ensemble plays at The Inn at

The Black Olive Restaurant in Baltimore July 10.

 

 

 

 

The Laker Arbor Jazz Festival returns for its 7th year at Lake Arbor in Mitchellville, Md., July 7-10 with performers including Brian Lenair, Elan Trotman, Althea Rene, Brian Simpson, Oweleo, Art Sherrod Jr., the FAME Jazz Band and many others (See http://www.lakearborjazz.com).

 

 

 

 

toddmarcus2

The Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra plays the Single

Carrot Theatre in Baltimore July 9.

 

 

 

 

AkuaAllrich

One of our queens of song Akua Allrich performs

July 17 at the DC Jazz Jam and July 22 at the

Vocal Summit at Wesley United Methodist Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reginald Cyntje

The Reginald Cyntje Group plays July 16

at An Die Musik in Baltimore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another special event July 11 “WPFW 89.3 Honors Omrao Brown” celebrates the former Bohemian Caverns guru Brown, at 7 p.m. at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. Artists to perform include Nasar Abadey, Akua Allrich, Davey Yarborough, Reginald Cyntje, Heidi Martin, Janelle Gill and many others. See http://www.wpfwfm.org or http://www.eventbrite.com for more information on the fundraising event.
In other events this month; Chelsey Green and the Green Project are at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden July 8; Alison Crockett is at Twins Jazz July 8-9; Kristin Callahan is at 49 West in Annapolis July 9, and also performs with the Thad Wilson Quartet July 22-23 at Twins Jazz; The Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra is at the Single Carrot Theatre in Baltimore July 9; Antonio Parker is the featured performer at the DC Jazz Jam at The Brixton July 10, with Akua Allrich there July 17 and Brad Linde performing July 24; the Reginald Cyntje Group plays July 16 at An Die Musik in Baltimore; Tony Craddock Jr. and Cold Front are at Meade Memorial Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Va. July 17.

 

 

 

 

 

cgrubbs2102015

Master musician, bandleader and educator

Carl Grubbs presents his “Inner Harbor Suite

Revisited” with the Carl Grubbs Jazz/String Ensemble

at Artscape in Baltimore July 17.

 

 

 

 

 

sharon4

Sharon Clark takes her act to the

Big Apple again for “The Swing Set”

with the Chris Grasso Trio

July 19 at the Iridium in NYC.

 

 

 

 

 

Artscape 2016 performances in Baltimore July 17 include bassist and CapitalBop guru Luke Stewart performing an experimental solo improvisation on bass and bass amp, and then later that day the Carl Grubbs Jazz String Ensemble performs his “Inner Harbor Suite Revisited” compositions, the result of a grant from his 2014 Rubys Arts Award by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, at 8 p.m. at Falvey Hall, Brown Center on Mt. Royal Avenue (www.carlgrubbsjazz.com). See http://www.artscape.org for complete information on Artscape 2016.
Also, Michael Bowie’s BLAST takes off at Blues Alley July 19; that same night, if you want to take a trip to the Apple, vocalist Sharon Clark presents “The Swing Set,” with Chris Grasso on piano, Michael O’Brien, bass and Jason Brown, drums at the Iridium in NYC (www.chrisgrassomusic.com); Introducing B.J. Simmons is at Westminster July 22; the Vocal Summit is at Wesley United Methodist  with Alison Crockett and Akua Allrich July 22, and Janine Gilbert-Carter and Amelia Brown July 23. Backing the ladies are Washington Women In Jazz guru Amy K. Bormet on piano, Nicole Saphos, bass and Lydia Lewis, drums.
And the Kenny Rittenhouse Septet is at Westminster July 29, with Rittenhouse on trumpet, Lyle Link, alto sax, Xavier Perez, tenor sax, Reginald Cyntje, trombone, Hope Udobi, piano Romier Mendez, bass and Jay Jefferson, drums.
Then there is the always charming Lena Seikaly performing July 30 for the Petworth Jazz Project at the Petworth Recreation Center, 8th and Taylor Streets N.W. (www.petworthjazzproject.com)

 

 

 

lenaseikaly4

Lena Seikaly performs July 30

for the Petworth Jazz Project

at Petworth Recreation Center in D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

“[Billy] Eckstine’s rich baritone voice made him one of the most popular ballad singers of the late 1940s, but leading the first bebop big band was his major contribution to jazz…” — “Jazz Portraits” by Len Lyons and Don Perlo, William Morrow and Company, 1989.

A Happy Happy for Billy Eckstine

We take a moment to say “Happy Happy Born Day” to our July birthday heroes, including Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Philly Joe Jones, our own Dr. Billy Taylor (featured in the July 2015 Jazz Avenues), Carl Grubbs (playing this month at Artscape in Baltimore), Kenny Burrell … and Billy Eckstine (July 10) .
” … Eckstine [born in Pittsburgh] grew up in Washington, D.C. and attended Howard University. He then worked for several years as a singer and emcee in Detroit and Chicago…In 1939 Eckstine joined Earl “Fatha” Hines’s big band and became its star attraction due to his blues hits ‘Jelly, Jelly’ and ‘Stormy Monday’…After working with Hines, Eckstine formed his own group (1944). The nucleus of the band were former Hines sidemen …At various times Eckstine’s band included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Mikes Davis, Art Blakey, Sarah Vaughan and other early boppers…” according to the book “Jazz Portraits.”
The book “The History of Jazz,” by Ted Gioia, Oxford University Press, 1997, said it this way: “… Soon after, Billy Eckstine quit [Earl Hines’ band] to form his own band, eventually bringing with him some of Hines’s finest talents, including Gillespie and Vaughan … A powerful singer with a resonant baritone voice, Eckstine had recording the hit ‘Jelly, Jelly’ while with the Hines band, and now was interested in building on that success. As it turned out, his fascination with the cutting-edge sounds of bop may have compromised his success as a pop singer. Under somewhat different circumstances, Eckstine might have approached the popularity of a Nat King Cole, or even a Frank Sinatra, but the broader audience he sought mostly eluded him.”
The book “JAZZ — A History of America’s Music” by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, Alfred A. Knopf, publisher, 2000, says about Miles Davis: “When the Billy Eckstine Band came to St. Louis in the summer of 1944 and the third trumpet fell ill, Davis got a chance to sit in for a week. He was a good sight reader and had no trouble with the arrangements, he remembered, but he had barely been able to bring himself to play ‘because I was listening to what everybody else was playing … Bird was unbelievable … [Eckstine’s] band changed my life. I decided right then and there that I had to leave St. Louis and live in New York where all these bad musicians were.’ “
Apparently much more than a great singer and innovative bandleader, consider this from “JAZZ — A History of America’s Music”: “ … When a man Billy Eckstine remembered as an ‘old, rotten cracker’ amused himself by repeatedly throwing chicken bones into the Jim Crow car in which the members of the band were riding north through Virginia, Eckstine waited till the train reached Washington, D.C., .stopped the man on the platform, demanded to know why he’d done it, and, when he didn’t answer, hit him so hard he hid beneath the train, begging for mercy.”

 

 

 

 

BillCole

http://www.billcole.org

 

The Bill Cole Trio

at the DC Jazz Festival

 

 

 

 

InPerson … Cole/Shipp, Salvant, Washington, NCJQ hits at DCJF

The Bill Cole and Matthew Shipp trios played vibrant, free-flowing sets as Transparent Productions closed out its season in a big way as part of the DC Jazz Festival’s opening weekend in June at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Cole, the 78-years-young avant interpreter on reeds, specializing in mystical, evocative sounds, and long, deep baritone chords or kazoo-like squawks and blares, exchanged riffs with violist Stephanie Griffin and horn man Ras Moshe during their sets.
The ever intensely rippling pianist Shipp then exchanged melodies with his bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker, with Baker almost stealing the show with body percussion rhythms and rolls to augment his traps.

 

 

 

 

matthewshippbyfrancescapfieffer

http://www.matthewshipp.com

Matthew Shipp
The trios concluded with a wall of sound combined finale highlighted by Griffin and Bisio exchanging their singing, strumming melodies while the horns and percussion framed the running, edgy, jagged then smoother ensembles of sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cecile McLorin Salvant_Yards_1

Cecile McLorin Salvant
Other festival highlights included a dramatic set by vocalist Cecile McClorin Salvant – proving to this listener she is everything she has been advertised to be as a daring, multi-faceted artist, a one woman cabaret every time she picks up the microphone;  a swinging, jamming set by the New Century Jazz Quintet, winners of the first DCJF JazzPrix competition; and a rousing set by saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington and friends, all at Yards Park on the festival’s final weekend. The CapitalBop DC Loft Jazz show at Arris that weekend featured innovative, inspiring sets from the Orrin Evans Capt. Black Big Band and The Washington Renaissance Orchestra Octet, powered by Nasar Abadey.
Based in New York City, the New Century Jazz Quintet is co-led by pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., with Braxton Cook, on alto saxophone; Benny Benack III, on trumpet and vocals; and bassist Yasushi Nakamura. The NCJQ competed in the finals, Saturday, June 18, against two fellow finalists – the New York City-based Cowboys and Frenchmen, and Washington, DC’s Mark G. Meadows and The Movement.
“We are excited to have successfully introduced the DCJazzPrix, a national competition that adds yet more cultural significance to the DC Jazz Festival, and is designed to help launch and promote the careers of emerging jazz artists,” said DCJF Artistic Director Willard Jenkins in a statement. “All three finalists presented impressive performances.”
In addition to a $15,000 cash prize, the NCJQ earned a year-long association with the DC Jazz Festival for professional development, business support and a mainstage 2017 DC Jazz Festival engagement. NCJQ has released two recordings, “Time is Now,” and “In Case You Missed Us,” in Japan and the U.S.
In earlier DCJF news, the 2016 DCJF awards honored Howard University professor and renowned trumpeter Fred Irby III with the DCJF 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award and Howard’s Dr. Arthur Dawkins with the DCJF 2016 John Conyers Jr. Jazz Advocacy Award.

 

HerbScott (1)

http://www.herbspiceandcinnastix.com

Herb Scott

 

 

 

InPerson … Greater U Street Jazz Collective, Heidi Martin

In other shows last month, the Greater U Street Jazz Collective – which is featured at the Mulebone Restaurant in D.C. Saturdays and Sundays in July beginning Saturday July 2 — jammed hard at the Jazz and Cultural Society one Wednesday night last month, with tenor saxophonist Russell Carter Jr. a highlight with his vintage touch on the horn with a vibrant sound and witty, inventive melodies on his solos (See http://www.greaterustreetcollectivejazz.com).

And Heidi Martin (www.heidimartin.com) and Moon In Scorpio entertained a large, overflowing, diverse family gathering of very young, young and mature folks at Petworth Recreation Center in N.W. D.C. in the second Petworth Jazz Project event . Martin’s entrancing vocals and spicy guitar work were complimented in fine fashion by her top band mates, including Sam Prather, keyboards, John Lamkin III, drums, Tarus Mateen, bass, Herb Scott, saxophone, and Donvonte McCoy, trumpet on tunes like “Memphis” and “Girl from Ipanema,” the music a soulful, jazzy blend perfect for the warm early summer evening.

Steve Monroe is a Washington, D.C. writer who can be reached at steve@jazzavenues. com and followed at http://www.twitter.com/jazzavenues.

Jazz Avenues June BLOG 2016

By Steve Monroe

… follow @jazzavenues

 

DCJazzFest2016logo

 

Regina Carter-1

Violinist Regina Carter

helps the DC Jazz Festival get rolling

with her show Friday June 10 at The Hamilton Live

 

 

 

GVJ Jr., Rittenhouse, Carter, Williams help kick off DC Jazz Festival; 

Gonzalez at Westminster, SJMO, Transparent Jazz also on tap

Washington DC Jazz Network maestro and vocalese guru George V. Johnson Jr. performs Friday June 10 at 5 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden to help kick off DC Jazz Festival events, while veteran bassist Pepe Gonzalez performs at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 6 p.m., and later that night the festival’s Hamilton Live shows begin featuring Jazz Journalists Association 2016 awardee and violin virtuoso Regina Carter with her quartet and D.C. native bassist Ben Williams with his group Sound Effect.

 

Herman Burney

Bassist Herman Burney performs

for the East River JAZZFest June 10
East River JAZZFest, part of the citywide DC Jazz Festival running June 10-19, opens with the Blue Note Tribute by the Kenny Rittenhouse Quartet with trumpeter Rittenhouse, pianist Vince Evans, bassist Herman Burney and drummer J.C. Jefferson at 7:30 p.m. Friday June 10 at We Act Radio, 1918 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. SE.

 

 

DCJazzFest2016photo
Saturday June 11 at 2 p.m., the Bill Washburn Ensemble entertains for a free concert at the Dorothy Height Benning Neighborhood Library, 3935 Benning Road NE. Original jazz compositions by trumpeter Freddie Dunn & guitarist John Lee are featured at a free event at 10 am Sunday June 12 at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE. And on Monday June 13, at 7:30 p.m., the Piedmont Blues compositions of legendary bluesman Phil Wiggins will be presented by the Phil Wiggins Duet at Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Place SE.
For complete information go to http://www.dcjazzfest.org or http://www.eastriverjazz.net.

 

 

BradLindebyMikeMorgan

photo by Mike Morgan

Brad Linde performs at the Atlas June 11
Other festival highlights this weekend include Brad Linde’s Team Players performing Saturday June 11 at the Atlas, while the Capital Bop DC Jazz Loft Series opens with Makaya McCraven’s In The Moment and the Marquis Hill Blacktet with Carolyn Malachi at Arris in Southeast, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra presents its “Incredible Jimmy Smith” show, Kurt Elling is at Hamilton Live and Anthony Nelson is at Twins Jazz.
Sunday June 12 Transparent Jazz has its final showoff the season (see below) with The Bill Cole Trio and The Matthew Shipp Trio performing at the Atlas, while the Hamilton Live features Etienne Charles Creole Soul and the Jimmy Greene Quartet. Monday June 13 Lena Seikaly is at the Sylvan Theatre at noon for a free show and that night the DC JazzFest Salutes Howard University Jazz in a show at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with Benny Golson, Dr. Fred Irby of the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, Dr. Arthur Dawkins and others.
Wednesday June 15 JAZZAlive at UDC presents Charlie Young with Allyn Johnson and the UDC Jazztet at 7 pm for a free show. (See http://www.jazzaliveudc.org)

 

 

Kamasi-Washington2_cred_MikePark

photo by Mike Park

Kamasi Washington performs at The Yards

during the DC Jazz Festival.
Other headliners at The Hamilton Live during the festival include Maceo Parker, Harold Mabern, Steve Turre and Joey DeFrancesco. Headliners at The Yards Park on the Capitol Riverfront June 17-19 include Jazz Journalists Association 2016 awardees vocalist Cecile McLorin, Salvant and saxophonist Kamasi Washington; The Chuck Brown Band, Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Septet, DC JazzPrix finalists, E. J. Strickland, Fred Foss and Ravi Coltrane.
Other CapitalBop shows at Arris, 1331 4th St. SE near Yards Park, include Michele Rosewoman & New Yor-uba with Amadou Kouyate June 17; and Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big band with the Washington Renaissance Orchestra June 18.
For complete DC Jazz Festival information, including ticket information, event times and locations, go to http://www.dcjazzfest.org.

 

 

reginaldcyntje3

Reginald Cyntje performs at The Hill Center June 19.
Other June jazz highlights include Kenny Garrett June 16-19 at Blues Alley; Greg Lamont June 17 at Westminster; Michael Thomas Quintet June 17-18 at Twins Jazz; the Reginald Cyntje Group June 19 at The Hill Center; Charlie Young’s Tribute to Cannonball Adderley show June 24 at Westminster; Thinking About Jazz/Cannonball Adderley: Walking Tall, June 25 at Westminster; George V. Johnson Jr. June 26 at Meade Memorial Episcopal Church in Alexandria; Al Strong June 26 at the DC Jazz Jam at The Brixton; and the Dwayne Adell Trio June 27 at Blues Alley.

 

Transparent Productions: Bill Cole, Matthew Shipp

The final Transparent Productions presentation of the 2015-16 season features two powerhouse avant trios when the Bill Cole Trio and Matthew Shipp Trio perform for 7 and 8:30 pm shows Sunday June 12 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE.
The Bill Cole Trio hits at 7 pm, followed by the Matthew Shipp Trio, with a “Closing Improv Combined Trio Set” with tickets $15 advance, $20 at the door per set, or both sets for $25 advance sales only! For more information call 202-399-7993 or go to http://www.atlasarts.org or http://www.transparentproductionsdc.org.

 

 

Bobby-Hill-photo-by-Imani-Drayton-Hill200

Bobby Hill Jr. presents his final

Transparent Productions show

June 12 with Bill Cole and Matthew Shipp.
The Cole trio includes Cole on double reeds, Ras Moshe, reeds and Stephanie Griffin, viola. Renowned bassist William Parker calls Cole the “master of the double reed”, a double reed instrument having two pieces of cane vibrating against each other.” And Luke Stewart of CapitalBop says, “…Cole is creating a new language in jazz through his use of East Asian instruments.”
Shipp is on piano in his trio with Michael Bisio, bass and Newman Taylor Baker, drums. “Whether sharing original solo interpretations of standards – What is This Thing Called Love, Autumn Leaves, Matt Shipp remains one of today’s most original and diverse piano voices,” says Transparent Productions.

 

Help! Support CD celebrating hall of fame composer David Baker

Jazz fans everywhere are asked to help celebrate the life and music of the great jazz composer, author and educator David Baker by supporting Baker friends and his widow in the production of “a recording titled Basically Baker Volume 2: The Big Band Music of David Baker featuring the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. All proceeds generated by sales of the recording will go directly to the David N. Baker Scholarship Fund to provide a financial means for prospective students to attend the Jacobs School of Music Jazz Studies Program. The CD will be released by Patois Records,” according to Braithwaite & Katz Communications.
For more information go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/basically-baker-2#/.

 

Thanks Jazz Lobby: DC Council passes resolution

Many thanks to the Jazz Lobby effort led by Aaron L. Myers II, Herb Scott, George V. Johnson Jr., Tacha Coleman Parr, Donald Williams and many others that resulted in the D.C. Council passing a resolution last month that honors the music and the musicians and serves as the first step of an effort to create a “working model” of cooperative support for jazz in Washington by the city government. For more information, see http://www.facebook.com/dcjazzlobby and http://www.washingtondcjazznetwork.ning.com.

 

 

GUSTJCwebsitephoto

The Greater U Street Jazz Collective jammed at Vicino’s

last month and has been a regular group at

the new Mulebone Resturant in D.C.

 

 

 

–InPerson … DeAndre Shaifer; Harry Appelman; Robert Murad; Greater U Street Jazz Collective

Hot sounds last month included trumpeter DeAndre Shaifer, a growing virtuosic player with every performance, highlighting a set at the DC Jazz Jam show one Sunday at The Brixton with fiery, then introspective, then avant lines in a group that included bassist Nicole Saphos. There was vintage Harry Appelman with his smooth elegance on piano at the jam session one Saturday at Columbia Station. Another fine pianist, Robert Murad, led a swinging session, with hot saxist Luis Faife and whipping drummer Frank Williams IV one Sunday night at Jazz and Cultural Society. And the Greater U Street Jazz Collective with masterful, tasteful tenor sax man Russell Carter Jr., with guest vocalist Sendy Brown, jammed away one Monday night at Vicino’s in Silver Spring.

 

Helen_Sung_1_Photo_by_Kat_Villacorta (1)

Pianist Helen Sung’s group swung hard on some standards

and Sung originals at the Rhythm Cafe show at the

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in May.
And then there was in late May New York pianist Helen Sung at the Rhythm Café at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, displaying her deft, melodic touch with her quartet, including John Ellis on tenor sax, Boris Kozlov, bass and the inimitable Rudy Royston, drums. The group swung hard on “It Don’t Mean a Thing …” and Sung’s “The Waiting Game” was a delight with her rippling charm on piano and Royston’s empathetic drumming, and “Brother Thelonious” featured Sung’s bluesy work, and Kozlov’s grooving, bluesy solo on bass.

 

InReview … Sonny Rollins: “Holding the Stage”

The magic of Sonny Rollins, as shown again on his latest recording, “Holding The Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4 on his Doxy Records label, is what seems like an infinite capacity for blowing mind-blowing spirals of ever-changing melodies of innovation.
Beginning here with “Disco Monk,” Rollins’ homage to the late piano guru, true to Monk, an ever-shifting rhythmic landscape is colored by Rollins’ pop riffs, then soft intertwining mystical romps, all telling a story … here a joyful, playful and then sometimes serious introspection of a tale.

 

 

Album Artwork
Surely we won’t hear anything new on “Don’t Stop the Carnival,” right? How can you improve on a classic’s classic? Somehow Rollins gives his signature tune of his latter development as a freer, worldlier creator than his early bebop grounded days a fresh take. Still a stomping dancing jam as always, here it is nuanced with a honeyed glaze, if you will.
His players of course are integral to the magic he creates on “Holding The Stage,” and they include longtime soulmate/bandmates like trombonist Clifton Anderson and bassist Bob Cranshaw; pianists Stephen Scott and Mark Soskin; guitarists Bobby Broom, Peter Bernstein, and Saul Rubin; bassist Jerome Harris; drummers Kobie Watkins, Perry Wilson, Victor Lewis, Jerome Jennings, Al Foster, and Harold Summey Jr.; and percussionists Kimati Dinizulu, Sammy Figueroa and Victor See Yuen.
As the publicity says, “… the CD contains 7 tracks recorded between 1979 & 2012 plus a previously unreleased 23-minute medley from the Boston 9/11 concert … The album encompasses some 33 years (1979-2012) yet coheres with all of the compelling logic and narrative force of an extended Sonny solo.”
And the vintage Rollins’ solos here, are all compelling, many including those melodies from other songs within a song riffs Rollins and other master sax players weave in and out of their tunes, as he does on “H.S.” and others.
Besides of course his jamming, winding romps of tunes with seemingly endless new variations on a theme, there are his skills as a balladeer, shown here on “In a Sentimental Mood.”
One never knows, us sax lovers, which we prefer, those jamming, romping 15 minute non-stop roller coaster rides – or the master saxists’ beauty with a ballad, wrenching the melancholy out of the melody – as he also does on “Your Mine You” — over and over as Rollins does with his winding, sometimes whining, crying, sometimes growling emotions over romance’s fickle ways. Here in “Mood,” Rollins’ plaintive cries are as heartfelt as ever. “Mixed Emotions” also displays his tender way with stepping down the tension to a slow motion waltz of beauty. “Sweet Lelani” is another lilting, waltzing lullaby of charm, spiced by Rollins’ searing, wailing golden sax.
It’s all good. All timeless classic Rollins, our supreme innovator here on earth.

 

InReview … Jane Ira Bloom: “Early Americans”

For proof that Jane Ira Bloom is not just a pretty pretty good sax player, check out her latest recording “Early Americans,” in particular tunes like “Cornets of Paradise.” While Bloom is well known in some quarters for pleasing flights of melody on her soprano saxophone, her award this year as the best on her axe from the Jazz Journalists Association shows many recognize her talents go further.
“Cornets of Paradise,” while showing off her compositional range into the freer genres of the music, also displays her reaching into her edgy bag to blow some smoking, jarring riffs. The tune is just one of them on this CD that display a range of rhythmic variety, tension and intrigue that blends into a highly entertaining journey.

 

janeiracover
Performing with expert, longtime bandmates bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte, Bloom’s trio produces so much sound on the CD you have to keep looking at the personnel list to see if there are other artists, with the orchestral echoes so full. “Big Bill” for instance booms and shouts, with Previte’s whipping splashes and tapping cymbals trading with Bloom’s racy runs on sax, over Helias’ rumbling, grooving bass melodies.
As the Crossover Media publicity says, “You never know what American original soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom is going to do next. After the success of her 2014 all-ballads release “Sixteen Sunsets” Bloom shifts into another gear showcasing the kinetic energy of her acclaimed trio playing with the musicians that she knows best on Early Americans …”
Bloom’s 16th recording as a leader, and sixth for the Outline label, features 12 of her own originals, including the popping “Big Bill” and “Rhyme or Rhythm,” the sly and sinuous “Song Patrol,” and the ingenious “Hips & Sticks” with its soulful twists and turns, stops and starts, Previte exchanging drum rolls with Helias’ bass riffs, and Bloom darting in and out of the rhythm. “Early Americans” is a steady groove with lots of free range moodiness and edge along with playfulness and fun and the mystical – as on “Dangerous Times” and “Singing the Triangle” and the ethereal “Other Eyes.”
See http://www.janeirabloom.com for more information.

Steve Monroe is a Washington, D.C. writer who can be reached at steve@jazzavenues. com and followed at http://www.twitter.com/jazzavenues.

Jazz Avenues April/May BLOG 2016

by Steve Monroe

…follow @jazzavenues

 

DeeDeeBridgewater1

Dee Dee Bridgewater helps kick off

International Jazz Day April 30 in D.C., and

later hosts the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival

May 13-14 at the Kennedy Center

 

 

Appreciate International Jazz Day all over;
Glasper, Mary Lou Fest, Sung, on way in May

Jazz Appreciation Month climaxes tomorrow, April 30, with International Jazz Day events in D.C., Baltimore and everywhere, but you can first enjoy jamming treats tonight at Westminster Presbyterian Church where a Tribute to Wes Montgomery features Paul Pieper on guitar, Wade Beach, piano, Emory Diggs, bass, and Johnny Jones, drums.

Also tonight, Buster Williams’ “Something More” is at Blues Alley and is there through Sunday, with Bruce Williams, Rene Rosnes and Jeff “Tain” Watts; and the Nicole Saphos Quartet is on stage at Twins Jazz, through Saturday night. The John Lamkin “Favorites” Jazz Quartet performs Saturday from noon to 2 pm at Lexington Market in Baltimore (www.baltimorejazz.com), where the next day, Sunday, sax master Joe Lovano performs at the Baltimore Museum of Art (www.baltimorechamberjazz.com).

 

 

NasarAbadey2

Percussion master Nasar Abadey

performs April 30 with Dianne Reeves.

 

 

 

International Jazz Day events April 30 begin in D.C. at 10 am with Herbie Hancock and Dee Dee Bridgewater and Duke Ellington School for the Arts students teaming with including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and UNESCO Director Irina Bokova for a program at DuPont Circle. Events continue with Bridgewater and others in a Jazz & Women panel discussion at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a screening of “Round Midnight” at THEARC in S.E. and then music all day at the DuPont Circle stage with Crush Funk Brass, the Woodrow Wilson High School Jazz Band, the Davey Yarborough Quintet, Nasar Abadey Quartet and more.
Elsewhere there are more movie screenings and music at the National Sylvan Theater, including Paul Carr’s Jazz Academy Orchestra and the Bowie State University jazz band; and there is a kids show with vocalist/entertainer Rochelle Rice at the Petworth Recreation Center, Dianne Reeves with Abadey, Cyrus Chestnut and James King at the Smithsonian Museum of American History; Janelle Gill, Michael Bowie and Sharon Clark at the Warner Theater and other dance, panel discussions and performances elsewhere, including the UDC Jazztet featuring sax man Jordan Dixon at Acacia Bistro & Wine Bar at 4340 Connecticut Ave. N.W. (www.jazzalivedc.org) and the Todd Marcus Quartet at the Capital Fringe, 1358 Florida Ave. N.E. (www.toddmarcusjazz.com).
Baltimore International Jazz Day events include Global Rhythms: Jazz Around the World with vocalist Renee Georges & The Georjazz Quartet at Germano’s Piattini and the Mark G. Meadows “To The People” CD release concert at An Die Musik. And in College Park, The University of Maryland School of Music Jazz Studies Combo Recital is at Gildenhorn Recital Hall in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
The feature show at 8 p.m. tomorrow night, televised on ABC, from the White House is to have President Obama and Michelle Obama hosting the “International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert” with Hancock, Aretha Franklin, Trombone Shorty, Reeves, Al Jarreau, Hugh Masekela, Buddy Guy, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, and “many others.”
See http://www.jazzday.com for complete information on event times and ticket information.

 

toddmarcus2

A busy man–Todd Marcus plays for International Jazz Day April 30 at the Capital Fringe and with his quintet May 19 at the Mansion at Strathmore, and May 21 at Caton Castle in Baltimore, among other gigs.

 

 

May jazz highlights, besides Buster Williams Sunday at Blues Alley, and Joe Lovano in Baltimore, include pianist Laurence Hobgood playing for the Arts Club of Washington concert at 7 p.m. Monday May 2 at the Arts Club, 2017 I Street N.W.(www.pianojazz.com); Arturo Sandoval May 5-8 at Blues Alley; Laura Dreyer May 6-7 at Twins Jazz; DeAndre Shaifer May 8 at the DC jazz Jam at The Brixton; the Robert Glasper Trio at the DoubleTime Jazz Show May 13 at THEARC (www.thearcdc.org); the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival May 13-14 at the Kennedy Center; Pete Muldoon May 15 at The Brixton; Todd Marcus Quintet May 19 at the Mansion at Strathmore, and May 21 at Caton Castle in Baltimore; the Tim Whalen Septet May 20-21 at Twins Jazz; Helen Sung May 21 at Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum; Kenny Rittenhouse May 22 at The Brixton; the Makanda Project May 21 at Michigan Park Christian Church (see below); Twins Jazz Orchestra May 26 at Twins Jazz; the Larry Coryell Trio May 27-28 at Blues Alley; Akua Allrich & The Tribe May 29 at Blues Alley; and saxophonist Sarah Hughes May 29 at Twins Jazz.

 

Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival

This year’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Kennedy Center celebrates the life and work of pianist, educator and bandleader Williams with two days of varied events, including on May 13 a “staged concert presentation of “A Conversation with Mary Lou Williams.” Directed by Golden Globe and Emmy Award–winning actor S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order, Lackawanna Blues) it will feature dialogue, vignettes of Williams’ life and music performed by a group led by pianist Geri Allen and vocalist Carmen Lundy.
Saturday May 14 features home girl percussion master Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom group, performing tunes from the new recording “Otis Was a Polar Bear” and also groups led by Canadian saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. See http://www.kennedycenter.org for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen_Sung_1_Photo_by_Kat_Villacorta (1)

photo by Kat Villacorta

New York’s Helen Sung performs May 21

for the Rhythm Cafe jazz show at the

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum.

 

 

 

Rhythm Café jazz features Helen Sung

The Rhythm Café jazz series, a free jazz artist education and concert program, has been featured several times a year over the past five years at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, including a show earlier in April with the Howard University Jazz Ensemble celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month. In May the Helen Sung Trio performs jazz standards and originals by Sung from 2 to 4 p.m. May 21 at the museum, 1901 Fort Pl. S.E. This event is also being held in observance of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month and in addition to her performance, Sung is to talk briefly about how jazz culture developed within the Pacific rim—especially Korea.

Based in New York, Sung is a graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory, and has worked with many leading lights of the music, including Clark Terry, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and Regina Carter.

See http://www.anacostia.si.edu/events for more information.

 

The Makanda Project

The Makanda Project returns to D.C. May 21 for a 6:30 p.m. concert again at Michigan Park Christian Church (202-526-3355), 1600 Taylor Street N.E. Led by former area pianist John Kordalewski, the Makanda Project is an ensemble “dedicated to performing the previously unrecorded compositions” of the late Makanda Ken McIntyre, a dynamic musician and composer who specialized in innovative improvisational music, and was comfortable playing both “inside” and “outside,” according to the project’s website, http://www.makandaproject.com.

 

TheMakandaProject1
His works included compositions for woodwind quartets, chamber ensembles, jazz bands and full orchestras, and music covering ballads, calypsos, bebop, avant garde and the blues. Based in Boston, McIntyre’s hometown, and formed in 2005, the group coming to D.C. includes pianist Kordalewski, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, trombone, Wes Brown, bass, Yoron Israel, drums, Joe Ford, alto saxophone and Mickey Davidson, dance.

 

DC Jazz Festival

Coming soon, June 10-19 — with the prelude event June 4-5 at The Phillips Collection — the DC Jazz Festival brings more jazz all over town with Jazz at Hamilton Live, Jazz at The Yards, Jazz in the ‘Hoods with star-studded performing lineups including Regina Carter, Harold Mabern, Maceo Parker, Kurt Elling, Joey DeFrancesco, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Eddie Palmieri, Fred Foss, Kamasi Washington, many others and a night celebrating Howard University Jazz at the Kennedy Center with Benny Golson, Dr. Fred Irby of the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, jazz studies founder Dr. Arthur Dawkins, Tim Warfield, Greg Osby, Richard Smallwood, Cyrus Chestnut, Paul Carr, Afro Blue and more.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our own Fred Foss is a featured performer

during the upcoming DC Jazz Festival.
Also the new DCJazzPrix semifinalists, including D.C.’s Mark G. Meadows and The Movement, and New York bands New Century Quintet and Cowboys and Frenchmen, will perform June 18 at The Yards in the first annual national competition to recognize and support “top rising jazz band talent.” The audience response will be a factor in the jury’s determination of the winner. Aside from gaining “significant exposure,” the winner will also be awarded a $15,000 cash prize and year-long association with the DC Jazz Festival to help with professional development, as well as business support and a main stage 2017 DC Jazz Festival paid engagement.
See http://www.dcjazzfest.org for complete information.

 

InPerson … Calvin Jones Big Band Festival

Celebrating 30 years of big band jams at the University of the District of Columbia, the Calvin Jones Big Band Festival 2016 swung as hard as the previous editions April 25 with the Howard University Jazz Ensemble’s bright, bopping sounds on “Ah Rah (the toad),” accented by sweeping horns harmonies and Rick Peralta on guitar, and the group’s lovely treatment of John Coltrane’s “Central Park West” featuring a sparkling original arrangement by Joe Wright.

The University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble played a spicy “It’s A Heavy Town” by Donald Byrd, highlighted by some searing lines by Steven Cunningham on trumpet, and “Metroliner” was a hot romp spearheaded by Brendan Schnabel on tenor sax.

UDC’s Jazz Ensemble, led by jazz studies guru Allyn Johnson on piano closed the evening in style first with superb, free-flowing melodies on Wayne Shorter’s “The Big Push,” DeAndre Shaifer on trumpet and Jordon Dixon on tenor sax delivering fine solos, and later what may have been the highlight of the night, the Johnson original “Somalia Rose,” with Dixon shining again on tenor sax and Douglas Pierce’s soaring lines on trumpet complimenting Johnson’s elegance on piano.

 

InReview … Sriram Gopal “The Fourth Stream”

An impressive recording by percussionist Sriram Gopal, one of our area musician/journalists, “The Fourth Stream,” brings us a fresh sound. Gopal has put together some sterling musicians, including guitarists Rob Coltun and John Lee, and bassists Kris Funn and Michael Bowie for a symphony of a recording that brims with electricity, melding South Asian echoes, rock, funk and more than a little jazz.

TheFourthStreamcoverimage
Highlights include the dramatic, marching, “Zarafah” with its edgy, spicing guitar flights; the whipping “Nadia,” a catchy, jamming melodic romp; the intriguing, lilting “Como Pod’a Groriosa,” and the sax driven jam “Something Good,” and the hard-rock flavored “Sink.” But all of it is a compelling listen, powered by Gopal’s insistent, high powered when appropriate, and always driving and melodic drum work.
Gopal says in the liner notes, “My vision for the album evolved in a more personal way that seems fitting given that 2016 marks 10 years of living in D.C. and my 40th trip around the sun. The recording process was an opportunity to work with some of my favorite musicians from the DMV, most of whom I became acquainted with through my work as a jazz writer for DCist.com. I’m proud that collaboration has led to genuine friendships with these fine artists.”
See http://www.sriramgopal.net.

 

InReview … Cecil Taylor “Live in The Black Forest” and “Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly!”

Happy New Year! In that we are graced to have had the reissue earlier this year of two gems by Cecil Taylor, courtesy of MPS Records.
“Live in The Black Forest” from 1979, and “Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly!” from 1981 are welcome signposts of the journey Taylor has fashioned as one of the main proponents of the avant garde or free jazz movement from the late 1950’s to the present and into the future that fertilizes the music with ever new paths to travel for all artists.

 

CTaylor LiveatBlack Forest cover
Taylor’s river of sounds, rushing, flowing gently, splashing and pouring, is well reflected on these two recordings, albeit in very different ways.
“Live in The Black Forest” features Taylor as orchestrator and maestro, with cohorts alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, trumpeter Ralphe Malik, bassist Sirone and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson providing their own unique improvisational flights around the grounding of Taylor’s piano work. Two tunes make up the CD. The first, “The Eel Pot,” shimmers with the bass work of Sirone and Jackson’s drumming to open under Lyons’ and Malik’s harmonic, then solo like spurts, all with Taylor’s rippling, darting piano melodies, and from there the symphony spotlights each player in ensemble and in solo form, a whole and then pieces of a pie, all blending.
“Sperichill on Calling” fairly marches behind Jackson’s rat a tat rapping, under Lyons’s fiery squawks and squeaks and rolls, with Sirone plucking bluesy, grooving, then he is picking tightly, Taylor rollicking himself, up and down the keyboard, then pounding, poking, before the strident march mellows under Malik’s trumpet ruminations, and gradually the tension builds again toward a then gradually temperate finale.

 

 

CTaylor FlyFlyFlyFly Flycover
“Fly!” times five, if you will, is a vintage tour de force Taylor solo journey, a more intimate, more patient traveling river of gentle twists and turns, accented by some sharp rushes and ripples. Notably “The Stele Stolen and Broken is Reclaimed” displays Taylor’s skill at producing free form melodies that all have a rhythm, a rhyme, a reason, and a compelling drive that holds. Far from being so abstract as to be pointless, one might say the best free jazz always has something pulling it together.
From the MPS liner notes: “The German jazz guru Joachim Ernst Berendt enthused about the recording, ‘You will hear it all: blues licks and bop phrases…Tatum runs and Bud Powell…even a Boogie-woogie…’ he states that, ‘Taylor is a master of form.’ “
The intriguing staccato pace of “Enaslayi” and the colorful, weaving soliloquies of “Corn in Sun +T(Moon)” are other examples of Taylor’s mastery of storytelling through free from expression.
See http://www.mpsrecords.

 

 

 

InReview … Archie Shepp “Life At The Donaueschingen Music Festival”

Anytime is a good time to get into some Archie Shepp, but especially now since it was just this April that Shepp, along with Pharoah Sanders, Gary Burton and Wendy Oxenhorn, were honored as National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters at a gala ceremony at the Kennedy Center here in D.C. (see the video archive of the event at http://www.arts.gov).
So it is more than appropriate that we thank MPS Records for their reissue earlier this year of Shepp’s 1967 recording “Life At The Donaueschingen Music Festival.” As the liner notes indicate, the One For Trane, two-part composition on the recording was dedicated to John Coltrane, who had died earlier that year.

 

AShepp LiveAtDonauschingen cover
Shepp’s all-star band mates for the date were trombonists Roswell Rudd and Grachan Monchur, drummer Beaver Harris and longtime Coltrane collaborator bassist Jimmy Garrison, who leads off the first “One For Trane” section with some delicate, then more urgent plucking and bowing, before Shepp whips things up with his always insistent tenor squawls, squeals, squawks and rips and roars over Harris’s drumming, then all the horns join in for a romp, featuring their individual riffs and spirals on the melody, Harris splashing along, and Garrison nimbly grooving a bluesy melody of his own on bass.
Part two of “One For Trane” features Shepp out front riffing with his raw, dissonant, sometimes howling sax, bluesy and joyful and playful, before the band joins in for more orchestral fun, the trombones exchanging rolling lines of mirth on their own, over Harris’ slashing drums and Garrison’s romping bass lines, all a framework for a sly segue into “A Shadow of Your Smile,” Shepp at once romantic and melancholy before roaring back into his in your face, wailing mode.
An expert on tension and phrasing, as well as wit, in addition to sound, Shepp well deserves his place in the jazz master pantheon.
See http://www.mpsrecords.

Jazz camps with Paul Carr, Carl Grubbs

Further the heritage by signing up a young person for a jazz camp this year.

 

paulcarr2 (2)

Paul Carr
Saxophone and festival guru Paul Carr’s Jazz Academy offers “Two Fun-Filled Camps For Ages 10-18” including jazz improvisation, jamming with instructors, small combo sessions, big band format and master classes. The JAM Camp runs June 27-July 15, at Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring, and the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, and the JAM Lab July10-15 is at the National 4-H Center. For complete information go to http://www.jazzacademy.org or call 301-871-8418.

 

 

cgrubbs2102015

Carl Grubbs

 

Alto saxophonist, composer and educator Carl Grubbs runs his Jazz Academy with Carl Grubbs for ages 8-16 July 11-22 at Ellicott Mills Middle School in Ellicott City, Md. (Contact Howard Co. Dept. of Recs and Parks, Holly Harden 410-313-4625.) Then there is the SAX: Music & Dance Camp Program for ages 4-17 Aug. 1-12 at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, with a closing program and concert Aug. 11 open to the public. For complete information, go to http://www.contemporaryartsinc.org.

Steve Monroe is a Washington, D.C. writer who can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com and followed at http://www.twitter.com/jazzavenues.

Jazz Avenues April BLOG 2016

 

…follow @jazzaveues …

 

 

sharon4

Sharon Clark, drawing acclaim from her

“Carr & Clark — Soulful Serenity” CD with Paul Carr,

appears with Carr tonight April 1 at Westminster

Presbyterian Church.

 

 

 

Sharon Clark, Helen Sung, Smithsonian jazz highlight weekend;
More JAM events coming from HU, UDC, Levine Music and THEARC

The fabulous vocalist Sharon Clark, Helen Sung and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra celebrating Benny Carter are some of the performers highlighting this weekend that kicks off April as Jazz Appreciation Month begins.
Clark appears at Westminster Presbyterian Church tonight with Chris Grasso, piano, Paul Carr, saxophone, Tommy Cecil, bass and Lenny Robinson, Drums. Also tonight, the Helen Sung Quintet is at the Kennedy Center. Tomorrow, Saturday, April 2, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks orchestra begins its month of celebrating legendary saxophonist and composter Benny Carter with a concert at the Smithsonian American History Museum’s Coulter Performance Plaza.
Also this weekend sax man Seth Kibel is at the Saturday Family Jazz Series at the Strathmore Mansion in North Bethesda, the Jeff Cosgrove/Noah Preminger Quartet is at Twins Jazz Sunday April 3, the same night the Orrin Evans Quintet appears at the Baltimore Museum of Art (www.baltimorechambe3rjazz.com). Gato Barbieri is at the Howard Theatre Monday April 4, the same night the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Program features Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and Gary Burton, this year’s NEA Jazz Master Awardees, will be honored during a free program and concert at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. The program is also to be streamed on-line at http://www.kennedycenter.org.

 

AllyJohnsonbyWABrower

Photo by W.A. Brower

 

Pianist and UDC jazz studies director Allyn Johnson

hosts a Meet the Artist program with trumpeter

DeAndre Shafer Tuesday April 5 at UDC.

 

Tuesday April 5 Allyn Johnson, UDC director of jazz studies hosts a Meet the Artist Program with trumpeter DeAndre Shafer at the UDC Recital Hall Bldg. 46 West, followed by a Meet the Artist Program with drummer Ralph Peterson April 7.
In other early April highlights, the Howard University Jazz Ensemble is at Westminster Friday April 7. On Saturday April 9, the Charles Rahmat Woods Quartet performs “Language of Birds Live!” presented by Contemporary Arts Inc. at the Eubie Blake Center, 147 N. Howard St. in Baltimore ($15-$20). For more information see http://www.eubieblake.org or call 410-944 2909. And see below for more JAM events.

Double Time Jazz JAMS away at THEARC

East of the River Jazz fans, and those everywhere in the area, can enjoy appreciating America’s music during Jazz Appreciation Month in April at the Double Time Jazz concerts at the Town Hall Education Arts Center (THEARC) in Southeast D.C. featuring Robert Person and the Washington Renaissance Orchestra April 8, Kim Jordan April 15 and Black Alley April 29.

 

RobertPerson_WRO

Robert E. Person, gospel jazz maestro, appears

at THEARC’s Double Time Jazz show April 8.

 
Double Time Jazz at THEARC Theater, which brings top shelf performers of the music throughout the year, is provided by the THEARC’s collaboration with the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Jazz Touring Network and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
“Double Time Jazz was integrated into THEARC Theater programming to expand the jazz initiatives east of the Anacostia River by providing performances and arts education opportunities,” says THEARC Director of Theater Operations, Kimberly Douglass. “The Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) provides a great deal of programs and services targeted to local families and children. By hosting an annual music series in THEARC Theater during Jazz Appreciation Month we are able to engage Ward 7 and Ward 8 adults, seniors and other lovers of music by providing them with first class musical talent — in their very own community.”

 

 

Nasar Abadey

Nasar Abadey appears with the Washington

Renaissance Orchestra at THEARC April 8.

 
Person is known for his entertaining gospel jazz vocal work, including recordings “Love Divine” and “Soul Sanctuary.” The Washington Renaissance Orchestra features artistic director Nasar Abadey on drums.
Jordan’s April 15 event features a tribute to Gil Scott Heron. Jordan is a talented artist, keyboardist, producer, vocal coach, engineer — and also preacher, teacher and entrepreneur who received her BA in music from Howard University. Upon graduation, Kim was hired as musical director for jazz poet and legend, Heron, arguably my generation’s poet laureate of jazz of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” “Winter in America” “Pieces of A Man” and “The Bottle” fame.
Black Alley on April 29 will be performing its special jams of fusion, jazz, funk R&B and Go-Go. with special guest Nicholas Ryan Gant. General admission for the concerts, which begin at 8 p.m., is $20. For more information on THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Avenue S.E., see http://www.thearcdc.org or call 202-889-5901. And stay tuned to THEARC – Double Time Jazz returns next month with the incomparable Robert Glasper May 13.
Douglass adds, “The Double Time Jazz@THEARC concert series is a great engagement opportunity by providing adults and seniors in the community with quality yet affordable entertainment. These concerts also serve as a platform for east of the Anacostia River artists and national acts to be showcased in an intimate setting. DTJ has also helped to support DC programs such as the annual DC Jazz Festival and WPA who look to provide unique artistic engagement opportunities and performances to youth and adults. Our Double Time Jazz@THEARC artists have participated in Master Classes and Open Sound checks with the community.”
“The featured artists for the Double Time Jazz lineup present a diverse sound and speak to various genres of the jazz and R&B idiom. The influence of jazz from big band presented from east of the Anacostia River artist Robert Person, contemporary/social movement/spiritual through local artist Kim Jordan who performed with legendary poet and activist Gil Scott Heron, the influence of Jazz is represented in the sound of R&B, GoGo, Hip Hop Hybrid Black Alley that speaks more to a younger generation and is an upcoming band from the DC area, and Robert Glaser Trio who will provide a mix of straight ahead jazz and contemporary styles …”

Smithsonian, HU, Levine, UDC, Atlas host JAM events

The Smithsonian Institution, the originator of Jazz Appreciation Month, says for 2016, “we are exploring how jazz itself is a form of democracy – as a form, of communication as a solo or group, and as an equalizer – and celebrating the legacy of musician and bandleader Benny Carter …” Carter is the subject of the Smithsonian’s JAM poster, and concerts at the American History Museum celebrating Carter on Thursdays; April, 14, U.S. Air Force Band Airmen of Note Ensemble, April 21 Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble, April 28 George Washington University Latin Jazz Band; Also, Piano in LeFrak Lobby concerts feature pianists April 25, 26, 27 (Harry Appelman) and 29 for 12 noon concerts. And jazz art displays in the museum feature Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and the Blue Note photographs of Francis Wolf. See http://www.smithsonianjazz.org for complete information.

 

 

lenaseikaly4

Lena Seikaly performs a “Celebrating Ella”

show April 27 at Blues Alley.

 

 
Howard University events include Gary Bartz April 10 at Childers Recital Hall; HU’s Jazz Ensemble at the Calvin Jones Big Band Festival April 25 at UDC; and the HU Jazz choirs April 27 at Childers Hall. Levine Music School’s Jazz Fest 2016 includes a Latin Jazz Workshop, a “Jazz Vocal and Piano” performance lecture April 9 at the Music Center of Strathmore and Levine Music Jazz Program Chair and guitarist/bassist Gary Prince hosting an open jam session April 9 in the evening at the Levine school NW DC campus. Then a master class lecture with guitarist Pat Martino closes the JazzFest April 10 at the NW DC campus. See http://www.levinemusic.org.
UDC events include the UDC Small Jazz Ensembles April 12, the Calvin Jones Big Band Jazz Festival April 25 and Jazz at Van Ness Celebrates International Jazz Day April 30, See http://www.jazzaliveudc.org for complete information.
The Jazz Appreciation Mini-Series at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street N.E. April 21-24 includes a City of Poets show with French pianist and composer Cedric Hanriot, trumpeter Jason Palmer and other musicians in a musical homage to science fiction writer Dan Simmons; the Joanna Wallfisch/Dan Tepfer Duo; The Tizer Trio and Brad Linde’s The Lonely Poet Project. See http://www.atlasarts.org for complete information.
Other events this month feature Andrew White and the Zorro Sax All-Stars April 26 at Blues Alley, Lena Seikaly, Celebrating Ella April 27 at Blues Alley, the SF Jazz Collective April 27 at the Music Center at Strathmore and Jason Moran and Charles Lloyd April 29 at the Kennedy Center.
And congratulations to our own Brian Hamilton and Dick Smith, presenters of the music at the weekly Jazz Night at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and Todd Marcus, who plays with his quintet in tribute to John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy April 16 at Caton Castle in Baltimore, for recently being named among 26 persons nationwide as Jazz Journalists Association 2016 Heroes.

Reminder: The 705network wants YOU!

Among the groups we thank for fostering, promoting and presenting the music is the 705network, led by producers Marie and Cathy Stanley, who bring us the television show on DCTV and other channels and live streaming that features performers “on tour in the nation’s capital.”
“DC has a lot of talented musicians of various genres,” says Cathy Stanley. “ We wanted to create a local television show to focus on the music being performed. DC has a huge fan base for music, so we wanted the community to know about these performances. This way the residents of DC could tune into the show on local cable or YouTube and hear who’s making the music”.

 

 

705network_web
A new episode featuring “The Frankie Addison Effect” is to air in April, and, after their recent taping, coming up later this year is the Theljohn Quintet, so stay tuned to http://www.705network.com. “If your band is making music in the Washington, DC area,” says the 705network website, “let us know at cs.705network@hotmail … Check out our YourTubeChannel at YouTube.com/705network.”
Marie Stanley says, “DC has long been known for its rich music history. Today, with its still ever so present vibrant music scene, DC continues to be one of the best cities for live music. 705network Music was created to showcase the many talented artists here in the nation’s capital, to give its viewers a glimpse into their lives, their journeys and their music, and to bring attention to the importance of continuing to support local artists and live music. It’s a way of giving back to the music community.”

InPerson … DC Sax Quartet, HUJE, JACS/Pete Muldoon,

Among fine live performances this year the District Saxophone Quartet delivered a fine set during the Atlas Intersections Festival in February at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, with Jason McFeaters, alto, Stephen Dunlap, tenor, Noah Getz, soprano and Justin Polyblank, baritone harmonizing with straight ahead riffs, then free form, then meshing again in harmony on tunes like Boogie Stop Shuffle, “Drastic Measures” and a bright, original arrangement of “Caravan” and visually musical dancing on “Histoire du Tango.” The set, titled “Rhythm of the City” lived up to its billing and more with with catchy, bluesy, some soulful funk as well as improvisational sounds.

 

chestnut.cyrus.color

 

 

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut played vintage melodies

and was honored with the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award

at the Howard University Jazz Ensemble show last month

 

 

 

 
Alto saxophonist Herb Scott, heard regularly Wednesday nights at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill, swung hard one late February night at the Jazz and Cultural Society in N.E. D.C. The Howard University Jazz Ensemble, with special guest Cyrus Chestnut, and Afro Blue played a concert at Rankin Memorial Chapel in March, jamming and swinging on tunes like “Lester Leaps In,” “On Broadway,” “Alfie,” and “Blues for Al,” and “A Flower is A Lovesome Thing,” with fine playing by Tristan Ladale Benton, piano, Rick Peralta, guitar, along with Chestnut’s own vintage excellence, and special guest trombonist Andre Hayward. Professor Judith Korey was honored for the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at UDC, and Chesnut was also honored for his career, with the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award.
Pianist Amy Bormet helped kick off her Washington Women in Jazz Festival last month with some sparkling playing at the DC Jazz Jam at The Brixton. Guitarist Pete Muldoon played some hot and bluesy licks at the JACS one night on tunes like “Jingles” and “Hindsignt” with pianist Allyn Johnson providing some of his own vintage ripples. And Antonio Parker, Reginald Cyntje, Nasar Abadey and friends wowed a large crowd March 25 at Westminster in a tribute to Calvin Jones show, featuring standards like “Au Private” and Jones originals like “Kinfolk.”

 

 

In review—“Carr & Clark—Soulful Serenity”

The relationship between saxophonist Paul Carr and vocalist Sharon Clark, who recently produced the fine recording “Carr & Clark—Soulful Serenity,” includes their time at Takoma Station, the club in Northwest D.C. where they performed in the late 1980s.

 

carrclarkcover
“I was turned down by other establishments because I didn’t have ‘the look’ they felt was necessary to cultivate a regular audience,” says Clark in the liner notes for the CD. The owner of Takoma Station wanted to hire another singer for the same reason, but Paul insisted, ‘if I can’t have Sharon I won’t have a singer.’”
Regardless of interpretations of “looks” Clark has gone on these many years to draw raves for her vocal work all over, including New York City clubs and around the world. “Carr & Clark” is another feather in her cap with its bluesy reading of standards and romantic favorites.
“I Could Have Told You” brims with a deeply melancholy, heartfelt sympathy, just to pick one tune out of the many highlights, with Carr’s incisive saxophone work helping to evoke the mood of the haunting melody. Along with Carr, the top-flight band has Bruce Barth, piano, with Chris Grasso sitting in on “Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast,” a whimsical, flippant tune Clark pulls off in expert fashion, Herman Burney, bass, on all tracks except “Bye Bye Blackbird” which features Michael Bowie, and Lewis Nash is his efficiently expert self on drums throughout.”
Other highlights include “Say It Over and Over Again” with Carr’s sax meshing perfectly with Clark’s bluesy vocals and Barth’s piano melodies +and “Stella By Starlight.” Recorded at Blue House Productions in Silver Spring, Md., Carr and Clark indeed have a winner with this polished ode to lovers everywhere.

In review … Marika Hughes

Cellist and composer Marika Hughes has created a bouncy, very listenable recording with band Bottom Heavy on “New York Nostalgia, her vocal work and the fusion, rock, pop and jazz layers of her band.
A compelling singer, Hughes, a native New Yorker, says the recording is her “love letter to the city and the love that made her what she is today.”
Hughes has recorded and appeared with a wide range of artists, including D8Angelo, Tom Waits, Harry Belafonte, Santana and Yo-Yo Ma, to name a few.

 

 

 

marikacover
Bottom Heavy includes Hughes, cello, Kyle Sanna, guitar, Charlie Burnham, violin, Fred Cash Jr., bass and Tony Mason drums, with guest artists including Marc Cary, piano and producer and guitarist Doug Wamble.
“Dream It Away” is a wistful, attractive lullaby. “So Gracefully,” may be the highlight here. A Marc Cary tune, it is a rustling, whistling jam, with Hughes’ drummer Mason and guitarist Sanna creating a lovely blend in a graceful arrangement. “No Dancing” is a playful blues featuring Hughes’ phrasing around Sanna’s guitar licks and “Sophisticated Alice” rocks and rolls behind Hughes’s cello stylings.
See http://www.marikahughes.com.

 

 

In review … Olivier Babaz

French bassist, composer and arranger Olivier Babaz has a winner himself with his fourth recording “Odd Light.” Originally from Paris and now living in Montreal, his publicity material says “As an arranger and composer he is mainly oriented towards small acoustic ensembles, cherishing organic sounds twisted or recycled instruments, experimenting various recording and production methods.”
With a diploma from the Music Academy International in Nancy, Babaz has played extensively in Europe and beyond with players like Lionel Loueke, Alain Chan, Luc Joly and others, and cofounded the duo Akoz with alto/violist Julie Salamagnou.

 

obabazcover
“Odd Light” features Babaz on basses and kalimbas, Francois Jalbert, guitar and Mark Nelson, drums. The recording is one of those that sounds as a symphonic piece, each tune complimenting the other. From “Corail Rouge” through” Monkster” and “L’ appel du vide” parts 1 and 2—arguably the highlight of the CD for the meshing of all three instruments into an intriguing blend of rhythms and melodies – and “Footprints” and “Odd Light” it is a brightly textured voyage made enjoyable by the empathy of the three musicians.
Well worth a listen – many listens actually. See http://www.olivierbabaz.com.

 

In review … Bastian Stein

Direct from Pirouet Records in Germany comes a release, “Viktor,” that fairly crackles with bop, free jazz and beyond melodies and rhythms by Bastian Stein. Stein on trumpet, Johannes Enders, tenor sax, Phil Donkin, bass and James Maddren, drums.

 

 

 

bastiansteincover
Stein began studying classical trumpet at the age of 15 at the University for Classical Music in Vienna, then studied in Amsterdam for a while and then in New York. In 2013 he moved to Cologne in Germany and formed the group on this recording, but also has other projects going including work with the WDR Big Band that does concerts with Diane Reeves, Joshua Redman and many others.
All compositions on “Viktor” are by Stein except for Gustav Mahler’s Der Abaschied. Stein’s sterling trumpet playing on “Viktor” runs the gamut from free form to melodic, with Enders providing expert harmonic accompaniment, and improvisational riffs to compliment Stein and the whipping drum work of Madden on “Traces” in particular and also on “Fantasia” and “Off The Record,” a wry, playful jam featuring Enders’ rips and roars and Stein’s soaring trumpet lines.
See wwww.bastianstein.com or http://www.pirouet.com.

 

NothingBut Front-Cover

In review … Martial Solal reissues

One can pick any tune, but while are appreciating the music this month, “April in Paris” one the standards on pianist Martial Solal’s 2016 reissue “Nothing But Piano” provides all you need to know about this Frenchman’s elegant way around the instrument. Sounding like an entire orchestra at times, Solal is playful with the melody at the outset, then seriously romantic, darting and dashing around the scale, always weaving a new melody a new theme.
And perhaps that’s the secret of great ones like Solal, born in Algeria in 1927, always sounding fresh and new. “Nothing But Piano” (1976) is one of three 1970s reissues graciously brought to us by MPS Records, situated in Villingen, in Germany’s Black Forest region and known previously for presenting artists such as Oscar Peterson, George Duke, George Shearing, Monty Alexander and others.
Also released was “Four Keys,” (1979) featuring Solal with alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, guitarist John Scofield and German bassist Niels-Henning Pederson, and “Suite For Trio,” (1978) teaming Solal with Pederson and Swiss drummer Daniel Humair.
“Nothing But Piano” has one Solal original, a gem of a bluesy ride, “M.B.S. Blues,” with the rest standards with his lilting, rippling touch on “Stars Fell On Alabama,” his jumping, jamming complexity on “Crazy Rhythm,” and “Fascinating Rhythm,” and wistful ruminating on “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” just to name a few.

 

FourKeys Front-Cover
“Four Keys” adds the polished mastery of Konitz on alto sax and Pederson’s always melodic bass work and Scofield’s deft tickles on guitar to Solal’s runs, especially on “Brain Stream,” one of the Solal originals on the recording, featuring all Solal compositions. As fine a player as Solal was, his compositional work stands out as well, with “Grapes,” “Energy” and “retro Active” all intriguing blends of the players’ voices.

Suite Front-Cover
“Suite For Trio” fairly sails along from the initial “Coming Yesterday,” another Solal original all the way through, including the title tune and Solal’s vintage work on the classics “S’Wonderful,” “Here’s That Rainy Day” and “Cherokee,” Pederson and Humair impressive with their empathy and individual melodic compliments.
It was Christmas in January for those of us who became Solal fans long ago, with these reissues that add more gold to the vault of his legacy more doubtless many more new fans.
See http://www.mps-music.com for more information.

Coda for BC …

Thank you Omrao Brown and Bohemian Caverns, sorry to see you go … but thank you for frontlines that swayed and swung high and low, for bopping, rippling pianos, twanging, tickling guitars, throbbing bass lines, searing trumpets and golden and rumbling saxophone chords, with the whipping, whipping, rapping, chiming drums all the while. Long live (and we will long hear…) the Caverns…

Steve Monroe is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com or @jazzavenues.

Jazz Avenues January/February BLOG 2016

Jazz Avenues January/February BLOG 2016
by Steve Monroe

…follow @jazzavenues

Paul Carr

Saxophonist Paul Carr puts on his

festival guru hat to produce his 7th annual

Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Feb. 12-14

at the Hilton in Rockville.

 

 

Parker, Cyntje bash, Lyles, Lovejoy, Dawkins on tap;
Grasso’s “Super” brunch, Mid-Atlantic Jazz on the way

The perfect remedy for helping us put Snowzilla’s East Coast storm behind us is a jamming weekend of upcoming sounds, beginning with Antonio Parker’s Grits & Gravy show at Westminster, Reginald Cyntje’s birthday celebrations at Twins Jazz and Lionel Lyles’ shows at Bohemian Caverns. Bluesy songstress Karen Lovejoy at Dawson’s Market and eclectic saxophonist Ernest Dawkins at the Caverns help round out the offerings as January takes its leave and February beckons.
Parker, one of our more dynamic alto saxophonists, performs at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 6 p.m. tonight, Friday January 29, with Donvonte McCoy on trumpet, Reginald Cyntje, trombone – quite a frontline there — Hope Udobi, piano, Cheyney Thomas, bass and Howard Franklin, drums.
After those sets at Westminster Cyntje gets on his horse and heads uptown to play at Twins Jazz for the first of two nights celebrating the musician/educator’s 40th birthday.

 

Reginald Cyntje

Reginald Cyntje, whose next recording is

to be titled “Moods and Colors,” performs for his

40th birthday bash Jan. 29-30 at Twins Jazz.

 

 
Cyntje plays tonight with Deante Childers, piano, Herman Burney, bass, Amin Gumbs, drums, Brian Settles, saxophone and Christie Dashiell, vocals. Saturday, the same group returns except for Howard University’s own Savannah Harris taking over on drums. Meanwhile the tenor saxophonist Lionel Lyles kicks off a two-night stay tonight with his quintet at Bohemian Caverns.
Saturday night January 30th the Frank Wess Tribute at the Kennedy Center honors the late saxophonist who “spent his formative years in Washington, D.C., exploring the city with his longtime friend and fellow National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, the late Dr. Billy Taylor,” says Kennedy Center information. On hand will be drummer Winard Harper and trumpeter Terrell Stafford, with Scott Robinson on saxophone, bassist Noriko Ueda and guitarist Ilya Lushtak.

 

KLstrayhorn pic

Vocalist Karen Lovejoy appears

Sunday at Dawson’s Market in

Rockville and Feb. 12 at Inwood

House in Silver Spring.
Sunday Karen Lovejoy and her Lovejoy Group (www.lovejoygroupmusic.com), enjoying acclaim from their recent recording “Believe,” perform for the monthly jazz brunch at Dawson’s Market in Rockville from 11 to 2 p.m. Call 202-428-1386 for more information.

 

 

 

ernestdawkins1

Ernest Dawkins performs with

his trio Sunday Jan. 31 at

Transparent Prouctions show.
That night, January 31, Transparent Productions presents its first show of the New Year with the Ernest Dawkins Trio at Bohemian Caverns (see below for more). Also Sunday drummer Duduka Da Fonseca and the Brazilian All Stars perform at the Baltimore Museum of Art in Baltimore with Anat Cohen, saxophone and clarinet, Helio Alves, piano, Martin Wind, bass and Maucha Adnet, vocals (www.baltimorechamberjazz.org).

chrisgrasso1

Pianist Chris Grasso plays with his trio and

vocalist Dick Smith and sax man Marshall Keys

at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club on Super Sunday Feb. 7.
Other February highlights include: Tony Martucci, Feb. 6-7 at Twins Jazz; Chris Grasso’s Pre-Super Bowl Jazz Brunch show Feb. 7 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club (www.chrisgrassomusic.com) with vocalist/entertainer Dick Smith, sax man Marshall Keys, Grasso on piano, Tommy Cecil, bass and Lee Pearson, drums; Feb. 9 Irene Jalenti at Blues Alley; Karen Lovejoy Feb. 12 at Inwood House in Silver Spring; the Jolley Family Tribute Feb. 12 at Westminster; Discovery Artist in the KC Jazz Club, keyboardist Matthew Whitaker at the Kennedy Center; the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Feb. 12-14 at the Hilton in Rockville (see below).

 

integritreeves1

 

Integriti Reeves is to perform

Feb. 13 at Bohemian Caverns.
Also: Integriti Reeves Feb. 13 at the Caverns; Michael Thomas Feb. 19 at the Caverns; Joe Lovano and the Village Rhythms Band Feb. 19-20 at the Kennedy Center; University of the District of Columbia product Jordan Dixon on saxophone leading a group Feb. 24 at Twins Jazz; A Tribute to Gloria Lynne with Sandra Johnson Feb. 26 at Westminster; and always grooving bass man Cheyney Thomas heading a group at Twins Feb. 27-28.

 

 

Bobby-Hill-photo-by-Imani-Drayton-Hill200

Bobby Hill Jr.’s Transparent Productions

presents Ernest Dawkins Sunday and more

shows in February at the Caverns.

 

 

 

Transparent Productions 2016

“Live music is it…nothing will transform you like live music and spirits!” (Henry Threadgill)

Radio programmer, historian/educator, producer and more, Bobby Hill Jr. invites all to enjoy the 19th season opening performance for Transparent Productions Sunday January 31 at Bohemian Caverns featuring the Ernest Dawkins Trio.
Dawkins, influenced greatly by, Lester Young, is the always forward-sounding reed man and flautist from Chicago, plays Sunday with Isaiah Spencer, drums and Junius Paul, bass. Dawkins, who played a spicy set of music last season for a Transparent Productions show here, has worked with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and “a myriad of music greats, from Ramsey Lewis to Anthony Braxton” says Transparent Productions information. He has led many ensembles, including the New Horizons Ensemble, Aesop Quartet, Chicago Trio, Live the Spirit Big Band, the Chicago 12, and is a long-time member of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.
Shows are at 7 and 8:30 pm Sunday at the Caverns, with tickets $15 advance, $20 at the door. See http://www.transparentproductionsdc.org, http://www.bohemiancaverns.com or call (202) 299-0800 for more information.
Coming up next by Transparent Productions is The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble Feb. 21, with Kahil El’Zabar, drums, Hamiet Bluett reeds, flute, and Craig Harris trombone. Then the Ches Smith Trio performs Feb. 28, with Smith on drums, Matt Maneri, viola and Craig Taborn piano.

 

 

sharon4

Sharon Clark is one of the

stars in a star-studded lineup

for the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

Feb. 12-14 in Rockville.

 

 

 

Mid-Atlantic Jazz 2016

The 7th annual Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Feb. 12-14 at the Hilton in Rockville brings Terence Blanchard, Poncho Sanchez, Curt Elling, Louis Hayes, Eric Byrd, Terell Stafford, Dave Stryker, Sharon Clark, Chad Carter, James Zimmerman, Coniece Washington, Tom Newman, Cyrille Aimee, Joey Calderazzo, Anthony Compton, Wes Biles, Paul Carr’s Jazz Academy Orchestra, and others, along with high school band and voice competitions, eclectic vendors and much more.

Organizer Carr says the theme of this year’s festival is “Directly from the Source.” When asked about the task of putting on a yearly festival in addition to his own performing, recording and teaching roles, Carr says, “Out of my love for teaching, I saw the need for informed jazz presenting. Now all three feed off its self to create something I hope people will like and support. Also, I have an awesome two person staff and awesome volunteers that help make MAJF happen. So yes, it’s a 24hour a day job … but I love it, most times. LOL!”
See http://www.midatlanticjazzfestival.org for complete information.

 

 

Radio introduced me to jazz, as it has countless listeners over the decades. On New Year’s Day, January 1, 1958 … The announcer featured the entire
Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. I heard the Goodman orchestra play “Let’s Dance.” The quartet with Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa played “The Man I Love.” Guest artists from Duke Ellington’s orchestra, Cootie Williams, and Johnny Hodges played “Blue Reverie.” Count Basie and Lester Young jammed on “Honeysuckle Rose.” I was hooked.

–WPFW-FM producer and programmer Rusty Hassan, from “Jazz Radio in Washington,” in Jazz In Washington/Washington History, a publication of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Spring 2014.

“Radio is still the best way to discover jazz”

Black History Month this February brings to mind the invaluable contribution made by radio broadcasters over the years to the jazz fabric of our Washington, D.C. area in particular, from people like Felix Grant to Paul Anthony, Yale Lewis, Nap Turner, Jerry Washington, Fish Middleton and Ron Sutton, to Askia Muhammad, Bob Daughtry, Hodari Ali, Faunee, Whitmore John, Candy Shannon, Von Martin and Gwen Redding Jamal Muhammad, Tom Cole, Ellen Carter, Larry Appelbaum, Keanna Faircloth, Tim Masters, Robin Holden, Bobby Hill Jr., Rusty Hassan, Willard Jenkins, Katea Stitt, Miyuki – and many, many more.
“Over the next two decades,” said Hassan. “I would run into Willis [Conover] at clubs such as Blues Alley. I learned how he began broadcasting for [Voice of America] in 1955 and soon became known around the world because of the popularity of American jazz and the reach of the Voice of America short wave broadcast signal … Before going to work for the VOA, however, he had his roots in the Washington jazz scene.”
Hassan’s article in the 2014 Historical Society of Washington edition “Jazz In Washington” provides a fascinating look at a slice of the broadcasting history of the music, on stations including WMAL, WRC, WAMU, WGTB, WHUR, WETA, WDCU and of course WPFW. (Beyond D.C. my kudos go out to stations like WUCF in Florida, WBGO/Newark, N.J., WHAM in Rochester, N.Y., and WRTI in Philadelphia, among others.)
“In 1976 I participated in getting a new station on the air,” said Hassan, “as part of the Pacifica Network that would play jazz, blues, and world music. But in February 1977 when Von Martin played “Take the ‘A’ Train” to open the WPFW-FM signal to the Washington airwaves, I opted to keep The New Thing Root Music Show on WAMU. I thought that jazz should be played on as many stations as possible.”
Hassan says of the 1970s, “This strength of jazz programming on the air reflected the vibrant scene for performances in Washington. Major artists came through D.C. to play in clubs such as Blues Alley in Georgetown, Harold’s Rogue and Jar … Pigfoot and Moore’s Love and Peace … and the One Step Down … Musicians who came by the WAMU studios on a Sunday Afternoon to be interviewed on my show include Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Dexter Gordon, Eddie Jefferson, and Sun Ra.”
Hassan said “National Public Radio also played a major role in getting jazz on the Washington airwaves. NPR offered programs such as Jazz Alive, Marian McPartland’s Piano jazz, and Jazz Set, which were aired on WAMU …” Hassan, with fascinating passages on broadcasters and jazz artists along the way, goes on in the article (see http://www.historydc.org or call 202-249-3952 for more information on “Jazz In Washington) to bring us up to the 21st century, with the ensuing years seeing the decline of jazz regularly on the airwaves, especially with the demise of WDCU Jazz 90. Now we mainly have WPFW (89.3 FM and online at http://www.wpfwfm.org), and shows featuring some jazz/swing/vocal jazz heard on WAMU/88.5 FM and WFED/1500 AM. (Anyone knowing of any other regular radio outlets for jazz locally, please email me at steve@jazzavenues.com).
Hassan, whose regular show Late Night Jazz on WPFW is heard Thursday nights at 10 p.m., said of today’s environment: “How people listen to music has changed dramatically. Downloads to IPods are convenient, but background and appreciation for the music is lacking. An informed announcer on the radio provides the names of the soloists and tells stories about the music … Washington, D.C. is fortunate to have WPFW still broadcasting the music with knowledgeable programmers … Radio is still the best way to discover jazz.”
Thank you, Rusty and friends!

 

marshallkeys1

The “man with the golden tone,”

saxophonist Marshall Keys plays with

the Chris Grasso Trio and Dick Smith at

their Pre-Super Bowl Brunch Feb. 7

at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club.

 

 

 

 

Jazz Foundation of America

A thank you to George V. Johnson Jr. of the Washington DC Jazz Network (www.washingtondcjazznetwork.ning.com) for his Facebook entry reminding us of the valuable work provided by the Jazz Foundation of America.
The foundation’s mission, says its website, is to provide: “… financial, medical and legal assistance to those great jazz and blues veterans who have paid their dues by making a lifetime of this music and find themselves in crisis due to illness, age and/or circumstance.”
“For 26 years, the Jazz Foundation has been keeping jazz and blues alive by helping the musicians who have played with everyone from Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday to Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. We now assist in more than 5,000 cases a year nationwide.”
The website has this statement from Freddie Hubbard:
“When I had congestive heart failure and couldn’t work, the Jazz Foundation paid my mortgage for several months and saved my home! Thank God for those people.”
See http://www.jazzfoundation.org for more information and to donate.

Steve Monroe is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com or @jazzavenues.

Jazz Avenues December 2015 BLOG

Jazz Avenues December 2015 BLOG
By Steve Monroe

…follow @jazzavenues

 

gvj4

Vocalist and more George V. Johnson Jr., creator

of the Washington DC Jazz Network,

celebrates his 65th birthday with a party

Dec. 20 at Bohemian Caverns.

 

 

Hairston, “A Jazz Piano Christmas,” Bowie, McCoy
and Alexander headline weekend; Carr’s Academy on tap for Monday

Organ maestro Jackie Hairston, a D.C. living legend, heads a group at Westminster Presbyterian Church tonight, while National Public Radio’s “A Jazz Piano Christmas” concert is at the Kennedy Center and Michael Bowie and Donvonte McCoy are at Twins and Bohemian Caverns, respectively.
Hairston is to play tonight, Friday, Dec. 4, at Westminster with Wade Beach on piano, Michael Hairston, sax and Leon Alexander, drums. Also tonight the Brad Linde Ensemble’s ” A Post Cool Yule” is at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, with Linde’s Expanded Ensemble performing Saturday night at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.

 

BradLindebyMikeMorgan

photo by Mike Morgan

Brad Linde performs tonight Dec. 4

at the Atlas and tomorrow at the Kennedy Center.
The Christmas jazz concert at the Kennedy Center tonight features Kenny Barron, Fred Hersch, Carmen Staaf and others. The eclectic, always innovative Bowie plays Friday and Saturday with a trio at Twins jazz, with Dre King on trumpet and piano and Dante Pope, drums. McCoy, one of our more scintillating and diverse trumpeters, entertains at Bohemian Caverns with a quintet Friday and Saturday.
Sunday Dec. 6 saxophonist Eric Alexander plays with a quartet at Blues Alley, featuring jazz master Harold Mabern on piano, and the Christ Grass Trio with Sharon Clark and Paul Carr performs at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. Monday Paul Carr’s Jazz Academy of Music plays at Blues Alley.

 

paulcarr2 (2)

Paul Carr plays with Chris Grasso Trio

and Sharon Clark Dec. 6 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz

 
Coming up this month vocalist Gail Marten performs with the Larry Brown Trio Dec. 9 at Grand Central in Baltimore; Brad Linde, bandleader and saxophonist, heads his Therapy Band at Twins Jazz Dec. 9, with the Twins Jazz Orchestra there the following night; dynamic homeboy pianist Benito Gonzalez plays Dec. 11 at Westminster with Eric Wheeler, bass, John Lamkin III, drums and Ashley Gonzalez Daneman, vocals, with a Thinking About Jazz event the next day at Westminster, Dec. 11, on “Billy Taylor: Ambassador of Jazz.”
Other highlights this month include the Eric Byrd Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Dec. 13 at Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel; “a Freddy Cole Christmas” Dec. 17-20 at Blues Alley; Javon Jackson and Sax Appeal w/Jimmy Heath Dec. 18-19 at the Kennedy Center; GVJ Jr’s Birthday Party Dec. 20 at the Caverns (see below); Reginald Cyntje’s Mood & Colors Dec. 26 at An Die Musik in Baltimore; Ben Williams & Sound Effect Dec. 26-27 at the Caverns, Cyrus Chestnut Dec. 26-31 at Blues Alley; and Diane Schuur and Strings/A Jazz New Year’s Eve Dec. 31 at the Kennedy Center.

 

billytaylor1

Dr. Billy Taylor is the subject of

Thinking About Jazz Dec. 12

at Westminster

 

 

 

“Exploring America’s Classical Music, “So Called JAZZ”, it’s African American Heritage, Legacy & Roots! Become a member as we build a “Jazz Empire”. Our goal is to provide a platform to bring together millions of jazz music enthusiasts from all over the world!”
–from Washington DC Jazz Network Facebook page

 

A Happy Happy to GVJ Jr.

Those who enjoy the Washington DC Jazz Network and all the jazz presented there and presented courtesy of vocalese master George V. Johnson Jr. keeping us abreast of jazz world news via WDCJN and Facebook, can help Johnson celebrate his 65th birthday at a star-studded gathering Dec. 20 at Bohemian Caverns.
Johnson, who most recently provided news and fond remembrances for us of the late saxophonist Arnold Sterling who passed onto ancestry last month, is to appear at the Caverns for “A Sagittarian Celebration” with guests including Ron Sutton, Nasar Abadey, Herman Burney, Deante Childers — and “Special Surprise Guests.”
The show is from 3 to 7 p.m., $15 advance and $20 at the door. See http://www.bohemiancaverns.com or http://www.washingtonjazznetwork.ning.com.

 

Arnold Sterling

photo by Steve Monroe

Baltimore’s own Arnold Sterling, the masterful

saxophonist who passed on last month.

 

We have all benefited greatly from Johnson’s labor of love these last several years as he has single-handedly created and maintained his D.C. jazz network, putting us on the map worldwide with an always jazzy, newsy take on the music and the people that make it go.

 

NasarAbadey3

Nasar Abadey is to play at George V. Johnson Jr’s

birthday bash Dec. 20 at Bohemian Caverns
This year especially we are thankful — though our email boxes stay full! – for Johnson’s tireless promotion of jazz through emails and Facebook entries with videos of photos on the careers of Hank Mobley, Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Smith, Miles Davis, and many, many others well known and not so well known, as well as news and videos of concerts in this area, in New York and elsewhere.
At press time Johnson let us know Samuel Prather has a Christmas video coming out soon, featuring Elijah Jamal Balbed and others … check out the preview on Facebook.
Thank you George, vocalese legend, historian, entrepreneur and social media guru! Happy Birthday and wishing you a zillion more!

sharon4

Sharon Clark is to perform

with the Chris Grasso Trio

and Paul Carr Dec. 6 at

Bethesda Blues & Jazz

 

 

 

 

Congrats! Reginald Cyntje, Mark Meadows, Willard Jenkins

Best wishes, holiday greetings and congratulations to all these folks.
Cyntje and Meadows were recently cited by http://www.ontaponline.com as two of the top 10 local musicians.
Cyntje earned mention as “a trombonist, an educator, a producer and a composer. Between teaching at Montgomery College, running the Jegna School of Music, being featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America, winning awards for being DC’s best trombonist, authoring a book [Stepping Stones: 15 Studies in Improvisation] and releasing his fourth album [“Spiritual Awakening”].
See http://www.reginaldcyntje.com.

reginaldcyntje3

Reginald Cyntje
Ontaponline.com said of keyboard whiz and vocalist Meadows “…his career truly exploded in 2014. Last year, [Meadows, a Johns Hopkins University graduate] released his acclaimed second album Something Good, was named Strathmore’s “Artist in Residence” for their 2014-2015 season, and was named both “Composer of the Year” and “Artist of the Year” in DC.”
See http://www.markmeadows.com.

 

Willard Jenkins2

Willard Jenkins was honored by the

Howard University Jazz Ensemble last month.
And muchas gracias for all you do to Jenkins our man of many hats radio programmer, educator, writer, blogger, producer and much more, for his award from the Howard University Jazz Ensemble last month as the 2015 winner of the Benny Golson Jazz Master award for his work as artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival. See Jenkins’ http://www.openskyjazz.com.

 

 

 

KLstrayhorn pic

Karen Lovejoy, who performed in

Celebrating Strayhorn events this year,

has a new CD “Believe” coming soon.

 

 

 

InPreview … The Lovejoy Group’s “Believe”

Watch for the holiday recording “Believe” coming soon from dynamic songstress Karen Lovejoy and The Lovejoy Group. Advance tracks show this one is a keeper, with the title tune an especially inspirational bluesy, joyful work lifted by Lovejoy’s majestic vocals. “I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus” is a fun treat, and “Snowfall” is an engaging, sweeping instrumental.
See http://www.lovejoygroupmusic.com.

 

 

InReview…Amina Figarova “Blue Whisper”

Where does one begin when the music is a seamless stream of expert musicianship and continually intriguing compositions?
For Amina Figarova’s latest recording “Blue Whisper,” begin by saying she has fashioned an entry that deserves mention as one of the best of the year. On the German In + Out label, it seems to have something new each time you listen. Pianist Figarova, born in Baku, Azerbaijan, and a product of the Rotterdam Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music, assembled for her 13th album an impressive crew of musicians for “Blue Whisper,” largely recorded in February at System Two Studios in New York and released in September.
The artists, her sextet plus guests, include Alex Pope Norris, trumpet and flugelhorn, Wayne Escoffery and Mark Mommaas, tenor saxophones, Bart Platteau, flutes, Luques Curtis, bass and Jason Brown, drums.

 

BlueWhisperCover-BW

 

“Marians,” the tune playing now, whistles along with the horns sailing above Figarova’s rippling piano, accented gently and expertly by drummer Brown on cymbals, and Anthony Wilson’s guitar lyricisms, while exchanging melodies with Figarova in a lilting, waltzing dance also featuring Platteau’s whispering flute work. The empathy of the musicians is paramount, as it is on all the tracks on “Blue Whisper,” Figarova leading the way with edgy, mystical, always engaging runs on her piano.
The title tune features her quietly leading one into the recording’s themes, Escoffery’s sax work taking flight before Figarova returns with musings that harden into gritty lines of emotion and then grace. “Hear My Voice,” is a gem, so timely it may cause a wet eye or two, with heartfelt vocals by Salhiya Bilal Tumba and Shamiyi Bilal Tumba framing a musical journey searching for peace in our world. “The Hustler” does just that, jamming, running, again, searching. “The Traveler,” “Moonrise” and the rest all help complete “Blue Whisper” on its path.
Figarova says in the liner notes the CD is “another beautiful journey of discovery, admiration, sensitivity, reflections. The writing of this project was a deep and catalytic experience.” We listeners are grateful beneficiaries.
See http://www.aminafigarova.com.

 

InReview … Amos Hoffman “Back to the City”

As a youth who was dramatically persuaded by first hearing Wes Montgomery that Motown and James Brown were not the only musical art forms in the world, this writer has always viewed new name guitarists very critically.
That said, Israeli artist Amos Hoffman has begun to win me over and accept him into the pantheon of guitarists to listen to more than once. Hoffman’s recently released CD “Back to the City” on his own label was recorded at Bunker Studios in Brooklyn in February.

 

amos-hoffman-back-to-the-city-20151115120256
The recording introduces him to some, but apparently only reintroduces him to those in the know who have known him from his years in New York, where according to the CD’s publicity, “he became an integral part of the original wave of Israeli musicians in the city, fixtures on its jazz (and Latin jazz) scene … [his] professional association with 1990s young lions and musical groundbreakers like bassist Avishai Cohen, pianist Jason Lindner and Chilean singer Claudia Acuna, as well as Cuban/Latin musicians … helped spread his name worldwide as a pioneer fusing the rhythms and melodic themes of the Middle East with modern jazz guitar.”
His return to New York after 14 years is celebrated on “Back to the City” with “old friends” bassist Omer Avital, drummer Vincent Ector, saxophonist Asaf Yuria, trumpeter Duane Eubanks and special guest Itai Kriss on flute.
“Back to the City” has several tunes of note, including Hoffman originals “Easy Going,” a straight ahead exploration of lilting melodies and rhythms by Hoffman on guitar, spiced by saxophonist Yuria’s gritty, bluesy riffs, and “After Lazy Noon,” a playful romp swung sweetly by the horns and Hoffman and Yuria exchanging whipping, jamming lines over Avital’s nimble, fluid bass lines.
“Mr. X,” may be the highlight, for its, edgy, pushing and pulsating rhythms and harmonies propelled by Hoffman, Ector and the sizzling horns, including Eubanks’ soaring trumpet lines and Yuria’s ripping sax comments. Hoffman flies along with twists and witty turns like the best of them on his solo flights.
“Alone in South Carolina,” is an intriguing, evocative blend, providing a distinct contrast with the otherwise city sounds of the CD by forging a molasses and pork rib bluesy, rolling soliloquy, while “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and “Darn That Dream” are appropriately melancholic showcases for Hoffman’s lyrically inventive touch.
An accomplished oudist as well as guitarist (check out his website http://www.amoshoffman.com to hear some slamming jams on that instrument), our American jazz scene is glad Hoffman is back to expand our diverse and fusionary offerings.

 

–InReview … Shareef Clayton

Shareef Clayton, trumpeter of many styles, is quoted in the publicity for his new recording as saying, “I’m to the point right now where I’m not just a trumpeter, I’m an entertainer.”
The new CD “North & South” on his own Harlem River Records backs him up, with its blending of soulful, mostly smooth jazzy sounds of mostly Clayton originals. Clayton, born and raised in Miami, made his mark in the music as an “in-demand” sideman for many years, including years with the Bobby Sanabria Big Band, with whom he was nominated for a Grammy for that group’s 2013 album “Multiverse.” The disc’s title is reflection he says of its “synergy between New York sophistication and southern soul.”

 

northsouthcover2
The highlight here is “Beyond the Dreams,” a joyful ride spurred by Clayton’s floating, then spearing muted trumpet romps and whipped efficiently and symphonically by drummer Adam Jackson and percussionist Bendji Allonce, with Chris Pattishall on keyboards almost stealing the show melodically with his bright, jamming runs and accents.
“Ground Shake,” does just that with Clayton’s squawks and screams on trumpet and the other horns joining in for a remembrance of the great horn band fusion tunes of old. “Emotions” and “The Feeling” are both soulful, dreamy showcases for Clayton’s trumpet musings and Pattishall’s keyboard ripples.
See http://www.shareefclayton.com

 

Steve Monroe is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. and can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com