Jazz Avenues November/December Blog 2013 

…and follow @jazzavenues


by Steve Monroe


Bandleader, educator, ambassador of the music Bobby Felder

leads his big band Friday Nov. 29 at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Felder, Crockett, Parker, Transparent Jazz and more on tap for music lovers

Bobby Felder’s Big Band, Antonio Parker, Alison Crockett and Julian Hipkins help swing us out of November and Lewis “Flip” Barnes helps us riff into December in upcoming highlights around the area.

Felder, the longtime area maestro, educator, bandleader and ambassador of the music who was featured at a forum at the University of the District of Columbia earlier this month, plays with his big band at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29 at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Jacques Johnson on sax, Vince Smith, piano and Michael Thomas, trumpet are only some of the top players expected to highlight the jamming sounds of Felder’s band, a bargain at twice the price (only $5 admission). Go to www.westminsterdc.org for more information on the music and the soul food menu available.

Crockett is the featured vocalist later that night, beginning at 8 p.m. in the Loews Madison Hotel Friday night jazz offering, with Chris Grasso on piano and James King, bass.


Antonio Parker plays his hot sax often at HR-57 on H Street in D.C.

Also Friday night the hot sax sounds of Antonio Parker are featured at HR-57 (www.HR57.org). Saturday night, the Nov 30th, vocalist Julian Hipkins holds forth in the Madison lounge, with Grasso on piano and Tommy Cecil, bass.  Check out the Madison’s offerings at http://www.chrisgrassomusic.com.

Sunday, Dec. 1 features Bobby Hill Jr.’s Transparent Jazz series of edgy, always forward-looking outside the box sounds, visits the restored (the venue was the victim of a car running into the building, canceling shows for a while) Bohemian Caverns with a group led by Lewis “Flip” Barnes.

Barnes, who attended Howard University and has worked with William Parker, Jemel Moodoc and Jean-Paul Bourelly, among others, brings his group, Nemesis, with Barnes, Roy Campbell, Ted Daniel and Matt Lavelle on trumpets, and Asim Barnes on guitar. See transparentproductions.org or bohemiancaverns.com for more information, or call 202-299-0800.

Also Sunday at Twins Jazz is the Anthony Pirog Trio, for more music with more than a few edges and abstract twists and turns. Heard during the DC Jazz Festival earlier this year, Pirog’s sounds, led by his often scintillating sonic wave guitar work, demand full attention. On Monday, Dec. 2, there is the Winter Big Band showcase at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park. The event, at 7:30 p.m., features UMD Jazz Studies Program Director Chris Vadala conducting the UMD Jazz Ensemble, UMD Jazz Lab Band and the University Jazz Band. Go to claricesmithcenter.umd.edu or call 301-405-2787 for more information.

Other early December highlights include:

Veronneau-World –Jazz & Swing is at Bistrot Lepic & Wine Bar, 1736 Wisconsin Avenue N.W. in DC at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4, Call 202-2333-0111 for more information. The Jackie Hairston Trio with Wade Beach on piano is at Westminster Presbyterian Church Dec. 6. And the Veronneau-World-Jazz & Swing group also plays at Twins Jazz Dec. 6-7.

NPR’s “A Jazz Piano Christmas” Dec. 7 at the Kennedy Center features Andy Bey, Stanley Cowell, Sullivan Fortner and Michele Rosewoman. see www.kennedy-center.org for more information.

The UDC Annual Holiday Concert featuring the UDC Chorale, The Voices and the UDC Jazz Ensemble Is set for 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 10, a free event. See www.jazzaliveudc.org for more information.

That same night the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra with “Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite” plays at Blues Alley (www.bluesalley.com).


Our own Andrew White to be honored for his compositions Dec. 12 at the University of Maryland.

Two days later, Dec. 12, our imminent scholar and musician Andrew White is honored by having five of his compositions performed at the University of Maryland, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in a 5 p.m. event at Gilderhorn Hall. The players include Brian Perez, Roy Hakes, The University of Maryland-Eastern Shore Choir and pianist Veronica Knier. The event is free and open to the public. Go to www.claricesmithcenter.umd.edu for more information.

Ballin’ the Jack is here!

“ … in this lush life of sorrow drowned with kicks from champagne … “

…“The Great American Songbook,” by Thomas View, “Ballin’ the Jack”

It’s a fun ride, a ball, a throwback, a throw forward, connecting jazz and hip hop and jive talk and rap, and swing and scat, soul and gutbucket blues, all those things and more, that’s the dramatic new recording by The Greater U Street Jazz Collective, “Ballin’ the Jack.”

As esteemed writer and producer Bill Brower says on the liner notes:

“Lest today’s listeners be forgetful or uninformed, Ballin’ the Jack connects this great lineage of music to the very streets and venues, humble and glamorous, in which “The Great American Song Book” of life was nurtured and out of which it grew and continues to flower.”

Featuring original tunes written by Collective members Thomas View, Russell Carter, and Pete Frassrand, the group (www.greaterustreetjazzcollective.com), which has performed all over and most recently regularly at El Golfo Restaurant in Silver Spring on Wednesday evenings, is led by sax man Carter, the executive director and woodwind instructor of the DC Music Center.

Carter has a distinguished lineage of his own, having played with many luminaries in the music including  the Cab Calloway Orchestra, Doug Carn, Winard Harper, Webster Young and The O’Jays.


Enjoy this CD, from the historic rap of the opening “The Great American Song Book,” a jamming, boppish, swinging kickoff led by vocalist Ty Stephens, to Keren Sheffield’s own vocal instruction and rhythms on “Ballin’ the Jack” to the hilarious “Style Section” with its homespun, local humor, to the elegance of “Inner Thoughts” and to “The Angry Clown,” in its own appropriately ironic, the-other-side-of clowning-way a major highlight of the recording’s histrionics. It’s an inside-out look, even, at the joy and pain of the legacy of the music itself. It is all a provocative journey.

Which is all not to overlook the musicianship. Backing the history lessons and jokes and jive is some serious jamming.

Pianists Pete Frassrand and Allen Farnham tickle the ivories in swinging, bopping fashion appropriately throughout as does Carter leading the horn section mightily on tenor sax, Carl McIntyre on trumpet, Art Cobb on drums. For pure musical artistry, “Inner Thoughts” might be the hallmark, with Frassrand’s elegant pianism, Carter and McIntyre’s harmony over Thomas View’s melodic lyricisms on bass and Art Cobb’s accents on drums.

But all tracks have some worthy instrumentalism behind the “Shut your mouth!” humor.

Says Brower: “The narrative of this project is ingeniously rendered. Its compositions explore the Collective’s concerns with wit, with lyrical and musical craft, with respect for the mosaic of American music and the primary role that black vernacular styles have had in its elaboration.”

In Person … Lena Seikaly at the Madison

In the stylish setting of the Loews Madison Hotel in downtown D.C., the stylish offerings of vocalist Lena Seikaly were heard one Friday late last month. Thanks to pianist Chris Grasso, our own impresario of vocalists in particular, for bringing back jazz to the Madison, with Seikaly one of his top talents.


Sylish with a song is Lena Seikaly.

That night Grasso’s fine work on piano and bassist Tommy Cecil provided fine support and framing for the vocal talents of Seikaly. She honors legendary songwriters on her recent CD, “Looking Back,” and that night in particular did justice to tunes by D.C.’s own legend Duke Ellington before a crowded room of appreciative listeners.

Her “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” and “In A Mellow Tone” featured her swinging sweet phrasing and elegant sensuality and “Beginning to See the Light,” among other tunes, was also highlighted by some entertaining cabaret touches.

To catch up with Seikaly, see www.lenaseikaly.com


In Person … Hill Center Jazz

The Hill Center Jazz Ensemble returned for the 2013-14 season in November with Eric Wheeler on double bass leading his group through some swinging numbers devoted to “the music of Washingtonians, or those who spent considerable parts of their lives here.”  D.C. native Wheeler was backed by Allyn Johnson on piano, Brian Settles, tenor sax and Jeremy Carlstedt, drums.

The group began with some Jelly Roll Morton, turning his “Whinin’ Boy Blues” into a rolling, romping, squawking — thanks to Settles on tenor sax — ride kick off a fun set. Washington pianist Dick Morgan, who had just passed away recently, was honored by the group’s moving, elegant waltz like treatise on Morgan’s “Morning Meditation,” highlighted by Wheeler.s throbbing bass. Billy Taylor’s tune “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free” turned in toa gospel-like anthem that drew shouts and cheers. “Little Sherri,” by Charlie Rouse featured Settles and Johnson ripping and roaring through a vintage bop jam.

Other tunes on the program that night included Keter Betts’ “Some Kinda Mean,” Buck Hill’s “Jasing,” Johnson’s “The Soulful Mr. James Williams,” Settles’ “Gardenia” and Wheeler’s “Just for You.”




By Steve Monroe



 D.C.’s own Butch Warren, bassist on many classic Blue Note label and other recordings, passed away at the age of 74 this fall. Funeral was held at Westminster Presbyterian Church Oct. 15 with a resounding jam in honor of Warren at the church Oct. 20.  Photo from butchwarren.com.

 Coda for Butch Warren


 Time to hang your tears for Butch Warren out to dry

Cause he’d not want us to cry too long

He’d say just play Dexter’s record with his sax

Singing hard and with Butch grooving his bass

And hang your tears out to dry

Cause mourning time has its place

But the groove is king forever

So hang those tears out to dry

And play those Dexter and Butch blues

One more time.








Marshall Keys has been playing a sweet saxophone for the people many years around D.C.


Welcome to November — Cheyney Thomas, Julian Hipkins, Marshall Keys and more hot sounds …

A bass man with a powerful purpose, you can hear our own Cheyney Thomas lead his quartet at Westminster Presbyterian Church Friday night Nov. 1 to kick off the month in style. Ron Sutton saxophone, Michael Thomas, trumpet, William Knowles, piano and Keith Killgo, drums form the group, billed as “A Stacked Deck with the Cheyney Thomas Quintet.”

That same night vocalist Julian Hipkins performs at the Loews Madison Hotel, and the following night imminent saxophone stylist Marshall Keys plays at the hotel. Later in the month features Sharon Clark, Bonnie Harris, Lyle Link and Lena Seikaly among others. See chrisgrassomusic.com to keep up with the hotel’s offerings.

Paul Carr drops into Vicino’s in Silver Spring Monday night, Nov. 4, with Carr on tenor sax, Fred Hughes, piano, Amy Shook, bass and Frank Russo, drums. Vocalist James K. Zimmerman is featured at Vicino’s the following Monday, Nov. 11. See www.jazzknights.com for more information.  Also Monday night, Nov. 4, University of the District of Columbia jazz studies major Krisylnn Perry presents her junior recital at the UDC Recital Hall at 7 p.m.

The next day, Nov. 5, master saxophonist Marty Nau starts his run of Tuesdays at Twins Jazz.  On Wednesday Nov. 6, the Hill Center Jazz Ensemble, led by bassist Eric Wheeler, plays “D.C.’s Finest: Past, Present, Future,” an event that will focus on the music of D.C. natives Duke Ellington, Shirley Horn, Buck Hill and others. Wheeler will be joined by Brian Settles on tenor sax, Allyn Johnson, keyboard and Jeremy Carlstedt, drums.  And Thursday, Nov. 7, the Howard University Jazz Ensemble is to perform with guest soloist Sonny Fortune, a 12:40 pm event at HU’s Rankin Chapel.

Elsewhere in early November, vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, recipient of the “Rising Star” award at the inaugural Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2012, performs at the Kennedy Center Jazz Club Friday, Nov. 8.

Other November highlights include Emy Tseng at Twins Jazz Nov. 8-9, veteran educator and bandleader Bobby Felder at the JazzAlive Forum Nov. 13 at UDC, and in performance Nov. 29 with his big band at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and hall of fame bassist Ron Carter is at Bohemian Caverns Nov. 15-16.





Saxophonist and educator Brian Settles



Brian Settles creates new “Folk” pathways in his music


Brian Settles shows himself, again, to be a colorist worth watching and listening to with the latest self-produced recording with his Central Union band mates. “Folk.” Somewhat of a departure from his first CD a couple of years ago, “Secret Handshake,” in its more tightly woven harmonic innovations, “Folk” is Settles on tenor sax, Corcoran Holt, bass, and Jeremy Carlstedt, drums. The piano-less sound is stark and driven, raw and always urgent.

Where “Secret Handshake,” an impressive debut, had the same players, plus pianist Neil Podgurski and percussionist Jean Marie Collatin-Faye, and similar free form melodic flights, “Folk’ seems a more consistently intense exploration, albeit maybe less accessible to first-time listeners.

Settles performed numbers from “Folk” live Nov. 23 at the AtlasPerformingArtsCenter and at least for him, his recordings almost match the live performance intensity of his groups. Highlights from these all original works on “Folk” include “Rivers,” which lives up to its title with a rushing sound of sax honks and squeals and ripping riffs from Settles, then goes into another gear for a more intense rush of enveloping sound, enlivened by Carlstedt’s drum work and Holt’s flowing bass. “Soldierly” has a feel similar to Settles’ “Anti-War March” on his first album, but becomes even more of an almost chaotic rather than orderly running march, with Settles spurting on sax and Carlstedt feverishly keeping pace on his whipping drums.

Other highlights on “Folk” include the alternating tempos of “Efflorescence,” from romp to waltz-like motifs underneath, and the haunting refrains of Settles’ searing tenor on “Sipho,” written in honor of one of his mentors, bassist Steve Neil. For more information go to www.briansettles.com.


 In Person … Leo Wadada Smith’s “Ten Summers”

A wide-ranging ambitious task spanning forty years of work is Wadada Leo Smith’s “Ten Freedom Summers,” a multi-media presentation featuring a more traditional jazz quartet, called the Golden Quartet, working alongside a classical chamber group, called Pacifica Red Coral.

Smith’s presentation visited the Atlas last month and drew good crowds, brought by a sense of wonderment as much as expectation, one can assume, given the advance publicity of the immense undertaking.

The work intersperses jazz and classical motifs along a time line of civil rights movement events, with a huge projection screen at the back of the stage showing photos of the people and the action, including Dred Scott, Malik Al-Shabazz, Thurgood Marshall, Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, the Five Little Girls killed in the Alabama church, Lyndon B. Johnson, the March on Washington and of course Martin Luther king.

The presentation was often very entertaining; with the interplay between the quartet and the chamber group the most interesting to this listener, as the quartet explored various strains of traditional jazz riffs and avant garde or free passages, while the chamber group sang with its strings and its harp, and its own percussion pounding out somber, vibrant rhythms.

Smith, considered one of the greatest trumpet players of all idioms, was part of the association for the Advancement of Creative Music and has always delved in visionary, one step beyond music. The 4-CD “Ten Freedom Summers” work is available on the Cuneiform label (www.cuneiformrecords.com). But for a complete reading of “Ten Summers,” catch it yourself in person for the full multi-media impact.


 Brian Lynch, Pete Rodriguez release worthy additions to the tradition

 Brian Lynch, the solid trumpet player who paid his dues with the likes of Horace Silver, Charles McPherson, Phil Woods and other greats and launched his Unsung Heroes recording series two years ago. The project highlights straight ahead jazz with a nod to some of the “underappreciated” trumpet masters like Tommy Turrentine, Idrees Sulieman, Claudio Roditi (in town Nov. 12 at Blues Alley), Joe Gordon and others. His volume one release drew wide acclaim and his “Unsung Heroes Vol. 2” to be released soon on his Hollistic Music Works label is another winner.

Lynch, Vincent Herring, alto sax, Alex Hoffman, tenor sax, Rob Schneiderman, piano, David Wong, bass and Pete Van Nostrand, drums deliver fine work on the second volume, especially on tunes like Howard McGhee’s “Sandy,” a rollicking harmonic blend of Lynch and Herring out front on horns, Lynch’s own ripping “ ‘Nother Never,” with slick work by Herring and Schneiderman as well as Wong, and Sulieman’s “Out/Dancing Shoes,” one high point of the collection with its jagged riffs and on again, off again rhythms, and Lynch smooth and also searing on trumpet and Schneiderman driving on piano. One more high point is the haunting “Gone But not Forgotten,” the Turrentine tune featuring Lynch’s spare, sweetly efficient phrasings.

Trumpeter, vocalist and percussionist Pete Rodriguez, said to carry the bloodline of Nuyorican salsa, delivers fine Afro-Cuban jazz on his new recording “Caminando Con Papi” on Destiny Records.  “The son of renowned salsero Pete ‘ElConde’ Rodrigues and godson of Fania Records bandleader Johnny Pacheco, the younger Rodriguez revisits his father’s legacy” on the CD, according to Destiny publicity.

It’s a sizzling revisit by the younger Rodriguez, a high school classmate of saxophonist David Sanchez in Puerto Rico. Rodriguez leads a rocking, highly melodic group with his vocals and spearing, often high-flying trumpet, as on “still Searching,” backed by the brightly lyrical touch of pianist Luis Perdomo, Daniel Dufour, drums, Robert Quintero, percussion, Sam Pankey, bass, and Nayeli Rodriguez, vocals.

Except for the opening “Tambo,” a Ruben Blades tune, the other compositions are Rodriguez originals.

Besides “Still Searching,” Rodriguez shines on “Arlene,” a more straight ahead bop type, bluesy, steamy romp and steps it down a pace on “No Lo Queria Hacer,” a beautiful, meandering stroll, before bassist ramps the groove up again on “Cabildo” and then on “Shut Up & Play Your Horn,” a playful, freelance  ride featuring Perdomo and Dufour.


Fred Hersch, Julian Lage mesh melodies on “Free Flying”

Coming to Blues Alley Nov. 22-24 will be a sound spanning generations and heavy on complimenting, empathetic conversation between brightly melodic players.

Veteran pianist Fred Hersch and young guitarist Julian Lage, fresh off the release of their CD “Free Flying,” on the Palmetto Records label, promise a classical chamber-like reading of Hersch originals and other works.

“Fred is open to whatever I do,” says Lage of working with Hersch, in the publicity material. “It can feel like jumping into a sandbox and going crazy. I try to avoid the tendency to match what he is doing. I often find that some of the most creative playing comes when I oppose what Fred has just played. I try to think of what would be expected and then not do that.”

Highlights of the recording, done live at Jazz at Kitano in New York, include the title tune “Free Flying” with Hersch taking the lead on the up-tempo tune he composed in honor of guitarist Egberto Gismonti, followed closely behind by Lage, stepping up with some intricately lyrical riffs of his own, with Hersch then complimenting before they engage in a trading of riffs and rejoinders for an enjoyable ride. One beauty on the disc is the Sam Rivers tune “Beatrice,” where the two players again demonstrate an entertaining musical partnership with the two at times producing such colors and dimensions of sound, they seem ike a whole combo playing.

Other highlights include Hersch’s tunes “Song Without Words #4,” and “#3” and an appropriately rough edged “Monk’s Dream,” an interlocking, spiraling gem by piano and guitar. For more information go to www.palmetto-records.com.





 2013 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Hero Willard Jenkins, writer, radio programmer, promoter, producer


In person … Willard Jenkins

Willard Jenkins, our inimitable radio programmer, scholar, journalist and producer held forth last month at a JazzAlive Forum at UDC with W.A. “Bill” Brower as moderator. Jenkins entertained and informed a nice crowd with a review of his life and times in the forefront of advocating, reporting and promoting the music.

Jenkins credited his Dad’s jazz record collection with getting him started in being devoted to the music, eventually specializing in collecting recordings on his own. His advocacy for musicians and the music spanned time in Cleveland, where he grew up, and the Midwest, eventually landing him a position that brought him to Washington and eventually a programming career at WPFW-FM radio, where he still does a weekly show, Wednesday nights at 10 pm.

Honored as a Jazz Hero earlier this year by the Jazz Journalists Association, Jenkins told the crowd that night much of his time is spent working on enlarging audiences for the music, especially exposing younger people to the music. And he said this area is great for jazz, that the “scope of performances here is great, maybe better than any other city except New York and San Francisco…or maybe just New York, because there are so many diverse venues, you have a wonderful opportunity to hear great musicians, and because we are so close to New York, it’s easy for musicians to come here and play and go back to New York.”



It’s Autumn jazz in D.C. — and the region

Saxophonist and educator Brian Settles appears at the Atlas Oct. 23 with his Central Union band.

Brian Settles

Photo courtesy of Brian Settles

It’s Autumn jazz in D.C. — and the region

It’s Autumn in the area and jazz is all around. Wednesday, Sept. 25, catch jazz uptown at the University of the District of Columbia or on H Street at the Atlas. Pianist Allyn Johnson and Sonic Sanctuary play at 7 pm at UDC. Pianist and UDC Jazz Studies Director Allyn Johnson & Sonic Sanctuary celebrate their new recording, “The Truth.” Joining Johnson are Romeir Mendez, bass, and Carroll Dashiell III, drums for the concert in the UDC Recital Hall (Performing Arts Bldg. 46-West). For more information go to www.jazzaliveudc.org. Coming up Oct. 8 at UDC is guitarist Pete Muldoon for a 12:30 pm performance.

At the Atlas at 8 pm Sept. 25, DC native Billy Hart leads a quartet. Master percussionist Hart has “an open-ended direct technique” to jazz, says DownBeat magazine, providing music with “freedom” and “unexpected turns.” Hart’s illustrious career includes playing with greats such as Herbie Hancock and Wes Montgomery. Coming up at the Atlas in October is Tim Berne’s Snakeoil quartet Oct. 8, Brian Settles & Central Union Oct. 23 and Wadada Leo Smith Oct. 25-26. Go to http://www.atlasarts.org for more information.

The Vision Music & Dance /on tour, a special project by Transparent Productions, The Atlas, and Union & Arts Manufacturing comes to D.C. Sept. 26-27.

The show “presents the heart of the NY-based Vision Festival’s manifestation of ideology and aesthetics as deeply shared by festival founder and dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker, and bassist William Parker.  This project shares their transformative art and ideas with our area communities,” says Transparent Productions information.

The Patricia Nicholson Parker & William Parker Duet on Sept. 26 features dance, voice and words by Patricia Nicholson Parker, as well as bass, donsonghoni and shakuhachi music by William Parker, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street (atlasarts.org).

On the 27th will be a Patricia Nicholson Parker & William Parker Workshop & Workshop Performance, including collaboration with local artists, at Union & Arts Manufacturing, 411 New York Ave.   NE.  Dancers and musicians are encouraged to attend.

See  www.transparentproductionsdc.org for complete details on the upcoming Transparent Productions season. Coming up in is the Iqua & Steve Colson Quintet Oct. 18, and Kevin Norton’s Breakfast of Champignon(s) Oct. 27.

Friday night jazz at Chez Billy, 3815 Georgia Avenue NW, continues Sept. 27 with vocalist Julian Hipkins. Coming up in October at the French bistro restaurant are: Lyle Link (10/4), Paige Martin (10/11), Sharón Clark (10/18) and Lena Seikaly (10/25).

Coming up in the Let There Be Jazz series Saturday, Sept. 28 is Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian Jazz Variations, with the Imani & Pepe Gonzalez Jazz Ensemble at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, 5301 North Capitol St. N.E. in D.C. For information on tickets, go to http://www.eastriverjazz.net.

Jazz at the Waterfront up the road in Baltimore Sunday, Sept. 29 from 2 to 6 pm features master saxophonist Gary Bartz, Todd Marcus, Chelsey Green, Latin jazz band The Curtis Brothers and more at Frederick Douglass-Issac Myers Maritime Park, 1417 Thames Street. See www.abc-md.org for more details and ticket information.
Coming up at Vicino’s in Silver Spring Monday Sept. 30 is vocalist Chad Carter & Friends, with harmonica stylist Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark, bringing some jazz and blues with some funk on Oct. 14. See www.jazzknights.com for more information.

Chad Carter

Chad Carter appears at Vicino’s in Silver Spring Sept. 30

Bohemian Caverns features sax man Marty Nau on Tuesdays in October as artist-in-residence, starting Tuesday, Oct. 1.

The White House Historical Association presents “Piano in the White House,” produced by Burnett Thompson, a series of concerts, all beginning at 7 pm, by top-notch pianists at the Decatur House, 748 Jackson Place, NW.

The first event, “Duke Ellington in the White House,” features pianist Allyn Johnson Thursday Oct. 3, reprising Ellington’s 1969 performance for President Richard M. Nixon at the White House, with Johnson performing selections from that program, which occurred on the Duke’s 70th birthday. Succeeding programs feature Stef Scaggiari Nov. 7, Steven Beck, March 7, and Janelle Gill April 3. For more information to www.pianojazz.com.

Pianist Gill leads an all-woman band Friday Oct. 4 at Westminster Presbyterian Church from 6 to 9 pm, with Amy Shook on bass, Claire Daly, baritone sax, Savannah Harris, drums and introducing Jean Dezeme on vocals.

If you want to see and hear the “future of Cuban Music,” check out pianist Roberto Fonseca, with Timba by DJ Reyna “La Faradulera” Morales, at the Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA, at 8 pm Friday Oct. 4.

The winner of two 2013 Cubadisco awards (reportedly Cuba’s most prestigious recognition for music), Fonseca is considered “instrumental in the global renaissance of Cuban music, having toured with the Buena Vista Social Club and Rubén González, and produced albums for Asa Festoon and the late Ibrahim Ferrer,” according to Artisphere information. Fonseca’s music features a “seamless, upbeat fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms, Latin jazz, hip-hop, soul and electronica.”

For more information and for tickets and directions, go to www.artisphere.com.

In Person … Jammed-pack plaza hosts Silver Spring jazz fest

There were people along the sidewalk of Fenton Street standing and listening. There were people along the sidewalks of Ellsworth |Drive across the street also looking toward the stage. There were people teeming in the street of Ellsworth   Drive waiting in line and sitting down eating in front of the many vendors selling a variety of foods. And of course there were the thousands sitting and standing in almost every space available around the large VeteransPlaza area in front of the stage for the Silver Spring Jazz Festival last month.

This year’s version was a huge success for music listeners and festival goers who enjoy the night air and the crowds and the food and the music, with headliner Branford Marsalis but also players like Noah Haidu drawing loud and long applause from the huge gathering of folks.

Haidu (noahhaidu.com), a highly percussive pianist with a free flowing melodic touch, led a quintet that dazzled on numbers like “Momentum,” the title tune from Haidu’s most recent CD. On another number, which Haidu, who is based in Brooklyn, said was untitled so far but would be on his next recording, the group’s horn section led off with sweet staccato harmonies over Haidu’s quicksilver work on piano, before the trumpeter Alex Norris speared the evening air with some searing riffs and the tenor saxophonist Vincent Herring added hot and bluesy riffs of his own, complemented well by Steve Johns on drums and Ariel Alejandro Dip on bass.

Branford Marsalis’ group took the stage next, with the New Orleans-born Marsalis on soprano and tenor saxophone, Joey Calderazzo, piano, Justin Faulkner, percussion, and Eric Revis, bass. By this time the crowd had grown even larger, the masses overflowing the plaza area, most lounging in their own outdoor leisure chairs, others sitting on steps or benches, or just on the concrete ground, with many more standing around the perimeter enjoying the show under a deep blue moonless sky.

Marsalis showed off his vintage bebop plus fusion plus free jazz licks on saxophone, adding some funk along the way for a set that was a treat for fans of all ages and types, and drew lots of shouts and applause. Calderazzo distinguished himself with intricate solos on piano, answering Marsalis’ riffs in a musical conversation on “Teo,” a tune from Marsalis recent CD “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes,” with Faulkner a splashy, whipping force on drums and Revis a grooving, melodic presence all night on bass.

This listener first heard, and met Marsalis (branfordmarsalis.com) in the early ‘80s when he played with Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers one night at Blues Alley. Since then he has grown into one of our stalwarts as a saxophonist, composer and bandleader, always in touch with the times and often a step ahead.

Lady from Chile wows T. Monk competition

Melissa Aldana of Santiago, Chile, won the Thelonious Monk Institute 2013 Saxophone Competition, becoming the first woman instrumental winner of the 26-year event.

Aldana’s winning performance included the tune, “I Thought About You,” with the Washington Post saying she played it “with a slightly breathy tone, bouncing along in a classic swing rhythm while dashing off fast, subtle arpeggios that fell into perfect place.”

A statement by the Monk Institute said the competition and gala concert last month at the Kennedy Center “came to a close with roaring applause as first place winner Melissa Aldana traded choruses with saxophone great Jimmy Heath and joined an all-star cast in a finale featuring Heath’s classic composition ‘Gingerbread Boy.’ “

Tivon Pennicott, 27, of Marietta, Georgia; and Godwin Louis, 28, of Harlem, New York, finished second and third, respectively in the competition.  For winning the competition, Aldana won a $25,000 first place scholarship and guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group.

The festivities included the presentation to the legendary Wayne Shorter a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of “his extraordinary, six-decade career as a saxophonist, educator and composer. In the Institute’s nearly 30-year history, this is only the second time the award has been presented, the first being to Quincy Jones in 1996.”

August 2013 Blog

Salute to Dizzy at Monty Alexander fest, Thinking About Jazz, Let There Be Jazz awaits us …

 … follow @jazzavenues for updates ...

Nasar Abadey

Percussion master, composer and bandleader Nasar Abadey & Friends appear Sept. 6 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. 

A salute to Dizzy Gillespie, a Thinking About Jazz event, Monty Alexander, Bobby Muncy at Twins Jazz, EC3 at Blues Alley, Lena Seikaly at Chez Billy, Nasar Abadey at Westminster Presbyterian Church – and the opening of the Let There Be Jazz series — highlight upcoming jazz events in the area.

The Salute to Dizzy Gillespie by the Jazz All Stars is part of the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival in Easton, Md., this weekend. The festival includes a performance by the Sharel Cassity Quartet Friday night, followed by the Dizzy Gillespie salute and the master pianist and entertainer Monty Alexander Saturday, with Dee Daniels performing Sunday. For more information go to www.chesapeakejazz.org.

The Thinking About Jazz series will be held Sat. Aug. 31 at Westminster from 1 to 3 pm, spotlighting “The Wonderful World & art of Louis Armstrong,” and that night trombonist Reginald Cyntje takes his “LOVE” CD release party show to An Die Musik in Baltimore. Saxophonist Bobby Muncy performs at Twins Jazz Sunday, Sept. 1, Ernest Coleman is with his dynamic EC3 group at Blues Alley Thursday, Sept. 5, and vocalist Lena Seikaly opens the new Chez Billy jazz series Friday Sept 6 at the restaurant at 3815 Georgia Ave. N.W. in D.C. Also Friday Sept. 6, percussion master Nasar Abadey & Friends perform at Westminster, and Saturday Sept. 7 saxophonist Branford Marsalis is to appear at the Silver Spring Jazz Festival.

Also on Saturday Sept.7 the free Rosslyn Jazz Festival across the bridge features the PonchoSanchez Latin Band with guest James Carter, the Soul Rebels, Kenny Rittenhouse and Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens.

Other September highlights include saxophonist and bandleader Brad Linde serving as artist in residence on Tuesdays at Bohemian Caverns; The Thelonious Monk Institute Saxophone Competition and Gala Concert Sept. 16 at the Kennedy Center; The Wayne Shorter/National Symphony Orchestra Pops concert, featuring Esperanza Spalding Sept. 26 at the Kennedy Center; and the Transparent Productions 2013-14 jazz series opening with Roy Campbell Sept. 15 and the Vision arts and music tour events Sept. 26-27.

Will Smith

Will Smith and his W.E.S. Group perform for a BeBop/Hip-Hop show during the Let There Be Jazz series

“Let There Be Jazz”

Let There Be Jazz comes to us courtesy of East River Jazz, which is launching what it calls “a salon-style history education and performance project series” scheduled in neighborhood venues in each ward in D.C. during September.

In the series, “presenters and patrons are encouraged to partner in the development of a creative space for the continued demonstration and promotion of America’s great classical treasure:

Jazz,” according to East River Jazz information. Venues include religious institutions as well as a “senior wellness center, public library branch, cultural center, theater and art gallery/performance space.”

Karen Lovejoy

Photo by Steve Monroe

Vocalist Karen Lovejoy performing with her group earlier this year.

Presentations in September are to include one by Karen Lovejoy and The Lovejoy Group, “Global Jazz Interpretations,” a “Jazz Dance Jam” featuring Jackie Hairston’s Hammond B3 Quartet and “BeBop/Hip-Hop” with Will Smith’s W.E. S Group.

For more information go to eastriverjazz.net or call 202-396-3520.

Seikaly’s “Looking Back” a lively gem of nostalgia

Smithsonian Institution music guru John Edward Haase says in the liner notes to vocalist Lena Seikaly’s newest CD, “Looking Back,” that “As a valentine to a golden age of American songwriting and singing, Lena has chosen nearly a dozen of her favorite vintage songs, with an emphasis on material recorded by Ethel Waters, Billy Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald, but not often performed today.”

Seikaly is our homegirl vocalist who is to open the new jazz series at the French bistro restaurant Chez Billy Sept. 6, and has been a mainstay at elegant venues like the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and elsewhere.

On “Looking Back,” she has truly honored these legendary icons of the music and master songwriters like George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Irving Berlin with some entertaining romantic melancholia and bluesy sassiness on “Looking Back.” Her trademark elegant, empathetic and always swinging phrasing enlivens tunes like “Fascinating Rhythm” with a playful air, then she becomes haunting and poignant with her lament on “Foolin’ Myself,” then brash and insistent on “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.”

Leah Appel

Photo by Leah Appel

Seikaly is supported very ably by Chris Grasso on piano, Paul Pieper, guitar, Zack Pride on bass and the venerable Lenny Robinson on drums. Grasso compliments her with his vintage melodic touch especially on tunes like “I Cover the Waterfront,” with Pride underneath gently driving the classic groove. Robinson whips the tempo on “Fascinating Rhythm and “After You’ve Gone” – which has Pieper’s incisive guitar as an added highlight — and is snappy and crisp on “Nobody’s Baby.”

Seikaly delivers some of her best work on “Supper Time,” originally written by Berlin for Ethel Waters. Seikaly does a dramatic turn with stark, bluesy and appropriately downcast tones and it becomes an impressive reading — even before this reader learned the full back story of the song’s creation. Look it up when you get the chance.

Mora-Catlett, Rosewoman CDs fire up world music winners

Lovers of world music have some new recordings to sample from eclectic percussionist composer Francisco Mora-Catlett and AfroHorn on “Rare Metal,” and pianist/vocalist/composer Michele Rosewoman new CD, “New Yor-uba.”

AfroHorn is the band conceived by Mora-Catlett, born of Mexican and African-American parentage, “in Sun Ra’s home, during tenure with the Arkestra in the late 1970s,” says the publicity information. Fittingly, this descendant recording of the influence of the visionary pioneer Sun Ra, is a wide ranging journey of sound that connects “avant-garde jazz to Cuban folklore, African mysticism and Latin American surrealism.”

Besides all that, the AACE Records work is a fascinating, pleasing and inspiring listen and is one of those discs on which it is hard to pinpoint a highlight because the whole is more of a seamless exploration than just a collection of tunes. The winding “Baruasuayo Mamakenya” is admittedly noteworthy in itself, with hornmen like Sam Newsome, soprano sax, Salim Washington, tenor sax and Alex Harding, baritone sax and bass clarinet leading brightly soaring melodies over pulsating percussion led by Mora-Catlett and Andrew Daniels.

Pianist Aruan Ortiz and Rashaan Carter on bass provide vibrant melodies and grooves throughout the recording, and several tunes feature the ethnic vocals of Sandra D. Harper, Danys “La Mora” Perez, Meredith Wright and Liethis Hechavarria. “Salina Ago,” “Blue People” and “Yeye Olude” are other richly woven tunes on the disc. For more information see franciscomoracatlett.com.

Speaking of journeys, Rosewoman’s two-disc “New Yor-uba” on the Advance Dance Disques label is termed “30 years: A musical celebration of Cuba in America,” reflecting on her pioneering 14-piece New Yor-Uba ensemble that debuted in 1983. The album features Rosewoman on keyboards and vocals, the legendary Oliver Lake on soprano, alto saxophone and flute, Freddie Hendrix, trumpet and flugelhorn, Yunior Terry, bass, Adam Cruz, drums and Pedrito Martinez, lead vocals, among others.

Rosewoman, a sparkling delight on piano on “Dance for Agayu,” and the entrancing “Por Ahora Y Para Siempre,” for example, also highlights tunes like “Divine Passage” with her fine vocal work. “Earth Secrets,” “Where Water Meets Sky” and “Old Calabar,” among others, also serve to highlight her whole ensemble of first-rate artists.

According to information from publicist Kim Smith, Rosewoman “first became directly involved in African folkways in her teens via Cuban music when she began playing congas and percussion.” And Rosewoman says, “I saw parallels between the subtle and sophisticated rhythmic and harmonic aspects of jazz and the highly evolved rhythmic and vocal language of both rumba and bata traditions …”

Highly rhythmic and multi-colored, multi-ethnic and just plain highly enjoyable is the result. See michelerosewoman.com for more information.

August comes alive with Allyn Johnson at Caverns, Wayne Shorter tributes

… for updates see @jazzavenues…

Paul Carr

Saxophonist Paul Carr performs in tribute to Wayne Shorter in August at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

August comes alive this weekend at Bohemian Caverns with Allyn Johnson and Sonic Sanctuary. Johnson, the maestro of the University of the District   of Columbia’s jazz studies program and an accomplished pianist and bandleader in his own right,

August is also a month for tributes, with a couple of Wayne Shorter tributes in honor of the saxophonist and composer’s 80th birthday in August. The first Shorter tribute is Saturday, 8p.m., Aug. 3 at The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda with Wallace Roney and David Weiss.

As the Strathmore publicity states, “Jazz critic Ben Ratliff of The New York Times has described Shorter as ‘jazz’s greatest living small-group composer and a contender for greatest living improviser.’ Many of Shorter’s compositions have become jazz standards and his output has earned worldwide recognition, including multiple Grammy Awards.”

At the Music Center at Strathmore bandleaders a two-part concert will showcase Shorter’s works with a group led by Roney and his 23-piece orchestra performing three previously unperformed works by Shorter, and Weiss’ 12-piece Endangered Species band playing familiar Shorter compositions. Go to www.strathmore.org or call 301-581-1000 for more information.

Then later in the month our own saxophonist and bandleader Paul Carr heads a tribute for Shorter Aug. 23 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, with Warren Wolf, vibes, Allyn Johnson, piano, Herm Burney, bass and Harold Summey, drums.

Nina Simone gets a tribute in August also, with vocalist Akua Allrich honoring the deeply soulful, eclectic, socially aware Simone Aug. 24-25 at the Caverns.

Baltimore’s own Craig Alston comes to the Caverns Aug. 9-10. Alston, who played a fine set during the DC Jazz Festival at the SmithsonianAnacostiaMuseum, is a tenor saxophonist with a knack for fashioning vintage versions of standards with his band,

Other highlights in August include the CapitalBop.com vintage jazz and wine festival Aug. 24 at the Fairgrounds performance space near NationalsPark, featuring Rafiq Bhatia, The Funk Ark, Donvonte McCoy, Heidi Martin, Christie Dashiell, Todd Marcus, Tarus Mateen and Kris Funn & Corner Store (capitalbop.com).

A final note, speaking of tributes, especially for piano lovers, how about a shout out for Aug. 16 – the birthday of three greats, Oscar Peterson, Mal Waldron and Bill Evans!

AND…THIS JUST IN … Vocalist Karen Lovejoy with the Lovejoy Group Thursdays in August, starting Aug. 1 at Dawson’s Market in Rockville Town Square, 6:30 to 8:30, in the Wine Down Music and Wine Series … see rockvilletownsquare.com for details.

Akua Allrich

Vocalist Akua Allrich performs in tribute to Nina Simone Aug. 24-25 at Bohemian Caverns.

“LOVE” CD party at Twins Jazz

The D.C. unveiling of trombonist Reginald Cyntje’s “LOVE” CD is set for Aug. 9-10 at Twins Jazz (twinsjazz.com), with good reviews already in for the recording (see reginaldcyntje.com) and with a sparkling CD release show performed by his band at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club last month. Cyntje, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts graduate, has a winner in “LOVE,” a worthy follow up to his debut CD a couple of years ago, “Freedom’s Children.”
At Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, a spacious venue that could have had lots more folks enjoying the good music, Cyntje led his group through some hot and elegantly jamming numbers, including  his own “Faith” and “Peace” tunes from the “LOVE album as well as “Giant Steps” and “Cherokee” and more.

Cyntje, pianist Allyn Johnson, drummer Amin Gumbs, saxman Paul Carr, bassist Herman Burney, vocalist Christie Dashiell all sparkled with individual solos. Dashiell vocals on “Cherokee” kicked it off sweetly, and saxman Carr’s riffs and Cyntje’s licks kept the number grooving high.

Another CD release show in August features vocalist Coniece Washington’s CD release party Aug. 16 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. The New Jersey-raised Washington will perform songs from her debut CD of straight ahead jazz standards, “Love Changes,” with Vince Evans on piano, Jeff Neal, drums, James King, bass and Elijah Balbed, saxophone.

Reginald Cyntje

Trombonist, bandleader Reginald Cyntje

Transparent Productions 2013-14 Season

Bobby Hill Jr. has announced details on the upcoming season for the Transparent Productions jazz series.

Highlights include the September Vision Music  & Dance / on tour, October’s presentation of Kevin Norton’s Breakfast of Champignon(s), November’s presentation of Taylor Ho Bynum’s Sextet, and a special March month of Women’s History Month performances.

The series begins Sunday, September 15 with The Roy Campbell Quartet at Bohemian Caverns, featuring Campbell on trumpet, Hill Green, bass, Michael Wimberly, drums and Bryan Carrot, vibes. Then the Vision Music & Dance /on tour, a special project by Transparent Productions, The Atlas, and Union & Arts Manufacturing comes to D.C. Sept. 26-27.

The show “presents the heart of the NY-based Vision Festival’s manifestation of ideology and aesthetics as deeply shared by festival founder and dancer Patricia

Nicholson Parker, and bassist William Parker.  This project shares their transformative art and ideas with our area communities,” says Hill.

The Patricia Nicholson Parker & William Parker Duet on Sept. 26 features dance, voice and words by Patricia Nicholson Parker, as well as bass, donsonghoni and shakuhachi music by William Parker, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street (atlasarts.org).

On the 27th will be a Patricia Nicholson Parker & William Parker Workshop & Workshop Performance, including collaboration with local artists, at Union & Arts Manufacturing, 411 New York Ave.   NE.  Dancers and musicians are encouraged to attend.

Says Hill, “the 6PM open dancers and musician’s workshop is followed by a 9PM performance of the workshop participants.  The performances will be a structured improvisation utilizing words, (spoken or sung), movements and tonal structures.  The essential theme of this workshop and performance is that through art and a reverence for life and all that is creative, we can create a world where Peace becomes possible.”

See  www.transparentproductionsdc.org for complete details on the upcoming Transparent Productions season.

Buck Hill Day a jamming tribute

Speaking of special tributes, thanks again from all of us Buck Hill fans to those who made the Roger”Buck”Hill tribute June 30 a star-studded event and a great day of music for the large crowd that gathered at Queen’s ChapelUnitedMethodistChurch in Beltsville, Md.

The Buck Hill Tribute Band — Davey Yarborough, sax, Michael Thomas, trumpet, Jon Ozment, piano, James “Tex” King, bass, Keith Killgo, drums — led the way with a jamming set  featuring Hill originals, including “Jasing,” “The Sad Ones,” “Scope” and “Little Bossa.”

As King pointed out, Hill’s tune “The Sad Ones” is one of his tunes that ranks with any tune by anyone, and King played it lovingly, driving the haunting melody with his throbbing, lyrical lines. Known for his golden saxophone sound and witty and lyrically fascinating riffs and solos, it was appropriate that the tribute highlighted the complete musician Hill has been and remains.

Glowing, heartfelt tributes were made by many for Hill, seated in the front pew of the beautiful, two-year-old church, and dressed to the nines in a bright blue dress shirt, tie and black suspenders that had little silver saxophones on them on each side.

Tributes came from family members and from long distance from those like saxophone guru Andrew White, drummer Billy Hart, Lenny Cujoe, Bootsie Barnes and Ted Carter, all praising Hill’s humble nature and his willingness to mentor and help other musicians and his work ethic that helped him become an icon in the industry for his dynamic saxophone stylings.

Proclamations were read from Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, and artists and others on site also honored Hill fondly, with remarks from those including King, Ozment, Killgo, Yarborough and Thomas, as well as W.A. “Bill” Brower, Nasar Abadey, Chad Carter and many others.

Other artists honored Hill with their playing in the jam session that lasted well into the evening, with a special heartfelt number done by vocalist Sharon Clark, “I’ll Remember April,” particularly capturing the essence of the day.

Clark’s stirring vocals, and those of Julian Hipkins and Selena McDay were supported well by other musicians who came for the jam session, like pianist Darius Scott, saxophonists Antonio Parker and Frankie Addison and Whit Williams, drummer Gary Jenkins, saxophone master Fred Foss and guitarist Mark Mosley, and bassists Herman Burney and David Jernigan, among others.

Thanks to Cheyney and Tonya Thomas, Undaunted Productions, Queen’s ChapelUnitedMethodistChurch and its Rev. B. Kevin Smalls, Rusty Hassan and Ellen Carter of WPFW Pacifica Radio, and everyone who had a hand in making the Roger”Buck”Hill Tribute a warm and memorable day.

Roger Buck Hill

Caption—D.C. saxophone legend and composer Roger “Buck” Hill was honored in fine form last month in Beltsville.

A tribute to Buck Hill, Transparent Productions jazz on tap

Special Buck Hill Tribute Sunday, June 30

Among the “must see” events of this summer’s jazz offerings is the Roger“Buck”Hill tribute concert at 3:00, Sunday June 30 at Queen’s Chapel United Methodist Church (301-210-9038), 7410 Old Muirkirk   Rd, Beltsville, MD.
“There is no charge for the concert,” says the publicity for the event, brought to us by the church, and Rev. B. Kevin Smalls, pastor, and Undaunted Productions. “Just show up and hope you can get a seat. A Love Offering will be collected with proceeds benefiting the Buck Hill Jazz Scholarship.”

Scheduled performers for the event include Hill, Davey YarboroughKeith KillgoSharon Clark, Michael T.A.ThomasNasar Abadey, Jon Ozment and Cheyney Thomas.

Our own legendary saxophonist, and clarinetist, Hill has recorded several albums of his own over the years and played and recorded with artists like Sonny Stitt, Shirley Horn, Charlie Byrd, Miles Davis, and Cannonball Adderly.

Pianist Ozment and bassist Thomas played on one of Hill’s most recordings, “Uh Huh! Buck Hill Live at Montpelier!” The 2000 Jazzmont Records recording from a performance at the MontpelierCulturalArtsCenter in Laurel, Md., features all originals by Hill and is a good disc to hear Hill stretch out with his vintage golden tenor sound, spinning wry, witty and bluesy lines on his up-tempo solos, as on “Instant.” On ballads, and Hill has drawn acclaim as one of the music’s finest on those tunes, such as his ”You Don’t Know Me Like You Think You Do,” he fashions a thick weave of melancholia in the air just above the audience’s heads.
Catch one of the all-time greats if you can Sunday. Food and beverages are to be available for purchase at 1:30 p.m.

MOM2, Trio (000) close Transparent Productions season

On a warm Sunday evening in late June near the corner of 11th and U Streets Northwest in D.C. patrons gathered quietly downstairs at Bohemian Caverns and soon the twanging, searing guitar sounds began filling the dimly lit room, the twanging, searing guitar sounds coming from through the speakers from the laptop guitarist Jean Paul Bourelly was fiddling with. It was a way of introduction by Bourelly to the night of Revolutionary Music, and a salute to June as Black Music Month by Bobby Hill’s Transparent Productions.

From there Bourelly joined in on his own guitar for some serious spacey twanging, and then soulful, rhythmic twanging – sometimes evoking Jimi Hendrix Experience moments for this listener — and he spoke above the music sometimes of the late guitarist Pete Cosey, a Chicago blues legend.

From there the music, with reed man Ernest Khabeer Dawkins and later drummer Nasar Abadey joining in, coursed a journey honoring Cosey and Chicago music and saxophonist Fred Anderson of Chicago, a journey of scintillating guitar and honking, squealing, ripping riffs from saxophones and also poetry from Hill, all with a soulful rhythmic and soul music lyrics and soulful beats underneath.

More revolutionary, and boundless, but accessible to open ears music is promised Sunday, June 30th at the Caverns as Transparent Productions closes its 2012-13 season with sets featuring MOM2, at 7 p.m. and Trio (000) at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 advance and $20 at the door.

For more information call 202-290-0800. See www.transparentproductionsdc.org or www.bohemiancaverns.com.

“This is the second and final Sunday that we’ve chosen to celebrate African-American Music Appreciaition month,” says Bobby Hill Jr. of Transparent Productions. “This Sunday we celebrate new sound recombinants; improvising sounscape generator MOM2 … and freestyle jazz trio TRIO(000) … we’ve been at this for 16 years and there have been many great seasons, which includes this one.”

MOM2, “a creative experimental trio,” is Thomas Stanley/synthesis, Efx, Luke Stewart/MPC, 6-string guitar, Bobby Hill/record players and Lewis “Flip” Barnes, trumpet, Efx, real-time arrangements

TRIO (OOO) consists of Luke Stewart/bass, Aaron Martin/reeds, flute, Warren G. Cruddop, III/drums, and freestyle verse by Sub Z.

Last Sunday night with Bourelly doing his electronic and acoustic melding of blues rock jazz riffs, listeners were transported to their own world of musical genre.

Dawkins, a Chicago man himself, blew hard and long with pulsating lines of fire, with Abadey urgently pushing the music along himself with whipping rolls and splashing cymbals, accelerating with Bourelly and Dawkins when called for and gently laying back to a whisper when appropriate.

Hot and roaring and screaming at times, at times recalling for this listener James Brown and the Famous Flames, the group melded genres, crossed boundaries and created a vibrant wall of sound, a cocoon of music of its own genre in the Caverns’ basement setting.

Hill said of the 2013-14 Transparent Productions series, ” Our next season, which begins in September seems bright so far too.” Next season, according to Hill, is to include performances by trumpeter Roy Campbell’s Quaret, Iqua & Steve Colson Quartet, Kevin Norton’s Breakfast of Champignons, Esther Noh, Taylor Ho bynum and the Tracie Morris Group.

And right around the corner/Coming in early JULY…

Saxman Paul Carr plays the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club July 2 with special guest Akiko Tsuruga, the organist from Osaka, Japan, who has now been a “mainstay” in the New York jazz scene since 2001 and played some hot sets for Carr at his Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in Rockville in February. See paulcarrjazz.com or bethesdabluesjazz.com for more information.

Paul Carr

Paul Carr 

Also in early July, Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra plays July 3 at Blues Alley, Elijah Balbed and Fred Foss July 5 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and Shirletta Settles sings at Vicino’s in Silver Spring July 8 (www.jazzknights.com).

Heidi Martin and Moon in Scorpio, heard on H Street N.E. during the DC Jazz Festival, are artists in residence on Tuesdays in July at Bohemian Caverns. (www.bohemiancaverns.com).

DCJF: Connecting jazz, hip hop and more

One morning in early June a large group of youth gathered in the auditorium at THEARC on Mississippi Avenue in Southeast D.C. to listen and learn and enjoy jazz and hip hop.

Courtesy of the DC Jazz Festival’s opening day event, Jazz meets Hi-Hop, with saxophonist/educator Dr. William E. Smith, DJ RBI, “Baye “Straightforward” Harrell, and musicians Eric Wheeler, bass, Nathan Jolley drums and Noble Jolley, piano, the youth participated themselves, with call and response and their own comments and rapping, in an interactive forum on the roots of jazz and hip hop, how they are connected and the elements of swing, improvisation and blues that link both genres.

Smith’s upbeat, positive message for the day began with him getting the youth to repeat, “We don’t need nothing else, but health, wealth and knowledge of our self.” Then he had them clap along to the message, with him and the group, repeating “We don’t need nothing else, but health, wealth and knowledge of our self.” Then he began talking about the music, and had the group repeat the elements of the music for the day, “swing, improvisation and blues.”

Will Smith

Dr. William E. Smith

Smith & Co. examined the beat structure in hip hop and soul and jazz, the essence of improvisation in jazz, called freestyle in rap and hip hop, and along the way invoked Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, as well as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Quincy Jones, Nina Simone, Michael Jackson and Grand Master Flash, Tupac Shakur, Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force (remembering “Planet Rock”), Will Smith (remembering his “Summertime” rap hit), Ludacris and KRS-One, to the delight of the kids who frequently clapped and sang along.

Smith, now an adjunct instructor in the music department at HowardUniversity, is a specialist in ethnomusicology and has written and lectured on jazz and hip hop for many years. He has led his W.E.S. Group in performance and produced several recordings as well, most recently his 2012 release “The Story of Humanity.”

Other festival highlights included that opening night when our eclectic homeboy pianist Marc Cary entertained a large crowd at Bohemian Caverns with a solo piano tribute to Abbey Lincoln, featuring tunes from his new “For Love of Abbey” CD.

Cary, who played with Lincoln and told the audience of his admiration and respect for her and love of her singing, delivered a rich tapestry of piano melodies evoking the colors and intonations of Lincoln’s singing (this listener was fortunate to catch her at a Greenwich Village nightspot many moons ago), with Lincoln tunes like “Down Here Below,” “Keep Your Hand Wide Open” and “Music is the Magic” among others.

The alternately gentle, mystical ripples of Cary’s piano giving way to a rushing, cascading stream created a warm evening for the audience, all certainly becoming entranced in remembrance as the night wore on.

Another East of the river jazz festival event featured Baltimore saxophonist Craig Alston at the SmithsonianAnacostiaMuseum where an overflow crowd gathered to hear his group, with Eric Wheeler on bass, Eric Kennedy, drums and Alan Blackman, keyboards, playing a rollicking “Blue Bossa” and other tunes.

Founder and executive producer Charlie Fishman’s ninth DC Jazz Festival extravaganza again featured a cosmopolitan blend of music with masters like Roy Haynes, Paquito D’Rivera, Lee Konitz, Pharoah Sanders, John McLaughlin and others. One informative event had percussionist and bandleader Abadey holding forth for a discussion moderated by scholar and poet E. Ethelbert Miller and then a performance at the HillCenter.

Abadey ruminated on the elements of jazz and jazz drumming of the keys to listening to the music, before assembling behind his drum set with bassist James King and keyboardist Mark Meadows for some adventurous explorations on several standards. King, able to space out and often taking the lead melody role in the hornless trio, dug deep on his bass for some grooving high, bluesy lines on “Green Dolphin Street” and then “Straight No Chaser,” with Abadey and Meadows providing fine support. King then gave a seminar of his own on “Body and Soul” with bright and urgent notes and interplaying chords with Meadows on keyboards with Abadey pushing the standard along and accenting with crisp rolls and popping cymbals.

Bassist King, one of the D.C. area resident masters, said of  the festival’s ninth year, “As a musician I think it is a great thing, because it employs quite a few musicians from other places and musicians and artists who live here in town, so a lot of guys here get a chance to eat off of that cheese, and then it presents opportunities to make presentations [musicians] don’t normally get, so guys get a chance to stretch out, it is more of an artistic environment, and so guys get a chance to be seen doing different things. And the festival has moved to different sites and expanded, so it’s a great thing and it continues its success.”

He said, of the festival’s events across the Anacostia River and in other [not-so-normal] venues, “I think it’s a good thing, you need to spread it out, and bring the word, and spread it to all four corners of the city,” and he said the response “has been great … every place we have played it’s always been a good response.” King added, “I think it’s a great idea to include the other areas that haven’t been included before … so if they can continue to keep things spreading around that’s the way it will become bigger and bigger and more people will become exposed to it, and see how many converts we can have in this church, and the church can grow.” And he smiled, “The jazz church.”

Providing a window on the music and the audiences of jazz to come, genre crossing and boundary pushing was featured at the CapitalBop.com events during the festival, with fusion and edgy, free jazz and jazz rock flavors pushing to the front in front of decidedly younger audiences.

Anthony Pirog’s group led the way one night at a jazz loft event on New York Avenue N.E., with edgy, horn blasting, guitar searing sounds, rumbling, roaring bass guitar sounds, cowbells and singing cello sounds, and pounding drums, before veterans Joe McPhee and Peter Brotzman took over in front of a packed, standing-room only crowd.

Brotzman began with loud, brassy, soaring riffs on clarinet, then McPhee answered with spurting trumpet melodies, before Brotzman softens and McPhee’s trumpet begins blaring, with squeaks and squeals, then Brotzman comes back with honkish flurries on clarinet, before switching to alto sax with blues chords, more squeaks and honks, and growls and McPhee now on tenor sax answering with sonorous shouts of his own. Back and forth they went answering each other with bluesy, furious riffs, shouts and squawks and screams, blending urgent, rushing harmonies into softer, more melancholy moods, long into the night, with a rhythm all their own.

Vicino’s 10th Anniversary “A Great Day in Silver Spring …”

Chad Carter

Chad Carter

Chad Carter and family indeed had a “great day” June 10 for Jazz at Vicino’s 10th anniversary, celebrated at the restaurant in Silver Spring with a host of musicians and friends.

Trumpeter DeAndrey Howard’s sweet sounds on “I Remember You” highlighted Jazz at Vicino’s 10th anniversary party that Monday night; Guitarist David Cole’s soulful chords and saxophonist Paul Carr’s bluesy “Sugar” were also hits; Chad Carter’s swinging “In a Mellow Tone” led the vocalists, who included Bonnie Harris and Janine Gilbert-Carter, and bassist Wes Biles, pianist Vince Smith’s floating melodies, and Ron Compton on drums helped make it a jamming party for the time this listener was there.
As Carter said on Facebook, “WE truly had a BALL YALL!!!! A great big THANK YOU to everyone who came out to Vicino’s that night to celebrate with us!”

Carter thanked those who made the event memorable, including thank you’s to: “…  Paul Carr, Bonnie Harris, Kim Mills, Cheryl Ann Jones, Janine Gilbert-Carter, Julian Hipkins, Sharon Clark Mevaa, Gwen A. Flemming, Anita King, Mycah Chevalier, Joseph Brotherton, Michael Thomas, Cheyney Thomas, Kent Miller, Ian Dylan, Barbara Walker, Shirleta Settles, Ernie Douglass, Jean Walker, Ted Carter Sr. (Dad), Elaine Carter (Mom), John Eshun and the staff at Vicino’s.”

Carter also thanked WPFW 89.3 radio and programmers and supporters Robyn Holden and Carol Tyson in particular for exposure and support.

And Carter said, “It was also very gratifying to have the guys back who kicked off the first season at Vicino’s with me … Vince Smith, DeAndrey Howard, David Cole, Ron Compton, and Wes Biles.”

What we need more of — “LOVE”

While there may seem to be moments of a bygone era and a feeling of “been here, heard this” call for what-the-world-needs-now-is-love mantra, with song titles that include “Love,” “Hope” “Faith” and “Peace,”  the new “LOVE” CD by trombonist and composer Reginald Cyntje has many other moments of vitality and 21st century grit.

For example “Faith,” with the spoken word of Lasana Mack and vocalese of Christie Dashiell, over the whistling percussion of Tosin Aribisala. bright accents of Victor Provost on steel pan and rippling lyricism of pianist Allyn Johnson becomes an urgently rocking rap.

“Determination,” features trombonist Cyntje and steel pan maestro Victor Provost harmonizing the intro melody, with percussionist Aribisala and pianist Johnson then taking over before Cyntje comes back with a subtly roaring solo. “Respect” is an up-tempo romp that serves to showcase Provost again, as well as Johnson’s touch and articulation, and Todd Marcus’ bass clarinet riffs.

Bassist Herman Burney, a driving, bluesy force, on the melody for “Peace,” highlights his playing on the CD as a grooving, melodic force throughout. Burney, Dashiell, Mack and Heidi Martin, with their vocal work, interpreting the original songs and poetry by Cyntje, Johnson, University of the District of Columbia’s jazz studies maestro, drummer Amin Gumbs, Provost on steel pan, Aribisala on percussion and Marcus all do Cyntje’s compositions true justice.

“At the core of each of us, there is Beauty,” says Cyntje in the album’s liner notes. “The beauty within is unique. Our ‘imperfections’ make us beautiful. Listen as waves of energy flow from one musician to the next representing the energy we receive from the sun that creates a path with beauty all around us.”