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“Music paints pictures that only the mind’s eye can see”
Lafayette Gilchrist plays the art of the piano
at the Arts Club of Washington Nov. 3.
Sun Ra Fest, Todd Marcus, Lafayette Gilchrist
jam our way from October into November
The stars are aligned for a jamming end to October, with the Sun Ra Fest beginning tonight, Oct. 31, with a show at the Lincoln Theatre and continuing Saturday and Sunday. The Todd Marcus Orchestra begins a big weekend of its own with a show at An Die Musik in Baltimore tonight and after journeying up the coast for shows in New Jersey and New York, plays D.C. Monday night — the same night, Nov. 3, that his fellow Baltimore luminary Lafayette Gilchrist plays the Arts Club of Washington in the Art of the Piano series in downtown D.C.
CapitalBop is a co-presenter of the “Along Came Ra” festival, along with Transparent Productions and JBV Productions in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the arrival in our plane of existence of the great Sun Ra, the multi-dimensional musician, bandleader, philosopher and visionary – who was avant garde before avant garde.
The Sun Ra Arkestra, under the direction of Marshall Allen, plays Friday night for the “Cosmic Spectacle and Concert.” Now under the direction of longtime Ra collaborator Marshall Allen, the large orchestra moves swiftly from swinging jazz à la Ra’s mid-century Chicago years to free and funk-lit excursions. The band will be joined by the keyboard great and Parliament veteran Bernie Worrell, himself a Sun Ra devotee and inheritor of his Afro-futurist mantel. will appear with special guest Bernie Worrell at the Lincoln Theatre for an 8 p.m. concert (tickets $20, free for children in costume), “preceded at 6 p.m. by a Cosmic Costume contest/happening/pep rally in the parking lot, according to information from Bobby Hill Jr. of Transparent Productions, and alleys behind the theater. There, DJs are to mix from Ra’s vast discography of big band, electronic, and free jazz, while painters and graffiti artists render live interpretations of the eccentric jazzman’s visage and while children, parents, and All Saints’ Eve revelers enjoy the magical aura of [Sun Ra].”
photo/Gary Young Photograph
Todd Marcus plays with his orchestra in Baltimore
at An Die Musik Oct. 31 and in D.C. at
St. Marks Presbyterian Church Nov. 3
Meanwhile Marcus leads his orchestra in Baltimore Friday night, in a special CD release concert for his newest album, “Blues for Tahrir,” which sets Egypt’s Arab Spring movement to music in a fusion of jazz with Middle Eastern influences, and will bring the music of the new CD to D.C. at St. Marks Presbyterian Church in Rockville, Md., Monday night Nov. 3.
Saturday, Nov 1 the Sun Ra Fest continues with a panel discussion at 2pm at the Pop Up Ra Gallery, 1931 12th Street N.W. featuring Arkestra members and others, moderated by GMU Professor Dr. Thomas Stanley, author of the recently published Execution of Sun Ra*. In the closing event of the festival Sunday, Nov. 2, the Burnt Sugar Arkestra will bring its “ecstatic meld of Afro-futurism, absurdist groove and spontaneous togetherness” to Liv Nightclub (upstairs from Bohemian Caverns). The avant-garde trio OOO opens, with the band including Aaron Martin on saxophone, Sam Lohman, drums and Luke Stewart, bass. See http://www.capitalbop.com for more information on the Sun Ra doings.
Elsewhere this weekend, the Phil Butts Big Band is at Westminster Presbyterian Church tonight, Oct. 31. Sunday, Nov. 2, the Baltimore Chamber Jazz Society kicks off its season with a show featuring the Rufus Reid Quintet. Bassist, composer and bandleader Reid, whose album “Quiet Pride – The Elizabeth Catlett Project” celebrates the famous sculptor’s works, is to appear with his quintet, including Steve Allee, piano, Duduka Da Fonseca, drums, Freddie Hendrix, trumpet and Baltimore legend Gary Bartz, alto saxophone. See http://www.rufusreid.com or http://www.baltimorechamberjazz.com for more information.
The Lafayette Gilchrist show Monday Nov. 3 is at 7 p.m. at the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I Street N.W. The Piano Jazz at the Arts Club series, produced by Burnett Thompson, focuses on “innovation in modern jazz piano.”
Gilchrist, a D.C. native, has been a fountain of intriguing, provocative sounds on piano, either solo or in ensemble formats. Seewww.pianojazz.com for more information.
In other highlights for early November, the Hill Center Jazz Ensemble appears Nov. 5 at the Hill Center on Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. (www.hillcenterdc.org), led by acclaimed young drummer Sana Kadoura. Termed a “mainstay of the New York jazz scene” where she leads the Sanah Kadoura Quarchestra, she has appeared at the Harlem Stage and the Saratoga Jazz Festival and is frequently heard at Smalls and Fat Cat in NYC. Songbird Sharon Clark, fresh from a tour in Sweden, appears with Chris Grasso, piano, Zack Pride, bass and Lenny Robinson, drums, at The Carlyle Club in Alexandria, Va. Nov. 6 – call 703-548-5953. The Larry Brown Quintet is at 49 West in Annapolis Nov. 8. And Tuesdays in November beginning Nov. 4 at Bohemian Caverns check out our own vocalist extraordinaire and Washington DC Jazz Network web impresario supreme, George V. Johnson Jr.!
Sharon Clark appears at The Carlyle
in Alexandria, Va. Nov. 6
On Nov. 9, WPFW programmer Rusty Hassan presents “The Jazz Giants of Washington” at the Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel. Among those to be discussed, besides the imminent Duke Ellington, are Billy Taylor, Charlie Rouse, Buck Hill and Shirley Horn.
Taylor, who passed into ancestry just a few years ago, was mentioned in the book “Jazz — The First Century,” edited by John Edward Hasse, our distinguished Smithsonian Institution historian, published by William Morrow (2000). Larry Appelbaum, also a WPFW programmer and historian, in a section called “Jazz on Television,” says:
“Pianist Billy Taylor became a mainstay jazz figure on TV, from his musical-directorship of NET’s first jazz series, The Subject Is Jazz, in 1958, to his ongoing role as arts correspondent for CBS’s Sunday Morning.”
For more information call the Montpelier Arts Center at 301-377-7800.
Also on Nov. 9, the Buster Williams Quartet is at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.
Transparent Productions returns with a show at Bohemian Caverns Nov. 16, featuring Mario Pavone’s Pulse Quintet, including D.C.’s own innovative saxophonist Brian Settles. See http://www.transparentsproductionsdc.org or http://www.bohemiancaverns.com for more information.
Honoring Idris Muhammad
Charles “Rahmat Shabazz” Woods, the noted D.C. area-based saxophonist, flutist, bandleader and composer known for his expertise in a wide range of genres, has a special show coming up at Vicino’s in Silver Spring.
Brought to you by vocalist and impresario Chad Carter, Monday Night at Vicino’s Nov. 17 features the Charles Rahmat Woods Quartet Plus performing a “Tribute to Idris Muhammad” from 7 to 9 pm.
Charles “Rahmat Shabazz” Woods
Woods, playing sax and flute, is to have Derek Gasque, piano, Eliot Seppa, bass, Kevin Atkins, drums and Harun Akbar, tenor sax for the show. They are to explore music written and performed by the late great New Orleans native drummer Muhammad, whose birthday is Nov. 12 and who as Woods says, is well known for his broad inclusive approach, from “funk to swing.”
Vicino’s is at 959 Sligo Avenue in Silver Spring. Call (240)704-9916 or (202)670-0095 or go towww.jazzknights.com. Advance tickets are $20 and space is limited.
InReview … Orbert Davis, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, “Sketches of Spain” [Revisited]
In considering these kinds of treatments, here a reprise of the landmark 1960 Miles Davis/Gil Evans “Sketches of Spain” recording, maybe the best part of honoring a classic work with a revisit and a tweak is it will cause many – hopefully hundreds, or thousands – of those new to what is called jazz to research and buy the original work, discover music they never knew existed and then delve into it on their own. The other best part is that in this type of classical/jazz project, it encourages some of those formerly content in their own genre to sample even more of the other genre, making richer and more widespread the appreciation for the finer points of each art form. (For example, this once novice listener, then strictly a small group “pure” jazz person, thought the Davis/Evans original a bit too “big band-ish” and what was all this classical stuff doing in a jazz record anyway?)
So Orbert Davis, master trumpeter, bandleader, innovator and educator, has succeeded with his “Sketches of Spain” [Revisited] by his Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble on the 316 Records label, for those of us concerned about spreading the legacy of the art forms, even before dissecting this singular accomplishment.
But forget dissection here. His work, including his own perspective and coloring of the anchor piece, “Concerto de Aranjuez” by Joaquin Rodrigo, lays bare and open, a straightforward, dignified sweeping, spatial panorama, accented in tasteful, fiery spurts by his trumpet, and is what it is — a fine frame. A frame including subtly sprinkling piano, complimenting horns and strings along the way, and finely textured orchestration overall, for the painter’s brushwork that follows.
His superb tweaking includes subbing his own compositions, “Muerte Del Matador,” “El Moreno” and “El Albacin,” for original tunes on the Davis/Evans album, but keeping “Solea.”
“Muerte Del Matador” seems to flow nicely from the concerto and despite its theme, seems to honor our matador in death for his bravery, not lament his passing in too somber a fashion. “El Moreno” steps smartly behind Orbert Davis’ trumpet and the other horns, the percussion throughout crisply driving. Singing strings carry the way on “El Albacin,” sections echoing and answering each other in spirited conversation, serving as a deft respite, an oasis. Then “Solea,” returns us to the original work, Orbert Davis’ searing and then soothing trumpet lines guiding the way, with the percussion marching swiftly behind, leading us over the open plain back the way we came.
InReview … Brian Lynch, Emmet Cohen have the “answer”
For a “sax” man at the core like myself to include reviews of two trumpet-based recordings back to back is not normal. But things happen. Having heard Brian Lynch once live, curiosity took over when this arrived, and surely a brief listen would do.
Wrong. Put it in the car CD player and couldn’t take it out.
Lynch and pianist Emmet Cohen’s “Questioned Answer” CD, featuring bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Billy Hart, on the Hollistic Masterworks label, combines sessions with Lynch and Cohen as a duo, with sessions adding Kozlov and Hart.
The veteran Lynch, a professor at the University of Miami, said the CD resulted after he longed to record with Cohen, a former UM student, after he heard Cohen when both were on a jazz cruise.
The players seem so attuned to each other that after a few listenings, it is hard to try to remember which ones just have trumpet and piano and which have the whole group. The CD colors blend so well and Lynch and Cohen as a duo seem to evoke more instruments – as they do on Sammy Cahn’s “Just In Time,” and the Irving Berlin favorite “How Deep is The Ocean,” Lynch dashing out front with the colorful melody over Cohen’s softer rumbles and ripples, Cohen then taking over with a two-handed multiple colored soliloquy before Lynch returns darting and spurting along, up and down and across the scales, repeating, and embellishing.
On “Buddy,” one of the CD highlights, the ensemble follows Lynch’s lead on his own catchy composition, for a lilting, funky, driving romp, Lynch twirling the melody, before Cohen applies his own inventive versions and Hart shines with some splashy exchanges with Cohen.
On “Dark Passenger,” a Cohen tune, edgier, free form rhythms and colors predominate, spiced by Hart’s explorations on drums, framing Lynch’s trumpeting and Cohen rippling freely, over Kozlov’s murmuring bass work, and Hart’s cymbals. The gentler “I Wish I Knew” showcases the duo work again, Lynch commanding the ballad’s cadence with the phrasing of polished lounge singer, maintaining the mood with a delicate tension.
“Petty Theft” pushes the envelope again, powered by Hart’s ramblings, and sweetened by Cohen’s lyrical urgencies and playfulness with the pace, as done also on the title tune “Questioned Answer,” a steadily building rhythm with Lynch’s lines fiery and focused, and he and Cohen in the middle exchanging riffs, a jam within a jam, aided mightily by Kozlov’s bass groove and Hart’s splashes, and whispers, and rushes.
InReview … Solivan’s “Spark” Simpers
A faculty member at City College of New York, vocalist Marianne Solivan – who appears at Blues Alley Nov. 11 — nonetheless does not come off as too studied a performer on her second album, “Spark” on the HIPNOTIC Records label.
The precision of her phrasing is eased by some flights of intrigue and freedom here, notably on “The Lies of Handsome Men” and on her own composition “If I Were to Love You,” which is maybe the highlight, especially with the piano work of Xavier Davis. The tune stands out as a lovingly meandering journey through her romantic emotions, with other band members Matthew Parish, bass and Gregory Hutchinson, drums empathetic as well.
Another high point is “The Dove,” with music by Davis and lyrics by Solivan, with the two exchanging voice and instrument in another lilting gem. “This Is New,” an Ira Gershwin melody, has Solivan whirling and sailing along, a songbird high above us.
See http://www.mariannesolivan.com or http://www.hipnotic.com for more information.