Jazz Avenues February/March BLOG 2015


by Steve Monroe

… follow @jazzavenues


washwomenin jazz

Washington Women In Jazz Festival 2012 concert


Women in jazz … a look back

“The jazz world, for all its sophistication and liberal-mindedness, proved to be largely male-dominated through most of its first century, leaving women underrepresented and underreported—particularly as instrumentalists. ….In the 1940s, as jazz developed larger audiences and greater commercial potential, the contributions of women did increase—if they were vocalists ….Accounts of the rise of bebop after World War II have mostly ignored the contrib. Contributions of women—for example, the impact of Mary Lou Williams as a mentor to bebop musicians Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and bud Powell…Significant changes began to occur in the 1960s and seventies, when colleges and conservatories began replacing big bands and jam sessions as the learning centers for jazz musicians. On the more level playing fields of academic institutions, women and men developed their sills together; men were exposed to the full range of women’s musical abilities and developed an appreciation of and a natural rapport with their female colleagues…”

… from The Growing Role of Women in Jazz chapter by Ann K. Kuebler in “Jazz – The First Century,” Edited by John Hasse, 2000. William Morrow, publisher.



Washington Women In Jazz Festival

concert March 2014 at Union Arts


Amy Shook, Tim Green, Smithsonian Jazz, Brad Linde
… and WWJF kickoff highlights weekend

Some hot sounds promise to help end a frigid February this weekend, with the Washington Women in Jazz Festival kickoff also on tap to provide for a jamming March all over town.
First, tonight, Friday, Feb. 27 in Southwest DC, bassist Amy Shook leads a group with Paul Carr on sax, Fred Hughes, piano, Frank Russo, drums and Juanita Williams, vocals at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where the Thinking About Jazz program the next day, Feb. 28, focuses on Coleman Hawkins. Also Friday night, Feb. 27, at the Strathmore Mansion in North Bethesda, pianist Tim Whalen plays at the CD release party for his new recording, “Oblivion: The Music of Bud Powell.” See http://www.timwhalenmusic.com for more on Whalen.
Uptown at Bohemian Caverns Friday and Saturday, alto saxophonist in demand Tim Green plays with band mates Allyn Johnson, piano, Kris Funn, bass and Corey Fonville, drums. Saturday night at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, a special show as part of the Atlas Intersections Festival is Brad Linde’s DIX OUT Plays Fats Waller, with Linde on horns, Aaron Quinn, electric banjo, effects, Liz Prince, tuba, Deric Dickens, drums, cymbals, percussion and Nicole Connelly, trombone.
Also on Saturday, Feb. 28, vocalist Eric Owens sings the music of Billy Eckstine and Johnny Hartman at the Kennedy Center; the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will be “Chasin’ the Trane at the National Museum of Natural History; pianist Whalen leads a trio at the Copper Canyon Grill in Lanham, Md.; and the Eric Byrd Trio plays a Black History Month program at the Randallstown Community Center near Baltimore, a Contemporary Arts Inc. (www.contemporaryartsinc.org) program.



Pianist Amy K. Bormet, WWJF

organizer, performs with her

group Ephemera March 8
Then Sunday, March 1, features the Washington Women In Jazz Festival (www.washingtonwomeninjazz.com) kickoff events, with the incomparable vocalist Esther Williams in concert at People’s Congregational Church, 4704 13th Street, NW. in D.C., and a DC Jazz Jam WWJF Kickoff session at Dahlak Restaurant, 1771 U Street N.W. Also Sunday March 1, Branford Marsalis plays at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, helping the venue celebrate its second anniversary. See http://www.bethesdabluesjazz.com for more information. And also March 1, don’t forget something new, the DC Jazz Singers Jam at Bistro Bohem, 600 Florida Avenue N.W., from 5 to 7:30 pm, led by hosts Sharon Clark, vocalist supreme, and keyboard whiz Mark Meadows. See http://www.bistrobohem.com.

Other early March WWJF highlights include saxophonist and composer Lena Bloch and the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra March 2, and events featuring the RAW Sound of Sweden March 5 at Howard University and March 6 at Montgomery College in Rockville; festival organizer Amy K. Bormet’s group Ephemera playing with the RAW Sound of Sweden March 8 at the House of Sweden, 2900 K Street N.W.; and Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes performing March 13 at Westminster. Check the WWJF website above for complete information on festival events in March.

… “Women became more prominent in jazz of the 1960s and 1970s, with such pianists as Joanne Brackeen, Carla Bley, and Toshiko Akiyoshi leading bands that showcased their own compositions. … At century’s end, women were providing their own formal support systems and networks. In 1996, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. began holding an annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival … Perhaps the twenty-first century will see women widely welcomed into jazz. If so, when the second century of jazz is chronicled, a sidebar about women’s contributions will be viewed as a twentieth-century anachronism.” … Ann K. Kuebler

Elsewhere in early March, drummer Howard “Kingfish” Franklin opens a run of Tuesdays, March 3 as the artist in residence at Bohemian Caverns; Inner Urge features master drummer and bandleader Nasar Abadey with a group featuring horn men Antonio Parker, Lyle Link and Thad Wilson March 6 at Westminster; Akua Allrich is at Bohemian Caverns March 6-7; eclectic drummer William Hooker is at Twins Jazz March 8; and multi-genre vocalist Somi – her 2014 recording “The Lagos Music Salon” is a must-listen for its incessant grooves full of jazz, soul and world music (www.somimusic.com) — is at Blues Alley March 9, the same night pianist Wade Beach is at the Arts Club of Washington.



Somi’s “The Lagos Music Salon” was a 2014 hit.

She is to perform at Blues Alley March 9.
The University of Maryland jazz bands perform March 10-11 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center; pianist Mark Meadows performs March 11 at the Strathmore Mansion, Sharon Clark is at the Montpelier Arts Center March 13 and the Michael Thomas Quintet performs March13-14 at Twins Jazz, with guitarist Pete Muldoon leading a sextet for his “Score” album release party March 15 at Bohemian Caverns.
Out in Virginia March 15, Sine Qua Non, with vocalist Christie Dashiell and the Elite Strings are to perform in the Dapogny House Concert Series. See http://www.sinquanonband.com or call 703-850-0103 for more information. Sine Qua Non recently released a sparkling single, “Silver Rain,” spotlighting Dashiell’s impressive work on vocals. Their show last month at Blues Alley showcased the single and other compositions for the group’s upcoming CD “Of The People.”

InPerson … Karen Lovejoy

Our own siren of sweet and sassy, bluesy jazz, Karen Lovejoy entertained a large crowd at the Publick Playhouse in Cheverly in early February, opening for Phil Wiggins’s folk blues show with a fine reading of standards “Afro Blue,” “Call Me, “Let’s Fall in Love,” and the highlight, a charming, heartfelt “Honeysuckle Rose.” Her band The Lovejoy Group was in a solid groove all night, especially Herb Smith on saxophone and Tony Herrod on guitar.

InPerson … Lenny Robinson

As much of a treat as it is to watch Lenny Robinson and listen to him do his thing behind vocalists like Sharon Clark, doing the patient, complementing drum work called for in those instances, it is just as much fun seeing Lenny Rob cut loose, like he did during the D.C. Jazz Festival a couple of years back in a small group playing edgy and loose and free, rolling and rapping and splashing with the best of them.



dcjazz.com photo

Lenny Robinson’s CD “Songs I Like to Play”

was released in 2005.
So it was again recently on his last night as artist in residence at Bohemian Caverns in February, playing with pianist Tim Whalen, and later Allyn Johnson for a tune, James King, bass and with Elijah Balbed manning the tenor saxophone, with Robinson delivering vintage raps, rolls and cymbal chimes during his tribute to Roy Haynes.
At the top of his craft, Robinson can, and does do it all expertly. On that chilly night, before a small, at first, but then growing crowd of listeners, Robinson and friends warmed things up with an uptempo Pat Martino tune with Balbed sweetly serenading on sax to open up and Whalen delivering a rippling solo on piano. The classic “Stolen Moments” featured Balbed’s grooving bluesy solo and Robinson and King powering things along. “Evidence” saw Johnson sit in on the Monk tune and play properly Monk-like, stridently pounding home the melody and then recrafting it, with King bopping along on bass. “I Want to Talk About You” put Balbed on the spot, on the ballad well worn classically by sax masters, but he delivered well with a haunting solo. Whalen, and Robinson shined on “Bud Powell,” be bopping it into a memorable jam.

InReview … Adam Birnbaum’s “Three of a Mind”

All this reviewer needed to know to at least give a listen to someone unfamiliar was to learn that Adam Birnbaum earned a “special mention” prize in 2006 at the Martial Solal Jazz Piano Competition in Paris. Any pianist mentioned in the same sentence as Solal, the imminently acclaimed French pianist with a classical jazz touch deserves attention.
That attention was more than warranted upon sampling Birnbaum’s “Three of A Mind” recently released recording with bassist Doug Weiss and veteran drum master Al Foster on the DAEDULUS Records label.
Birnbaum, the 2004 American Jazz Piano Competition 2004 winner and the American Pianists Association’s Cole Porter fellow in jazz, has accumulated mucho bona fides besides the Solal competition of course. Much of that comes from being associated with the Miles Davis’ seasoned Foster, and the well-respected Weiss over many years, but also from his New England Conservatory connection to Danilo Perez, work with the likes of Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Wallace Roney and Eddie Gomez, and his own previous recordings.

Birnbaum Three of a Mind COVER

“Three of A Mind” is one of those discs that doesn’t grab you until you really listen. What may seem like mere pleasant melodicism at first is much more intricate. Highlights begin with the opening “Binary,” a Birnbaum tune that rocks and rolls as a catchy jam, but also has a deeper, insistent, ever-spiraling groove driven by Foster’s sharp work on drums under Birnbaum’s efficient lyrical intensity.

More of the pianist’s lyrical glow shines on “Dream Waltz.”
The Foster tune “Brandyn” is a multi-directional and rhythmic gem, one that brings to mind Birnbaum’s Kenny Barron influence, with Weiss and Foster almost as one harmony in their flowing river interplay. Weiss’ always sparkling, inventive bass lines drive Birnbaum’s “Kizuna,” another journey of rhythmic intrigue. Foster’s percussive framing shines a bright light on Birnbaum’s melodic voyages on the fun “Ooh, What You Do To Me,” Weiss working an empathetic groove underneath.
“Three Of A Mind” thus delivers as promised, a symphonic trio work of compelling artistry. See http://www.adambirnbaum.com.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s