Jazz Avenues October 2015 BLOG
By Steve Monroe
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Vocalist Lena Seikaly is to perform
Sunday Oct. 4 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz
Provost, Whalen, Thomas, then Grubbs, Seikaly,
Sung and UDC Jazz highlight October’s coming
Steel pan virtuoso Victor Provost is at Bohemian Caverns, trumpet master Michael Thomas is at Twins Jazz, and Tim Whalen is at Westminster Presbyterian Church tonight. Carl Grubbs presents another edition of his “Inner Harbor Suite Revisited” performances Saturday Oct. 3 in Baltimore, songstress Lena Seikaly performs Sunday Oct. 4 in Bethesda and Helen Sung takes the stage at the Arts Club of Washington Monday Oct. 5 as October jazz swings into action this weekend.
On Friday Oct. 2 and Saturday Oct. 3 steel pan guru Victor Provost is to perform at Bohemian Caverns with Federico Peña, piano, Zach Brown, bass, and Carroll Dashiell III, drums; up the street at Twins Jazz the Michael Thomas Quintet are to entertain Friday and Saturday nights. Also tonight, Oct. 2, pianist Tim Whalen leads a group with Tedd Baker and Reginald Cyntje and C.V. Dashiell celebrating “The Music of Art
Blakey at Westminster, with Jazz Night at the Movies following the live music there with Nancy Wilson: Live at Carnegie Hall. In addition vocalist Marianne Matheny-Katz is at the Montpelier Arts Center (see below.)
Award-winning saxophonist, composer and bandleader Grubbs performs with the Carl Grubbs Jazz/String Ensemble at 4 p.m. Saturday Oct. 3 at Pierce’s Park, Baltimore Inner Harbor (near Pier V Hotel), further exploring works from his “Inner Harbor Suite Revisited: A Tribute to Baltimore” project, the result of a Ruby Award grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (rain date Oct. 10).
Grubbs is to perform with Blake Meister, bass, John Lamkin III, drums, Eric Kennedy, percussion Cleveland Chandler, violin, Samuel Thompson, violin, Daphne Benichou, viola and Kenneth Law, cello.
See www.freefallbaltimore.org or www.contemporaryartsinc.org for more information.
Pianist Allyn Johnson directs the UDC Jazz Ensembles
in performance Tuesday Oct. 6 at UDC Recital Hall
Also Saturday Oct. 3, experimental alto saxophonist is to appear for the CapitalBop Listening Party at 7 p.m. before his 8 p.m. concert with Emilie Lesbros at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (see www.atlasartsdc.org or www.capitalbop.com).
The stylish vocalist Seikaly will take the stage with vibraphonist Chuck Redd and pianist Chris Grasso’s trio Sunday at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. See www.bethesdabluesandjazz.com for more information. Also Sunday, edgy sax man Tedd Baker returns to the DC Jazz Jam for the 6 to 9 p.n. set at The Brixton on U Street (see www.dcjazzjam.com). Other October DC Jazz Jam shows on Sundays in October will feature Lionel Lyes, Herb Scott and Elijah Balbed.
Sung, whose most recent CD is the 2014 Concord Jazz “Anthem For A New Day,” is the classically trained pianist who won the 2007 Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition, and will appear at the Arts Club for a 7 p.m. show Monday (see www.pianojazz.com).
Sharon Clark is to perform with
Larry Brown Oct. 9 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz
In other October highlights, the UDC Small Jazz Ensembles directed by Allyn Johnson perform a free 12:30 p.m. concert Oct. 6 at the UDC Recital Hall (Bldg. 46-West; see www.jazzaliveudc.org); Roy Hargrove is at Blues Alley Oct. 6-11, sax man Antonio Parker and pianist Jon Ozment lead a “Tribute to Buck Hill” Oct. 9 at Westminster, the Larry Brown Quintet with special guest Sharon Clark is at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Oct. 9, Vince Evans is at Jazzway 6004 Oct. 10 in Baltimore, and Transparent Productions presents the Matt Lucian & Matt Maneri Duo with Lucian, piano and Maneri, viola Oct. 11 for 7 and 8:30 p.m. sets at Bohemian Caverns (see www.transparentproductionsdc.org).
At the Eubie Blake Cultural Center Oct. 11, vocalist James Zimmerman performs with Janelle Gill, Herman Burney, Nasar Abadey and Benjamin Sands for a program and film celebrating the life of entertainer/social activist Oscar Brown Jr. (see www. Eubieblake.org). An Afro/Cuban/Latin Jazz Dance Party is Oct. 12 at the Thurgood Marshall Center (www.eastriverjazz.net); Sax man Grubbs plays with other 2014 & 2015 Baker Artist Award winners Oct. 14 for “An Evening of Artistic Excellence at 7 p.m. at the Baltimore Museum of Art (email email@example.com or see www.freefallbaltimore.org); and young lion pianist Samara Pinderhughes celebrates the Strayhorn Sutherland Hotel period with shows Oct. 15 at the National Portrait Gallery and Oct. 17 at the Kennedy Center. Saxophonist Ron Sutton brings a quartet to Twins Jazz Oct. 16-17; and Billie and Billy: Celebrating The Centennial Year of Billie Holiday and Billy Strayhorn, will be presented by historian and programmer Larry Applebaum Oct. 17 at the Levine at Strathmore show in North Bethesda (ww.levinemusic.org).
Musician, bandleader and educator Bobby Felder
returns as the JAZZForum guest Oct. 21 at UDC
Bobby Felder is the subject of the JAZZForum Oct. 21 at the UDC Recital Hall (Bldg. 46-West). The renowned musician, bandleader and educator Felder, was first a guest on JAZZforum in 2013 and shared his early experiences as a performer, arranger and music educator. Felder will continue the discussion with writer and producer WA Brower and talk about his 23-year tenure as Director of Instrumental Music at the University of the District of Columbia where he played a key role in the establishment of the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. See www.jazzaliveudc.org for more information.
The John Lamkin Quintet is at Phaze 10 in Baltimore Oct. 22; Ran Blake performs Oct. 23 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center; a Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown Listening Party and Reimagined concert will be presented Oct. 24 at the Kennedy Center, the same day saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa performs “Bird Calls” at Blues Alley and Three Ladies, including Karen Lovejoy, will sing Strayhorn at the UDC Recital Hall. Dance and jazz is featured Oct. 28 with Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE with Jason Moran and The Bandwagon at the Kennedy Center, and multi-genre pianist and entertainer Mark Meadows is at Bohemian Caverns Oct. 30-31. Also Oct. 30-31, there will be a Remembering Willis Conover concert, with a group including saxophonist Paul Carr, and a Thinking About Jazz program featuring Larry Appelbaum, at Westminster (call 202-484-7700 for more information.
Elijah Jamal Balbed is to play
at Montpelier Arts Center Oct. 9
Montpelier Arts Center Long An Area Treasure
Tucked away off a main road in Laurel in Prince George’s County, up the hill almost hidden behind a lush range of trees is one of the area’s longtime treasures — the Montpelier Arts Center.
The picturesque setting outside is complimented by a performance space inside that this fall again features a jazz series with some of the top artists of the music. The series, which began in September and extends through November (call 301-490-2329 for information) has vocalist Marianne Matheny-Katz there Friday Oct. 2; Elijah Jamal Balbed on stage October 9 with his quintet and special guest guitarist Paul Bollenback; and a Remembering Ronnie Wells and Ron Elliston show October 30.
Matheny-Katz, two-time winner of the Billie Holiday, is to perform with Vince Evans, piano, Michael Bowie bass, Eric Kennedy, Drums, Craig Also saxophones and Todd Marcus, clarinet and bass clarinet.
Balbed is still receiving acclaim for his most recent CD “Lessons From The Streets,” released earlier this year, and has matured into one of our top homeboy saxophonists comfortable with tender ballads and straight ahead jams as well as edgy, more free form excursions.
For more than 30 years vocalist Ronnie Wells was one of our most well-known and personable entertainers and was widely known and respected as the force behind the former East Coast Jazz Festival that has been reprised by Paul Carr as the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival every February. Wells’ husband Ron Elliston was an equally respected pianist and educator. At Montepelier, patrons can “honor their memory in this evening of their music accompanied by a slideshow and video.”
Multi-genre vocalist Akua Allrich is to perform
Oct. 17 at the Anacostia Arts Center
Akua Allrich visits Anacostia Arts Center
Located on one of our busiest streets, the Anacostia Arts Center on Good Hope Road in Southeast D.C. nevertheless always provides a cozy escape inside for those seeking artistic enrichment through paintings, drawings, sculpture and other works. Coming up October 17 for the center’s free Live Saturdays show will be the musical arts of Akua Allrich, one of our more dynamic and entertaining vocalists.
D.C. native and Howard University graduate Allrich has “musical roots” that “run deeply into blues, soul and rhythm and blues, with a clear grounding in jazz and pan-African music.” She is well known for her tribute programs devoted to Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone and other great African American women of jazz and is enjoying acclaim for her CD “Soul Singer,” released a few months ago.
The Anacostia Arts Center’s Live Saturdays shows started in September with the goal of introducing new artists and audiences to Anacostia and “boosting” the artistic life of the neighborhood, according to arts center information. The events are free but reservations are recommended. Shows begin at 5 p.m.
See www.akuaallrich.com or www.anacostiaartscenter.com for more information.
Nomadic Jazz with Sharon Gunn and The Bullettes
Debbie Hodnett of Nomadic Jazz has another treat for area listeners with the performance Oct. 10 of the all-woman jazz ensemble Shannon Gunn & Bullettes at the Durant Art Center, 1605 Cameron Street, Alexandria, Va. The show will highlight trombonist Gunn’s CD release of “Bullettes and Friends,” which features “large and small ensemble works written or arranged by band members and local area musicians,” according to Nomadic Jazz information.
The performance will also feature vocalist Jessica Boykin-Settles and “young and up and coming talent.”
Tickets, for the 7 to 9 p.m. show are $25 in advance and $33 at the door, with light snacks included, and wine, beer and soda available for purchase. Advance purchase of tickets enables you to get the new CD “Bullettes and Friends” at the door.
See www.nomadicjazz.com for more information.
InPerson … CBCF Jazz/Gary Bartz
This special report on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s jazz concert last month, which also featured a scintillating set by Yosvanny Terry’s group, comes via the esteemed saxophonist/bandleader/composer Rahmat Shabazz: “Alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, recipient of this year’s CBCF Jazz Legacy Award, gave a fantastic performance that skirted musical boundaries. ‘When we play…it is church…John Coltrane, Charlie Parker (etc)…it is church,’ Bartz gently explained before ripping into his seamless set of interstellar blues and more. A repertoire highlight was the Walter Davis Jr tune ‘Uranus’, a beautiful yet technically challenging piece that provided a wonderful platform of creativity for Gary and his band (James King on bass, Paul Bollenback on guitar, Greg Bandy on drums, and Larry Willis on piano).”
And, speaking of living masters, here’s a Happy Happy Birthday! to Pharoah Sanders, 75 years young Oct. 13, and appearing at Bohemian Caverns Oct. 16-17.
InPerson … Carl Grubbs/Coltrane Celebration Concert
Carl Grubbs, the award winning saxophonist, composer and bandleader who learned many lessons directly from John Coltrane as a youngster in Philadelphia, used his Annual Coltrane Celebration concert last month to partly showcase the passing on of the legacy of the music at the Ward Center for the Arts at St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, Md., outside of Baltimore.
Grubbs spotlighted St. Paul’s School jazz band members, who have learned well from Grubbs the school’s jazz studies director the last several years, and two of his jazz camp students, young alto saxophonists Ephraim and Ebban Dorsey, in the concert which also featured Grubbs’ ensemble.
Carl Grubbs performs Oct. 3 in
the Inner Harbor and Oct. 14 at the
Baltimore Museum of Art.
The afternoon began with Grubbs spearing the melodies with St. Paul students on “Silver Serenade,” “Wave” and “So What.” Then Grubbs went to the piano and played while up came the young Dorsey duo (Ephraim in 7th grade, sister Ebban in 6th grade), along with Blake Meister, bass, and John Lamkin III, drums and Eric Kennedy, percussion and Yawn Jones, guitar.
They opened with the lilting rocker “On A Misty Night,” then ripped into Grubbs’ favorite “Neptune,” with Ebban displaying her own spearing lines and riffs on alto sax and brother Ephraim joining in with his lyrical riffs on his alto. The jam continued with another vintage Grubbs’ tune, “In My Youth,” with the youngsters holding their own as the veterans played behind them.
Later the kids left the stage to a round of spirited applause from the crowd and the regular ensemble continued, as Grubbs shined himself on alto sax on “Like Sonny,” Lewis highlighted “Every Time We Say Goodbye” on his melancholy guitar, Grubbs soared high on alto sax on “Village Blues” over Lamkin and Kennedy’s percussive grooves, and Grubbs switched to tenor sax to blow some fat, golden tones on “I Want to Talk About You.”
Then evening closed — after Grubbs told the crowd about being with Coltrane once as a kid and being fascinated with his endless practicing in the bedroom — with rousing, scintillating acapella opening riffs by Grubbs on alto sax on “Giant Steps,” with the full band then whipping through the Coltrane classic with expert musicianship.
InPerson … Jazz Preservation Concert
Kudos to all who played at the Jazz Preservation Concert that last Saturday in September at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest, enlivening a gray day on the stage outside the church, including master drummer Nasar Abadey, bassist Herman Burney and pianist Allyn Johnson; and the Thad Wilson Nonet with vocalist Steve Washington and veteran bassist Wes Biles and many others. Special kudos to tenor sax man Carl Cornwell, an artist deserving of wider play. A veteran of playing with groups led by Gil Scott Heron, Pharoah Sanders, Roy Haynes, Project Natale and others, Cornwell played a swinging, popping tenor sax on several tunes.
InReview … Ben Williams’ “Coming of Age”
Homeboy bassist Ben Williams, the D.C. product who went on to Michigan State and the Juilliard School to further his craft, has produced a lively, noteworthy recording with “Coming of Age” for the Concord Music Group.
Millard Southern in the liner notes says “ … at the very least it should be noted that ‘Coming of Age’ represents an artist’s attempt to remain open to the spirit of the moment.”
Williams says himself “That’s the true beauty of all this music, especially with jazz. There’s no gate. You can stay at home if you want to but you can go as far out in any direction as well.”
Indeed, “Coming of Age” does not stay at home in the traditional jazz sense, with a soulful/R&B feel to most tracks and hip hop/rap getting its due especially on the “Toy Soldier” track. Williams’ bass work stands out throughout with his vintage throbbing always lyrical driving grooves, and his bandmates are first rate, including Marcus Strickland, tenor and soprano sax, Matthew Stevens, guitar, Christian Sands and Masayuki Hirano, keyboards, John Davis, drums and Etienne Charles, percussion.
Special guests include Christian Scott with fine work on trumpet on “Lost and Found,” Stefon Harris on vibes on “The Color of My Dreams” and vocalists W. Ellington Felton on “Toy Soldier” and Goapele with haunting vocals on “Voice of Freedom (for Mandela).”
High points include Williams originals “Strength and Beauty,” with Sands and Strickland trading melodies and riffs; the popping jam “Forecast,” with Davis and Charlies pulsatingly pushing the tune through a winding blend of Strickland’s soaring sounds over Sands’ piano ripples and dramatic chords and edgy riffs of his own over Williams’ rumbling bass work; and the title tune with its lilting, waltzing opening quickly ripping into a frenetic chase, Williams, Sands and Strickland matching each other with vibrant flights of lyricism and charm.
InReview … Kenneth Salters Haven “Enter To Exit”
The Kenneth Salters HAVEN ensemble has fashioned fine work on Salters’ debut album as a leader, “Enter To Exit,” with intriguing original works combining with stylish musicianship for Destiny Records Music.
A trombonist early on, Salters, a New Haven, Conn., native raised in Columbia, S.C., became a percussion major at the University of South Carolina and upon moving to New York played with jazz and R&B artists including Don Byron, Chris Potter and Aretha Franklin. Salters’ birthplace is part of the double meaning behind the band’s name, says the publicity for the CD, with Salters explaining that one goal with the band is to serve as the audience’s safe haven for the music.
A member of the New York scene for a while, Salters honors one of his mentors, sax man Myron Walden with a feature spot on the recording, with other bandmates including Tivon Pennicott, trumpeter Matt Holman, guitarist Aki Ishiguro, pianist Brad Whiteley and bassist Spencer Murphy. Special guests are pianist Shai Maestro and harpist Bridget Kibbey.
Salters’ efficient polyrhythmic drum work helps power the opening tune “When You Find Out,” with the tune jamming, then lilting under Holman’s simpering trumpet, with pianist Whiteley and sax man Walden later highlighting the tune with their solos. “Flakes” is a gem all its own thanks to the searing, searching spirals by Ishiguro on guitar, and Walden’s high-flying and fluttering sax work. “Deception,” possibly the CD’s hallmark for its twists and turns, and another Salters original, sails on the harmonic flights of Holman and Walden, with Murphy’s bass grooves insistent and pulsing. Whiteley takes flight himself on piano over Salters’ inventive splashes on percussion. “Gymnopedie” has its own twists and rhythmic turns, with Ishiguro’s guitar work again a highlight, and “One Another” features edgy riffs from Walden leading the way, and the other players in turn.
See www.kennethsalters.com or www.destineyrecordsmusic.com for more information.
And, a final jamming coda …
… for alto sax guru Phil Woods, recently gone to our Jazz Ancestry Hall of Fame. Thanks Phil, for being patient and informative 40 years ago to a novice, this young feature writer doing his first story on a jazz performer for the morning newspaper in Rochester, N.Y.