Jazz Avenues January/February BLOG 2016

Jazz Avenues January/February BLOG 2016
by Steve Monroe

…follow @jazzavenues

Paul Carr

Saxophonist Paul Carr puts on his

festival guru hat to produce his 7th annual

Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Feb. 12-14

at the Hilton in Rockville.



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

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


Reginald Cyntje

Reginald Cyntje, whose next recording is

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

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


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


KLstrayhorn pic

Vocalist Karen Lovejoy appears

Sunday at Dawson’s Market in

Rockville and Feb. 12 at Inwood

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





Ernest Dawkins performs with

his trio Sunday Jan. 31 at

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


Pianist Chris Grasso plays with his trio and

vocalist Dick Smith and sax man Marshall Keys

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




Integriti Reeves is to perform

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




Bobby Hill Jr.’s Transparent Productions

presents Ernest Dawkins Sunday and more

shows in February at the Caverns.




Transparent Productions 2016

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

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




Sharon Clark is one of the

stars in a star-studded lineup

for the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

Feb. 12-14 in Rockville.




Mid-Atlantic Jazz 2016

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

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



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

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

“Radio is still the best way to discover jazz”

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



The “man with the golden tone,”

saxophonist Marshall Keys plays with

the Chris Grasso Trio and Dick Smith at

their Pre-Super Bowl Brunch Feb. 7

at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club.





Jazz Foundation of America

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

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

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