Jazz Avenues April BLOG 2016


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Sharon Clark, drawing acclaim from her

“Carr & Clark — Soulful Serenity” CD with Paul Carr,

appears with Carr tonight April 1 at Westminster

Presbyterian Church.




Sharon Clark, Helen Sung, Smithsonian jazz highlight weekend;
More JAM events coming from HU, UDC, Levine Music and THEARC

The fabulous vocalist Sharon Clark, Helen Sung and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra celebrating Benny Carter are some of the performers highlighting this weekend that kicks off April as Jazz Appreciation Month begins.
Clark appears at Westminster Presbyterian Church tonight with Chris Grasso, piano, Paul Carr, saxophone, Tommy Cecil, bass and Lenny Robinson, Drums. Also tonight, the Helen Sung Quintet is at the Kennedy Center. Tomorrow, Saturday, April 2, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks orchestra begins its month of celebrating legendary saxophonist and composter Benny Carter with a concert at the Smithsonian American History Museum’s Coulter Performance Plaza.
Also this weekend sax man Seth Kibel is at the Saturday Family Jazz Series at the Strathmore Mansion in North Bethesda, the Jeff Cosgrove/Noah Preminger Quartet is at Twins Jazz Sunday April 3, the same night the Orrin Evans Quintet appears at the Baltimore Museum of Art (www.baltimorechambe3rjazz.com). Gato Barbieri is at the Howard Theatre Monday April 4, the same night the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Program features Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and Gary Burton, this year’s NEA Jazz Master Awardees, will be honored during a free program and concert at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. The program is also to be streamed on-line at http://www.kennedycenter.org.



Photo by W.A. Brower


Pianist and UDC jazz studies director Allyn Johnson

hosts a Meet the Artist program with trumpeter

DeAndre Shafer Tuesday April 5 at UDC.


Tuesday April 5 Allyn Johnson, UDC director of jazz studies hosts a Meet the Artist Program with trumpeter DeAndre Shafer at the UDC Recital Hall Bldg. 46 West, followed by a Meet the Artist Program with drummer Ralph Peterson April 7.
In other early April highlights, the Howard University Jazz Ensemble is at Westminster Friday April 7. On Saturday April 9, the Charles Rahmat Woods Quartet performs “Language of Birds Live!” presented by Contemporary Arts Inc. at the Eubie Blake Center, 147 N. Howard St. in Baltimore ($15-$20). For more information see http://www.eubieblake.org or call 410-944 2909. And see below for more JAM events.

Double Time Jazz JAMS away at THEARC

East of the River Jazz fans, and those everywhere in the area, can enjoy appreciating America’s music during Jazz Appreciation Month in April at the Double Time Jazz concerts at the Town Hall Education Arts Center (THEARC) in Southeast D.C. featuring Robert Person and the Washington Renaissance Orchestra April 8, Kim Jordan April 15 and Black Alley April 29.



Robert E. Person, gospel jazz maestro, appears

at THEARC’s Double Time Jazz show April 8.

Double Time Jazz at THEARC Theater, which brings top shelf performers of the music throughout the year, is provided by the THEARC’s collaboration with the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Jazz Touring Network and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
“Double Time Jazz was integrated into THEARC Theater programming to expand the jazz initiatives east of the Anacostia River by providing performances and arts education opportunities,” says THEARC Director of Theater Operations, Kimberly Douglass. “The Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) provides a great deal of programs and services targeted to local families and children. By hosting an annual music series in THEARC Theater during Jazz Appreciation Month we are able to engage Ward 7 and Ward 8 adults, seniors and other lovers of music by providing them with first class musical talent — in their very own community.”



Nasar Abadey

Nasar Abadey appears with the Washington

Renaissance Orchestra at THEARC April 8.

Person is known for his entertaining gospel jazz vocal work, including recordings “Love Divine” and “Soul Sanctuary.” The Washington Renaissance Orchestra features artistic director Nasar Abadey on drums.
Jordan’s April 15 event features a tribute to Gil Scott Heron. Jordan is a talented artist, keyboardist, producer, vocal coach, engineer — and also preacher, teacher and entrepreneur who received her BA in music from Howard University. Upon graduation, Kim was hired as musical director for jazz poet and legend, Heron, arguably my generation’s poet laureate of jazz of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” “Winter in America” “Pieces of A Man” and “The Bottle” fame.
Black Alley on April 29 will be performing its special jams of fusion, jazz, funk R&B and Go-Go. with special guest Nicholas Ryan Gant. General admission for the concerts, which begin at 8 p.m., is $20. For more information on THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Avenue S.E., see http://www.thearcdc.org or call 202-889-5901. And stay tuned to THEARC – Double Time Jazz returns next month with the incomparable Robert Glasper May 13.
Douglass adds, “The Double Time Jazz@THEARC concert series is a great engagement opportunity by providing adults and seniors in the community with quality yet affordable entertainment. These concerts also serve as a platform for east of the Anacostia River artists and national acts to be showcased in an intimate setting. DTJ has also helped to support DC programs such as the annual DC Jazz Festival and WPA who look to provide unique artistic engagement opportunities and performances to youth and adults. Our Double Time Jazz@THEARC artists have participated in Master Classes and Open Sound checks with the community.”
“The featured artists for the Double Time Jazz lineup present a diverse sound and speak to various genres of the jazz and R&B idiom. The influence of jazz from big band presented from east of the Anacostia River artist Robert Person, contemporary/social movement/spiritual through local artist Kim Jordan who performed with legendary poet and activist Gil Scott Heron, the influence of Jazz is represented in the sound of R&B, GoGo, Hip Hop Hybrid Black Alley that speaks more to a younger generation and is an upcoming band from the DC area, and Robert Glaser Trio who will provide a mix of straight ahead jazz and contemporary styles …”

Smithsonian, HU, Levine, UDC, Atlas host JAM events

The Smithsonian Institution, the originator of Jazz Appreciation Month, says for 2016, “we are exploring how jazz itself is a form of democracy – as a form, of communication as a solo or group, and as an equalizer – and celebrating the legacy of musician and bandleader Benny Carter …” Carter is the subject of the Smithsonian’s JAM poster, and concerts at the American History Museum celebrating Carter on Thursdays; April, 14, U.S. Air Force Band Airmen of Note Ensemble, April 21 Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble, April 28 George Washington University Latin Jazz Band; Also, Piano in LeFrak Lobby concerts feature pianists April 25, 26, 27 (Harry Appelman) and 29 for 12 noon concerts. And jazz art displays in the museum feature Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and the Blue Note photographs of Francis Wolf. See http://www.smithsonianjazz.org for complete information.




Lena Seikaly performs a “Celebrating Ella”

show April 27 at Blues Alley.


Howard University events include Gary Bartz April 10 at Childers Recital Hall; HU’s Jazz Ensemble at the Calvin Jones Big Band Festival April 25 at UDC; and the HU Jazz choirs April 27 at Childers Hall. Levine Music School’s Jazz Fest 2016 includes a Latin Jazz Workshop, a “Jazz Vocal and Piano” performance lecture April 9 at the Music Center of Strathmore and Levine Music Jazz Program Chair and guitarist/bassist Gary Prince hosting an open jam session April 9 in the evening at the Levine school NW DC campus. Then a master class lecture with guitarist Pat Martino closes the JazzFest April 10 at the NW DC campus. See http://www.levinemusic.org.
UDC events include the UDC Small Jazz Ensembles April 12, the Calvin Jones Big Band Jazz Festival April 25 and Jazz at Van Ness Celebrates International Jazz Day April 30, See http://www.jazzaliveudc.org for complete information.
The Jazz Appreciation Mini-Series at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street N.E. April 21-24 includes a City of Poets show with French pianist and composer Cedric Hanriot, trumpeter Jason Palmer and other musicians in a musical homage to science fiction writer Dan Simmons; the Joanna Wallfisch/Dan Tepfer Duo; The Tizer Trio and Brad Linde’s The Lonely Poet Project. See http://www.atlasarts.org for complete information.
Other events this month feature Andrew White and the Zorro Sax All-Stars April 26 at Blues Alley, Lena Seikaly, Celebrating Ella April 27 at Blues Alley, the SF Jazz Collective April 27 at the Music Center at Strathmore and Jason Moran and Charles Lloyd April 29 at the Kennedy Center.
And congratulations to our own Brian Hamilton and Dick Smith, presenters of the music at the weekly Jazz Night at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and Todd Marcus, who plays with his quintet in tribute to John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy April 16 at Caton Castle in Baltimore, for recently being named among 26 persons nationwide as Jazz Journalists Association 2016 Heroes.

Reminder: The 705network wants YOU!

Among the groups we thank for fostering, promoting and presenting the music is the 705network, led by producers Marie and Cathy Stanley, who bring us the television show on DCTV and other channels and live streaming that features performers “on tour in the nation’s capital.”
“DC has a lot of talented musicians of various genres,” says Cathy Stanley. “ We wanted to create a local television show to focus on the music being performed. DC has a huge fan base for music, so we wanted the community to know about these performances. This way the residents of DC could tune into the show on local cable or YouTube and hear who’s making the music”.



A new episode featuring “The Frankie Addison Effect” is to air in April, and, after their recent taping, coming up later this year is the Theljohn Quintet, so stay tuned to http://www.705network.com. “If your band is making music in the Washington, DC area,” says the 705network website, “let us know at cs.705network@hotmail … Check out our YourTubeChannel at YouTube.com/705network.”
Marie Stanley says, “DC has long been known for its rich music history. Today, with its still ever so present vibrant music scene, DC continues to be one of the best cities for live music. 705network Music was created to showcase the many talented artists here in the nation’s capital, to give its viewers a glimpse into their lives, their journeys and their music, and to bring attention to the importance of continuing to support local artists and live music. It’s a way of giving back to the music community.”

InPerson … DC Sax Quartet, HUJE, JACS/Pete Muldoon,

Among fine live performances this year the District Saxophone Quartet delivered a fine set during the Atlas Intersections Festival in February at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, with Jason McFeaters, alto, Stephen Dunlap, tenor, Noah Getz, soprano and Justin Polyblank, baritone harmonizing with straight ahead riffs, then free form, then meshing again in harmony on tunes like Boogie Stop Shuffle, “Drastic Measures” and a bright, original arrangement of “Caravan” and visually musical dancing on “Histoire du Tango.” The set, titled “Rhythm of the City” lived up to its billing and more with with catchy, bluesy, some soulful funk as well as improvisational sounds.





Pianist Cyrus Chestnut played vintage melodies

and was honored with the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award

at the Howard University Jazz Ensemble show last month




Alto saxophonist Herb Scott, heard regularly Wednesday nights at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill, swung hard one late February night at the Jazz and Cultural Society in N.E. D.C. The Howard University Jazz Ensemble, with special guest Cyrus Chestnut, and Afro Blue played a concert at Rankin Memorial Chapel in March, jamming and swinging on tunes like “Lester Leaps In,” “On Broadway,” “Alfie,” and “Blues for Al,” and “A Flower is A Lovesome Thing,” with fine playing by Tristan Ladale Benton, piano, Rick Peralta, guitar, along with Chestnut’s own vintage excellence, and special guest trombonist Andre Hayward. Professor Judith Korey was honored for the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at UDC, and Chesnut was also honored for his career, with the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award.
Pianist Amy Bormet helped kick off her Washington Women in Jazz Festival last month with some sparkling playing at the DC Jazz Jam at The Brixton. Guitarist Pete Muldoon played some hot and bluesy licks at the JACS one night on tunes like “Jingles” and “Hindsignt” with pianist Allyn Johnson providing some of his own vintage ripples. And Antonio Parker, Reginald Cyntje, Nasar Abadey and friends wowed a large crowd March 25 at Westminster in a tribute to Calvin Jones show, featuring standards like “Au Private” and Jones originals like “Kinfolk.”



In review—“Carr & Clark—Soulful Serenity”

The relationship between saxophonist Paul Carr and vocalist Sharon Clark, who recently produced the fine recording “Carr & Clark—Soulful Serenity,” includes their time at Takoma Station, the club in Northwest D.C. where they performed in the late 1980s.


“I was turned down by other establishments because I didn’t have ‘the look’ they felt was necessary to cultivate a regular audience,” says Clark in the liner notes for the CD. The owner of Takoma Station wanted to hire another singer for the same reason, but Paul insisted, ‘if I can’t have Sharon I won’t have a singer.’”
Regardless of interpretations of “looks” Clark has gone on these many years to draw raves for her vocal work all over, including New York City clubs and around the world. “Carr & Clark” is another feather in her cap with its bluesy reading of standards and romantic favorites.
“I Could Have Told You” brims with a deeply melancholy, heartfelt sympathy, just to pick one tune out of the many highlights, with Carr’s incisive saxophone work helping to evoke the mood of the haunting melody. Along with Carr, the top-flight band has Bruce Barth, piano, with Chris Grasso sitting in on “Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast,” a whimsical, flippant tune Clark pulls off in expert fashion, Herman Burney, bass, on all tracks except “Bye Bye Blackbird” which features Michael Bowie, and Lewis Nash is his efficiently expert self on drums throughout.”
Other highlights include “Say It Over and Over Again” with Carr’s sax meshing perfectly with Clark’s bluesy vocals and Barth’s piano melodies +and “Stella By Starlight.” Recorded at Blue House Productions in Silver Spring, Md., Carr and Clark indeed have a winner with this polished ode to lovers everywhere.

In review … Marika Hughes

Cellist and composer Marika Hughes has created a bouncy, very listenable recording with band Bottom Heavy on “New York Nostalgia, her vocal work and the fusion, rock, pop and jazz layers of her band.
A compelling singer, Hughes, a native New Yorker, says the recording is her “love letter to the city and the love that made her what she is today.”
Hughes has recorded and appeared with a wide range of artists, including D8Angelo, Tom Waits, Harry Belafonte, Santana and Yo-Yo Ma, to name a few.




Bottom Heavy includes Hughes, cello, Kyle Sanna, guitar, Charlie Burnham, violin, Fred Cash Jr., bass and Tony Mason drums, with guest artists including Marc Cary, piano and producer and guitarist Doug Wamble.
“Dream It Away” is a wistful, attractive lullaby. “So Gracefully,” may be the highlight here. A Marc Cary tune, it is a rustling, whistling jam, with Hughes’ drummer Mason and guitarist Sanna creating a lovely blend in a graceful arrangement. “No Dancing” is a playful blues featuring Hughes’ phrasing around Sanna’s guitar licks and “Sophisticated Alice” rocks and rolls behind Hughes’s cello stylings.
See http://www.marikahughes.com.



In review … Olivier Babaz

French bassist, composer and arranger Olivier Babaz has a winner himself with his fourth recording “Odd Light.” Originally from Paris and now living in Montreal, his publicity material says “As an arranger and composer he is mainly oriented towards small acoustic ensembles, cherishing organic sounds twisted or recycled instruments, experimenting various recording and production methods.”
With a diploma from the Music Academy International in Nancy, Babaz has played extensively in Europe and beyond with players like Lionel Loueke, Alain Chan, Luc Joly and others, and cofounded the duo Akoz with alto/violist Julie Salamagnou.


“Odd Light” features Babaz on basses and kalimbas, Francois Jalbert, guitar and Mark Nelson, drums. The recording is one of those that sounds as a symphonic piece, each tune complimenting the other. From “Corail Rouge” through” Monkster” and “L’ appel du vide” parts 1 and 2—arguably the highlight of the CD for the meshing of all three instruments into an intriguing blend of rhythms and melodies – and “Footprints” and “Odd Light” it is a brightly textured voyage made enjoyable by the empathy of the three musicians.
Well worth a listen – many listens actually. See http://www.olivierbabaz.com.


In review … Bastian Stein

Direct from Pirouet Records in Germany comes a release, “Viktor,” that fairly crackles with bop, free jazz and beyond melodies and rhythms by Bastian Stein. Stein on trumpet, Johannes Enders, tenor sax, Phil Donkin, bass and James Maddren, drums.




Stein began studying classical trumpet at the age of 15 at the University for Classical Music in Vienna, then studied in Amsterdam for a while and then in New York. In 2013 he moved to Cologne in Germany and formed the group on this recording, but also has other projects going including work with the WDR Big Band that does concerts with Diane Reeves, Joshua Redman and many others.
All compositions on “Viktor” are by Stein except for Gustav Mahler’s Der Abaschied. Stein’s sterling trumpet playing on “Viktor” runs the gamut from free form to melodic, with Enders providing expert harmonic accompaniment, and improvisational riffs to compliment Stein and the whipping drum work of Madden on “Traces” in particular and also on “Fantasia” and “Off The Record,” a wry, playful jam featuring Enders’ rips and roars and Stein’s soaring trumpet lines.
See wwww.bastianstein.com or http://www.pirouet.com.


NothingBut Front-Cover

In review … Martial Solal reissues

One can pick any tune, but while are appreciating the music this month, “April in Paris” one the standards on pianist Martial Solal’s 2016 reissue “Nothing But Piano” provides all you need to know about this Frenchman’s elegant way around the instrument. Sounding like an entire orchestra at times, Solal is playful with the melody at the outset, then seriously romantic, darting and dashing around the scale, always weaving a new melody a new theme.
And perhaps that’s the secret of great ones like Solal, born in Algeria in 1927, always sounding fresh and new. “Nothing But Piano” (1976) is one of three 1970s reissues graciously brought to us by MPS Records, situated in Villingen, in Germany’s Black Forest region and known previously for presenting artists such as Oscar Peterson, George Duke, George Shearing, Monty Alexander and others.
Also released was “Four Keys,” (1979) featuring Solal with alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, guitarist John Scofield and German bassist Niels-Henning Pederson, and “Suite For Trio,” (1978) teaming Solal with Pederson and Swiss drummer Daniel Humair.
“Nothing But Piano” has one Solal original, a gem of a bluesy ride, “M.B.S. Blues,” with the rest standards with his lilting, rippling touch on “Stars Fell On Alabama,” his jumping, jamming complexity on “Crazy Rhythm,” and “Fascinating Rhythm,” and wistful ruminating on “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” just to name a few.


FourKeys Front-Cover
“Four Keys” adds the polished mastery of Konitz on alto sax and Pederson’s always melodic bass work and Scofield’s deft tickles on guitar to Solal’s runs, especially on “Brain Stream,” one of the Solal originals on the recording, featuring all Solal compositions. As fine a player as Solal was, his compositional work stands out as well, with “Grapes,” “Energy” and “retro Active” all intriguing blends of the players’ voices.

Suite Front-Cover
“Suite For Trio” fairly sails along from the initial “Coming Yesterday,” another Solal original all the way through, including the title tune and Solal’s vintage work on the classics “S’Wonderful,” “Here’s That Rainy Day” and “Cherokee,” Pederson and Humair impressive with their empathy and individual melodic compliments.
It was Christmas in January for those of us who became Solal fans long ago, with these reissues that add more gold to the vault of his legacy more doubtless many more new fans.
See http://www.mps-music.com for more information.

Coda for BC …

Thank you Omrao Brown and Bohemian Caverns, sorry to see you go … but thank you for frontlines that swayed and swung high and low, for bopping, rippling pianos, twanging, tickling guitars, throbbing bass lines, searing trumpets and golden and rumbling saxophone chords, with the whipping, whipping, rapping, chiming drums all the while. Long live (and we will long hear…) the Caverns…

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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