Jazz Avenues July BLOG 2016

By Steve Monroe

… follow @jazzavenues




Roberta Gambarini entertains at Blues Alley

July 1-3 this weekend.




Carter, Gambarini, Alberico, GUSJC, Grasso brunch
top weekend sounds; Grubbs, Vocal Summit on way

The soulful sounds of Janine Gilbert Carter, the romantic stylings of Roberta Gambarini, Rick Alberico’s hot sax and a jazz brunch highlight this weekend’s offerings, with a jamming month of July jazz on the way between here and Baltimore.
Carter performs at 6 p.m. tonight, July 1, at Westminster Presbyterian Church with Antonio Parker, alto sax, Wes Biles, bass, Vince Smith, piano and Manny Kellogg, drums.
Gambarini, who has wowed DC Jazz Festival audiences in recent years, is at Blues Alley tonight through Sunday, July 3.
Alberico, the upstate New York native, who settled in this area several years ago and has played many venues with his Rick Alberico Jazz Project, plays at Twins Jazz tonight and tomorrow.

A special show Saturday July 2 features the venerable Brother Ah, virtuoso musician and historian of the music and WPFW programmer, presenting “Music of Sun Ra” from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Everlasting Life Cafe, 9185 Central Avenue in Capitol Heights, Md. Tickets are $15. Go to http://www.wpfwfm.org for more information or call 301-717-8057.







The Greater U Street Jazz Collective has

become a regular highight at Mulebone Restaurant.


The Greater U Street Jazz Collective (GUSJC) begins a run of Saturdays and Sundays at the Mulebone Restaurant tomorrow, Saturday July 2, at 6 p.m.
Sunday July 3 pianist Chris Grasso presents his Jazz Brunch at 1 p.m. with Nicki Parrott and Chuck Redd at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, with Lenny Robinson on drums (www.chrisgrassomusic.com). Sunday night, the Joe Vetter Quartet entertains at Twins Jazz.





LennyRobinson Photo

Master percussionist Lenny Robinson plays with

Chris Grasso and Chuck Redd behind vocalist Nicki

Parrott at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Sunday July 3.



Coming up next week is a special event helping impresario Vernard Gray of East River Jazz celebrate his 75th birthday, “Cecily/A Celebration of Womanhood” at 6 p.m. July 7 at Jazz and Cultural Society (www.jazzandculturalsociety.com) in N.E. D.C., with the show dedicated to Gray’s mother, Rae Ella Orendoff Gray. Order tickets by July 1 online at http://www.eastriverjazz.net or by calling 202-262-7571 for the $30 admission with dinner; or for $20 admission only, order online only July 2-6; tickets $25 day of event).
Cecily Bumbray (www.cecilymusic.com) is a young D.C. native vocalist and songwriter drawing acclaim for her performances and her CD, “Cecily.”

Vocalist Rochelle Rice has a CD release party for her debut album, “Wonder,” July 8 at Amy by Strathmore in North Bethesda. See. http://www.rochellericemusic.com for more information.

And Gray has another event Sunday, July 10, at Agora Bar and Grill @The Inn at the Black Olive restaurant in Baltimore, “Keeping It Soulful,” featuring the Craig Alston Ensemble, with Marshall Keys, saxophones, Benjie Poreki, keyboard, Mark Prince drums and Alston on bass. For complete information, see http://www.eastriverjazz.net.







Craig Alston’s Ensemble plays at The Inn at

The Black Olive Restaurant in Baltimore July 10.





The Laker Arbor Jazz Festival returns for its 7th year at Lake Arbor in Mitchellville, Md., July 7-10 with performers including Brian Lenair, Elan Trotman, Althea Rene, Brian Simpson, Oweleo, Art Sherrod Jr., the FAME Jazz Band and many others (See http://www.lakearborjazz.com).






The Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra plays the Single

Carrot Theatre in Baltimore July 9.






One of our queens of song Akua Allrich performs

July 17 at the DC Jazz Jam and July 22 at the

Vocal Summit at Wesley United Methodist Church.







Reginald Cyntje

The Reginald Cyntje Group plays July 16

at An Die Musik in Baltimore.








Another special event July 11 “WPFW 89.3 Honors Omrao Brown” celebrates the former Bohemian Caverns guru Brown, at 7 p.m. at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. Artists to perform include Nasar Abadey, Akua Allrich, Davey Yarborough, Reginald Cyntje, Heidi Martin, Janelle Gill and many others. See http://www.wpfwfm.org or http://www.eventbrite.com for more information on the fundraising event.
In other events this month; Chelsey Green and the Green Project are at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden July 8; Alison Crockett is at Twins Jazz July 8-9; Kristin Callahan is at 49 West in Annapolis July 9, and also performs with the Thad Wilson Quartet July 22-23 at Twins Jazz; The Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra is at the Single Carrot Theatre in Baltimore July 9; Antonio Parker is the featured performer at the DC Jazz Jam at The Brixton July 10, with Akua Allrich there July 17 and Brad Linde performing July 24; the Reginald Cyntje Group plays July 16 at An Die Musik in Baltimore; Tony Craddock Jr. and Cold Front are at Meade Memorial Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Va. July 17.







Master musician, bandleader and educator

Carl Grubbs presents his “Inner Harbor Suite

Revisited” with the Carl Grubbs Jazz/String Ensemble

at Artscape in Baltimore July 17.







Sharon Clark takes her act to the

Big Apple again for “The Swing Set”

with the Chris Grasso Trio

July 19 at the Iridium in NYC.






Artscape 2016 performances in Baltimore July 17 include bassist and CapitalBop guru Luke Stewart performing an experimental solo improvisation on bass and bass amp, and then later that day the Carl Grubbs Jazz String Ensemble performs his “Inner Harbor Suite Revisited” compositions, the result of a grant from his 2014 Rubys Arts Award by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, at 8 p.m. at Falvey Hall, Brown Center on Mt. Royal Avenue (www.carlgrubbsjazz.com). See http://www.artscape.org for complete information on Artscape 2016.
Also, Michael Bowie’s BLAST takes off at Blues Alley July 19; that same night, if you want to take a trip to the Apple, vocalist Sharon Clark presents “The Swing Set,” with Chris Grasso on piano, Michael O’Brien, bass and Jason Brown, drums at the Iridium in NYC (www.chrisgrassomusic.com); Introducing B.J. Simmons is at Westminster July 22; the Vocal Summit is at Wesley United Methodist  with Alison Crockett and Akua Allrich July 22, and Janine Gilbert-Carter and Amelia Brown July 23. Backing the ladies are Washington Women In Jazz guru Amy K. Bormet on piano, Nicole Saphos, bass and Lydia Lewis, drums.
And the Kenny Rittenhouse Septet is at Westminster July 29, with Rittenhouse on trumpet, Lyle Link, alto sax, Xavier Perez, tenor sax, Reginald Cyntje, trombone, Hope Udobi, piano Romier Mendez, bass and Jay Jefferson, drums.
Then there is the always charming Lena Seikaly performing July 30 for the Petworth Jazz Project at the Petworth Recreation Center, 8th and Taylor Streets N.W. (www.petworthjazzproject.com)





Lena Seikaly performs July 30

for the Petworth Jazz Project

at Petworth Recreation Center in D.C.






“[Billy] Eckstine’s rich baritone voice made him one of the most popular ballad singers of the late 1940s, but leading the first bebop big band was his major contribution to jazz…” — “Jazz Portraits” by Len Lyons and Don Perlo, William Morrow and Company, 1989.

A Happy Happy for Billy Eckstine

We take a moment to say “Happy Happy Born Day” to our July birthday heroes, including Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Philly Joe Jones, our own Dr. Billy Taylor (featured in the July 2015 Jazz Avenues), Carl Grubbs (playing this month at Artscape in Baltimore), Kenny Burrell … and Billy Eckstine (July 10) .
” … Eckstine [born in Pittsburgh] grew up in Washington, D.C. and attended Howard University. He then worked for several years as a singer and emcee in Detroit and Chicago…In 1939 Eckstine joined Earl “Fatha” Hines’s big band and became its star attraction due to his blues hits ‘Jelly, Jelly’ and ‘Stormy Monday’…After working with Hines, Eckstine formed his own group (1944). The nucleus of the band were former Hines sidemen …At various times Eckstine’s band included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Mikes Davis, Art Blakey, Sarah Vaughan and other early boppers…” according to the book “Jazz Portraits.”
The book “The History of Jazz,” by Ted Gioia, Oxford University Press, 1997, said it this way: “… Soon after, Billy Eckstine quit [Earl Hines’ band] to form his own band, eventually bringing with him some of Hines’s finest talents, including Gillespie and Vaughan … A powerful singer with a resonant baritone voice, Eckstine had recording the hit ‘Jelly, Jelly’ while with the Hines band, and now was interested in building on that success. As it turned out, his fascination with the cutting-edge sounds of bop may have compromised his success as a pop singer. Under somewhat different circumstances, Eckstine might have approached the popularity of a Nat King Cole, or even a Frank Sinatra, but the broader audience he sought mostly eluded him.”
The book “JAZZ — A History of America’s Music” by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, Alfred A. Knopf, publisher, 2000, says about Miles Davis: “When the Billy Eckstine Band came to St. Louis in the summer of 1944 and the third trumpet fell ill, Davis got a chance to sit in for a week. He was a good sight reader and had no trouble with the arrangements, he remembered, but he had barely been able to bring himself to play ‘because I was listening to what everybody else was playing … Bird was unbelievable … [Eckstine’s] band changed my life. I decided right then and there that I had to leave St. Louis and live in New York where all these bad musicians were.’ “
Apparently much more than a great singer and innovative bandleader, consider this from “JAZZ — A History of America’s Music”: “ … When a man Billy Eckstine remembered as an ‘old, rotten cracker’ amused himself by repeatedly throwing chicken bones into the Jim Crow car in which the members of the band were riding north through Virginia, Eckstine waited till the train reached Washington, D.C., .stopped the man on the platform, demanded to know why he’d done it, and, when he didn’t answer, hit him so hard he hid beneath the train, begging for mercy.”








The Bill Cole Trio

at the DC Jazz Festival





InPerson … Cole/Shipp, Salvant, Washington, NCJQ hits at DCJF

The Bill Cole and Matthew Shipp trios played vibrant, free-flowing sets as Transparent Productions closed out its season in a big way as part of the DC Jazz Festival’s opening weekend in June at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Cole, the 78-years-young avant interpreter on reeds, specializing in mystical, evocative sounds, and long, deep baritone chords or kazoo-like squawks and blares, exchanged riffs with violist Stephanie Griffin and horn man Ras Moshe during their sets.
The ever intensely rippling pianist Shipp then exchanged melodies with his bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker, with Baker almost stealing the show with body percussion rhythms and rolls to augment his traps.







Matthew Shipp
The trios concluded with a wall of sound combined finale highlighted by Griffin and Bisio exchanging their singing, strumming melodies while the horns and percussion framed the running, edgy, jagged then smoother ensembles of sound.







Cecile McLorin Salvant_Yards_1

Cecile McLorin Salvant
Other festival highlights included a dramatic set by vocalist Cecile McClorin Salvant – proving to this listener she is everything she has been advertised to be as a daring, multi-faceted artist, a one woman cabaret every time she picks up the microphone;  a swinging, jamming set by the New Century Jazz Quintet, winners of the first DCJF JazzPrix competition; and a rousing set by saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington and friends, all at Yards Park on the festival’s final weekend. The CapitalBop DC Loft Jazz show at Arris that weekend featured innovative, inspiring sets from the Orrin Evans Capt. Black Big Band and The Washington Renaissance Orchestra Octet, powered by Nasar Abadey.
Based in New York City, the New Century Jazz Quintet is co-led by pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., with Braxton Cook, on alto saxophone; Benny Benack III, on trumpet and vocals; and bassist Yasushi Nakamura. The NCJQ competed in the finals, Saturday, June 18, against two fellow finalists – the New York City-based Cowboys and Frenchmen, and Washington, DC’s Mark G. Meadows and The Movement.
“We are excited to have successfully introduced the DCJazzPrix, a national competition that adds yet more cultural significance to the DC Jazz Festival, and is designed to help launch and promote the careers of emerging jazz artists,” said DCJF Artistic Director Willard Jenkins in a statement. “All three finalists presented impressive performances.”
In addition to a $15,000 cash prize, the NCJQ earned a year-long association with the DC Jazz Festival for professional development, business support and a mainstage 2017 DC Jazz Festival engagement. NCJQ has released two recordings, “Time is Now,” and “In Case You Missed Us,” in Japan and the U.S.
In earlier DCJF news, the 2016 DCJF awards honored Howard University professor and renowned trumpeter Fred Irby III with the DCJF 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award and Howard’s Dr. Arthur Dawkins with the DCJF 2016 John Conyers Jr. Jazz Advocacy Award.


HerbScott (1)


Herb Scott




InPerson … Greater U Street Jazz Collective, Heidi Martin

In other shows last month, the Greater U Street Jazz Collective – which is featured at the Mulebone Restaurant in D.C. Saturdays and Sundays in July beginning Saturday July 2 — jammed hard at the Jazz and Cultural Society one Wednesday night last month, with tenor saxophonist Russell Carter Jr. a highlight with his vintage touch on the horn with a vibrant sound and witty, inventive melodies on his solos (See http://www.greaterustreetcollectivejazz.com).

And Heidi Martin (www.heidimartin.com) and Moon In Scorpio entertained a large, overflowing, diverse family gathering of very young, young and mature folks at Petworth Recreation Center in N.W. D.C. in the second Petworth Jazz Project event . Martin’s entrancing vocals and spicy guitar work were complimented in fine fashion by her top band mates, including Sam Prather, keyboards, John Lamkin III, drums, Tarus Mateen, bass, Herb Scott, saxophone, and Donvonte McCoy, trumpet on tunes like “Memphis” and “Girl from Ipanema,” the music a soulful, jazzy blend perfect for the warm early summer evening.

Steve Monroe is a Washington, D.C. writer who can be reached at steve@jazzavenues. com and followed at http://www.twitter.com/jazzavenues.