By Steve Monroe
Trombonist, arranger – and pioneer
for women in jazz, Melba Liston
“Melba [Liston] had the incredible ability of making musicians sound better through what she wrote for them. That’s the mark of a great arranger,” says jazz master pianist, composer and bandleader Randy Weston in his autobiography, “African Rhythms,” written with our own DC Jazz Festival guru Willard Jenkins. “She wrote for Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Gloria Lynne, the Supremes, Bob Marley …”
photo from http://www.randyweston.info
Weston, whose career has included a National Endowment of the Arts tribute and many other awards, also said in the book: ” … By this time I had met Melba Liston and this record [“Little Niles”] became our first collaboration … [It] was a great example of the genius of Melba Liston. We had Jamil Nassar on bass, Johnny Griffin on tenor sax, Ray Copeland and Idrees Sulieman on trumpet, Charlie Persip on drums, and Melba Liston herself played trombone.”
Washington Women In Jazz events
headline rich weekend of sounds
This March we again celebrate Women’s Month and we here honor the legacy of women in jazz, like Melba Liston, known for her musicianship and her arrangements, (born 1926 in Kansas City, MO.; died 1999) who helped pave the way for stars of today, like this year’s Washington Women In Jazz Festival performers Amy Bormet, Leigh Pilzer, Jessica Boykin-Settles, Sarah Hughes, Shannon Gunn, Laura Dryer and many others.
Bormet leads a band tonight, Friday, March 3 for “An Evening with the Washington Women in Jazz Festival at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Performers include Bormet, piano and vocals,
Shacara Rogers, vocals, Gabrielle Murphy, alto sax, flute, Kim Sator, harp, Delandria Mills, flute, Karine Chapdelaine, bass and Ana Barreiro, drums.
Tomorrow, Saturday, March 4, WWJF presents a “Young Artist Showcase and Jam Sessions at Levine at THEARC in Southeast D.C., with “emerging jazz women musicians in high school and college,” per WWJF information. And uptown Saturday, eclectic multi-instrumentalist Anita Thomas appears with the Amy K. Bormet Trio at Wesley Church, 5312, Connecticut Avenue N.W. WWJF performers will also appear Sunday, March 5 at the DC Jazz Jam at The Brixton Restaurant and Friday March 10 at Bowie State University, with Bormet on piano, Hughes and Vinkeloe, saxophones, Karine Chapdelaine, bass and Savannah Harris, drums.
Other WWJF events this month include vocalist-educator Jessica Boykin-Settles’ show, “Oh Ella! Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald,” a Rhythm Café performance at 2 p.m., Saturday, March 11 at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place, S.E. The free event features “a special tribute to one of jazz music’s most distinctive voices known for her scat style of singing, diction and perfect pitch.” Museum information advises to register early, online or by calling 202.633.4844. See http://www.anacostia.si.edu for complete information. And Swedish alto saxophonist/flautist and bandleader Biggi Vinkeloe leads an Improvisation Workshop at 2 p.m. March 12 at Robert Harper Books, 6216 Rhode Island Avenue, in Riverdale Park, Md.
See http://www.washingtonwomeninjazz.com for complete information on WWJF events.
Other women performers this month include award-winning composer and conductor Maria Schneider and her Orchestra Saturday, March 4 at the Kennedy Center, and The Jennifer Scott World Jazz Ensemble Saturday, March 4 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, as part of its 2017 Intersections Festival.
Vocalist Christie Dashiell is at the Kennedy Center Jazz Club March 11, vocalist Alison Crockett will perform March 11 at Twins Jazz, while Vocalist Danielle Wertz appears March 11 at The Alex inside The Graham Georgetown Boutique Hotel, with Howard University’s own, vocalist Shacara Rogers at the Alex March 18.
Danielle Wertz is at The Alex in Georgetown March 11.
Lori Williams is at Westminster Presbyterian Church March 24.
Dynamic multi-genre vocalist Lori Williams will appear March 24 at Westminster. Vocalist Jackie Ryan appears March 26 at The Baltimore Museum of Art, and vocalist Marianne Matheny-Katz performs March 26 at O’Callaghan Annapolis Hotel, with a band that includes saxophonist Craig Alston, Vince Evans, piano, Eric Kennedy, drums and Tom Baldwin, bass.
And, women are featured at the Montpelier Arts Center jazz series in Laurel, Md. this month with Baltimore’s internationally known vocalist Ethel Ennis March 9; vocalist Esther Williams with her husband Davey Yarborough March 10; vocalist Kristin Callahan performing with the Thad Wilson Quartet March 17; saxophonist Laura Dreyer appearing March 24; and the series closes with the special event “Women in Jazz: From Classrooms to Careers” March 26, with Dreyer, trombonist and bandleader Shannon Gunn and others. Call 301-377-7800 or 410-792-0664 for more information on the Montpelier jazz.
Kristin Callahan is at The Montpelier Arts Center
with Thad Wilson March 17.
Pianists Johnson Evans, Mehldau, Eldar highlight other events
Our own pianist Allyn Johnson, jazz studies director at the University of the District of Columbia, performs Saturday, March 4 at the Intersections Festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, presenting “Music of D.C. Musicians Past and Present” for a 6 p.m. show. Later this month, Johnson plays host for this month’s JAZZforum March 21 at the UDC Recital Hall (Bldg 46-West) when he interviews living legend educator Dr. Arthur Dawkins, former professor and director of jazz studies at Howard University. See http://www.jazzaliveudc.org.
Allyn Johnson appears March 4 at the Intersections Festival
at the Atlas and hosts the JAZZForum with Dr. Arthur Dawkins
March 21 at UDC.
Pianist Orrin Evans is at the Arts Club of Washington March. 6.
Philadelphia’s young master pianist Orrin Evans plays the Arts Club of Washington Monday, March 6 for a 7 p.m. show in the club’s piano jazz series. Publicity for the show notes that Evans “… keeps his music on the front burner with the neo-soul/acid jazz ensemble Luv Park, the collective trio Tarbaby, and the raucous Captain Black Big Band. With 25 CD’s to his credit, Mr. Evans paints with a broad musical brush that encompasses small and large jazz ensembles, poetry collaborations, and film scoring.” See http://www.artsclubofwashington.org.
Another highly acclaimed pianist, Brad Mehldau appears at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in downtown D.C. March 16. See http://www.bradmehldau.com. Eldar, the “pyrotechnic” marvel of a pianist appears with his trio March 22 at Blues Alley. See http://www.eldarmusic.com.
image from http://www.washingtonperformingarts.org
OTHER MARCH EVENTS INCLUDE: Jeff Antoniuk and The Jazz Update, March 3-4, Twins Jazz; Chuck Redd, March 4, The Alex/Georgetown; Project Natale, March 8, Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society (JACS); Antonio Parker & Friends, March 10, Westminster; Marty Nau, March 15, Twins Jazz; Steve Washington, March 15, JACS; Nicholas Payton CD Release Party, March 15-16, Blues Alley; Brad Mehldau, March 16, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue; Twins Jazz Orchestra, March 16, 30, Twins Jazz; Michael Thomas Quintet, March 17-18, Twins Jazz; Arnold Sterling’s Favorite Sons, March 17, Westminster Presbyterian Church; Rick Alberico, March 19, Twins Jazz; Howard Kingfish Franklin, March 19, JACS; Allyn Johnson Meet the Artist/Dr. Arthur Dawkins, March 21, UDC Recital Hall/Bldg. 46 West; Cheyney Thomas, March 22, JACS; Eldar Trio, March 22, Blues Alley; Kevin Eubanks Group, March 23-26, Blues Alley; R&B Jazz Quintet/Kenny Rittenhouse, Herman Burney, March 24-25, Twins Jazz; Jordon Dixon, March 26, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton; Marianne Matheny-Katz, March 26, O’Callaghan Annapolis Hotel; Meet the Artist/Ralph Peterson, March 28, UDC Recital Hall; Roy Hargrove, March 28-31, Blues Alley; JAZZforum/Bob Porter: Soul Jazz, March 29, UDC Recital Hall; Reginald Cyntje, March 31, Twins Jazz; Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra/Women in Jazz: The Influence of Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams and Lil Hardin Armstrong, March 31, Museum of American History; Howard University Jazz Ensemble, March 31, Westminster; Jazz Night at The Movies/Nat King Cole, March 31, Westminster; Todd Marcus, March 31, Montpelier …
The Michael Thomas Quintet is at Twins Jazz March 17-18
Todd Marcus is at Montepelier March 31.
“Tell Me More and Then Some”
“Baltimore was geographically located conveniently in the center of New York, Atlantic City and Washington D.C. It was also not too far from Chicago and New Orleans. With a central location in the country, it was a common stopping point for many well-known touring musicians,” says information on the website for the film in production, “Tell Me More and then Some,” about jazz in Baltimore.
“It was home to a variety of night clubs and destinations that included … the famous Royal Theatre on Pennsylvania Ave, a definitive stop on the Chitlin Circuit. Baltimore hosted legends such as Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton. All the while, simultaneously having a strong local music and entertainment scene that included Eubie Blake, Chick Webb and Cab Calloway. Even the famous Lady Day spent most of her youth and teenage years growing up in Baltimore. It was a city that was an essential part of American jazz History.”
Stay tuned. See http://www.tellmemoreandthensome.com for complete information, and to donate to donate to this worthy venture.
Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation
photo by Steve Monroe
Herb Scott performing at the Mid-Atlantic
Jazz Festival in February.
Saxophonist/jazz activist Herb Scott said recently he is launching the website soon for his Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation, at http://www.capitolhilljazzfoundation.org. Scott, who spoke about the foundation at the February Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival panel presentation on “Jazz Preservation, Education and Promulgation: Building A Mid-Atlantic Network,” says “The mission of the foundation is to produce a weekly jazz jam session, annual jazz festival and Conference and, daily arts advocacy related work. Our mission is to financially assist D.C. based Jazz musicians, venues and Jazz education programs.”
–InPerson … Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival
Vanessa Rubin, dazzling in her gold-sequined top and white pants, sang in a shout to the large crowd, “Are You Ready for Me?” at the feature show the first night of the 8th Annual Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival at the Hilton Hotel & Meeting Executive Center in Rockville last month. Then Rubin, with her guest Paul Carr, the festival impresario himself playing tenor sax, sang her way through a thoroughly entertaining set, including a rousing “All Blues,” delighting her fans and officially kicking off the festival.
Indeed, a VIP pre-event the night before featuring Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Rhythm Orchestra was a blast, per reports, and that first afternoon the T.C. Williams (Alexandria, Va.) High School jazz band and then trumpeter DeAndrey Howard & Collector’s Edition with sax man Tracy Cutler opened the weekend with some spicy sounds. Howard and Cutler shined on “Theme for Maxine,” “Yesterdays” and other tunes, along with pianist Bob Butta. Alto sax man Herb Scott, backed by pianist Hope Udobi’s melodic riffs. played a fine set that evening at the MAJF Club, with standards and originals, like his “Catch Me At The Jazz Show” jazzy rapping jam.
Saturday that weekend opened in the large hotel atrium with Carr’s Jazz Academy of Music group, highlighted by its Latin jam “Armando’s Hideaway,” the horns singing sweetly over he catchy beats of the rhythm section, and then the Olney Big Band delivered a fiery session of standards, with swinging horn section riffs.
The festival’s vocalist competition highlighted our own Danielle Wertz, shining on “Beautiful Love,” and a fine performance by Monica Pabelonio, among the other contestants, but Boston’s Lydia Harrell, with her dramatic, heartfelt and sultry phrasing on tunes like “Black Butterfly,” stole the show for this observer. Then Noel Simone Wippler, the 2016 MAJF vocal winner, delivered a hot set of her own, the statuesque beauty a sultry, hip-shaking wonder on tunes like “Sophisticated Lady” and “Moody’s Mood for Love.”
Also on Saturday, the panel discussion moderated by producer, journalist, promoter W.A. “Bill” Brower on “Jazz Preservation, Education and Promulgation: Building A Mid-Atlantic Network,” featured Scott, Barbara Grubbs of Contemporary Arts Inc., Prof. Judith Korey, Curator Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at UDC, vocalist/jazz activists Aaron Meyers and others for a lively session that aired thoughts and action steps on providing a better nurturing environment for jazz, including its musicians, its venues and its audiences.
The East Carolina University Jazz Ensemble, with saxes and swinging horns overall, wowed he atrium crowd, with vocalist “Samantha Kunz” soaring on “Stella By Starlight” and “I Wish I Would Know How It Would Feel to be Free” and “September. Vocalist Kathy Kosins delivered a bluesy, downhome set and the Guitar Summit featured Russell Malone, Paul Bollenback and Bobby Broom strummed up a storm with their session Saturday night.
Karen Lovejoy at Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival
The MAJF Collective, Akua Allrich on vocals, Janelle Gill, piano, and Savannah Harris, drums, were a highlight that Sunday of the festival, Allrich a witty and engaging entertainer as well as a stirring vocalist, leading the way on tunes like “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” “Black Coffee,” and her own tunes like “Take My Time” and “Red Bark,” with Gill’s insistent melodic charms on piano and Harris’ efficient drum passages complimenting Allrich’s rich and bluesy vocals and scatting riffs. Vocalist Karen Lovejoy, the “Jazz Goddess,” had a fine set of her own that day on “Close Your Eyes,” “St. Louis Blues,” here with her own sultriness and her vintage half-cry phrasing and then bluesy, finger-snapping, blues shouts. The Paul Carr Quartet that night featured Carr’s bluesy sax, and vocalist Jamie Davis’ booming baritone romantic treats on tunes like “Night and Day.”