By Steve Monroe
We honor Carl Grubbs, a performer last year at the Anacostia Community Museum, as one of our July birthday jazz heroes, along with Johnny Hartman, Hank Mobley, Billy Eckstine, Philly Joe Jones, Cal Tjader, Charlie Christian and others.
“Carl Grubbs alto, soprano and tenor saxophonist, is a native of Philadelphia, PA. He received early training from John Coltrane, who was married to his cousin, Naima … Carl’s career can best be described as one of diversity; composer, performer, teacher, leader, recording artist and presenter. With his late brother, Earl Grubbs he formed the Visitors, a quintet that recorded for Muse record label in the early 1970’s. Carl is a former member of the Julius Hemphill Saxophone Sextet; this group toured the United States and Europe performing two productions; Hemphill’s Long Tongues: A Saxophone Opera and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Production, Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin: The Promised Land. In recognition of his musical accomplishments, Carl was awarded the 2009 Baker Artist Award. Carl has twice received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1983 & 1985). In 2003 his CD Stepping Around The Giant, was voted “Best of Baltimore” CD by Baltimore magazine.”
–All About Jazz/www.allaboutjazz.com … (Grubbs performs at Germano’s Piattini (www.germanospiattini.com) in Baltimore July 7.)
Killgo’s Blakey tribute, Boykin-Settles,
Whitfield, Williams highlight weekend jazz
Drummer Keith Killlgo, master of the traditional jazz and jazz fusion worlds and other genres, leads the Tribute to Art Blakey show at 6 p.m. tonight, Friday June 29, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, while vocalist Jessica Boykin-Settles appears at Sotto, guitarist Mark Whitfield plays at Blues Alley and saxophonist Bruce Williams entertains at Twins Jazz.
Killgo, who attended Howard University and was a member of trumpeter/educator Donald Byrd’s legendary, groundbreaking group The Blackbyrds, plays at Westminster with Jon Ozment, piano, Michael Bowie, bass, Thad Wilson, trumpet and Grant Langford, saxophone. Following Boykin-Settles tonight at Sotto, pianist/keyboardist Frederico Pena performs there tomorrow, Saturday night. Saxophonist Williams is at Twins tonight and Saturday night, while vocalist Tony Compton appears at the DC Jazz Jam at the Brixton Restaurant Sunday, July 1. Bassist, composer Michael Bowie is at Blues Alley Monday, July 2 with his “Never Die Listening” CD release party.
Next week saxophonist Ben Sands appears at Westminster July 6 with Vince Smith, piano, Wes Biles, bass, Ron Compton, drums and Tiya Ade, vocals. The John Lamkin “Favorites” Quintet appears at Twins Jazz July 6-7, with vocalist Sharon Clark at The Alex/Graham Georgetown Hotel July 7, and the Carl Grubbs Jazz Quartet presents “Bebop Madness: A Tribute to the Masters” July 7 at Germano’s Piattini (www.germanospiattini.com) in Baltimore. Saxophonist Dan Wallace is at the DC Jazz Jam at The Brixton July 8.
Elsewhere, the Khalid Gray Unitet plays at Anacostia Arts Center for its “Second Sunday Jazz” show from 2 to 4 p.m. July 8 in a performance produced by the center (www.anacostiaartscenter.com) and East River Jazz (www.eastriverjazz.net).
The Khalid Gray Unitet includes Gray on trombone, Julian Spires, piano/keyboard, Wally Davies, bass and Angeliqua Bethea, drums. The Anacostia Arts Center is at 1231 Good Hope Road, S.E. This is a free admission event, with donations “appreciated” according to East River Jazz. Online reservations are suggested. See http://www.anacostiaartscenter.com or http://www.eastriverjazz.net for more information.
OTHER JULY HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE: Tony Martucci, July 8, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton; Lionel Lyles, July 8, An die Musik/Baltimore; Lake Arbor Jazz Festival Summer White Affair, July 13, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club; The Smokin; Five/ w Kenny Rittenhouse, Antonio Parker, July 13, Westminster Presbyterian Church; Frank Lacy, July 13-14, Twins Jazz; Warren Wolf Presents, July 13-14, An die Musik/Baltimore; Lake Arbor Jazz Festival/Norman Brown, July 14, Lake Arbor Community Center; #SonicDuo/Allyn Johnson/Reginald Cyntje, July 15, An die Musik/Baltimore; Lake Arbor Jazz Festival Sunday Jazz Brunch, July 15, Bethesda Blues & Jazz;
Also: Lake Arbor Jazz Festival Grand Finale Jam, July 15, Bethesda Blues & Jazz; Jordan Dixon, July 15, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton; Pete Muldoon, July 22, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton; Shannon Gunn & The Bullettes, July 16, Blues Alley; Brad Linde, July 17, An die Musik/Baltimore; Duane Eubanks Quintet, July 18, Blues Alley; Lena Seikaly, July 18, Live from the Lawn/Strathmore; and Poncho Sanchez, July 19, Blues Alley; Steve Washington, July 20, Westminster; New Directions in Music/George Spicka, July 20, Maryland Institute College of Art; Project Natale, July 20-21, Twins Jazz; Paige Wroble, July 21, The Alex; Clarence Ward III & DMV Collective, July 21, An die Musik; Pete Muldoon, July 22, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton; Fairfax Swing Jazz Ensemble, July 23, Blues Alley; Jeff Antoniuk & John D’Earth Quintet, July 24, Blues Alley; Joe Vetter Quartet, July 25, Twins Jazz; A DC/Baltimore Connection, July 27, Westminster; Jazz Night at the Movies/Art Blakey, July 27, Westminster; Kenny Rittenhouse, July 27-28, Twins Jazz; Lionel Lyles, July 28, Germano’s Piattini/Baltimore; “Bass In 3D Rex + 2/Mike Bowie/JamesKing/Steve Novosel, July 28, NOVA Community College/Alexandria; Integriti Reeves, July 28, The Alex/Graham Georgetown Hotel; Charles Covington Trio, July 28, An die Musik/Baltimore; Lenny Robinson, July 29, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton.
“DC Jazz” book released
The book “DC Jazz,” edited by Maurice Jackson, associate professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University, and Blair Ruble, vice president for programs at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was released in June. It is a welcome expansion on the special 2014 “Jazz in Washington” issue from the Historical Society of Washington (www. dchistory.org), a publication noted frequently in recent years in Jazz Avenues.
The original articles in that publication have been augmented by: chapters honoring women in the D.C. jazz scene, by Bridget Arnwine of http://www.beatsandbebopmedia.com; a history of Howard University and the Howard University Jazz Ensemble’s role in the music, by Lauren Sinclair, HU violinist and faculty member at American University; reflections on the University of the District of Columbia’s special contributions to jazz in D.C., by Judith A. Korey, professor of music and curator of the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at UDC; and poetry by E. Ethelbert Miller.
The book, dedicated to Roger “Buck” Hill and Geri Allen, also includes a foreword by Jason Moran, pianist, Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center and Distinguished Artist in Residence at Georgetown University.
Cornerstore wins DC JazzPrix competition
The DC Jazz Festival has announced The Cornerstore as the winner of its third annual DC JazzPrix, following a competitive international final concert show that was part of June’s 14th annual DC JazzFest presented by Events DC. The finals took place before “an enthusiastic, standing room only audience” at the Hyatt House at The Wharf.in Southwest.
photo by Ronald Weinstock
The Cornerstore, led by bassist Kris Funn and based in Baltimore, competed in the finals against four fellow finalists: Jonathan Barber & Vision Ahead (NYC), Emmet Cohen Trio (NYC), Roxy Coss Quintet (NYC), and the LRK Trio (Moscow, Russia). In addition to a $15,000 cash prize, The Cornerstore earned a year-long association with the DCJF for professional development consultation, business support and a mainstage 2019 DC JazzFest engagement, according to DC Jazz Festival information.
“We are thrilled to have very successfully completed our third DCJazzPrix, which this year became an international competition, adding even more cultural diversity to the DC Jazz Festival’s burgeoning global offerings. DCJazzPrix is designed to help launch and promote the careers of emerging jazz ensembles,” said DCJF Executive Director Sunny Sumter.
The Cornerstore includes Howard University graduate Funn, John Lee, guitar, and Funn’s fellow HU alum Quincy Phillips, drums. Between them they have performed with such artists as Sean Jones, Christian Scott, Pharoah Sanders, Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Kamasi Washington, Hassan Hakmoun, Cyro Baptista, Fatoumata Diawara and many others. Cornerstore released its first album “CornerStore” in 2017.
For more information see http://www.cornerstoremusic.com.
Petworth Jazz features Elijah Jamal Balbed
The Petworth Jazz Project in Northwest D.C., a free, outdoor, live jazz series, features saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed in performance at 6 p.m. July 29 for a show billed as “Elijah Jamal Balbed Presents an Evening of Jazz and Go-Go.” Balbed, our own wunderkind of New York City jazz scene experience and multi-genre musicianship, delivers jamming shows playing mainstream/contemporary/free with his various groups — and go-go/hip hop influenced sounds with his JoGo Project group.
Elijah Jamal Balbed
Started in May of 2011 in the Petworth neighborhood of D.C., the jazz shows are on the lawn of the Petworth Recreation Center at 8th and Taylor St. NW. Concerts occur on the last Saturday of each month May through September. All shows begin with a 40-minute kids show. For more information go to http://www.petworthjazz.com, http://www.elijahjamalbalbed.com or http://www.jogoproject.com.
Brother Ah, JACS spotlighted in the media
In case you missed these items, Willard Jenkins, DC Jazz Festival guru and WPFW-FM programmer, featured our own musician, historian, WPFW-FM programmer Brother Ah in Jenkins’ Open Sky blog in May. Check it out at http://www.openskyjazz.com/2018/05/a-life-in-music-from-robert-northern-to-brother-ah/.
And noted writer Michael J. West, who has started a weekly column, “Crescendo in Blue” in Washington City Paper, featured the Jazz and Cultural Society in a story for the Washington Post. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/music/at-alices-jazz-and-cultural-society-theyre-there-to-hear-the-music/2018/05/08/90fbe46c-4ee9-11e8-b725-92c89fe3ca4c_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0ea08e71ab18.
–InPerson…DC Jazz Festival
Tia Fuller’s performance at City Winery was one of the highlights of June’s DC Jazz Festival, with the alto saxophonist and composer following the rousing show by the opening String Queens with a rousing show of her own, blowing some hot, soaring and wailing licks on tunes from her recent “Diamond Cut” album, and tender, enchanting riffs on Cole Porter’s tune “I Love You,” while supported in fine form by her group, in particular by some scintillating licks from guitarist Andrew Renfroe.
Fuller, a native of Aurora, Colo., is a touring artist and also full-time professor at the Berklee School of Music. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Spelman College in Atlanta, and master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Tia’s quartet has performed world-wide, including: Angola, Croatia, South Africa, North Sea, Umbria, Edinburgh jazz festivals, and NYC’s prestigious Lincoln Center’s: Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, just to name a few, according to her website http://www.tiafuller.com.
Saxophonist and trumpeter Clarence Ward III blew some ripping licks on both instruments on tunes like “Star Eyes” and “Misty” and his own originals during his show at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, backed by Mark Meadows’ bright ripples on piano and bassist Kris Funn’s grooving bass work.
Vocalist Rochelle Rice delivered an impassioned set at The Wharf that last Sunday of the festival with a stirring ”Think of The Children” and “Stella by Starlight,” among other tunes, with Brent Birckhead on sax and Meadows on piano providing fine musicianship behind her.
Also that last day, Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana pleased a large crowd with some funky, soulful and then contemplative, melancholy streams of spirited riffing during her set at The Wharf. Reginald Cyntje’s group with Brian Settles on sax played some sparkling Caribbean/calypso tunes, and Ancestral Memories, led by saxophonist Yosvany Terry jammed away on that sunny afternoon for the festival crowds along the river.
–InPerson…other June, May events
Some of the other fine performances around town we wanted to mention include tenor saxophonist Frank Mitchell Jr.’s set at a new venue, the Colony Club on Georgia Ave. Northwest in D.C., in May when he riffed mightily on “All The Things You Are,” “Impressions” and “St. Thomas” with a big, bluesy tenor voice and wry, playful lines, backed in grooving form in particular by his bassist Alex Nowak and drummer Mylie Durham IV. That same night the John Lamkin II “Favorites” Quintet pleased a large crowd at the Jazz and Cultural Society in Northeast D.C., trumpeter and flugelhornist Lamkin with clean, glowing lines on standards and some funky, searing riffs on more soul jazz tunes, backed by Bob Butta’s vintage melodic journeys on piano, the booming bass lines of Michael Graham and drummer Jesse Moody’s often funky splashes and rolls.
Elijah Jamal Balbed led his JoGo Project in a funky, jamming, driving set at Marvin’s on 14th Street N.W. in D.C. later in May, with Balbed himself doing some rapping and jiving along with playing his usual killer tenor sax riffs to the go-go, jazzy beat as the horns, drums and other instruments and vocalists filled the room with a non-stop party. Sam Prather on keyboards highlighted the melodies, with Balbed’s group delivering a signature mix of genres and sounds for the, at one point, standing room only crowd.
And our top alto saxophonist Antonio Parker, with his own searing, soaring riffs, led his trio in a spirited performance in early June for a National Black Music Month series show at the Woodridge Library in Northeast D.C. With vocalist Sendy Brown, Parker’s group delivered a mix of jazz, soul and more than a little gospel, on tunes like John Coltrane’s “Alabama,” “I Wish I Knew How It Feels to be Free,” “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”
–InReview…Claudio Ottaviano “Aurora”
Here’s a shout out to Italian double bassist Claudio Ottaviano, who submitted his most recent album “Aurora” for comment and the CD deserves acclaim for its clean, expert musicianship, by Ottaviano, pianist Antonio Zambrini, saxophonist Tino Tracanna and drummer Robert Paglieri. Highlights for this listener are the darkly intriguing “Cabaret Noir” and the intimately absorbing “Private Eyes,” on an album brimming with romance and melancholia.