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Sunday, February 28, 2010

DC's Connaitre Miller, Director of Howard University's "Afro Blue"

I don't believe they make better vocal ensemble directors than Connaitre Miller:
Connaitre Miller is currently Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Jazz Vocal Studies at Howard University in Washington, DC where she directs the award winning vocal jazz ensemble "Afro Blue," teaches vocal jazz improvisation, vocal jazz arranging, and gives individual voice lessons.

Great listing of DC-area jazz shows:
"Introduced in June, 2008, connects people to the heart of the thriving arts and culture community in the Greater Washington, DC region including the District of Columbia; Montgomery, Prince George's, Arlington and Fairfax Counties; and the City of Alexandria."
and also
" is produced by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustaining and increasing appreciation, support and resources for arts and culture throughout the region."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Note to DC Area Jazz Musicians, Venues, Patrons

I want to share with you a little bit about why I started this blog and Twitter account. What I'm hoping for, is to bring more attention to an incredible treasure that few cities in the world have — a historic, thriving, intensely creative, often-young, and very much alive jazz scene. Even New York cats talk about DC.

And there are plenty of DC cats who are essentially also New York cats, because they go there often to play. The DC-NY nexus can create a lot of opportunities for motivated musicians, like Eric Wheeler, Brian Settles, Joe Herrera, and many others.

I'm not convinced that in New York, you'll necessarily hear better music than in DC. There aren't many jazz bands in America that I like more than Young Lions (particularly when Allyn Johnson is playing.) There aren't a lot of piano players, living or dead, who I like more than Allyn Johnson, and also Harry Appelman (Afro-Bop Alliance & Duende.)

I can't even attempt to be comprehensive with my Jazz Calendar. Too much going on. But even with the events & venues I do have listed, you can see that on any given week there's a lot of jazz going on in DC.

It's great that we have a lot of big names come through. But the real heat, and the real energy in the DC jazz scene is among the locals, the musicians who are based in the DC area, or have roots here.

There are strong, years-long relationships — teachers and students, musicians who went to school together, and people who've played together. Much of the musical energy in DC centers around a number of institutions and key educators — like Howard University's Charlie Young, Duke Ellington's Davey Yarborough, Paul Carr and Jazz Academy.

There are strong musical families in DC, like drummer Nasar Abadey and his son Kush, who plays with Wallace Roney.

There's jazz twins Nate and Noble Jolley, whose father Noble Jolley Sr. was a jazz guitarist, composer, educator, and director of the jazz band at Duke Ellington School for the Arts in the 1980s. His daughter Rashida Jolley is a vocalist and harpist, currently on tour with Lady GaGa.

Through their constant gigging Nate and Noble Jolley add a lot of positive, creative energy to the local jazz scene, and a very young energy. The synergy that's developed between bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Nate Jolley, is a beautiful thing. Not many cities have that available several nights a week, and often with no cover charge.

Another DC musical family is the Carter family — father saxophonist Russell Carter Sr., drummer Russell Carter, bassist Rahsaan Carter, and piano player Roland Carter.

All of these musical relationships in DC, and all of these teachers and musical families, add to a sense of community here. I believe you can hear relationships in jazz. And in DC jazz, you can hear community.

What we have here is special. I think we should promote it more.

Nate Jolley, Christie Dashiell, and Amy Bormet Accepted Into Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead!

Congratulations to these exceptional young talents for making into Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead residency program for jazz musician-composers ages 30 and under.

  • Nate Jolley, drums

  • Amy Bormet, piano & vocals

  • Christie Dashiell, vocals

The list of names of serious cats who've come through this program is astounding — Cyrus Chestnut, Jason Moran, Jacky Terrasson, Nate Smith are just a few.

Here's Christie Dashiell, performing with Howard University's Afro Blue:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Regina Carter's "Reverse Thread" tour coming to Black Rock Center for the Arts

Regina Carter's Reverse Thread tour includes a performance at Black Rock Center for the Arts on March 11th (8pm). This was sent to me by Regina's team, from her publicist Pamela Lipshitz.

When preeminent violinist Regina Carter made the decision to record an album primarily of African folk tunes, she created a great challenge for herself: how do you take beautiful traditional music and infuse it with a contemporary feel while remaining true to its past — and then, not compromise its beauty? Her newest release, Reverse Thread, due out on E1 Entertainment on May 18th brilliantly responds to the challenge.

To achieve the uplifting and stirring result, Regina added an accordion and kora—the West African harp traditionally played by village storytellers—to her longstanding rhythm section. Kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko was brought on board to help recreate the spirit of passing stories from generation to generation. The result—unlike anything previously heard—is a haunting and beautiful compliment to Regina’s sumptuously seductive violin.

Without the support of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation, which "awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals," Reverse Thread might never have been realized. As a MacArthur Fellow — a recipient of what is commonly known as the "genius grant" — Carter was armed with the funds and the freedom to follow her muse.

Regina turned to the World Music Institute in New York City, in which she found a diverse and inspirational resource for material, including ethnographic field recordings.

Regina looked not just to the music, but also the accompanying sounds and nuances of everyday life from anthropological and sociological perspectives which informed the spirit of the new arrangements.

"There is an immense amount of amazing music coming from all around the world, much of which is barely accessible," emphasized Regina. "Reverse Thread gave me the opportunity to explore and celebrate a tiny portion of music that moved me."
Both "Hiwumbe Awumba" and "Mwana Talitambula" are based on field recordings from the Ugandan Jews, a community in eastern Uganda who although are not genetically or historically Jewish, practice the Jewish religion. Setting the inspirational tone for the album, the first track "Hiwumbe Awumba" originates from a field recording of a group singing, "God creates and then He destroys." Although the title is dark, the uplifting quality and spirit of the voice on the recording inspired Regina, and the final arrangement is a paean to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Using the field recording of a woman singing "Mwana Talitambula" as a departure point,

Regina's bass player Chris Lightcap split the melody between the violin and bass with a hypnotically emotive result.

Reverse Thread also embraces music of the African Diaspora. As but one example, "Un Aguinaldo" skillfully layers the rhythmic aspects of African music with harmonies originating in India and Puerto Rico.

Through her albums, incessant touring and various guest appearances and collaborations, Regina has developed into a distinctly diverse musical personality. She has repeatedly toured throughout the world, was the first jazz artist and African American to play Niccolo Paganini's famed Guarneri "Cannon" violin, has been featured with several symphony orchestras and performed with artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Billy Joel, Kenny Barron and Mary J. Blige.

With Reverse Thread, Regina takes a giant step forward by making a meaningful musical contribution on her own terms.


Regina Carter / Violin

Yacouba Sissoko / Kora

Adam Rogers / Guitar

Will Holshouser & Gary Versace / Accordion

Chris Lightcap & Mamadou Ba / Bass

Alvester Garnett / Drums & percussion


March 6 Johnstown, PA Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center

March 11 Germantown, MD Black Rock Center for the Arts

March 12 South Boston, VA The Prizery

March 15 Minneapolis, MN Northrop Memorial Auditorium

March 23-28 New York, NY Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

May 28 San Francisco, CA Herbst Theatre

June 11 & 12 Virginia Beach, VA Sandler Center for the Performing Arts

July 24 Rockport, MA Shalin Liu Performance Center

October 20 New York, NY Zankel Hall

Jazz at the Madison

It's not really clear if this is a new thing at the historic Madison Hotel on 15th Street downtown (right across from the Washington Post building), but they've posted a schedule for monthly jazz shows (beginning February 25th) in their Palette Restaurant. The schedule includes saxophonist Brooks Tegler, guitarist Ken Hatfield, and DC's favorite vibraphonist Chuck Redd. Shows start at 7pm and the cover is $20.

Click Agenda tab to view calendar as a list:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The push for pocket-park to be named after Duke Ellington

From The GW Hatchet:
Community members are putting their support behind a movement to re-name a triangle-shaped park located in the West End after jazz legend Duke Ellington.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A passed a resolution Feb. 17 in support of giving the now-unnamed park on New Hampshire Avenue, M and 21st streets an official name: Duke Ellington Park.

Triangle Park, as it has been informally labeled, is located just a stone's throw away from the jazz legend's birthplace, 2129 Ward Place.

» Continue reading here

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's Good in the Hood - Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival & Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, Get Press

The Gazette shows some love to Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival:

With two stages and other spaces located throughout the hotel, participants will be able to listen to music, take master classes, watch screenings of jazz documentaries and even shop. Naturally it is the live music jazz lovers are here to see. Artists Mulgrew Miller, Bobby Watson, Marc Cary and Lewis Nash are among the performers, and The Eric Byrd Trio will pay tribute to Ray Charles.

MAJF kicks off this Friday 2/19.

The Harvard Crimson reviews the Berklee appearance of Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour:

The show, which featured Kenny Barron on piano, Regina Carter on violin, Kurt Elling on vocals, Russell Malone on guitar, Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums, featured a beautiful display of some of the best mainstream jazz musicianship on today’s scene.

The Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour performance is Friday 2/19 at Strathmore.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's Good in the Hood - The 1st Annual Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival!

2/16 UPDATE: A performance this evening that I did not have on the calendar:

Bossa Bistro: District 6 | Matt Rippetoe | Joe Herrera | Anthony Pirog | Jon Ozment | Zack Pride | Larry Fergusen | 2463 18th Street|202-667-0088

Starting Friday 2/19, saxophonist and jazz educator Paul Carr, who created and leads the amazing Jazz Academy, will work his magic once again, this time on the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. Some of the performers at MAJF:

Paul Carr
Mulgrew Miller
Terell Stafford
Lewis Nash
Marc Cary
Maurice Lyles
George V. Johnson
Janine Carter
Bonnie Harris
Felicia Carter
Bobby Watson

Click here for full schedule of performances,

Monday, February 15, 2010

What's Good in the Hood - MAJF and a big week in DC jazz!

It's weeks like this that makes jazz fans in other cities wish they lived in DC.

Monday 2/15:
Blues Alley: Brad Linde Ensemble CD Release Party (Sax) | 1069 Wisc. Ave. | 202-337-4141

Tuesday 2/16:
Clarice Smith Cntr: (FREE) Take Five: Afro Bop Alliance | Univ. of Maryland, College Park | 301-405-ARTS

Friday 2/19 - Sunday 2/21:
Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival (Paul Carr, Mulgrew Miller, Terell Stafford, Lewis Nash & more) | 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD | 301-871-0858

Friday 2/19:
Strathmore: Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour: The Kenny Barron Trio, Regina Carter, Kurt Elling, Russell Malone, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Johnathan Blake | 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD | 301-581-5100

Sunday 2/21:
Clarice Smith Cntr: Joshua Redman Trio, Reuben Rogers (bass), Gregory Hutchinson (drums) | Univ. of Maryland, College Park | 301-405-ARTS

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's Good in the Hood - New Jazz Blog

A new blog focused on the great Tweeps promoting jazz on Twitter, Twitter Jazz Network at

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's Good in the Hood - It's On Like Popcorn!

The snow is thawing and the jazz is on tonight. From the DC Jazz Shows' Twitter feed:

ElijahJamalJazz (Elijah Jamal Balbed)

Lookin forward to this hit with Junebug at HR-57 tonight! The blizzard depression is over. #Jazz #DC

HR57 1610 14th St. | 202-667-3700

paulpieper (Paul Pieper)

I'll be at Cafe Nema tonight from 8:30-12:30. Tedd Baker-Tenor, Paul Pieper-Guitar, Tommy Cecil-Bass, John Lamkin-Drums.

Cafe Nema 1211 U St. | 202-667-8880

mobettabass (Kevin Pace)

We're all back at the POV tonight. See you at 10pm!

Herrerajazz (Joe Herrera)

POV Lounge tonight 10-2am. Kevin Pace, Webb Grant, Gene D'Andrea and myself.

POV 515 15th St. | 202-661-2400

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's Good in the Hood - AfroBop Alliance

UPDATE 4: AfroBop Alliance's amazing piano player, Harry Appelman, has been added to Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson Quartet's lineup for their performance at HR57 this Friday, 2/12.

UPDATE 3: HR57 will be closed through Thursday. They plan to reopen Friday but ask that customers continue checking their web site for further updates.

UPDATE 2 VIA TWITTER: A great map of 14th & U, and Columbia Heights restaurant openings and closings (via @DCBrit)

UPDATE VIA TWITTER: The Kennedy Center will close at 3 p.m. today. All performances for Wed., Feb. 10 are cancelled.

Please call venues to find out status of performances — phone numbers for venues are provided on our calendar along with all show listings.

Check out this video of DC's 2008 Grammy winners AfroBop Alliance, and see them live at a free performance at Clarice Smith Center on 2/16.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What's Good in the Hood - Snow or Shows?

With 10-20 more inches of snow in the forecast, please check with venues to find out if performances will go on as scheduled.

Here are some of the shows on the DC Jazz Shows Calendar:
2/9 Blues Alley - Baltimore native jazz trumpeter Tom Williams CANCELLED
2/10 Wolf Trap - The Bad Plus The Bad Plus performance has rescheduled for Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 8 pm
2/12 Westminster - Thad Wilson Big Band
2/11-14 Twins Jazz (11-14th) Felicia Carter
Bohemian Caverns - 2/12 Akua (vocals)| 2/13 Matvei Sigalov (violin) | 2/14 Heidi Martin (vocals)
2/16 Clarice Smith Center - AfroBop Alliance, FREE performance

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What's Good in the Hood - Azar Lawrence and The Legacy of Billie Holiday

Monday 2.8.10

[This event has been rescheduled for 2/22] Visit the Mansion at Strathmore for a multi-media lecture by Howard University's Jessica Boykin-Settles, The Legacy of Billie Holiday, 11:00am - 12:30.

Tenor Saxophonist Azar Lawrence, who played with Miles in the '70s, will perform at Blues Alley. From AllAboutJazz: "Lawrence's two-saxophone group presents a more heated approach on Legacy and Music of John Coltrane, his hard-edged sound,  honed through early experience with former Coltrane pianist McCoy Tyner, exuding wisdom." Marc Medwin, AllAboutJazz, September 2009

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What's Good in the Hood

The Lena Seikaly performance at Kennedy Center tonight has been cancelled

 Don't miss Lena Seikaly's free performance at the Kennedy Center tonight, at 6pm on the Millenium Stage.
Watch a video of Lena's debut performance at The Kennedy Center.