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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.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I'm not sure where to submit this, so I'll just make it a comment.
    Olney Theatre Center is hosting our second Jazz series starting out On May 22 at 8PM with Valery Ponomarev and the Steve Rudolph Trio. This promises to be an exciting night of music.
    Tickets are just $26 and available by calling (301) 924-3400 or online at

    We'd love if you could include this in your calendar.