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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Elijah Balbed Named Best New DC Jazz Musician By Washington City Paper

This is my son, and I couldn't be more proud, or more grateful to Mike West and Washington City paper:
...along with Balbed’s dedication comes a sleek but hefty saxophone sound and a great ear for improvisation. It all makes him one of the most exciting players in town—with one of the brightest futures.
» Best New D.C. Jazz Musician Elijah Balbed

Friday, March 19, 2010

Howard University's Amy K. Bormet, DC Jazz Shows' first interview

Here's our interview with piano player, vocalist, and composer Amy K. Bormet, one of DC's brightest young stars.

DCJS: You've taken an amazing musical path, from Duke Ellington School for the Arts, University of Michigan, Howard University, and now Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead. Did you make a pact with Satan?

Amy: Awesome. I have been tremendously blessed with incredible teachers, from Davey Yarborough at Ellington helping me apply to and prepared me for college, to fabulous Ellen Rowe at U. of Michigan who gave me so much love and knowledge. From there, Geri Allen, who went to Howard, and Fred Irby for convincing me to go back to grad school with the enticement of a free trip to Japan and a chance to write and perform music with all of the amazing people who I can't imagine my life without now. And of course Charlie Young told me to put together my application for Betty Carter Jazz Ahead.

DCJS: Did you get to work with Geri Allen at Michigan?

Amy: Of course. I stalked her from the first time I saw her play at the Kennedy Center when I was 16. She's a powerhouse and an incredibly passionate person. Last time I saw her was backstage at the McCoy Tyner/HUJE concert at the Kennedy Center. It was a remarkable night and I have a fond memory of sitting next to her in the wings watching McCoy's solo piano on "Search for Peace".

DCJS: Who are some of the other musicians (students or teachers) who most left an impression on you?

Amy: I have always been lucky to be around people who push and inspire me. From the notorious Ben Williams at Ellington, to CV Dashiell and Karine Chapdelaine at Howard University. At Michigan I had a great "Nat King Cole" style trio with my fiancee Matt Dievendorf (guitar) and Keith Reed (bass). I lived with a hilarious and monster bass player Andrew Kratzat. I love that guy. I have stayed in touch with most of the guys I went to school with and we all support each in our diaspora of jazziness. One of my favorite teachers at Michigan was Donald Walden, a beautiful tenor player who lived in Detroit. He passed away recently, and I always laugh thinking of him showing up to my senior recital in an all red outfit and declaring he was color-coordinating with my red cocktail number. He had me play on the Detroit Jazz Festival and it was a real memorable show.

DCJS: How's Jazz Ahead going? I heard the schedule is intense. I heard you guys killed it at JoJo's Thursday night.

Amy: It is ridiculously great. I'm exhausted already, but having such a good time. Dr. Billy Taylor is showing me voicings and Curtis Fuller is talking about my comping style. What more could a girl want? All of the players are really inspiring, and I can't wait for the shows next week. I have alot of people coming!

DCJS: Did you know Mark Williams before Jazz Ahead? (I found him on Twitter, and I LOVE his playing)

Amy: I knew he was going to be there because he went to Howard and was in HUJE. Irby was so excited that 4 of his students from Howard were going to be there in the same year. Mark is in my band, and he is a energetic and dramatic musician. I am so happy to get a chance to work with him, and to be around his upbeat personality.

DCJS: What's good and bad about the DC jazz scene? What would make it better?

Amy: I love the scene here. I feel like I have a big support system and I can do whatever I want to do artistically and be appreciated. I can't wait for the new Bohemian Caverns Big Band in a month so I can hang with some of my favorite people. We are lucky to have Mike West to write about Jazz in DC, and to have all the great places like Bohemian, or Rock and Roll Hotel, to see live music in and around town.

DCJS: How did you fall in love with jazz?

Amy: My mother is a clarinet player, and loves some Benny Goodman. I started out listening to Ella, and singing along with all of the tunes. From there I started playing piano in Jazz Band, and going to camps during the summer. There were always so many more good looking boys at the jazz camps in comparison to the musical theater camps I was attending. And that can be a really influential factor when you're 14.

About Amy Bormet:

Washington D.C.'s Amy K. Bormet is an active performer and current graduate student in the Howard University Jazz Department. With the Howard University Jazz Ensemble Amy performed at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater with NEA Jazz Master McCoy Tyner and toured Japan last May.

Amy has also been selected to participate in the Kennedy Center's inaugural Mary Lou Williams Piano Workshop in May 2010.

In addition to her piano performances Amy is a prolific composer. Her compositions have been performed on the HU Jazztet and HUJE 2009 CDs. She has been commissioned to arrange her composition "Lightning" for the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and HU's Afro Blue to be premiered April 24, 2010 on the National Mall.

Amy also composes and performs on piano, accordion, and voice with Brazilian Jazz Band "Aqui oh".

Find Amy Bormet on the web:

Huge News — the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra!

The Village Vanguard, Smoke, and other New York clubs have their own house big bands, and now DC has one too.
Monday nights have been dark at Bohemian Caverns since the demise of the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra last fall. But that’s about to change: Omrao Brown, co-owner and booker for the venerable jazz club, and baritone saxophonist Brad Linde have just finalized plans to resurrect Big Band Mondays. This time, however, it will be starring the brand new Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra.
The big band makes its debut on April 19, during Jazz Appreciation Month. Check out the Washington City Paper story for the full scoop and the full lineup.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Apollo Theater Exhibition Coming to Smithsonian in August

The first exhibition to explore the Apollo Theater’s seminal impact on American popular culture, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment examines the rich history and cultural significance of the legendary Harlem theater, tracing the story from its origins as a segregated burlesque hall to its starring role at the epicenter of African American entertainment and American popular culture.

Jazz at the Apollo:

Many music fans might associate the Apollo primarily with soul, R&B and funk, but Ramsey is quick to point out that a sizable segment of the theater’s heyday corresponds nicely with the period when jazz was very much a popular music. Therefore, few of the notable jazz bands and orchestras of the 30s and 40s didn’t perform there. Among the jazz artists who regularly appeared there were the orchestras of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chick Webb and Cab Calloway, as well as artists like Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan.The shift away from jazz occurred in stages but it happened concurrent with the birth and subsequent growth of rock and roll, soul and R&B. » continue reading here

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment will be on view at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History from April 23, 2010 until August 29, 2010

City Paper: Three DC Musicians in This Year’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency

DC should be proud:
The Kennedy Center’s prestigious Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program this year includes three D.C. jazz musicians in its ranks of 29 young artists from around the world.

Alto saxophonist John Kocur, pianist Amy Bormet, and drummer Nathan Jolley join musicians from Austria, Brazil, China, England, France, Greece, Israel, Japan, and Singapore, as well as elsewhere in the United States.
» continue reading here
Also in the program is Howard University's Christie Daschiell, and because of her longstanding ties to DC, I think we should claim her too. Christie sings with Howard U.'s Afro Blue, and she won the '08 Downbeat award for Performance in the Jazz Vocal Soloist Category.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DC Piano Player Harold Kaufman Dies

I knew Harold Kaufman pretty well from when he played at Charlie's Georgetown, which was fairly often. He was good friends with the owners, Bob and Betty Martin — I worked for Betty. I remember him as an often happy, smiling piano player at the club — I didn't know he was also a trained lawyer, and a psychiatrist and college professor.
Harold Kaufman, who was trained as a lawyer, then became a psychiatrist and college professor while moonlighting as a jazz musician and nightclub owner, died March 10 of heart disease at his home in Washington. He was 77.
On the club he owned, Harold's Rogue & Jar:
As he followed his restless mind from one field to another, the enduring constant in Dr. Kaufman's life was always his love of music. He was an accomplished jazz pianist who, during the 1970s, owned Harold's Rogue & Jar Club, which became an intimate gathering spot for the city's jazz lovers in the 1970s.

Throughout the week, such internationally prominent musicians as Tommy Flanagan, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz and Zoot Sims appeared at the Dupont Circle club, which also featured top local talent, including saxophonists Andrew White, Buck Hill and Marshall Keys. On Sunday nights, Dr. Kaufman took over the bandstand, leading his own group.

"He was a real force on the jazz scene in the '70s," said Tommy Cecil, who sometimes played bass with Dr. Kaufman. "It was a real haven for jazz musicians."

After hours, Dr. Kaufman sometimes brought musicians back to his Georgetown home for jam sessions that lasted until dawn.
And the "great characters" Tommy Cecil talked about, who hung around Harold's Rogue & Jar, are the same characters who moved over to Charlie's Georgetown when Harold's closed.
"There was always a circle of great characters as part of that club," recalled Cecil, who played bass with Dr. Kaufman the night the club closed in 1979. "You don't see that kind of environment anymore."

» Full story here

Monday, March 15, 2010

DC Jazz Shows on NPR's A Blog Supreme

Amazing. Thank you, Patrick Jarenwattananon.
From the jazz blogosphere to the jazz micro-blogosphere -- or perhaps the other way around. Enter Twitter Jazz Network, a group blog run by folks who are frequently talking about jazz on Twitter. It's the brainchild of @MaryamLovesJazz (personal Web site); she's also behind the calendar at DC Jazz Shows (also at @DCJazzShows), one of which I think every city needs.
Full story here: » Listen Up, You Twits: The Twitter Jazz Network

Friday, March 12, 2010

Robert Glasper at Bohemian Caverns

From Washington City Paper's Jazz Setlist:
Let’s not mince words: Robert Glasper is likely the best piano player of his generation. He grapples with chord changes the way a rodeo cowboy handles a bucking bronco, firmly riding them all the way to hell if that’s what it takes. He’s also among the hippest—Glasper is a hip-hop dynamo, playing keyboards behind Bilal, Mos Def, ?uestlove, and Q-Tip among others. » continue reading here
Robert Glasper appears at Bohemian Caverns Friday and Saturday night (3/12-13), at 8:30 & 10:30.

Bohemian Caverns is located on U Street in DC, at 2001 11th St. Phone number is 202-299-0800.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tonight! Regina Carter with New Music "Reverse Thread"

Regina Carter's new CD (5/18 release) is music like you've never heard before. A blend of African folk music and jazz, Regina created the antidote to over-wrought, over-the-top world music. This is jazz at its best — travelling the world, reaching out, embracing, and incorporating its roots.

Tonight at 8pm, BlackRock Center for the Arts

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BlackRock Center, Montpelier, and Vicino's added to calendar

BlackRock Center for the Arts, Germantown: Regina Carter, Paquito D'Rivera, Aaron Parks

Montpelier Arts Center, Laurel: Ethel Ennis, James King, Ron Holloway (and more)

Vicino's Ristorante, Silver Spring: Chuck Redd, Jolley Brothers, Buck Hill (and more)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jazz Times: Free Jazz Film Series at Library of Congress Coming in April

Larry Appelbaum presents Jazz in the Spring Film Series on Monday nights in April

By Lee Mergner

During successive Monday nights in April, longtime JT contributor Larry Appelbaum will be presenting another great film series at the Library of Congress, where he works as Senior Music Reference Specialist in the Music Division. The Jazz in the Spring Film Series includes four jazz-themed films: My Name is Albert Ayler; Deconstructing Dad: The Music, Machines and Mystery of Raymond Scott; Round Midnight; Han Bennink: Hazentlid. » continue reading here

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Album Spotlight: Regina Carter, Reverse Thread

Friend of DC Jazz Shows Atane Ofiaja agreed to write a review for Regina Carter's new CD, to be released on May 18th. Check it out.
I'm always on the lookout for excellent music, so I was ecstatic when my friend Maryam gave me the opportunity to review Regina Carter’s upcoming album, Reverse Thread.

Regina is a world-renowned jazz violinist. Her playing has been described as 'superlative', and that's an understatement. If you are not familiar with her work, you can check her out in the video below. It's a small sample of her dexterity with the violin. » continue reading here

Regina Carter will be appearing at Black Rock Center for the Arts on March 11th at 8pm.