by Steve Monroe
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Just happened to be enjoying the classic CD “Pres and Teddy” by The Lester Young-Teddy Wilson Quartet (Verve, 1956), and focusing on the exquisiteness of Wilson’s piano playing and realized Wilson (1912-1986) is one of our birthday heroes this month, and his birthday Nov. 24 is also Thanksgiving Day.
From the book “Jazz Portraits” by Len Lyons and Don Perlo, William Morrow and Company Inc., 1989: “ Working with the legacy of rough-hewn and powerfully exciting stride pianists, Wilson sculpted complex and cleanly articulated right-hand melodies that inspired his descendants to improvise with greater refinement and sophistication. He was best known in the late 1930s for his work with the Benny Goodman quartet that included Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa, although he is equally celebrated by musicians for his elegant accompaniment of Billie Holiday during the same period.
“Wilson’s parents were both teachers at Sam Houston State University in Texas, until the family moved to Alabama, where Teddy grew up. His father became head of he English department at the Tuskegee Institute, and his mother was a librarian. Teddy studied music there and at Talladega College, where he developed an appreciation for the classics and a disciplined, schooled approach to the music …”
Sterling pianist Larry Brown has a busy month, playing
Friday Nov. 4 and Sat. Nov. 5 at Twins Jazz; Nov. 18 at
Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club; and Nov. 19 at
Germano/Piattini’s in Baltimore.
Marshall, Brown, Marten, Seikaly and Meadows
highlight first November jazz weekend
Keyboardist Terry Marshall, pianist Larry Brown, vocalists Gail Marten and Lena Seikaly, and entertainer/keyboard specialist Mark Meadows are featured performers as November jazz gets into high gear.
Marshall leads an ensemble Friday Nov. 4 at Westminster Presbyterian Church (see more below). Meanwhile, pianist Larry Brown kicks off a two-night stay at Twins jazz with his quintet, including Kent Miller on bass, Greg Holloway on drums, Thad Wilson on trumpet, and Peter Fraize on tenor sax.
Also on Fri Nov. 4, there will be a “Staged Reading and Jazz Performance” ($20) at the Jazz and Cultural Society, on 12th Street N.E. in D.C., featuring the Black Women’s Playwright Group and Changamire. On Sunday Nov. 6 the Firm Roots Organ Trio plays at JACS (www.jazzandculturalsociety.com).
Up the road a bit, a fundraiser for Bridges to Housing Stability Saturday Nov. 5 features vocalist Gail Marten with her quartet, the Wake Campbell Quartet and a band led by a D.C. area favorite, sax man Ron Holloway, in a concert at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center, 7246 Cradlerock Way in Columbia. Tickets are $65 available at wwwevenbrite.com/e/just-jazz-in-tickets-26934526895, or call 410-312-5760 for more information.
Keyboardist Terry Marshall leads a group
Friday Nov. 4 at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Vocalist Lena Seikaly performs
Sat. Nov. 5 at The Alex in Georgetown.
Meanwhile Saturday Nov. 5 marks the kickoff of pianist Chris Grasso’s latest vocalist series, “Speakeasy Jazz Nights at Alex,” a brand new venue, with Lena Seikaly and guitarist Steve Herberman to perform. The Alex – formally named The Alex Craft Cocktail Cellar – is the bar/lounge on the ground floor of The Graham Georgetown, a sleek boutique hotel in Georgetown in D.C. See http://www.chrisgrassomusic.com or http://www.thegrahamgeorgetown.com for more information. And if you have time, check out the rooftop bar. Also Sat. Nov. 5, Chucho Valdes and the Joe Lovano Quintet appear at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (www.washingtonperformingarts.org).
On Monday Nov. 7 Mark Meadows, having made his mark recently as an entertainer and vocalist as well as pianist in the recent “Jelly’s Last Jam” production, performs Monday, Nov. 7 in the Piano Jazz Series at the Arts Club of Washington. In Bethesda on Monday Nov. 7 Larry Carlton is at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.
Songstress Kristine Key takes the stage
Nov. 9 at Jazz and Cultural Society.
Other November highlights include: Vocalist Kristine Key performs Nov. 9 at JACS; UDC saxophone ace Jordon Dixon Nov. 10, Twins Jazz; Peabody Jazz Combo Series, Nov. 10,Peabody Institute/Baltimore; McCoy Tyner Quartet Nov. 11-12, Blues Alley; Jeff Cosgrove Trio/ w Matthew Shipp, Nov. 11, An Die Musik/Baltimore … David Murray Quintet, Nov. 12, An Die Musik; Michel Nirenberg, Nov. 11-12, Twins Jazz; McCoy Tyner Quartet, Nov. 11-12, Blues Alley; Alison Crockett/Geoff Reecer, Nov. 12,The Alex at The Graham Georgetown; Wayne Shorter, Nov. 12, Kennedy Center; and Elijah Balbed, Nov. 13, The Brixton/DC Jazz Jam.
Young lion sax man Elijah Balbed
leads the DC Jazz Jam at The Brixton
Nov. 13 and plays with The JoGo Project
Nov. 21 at Blues Alley.
Sharon Clark performs with Chris Grasso
at Jazz and Cultural Society Nov. 13 and
at The Alex Nov. 19.
Dazzling entertainer and vocalist
Roberta Gambarini appears at Blues Alley Nov. 17-20
Also: Vocal masterclass with Chris Grasso and Sharon Clark Nov. 13, JACS; Arturo O’Farrill Afro/Latin Jazz Quintet, Nov. 13, Baltimore Museum of Art; Omar Sosa & JOG Trio, Nov. 14, Blues Alley; The Bridge Trio, Nov. 14, Kennedy Center/Millennium Stage; Darden Purcell CD Release Party, Nov. 15, Blues Alley; Michael Thomas Quintet, Nov. 15, Bethesda Blues & Jazz; BSO: Doc Severinsen and Friends—The Art of the Big Band, Nov. 17, Music Center at Strathmore; Jazz Band Master Class, Nov. 17, Twins Jazz; Vince Evans Quintet, Nov. 18, Westminster; Larry Brown, Nov. 18, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club; Roberta Gambarini, Nov. 17-20, Blues Alley; Jeff Antoniuk & The Jazz Update, Nov. 18-19, Twins Jazz; Tia Fuller’s Angelic Warrior Quartet, Nov. 19, Kennedy Center; Sharon Clark, Nov. 19, The Alex; Larry Brown, Nov. 19, Germano’s Piattini/Baltimore; Victor Provost, Nov. 20, The Brixton/DC Jazz Jam; Elijah Balbed & The JoGo Project, Nov. 21, Blues Alley; Swing Shift, Nov. 22, Blues Alley; Lionel Lyles, Nov. 23, JACS; Bobby Felder’s Big Band, Nov. 25, Westminster; Jazz Night at the Movies: Horace Silver, Nov. 25, Westminster; Benito Gonzalez, Nov. 25-26, An Die Musik/Baltimore; Bruce Williams, Nov. 25-26, Blues Alley; Danielle Wertz/Jonah Udall, Nov. 26, The Alex; Joe Herrera, Nov. 27, The Brixton/DC Jazz Jam; Carl Bartlett, Nov. 27, JACS; Heidi Martin Quartet “Celebrating Abbey Lincoln,” Nov. 29, Blues Alley.
Vocalist Danielle Wertz appears with
guitarist Steve Herberman Nov. 26
at The Alex.
Master percussionist Lenny Robinson
appears with Paul Carr (below) when Sharon Clark sings
Nov. 11 at Westminster, along with Chris Grass on piano
and Tommy Cecil on bass.
Many Thanks We Give to Westminster
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, we give many thanks for Westminster Presbyterian Church at 400 I Street in Southwest D.C., a place that as its web site says, “… is an accepting, caring, risk-taking community, open to the Spirit in people and places too often rejected and ignored.” And a place which since 1999 has provided always entertaining Jazz Nights for a modest fee, as well as delicious food on Friday nights, and since 2006 a Blues Monday on Monday nights.
“Jazz Night in DC presents some of the finest jazz musicians in a lively presentation of classical, straight-ahead jazz every Friday,” says the website and this month is no different, featuring the Terry Marshall Ensemble Friday Nov. 4, with Marshall on piano, Iva Ambush, Decosta Brown and Kendra Johnson, vocals, Ben Young, guitar, David Marsh, bass and Francis Thompson, drums.
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Hall of Fame music maker and educator Bobby Felder
leads his big band Nov. 25 at Westminster.
Next up will be dynamic, widely-acclaimed songstress Sharon Clark on Nov. 11, with Chris Grasso on piano, Paul Carr, sax, Tommy Cecil, bass and Lenny Robinson, drums. On Nov.18 the Vince Evans Quintet Nov. 18 takes the stage with Evans on piano and vocals, Freddie Dunn, trumpet, Craig Alston, sax, Eliot Seppa, bass and Jay Jefferson, drums. The annual appearance by the Bobby Felder Big Band provides a rousing climax for the month on Nov. 25, with the legendary trombonist, bandleader and educator Felder featuring Queen Aisha on vocals, Michael Thomas, trumpet, Herb Scott, sax and many others.
Craig Alston, Baltimore’s own, is to play
with Bobby Felder’s Big Band Nov. 25 at Westminster.
Trumpet maestro Michael Thomas
is to play Nov. 15 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz,
and with Bobby Felder’s Big Band Nov. 25 at Westminster.
Our master percussionist, composer and bandleader Nasar Abadey, a frequent performer at Westminster over all these years, said this in a statement:
“Westminster Presbyterian Church has for years been committed to presenting quality (jazz} music at affordable prices on a consistent basis. Additionally, Dick Smith with Reverend Brian Hamilton’s backing and support, have maintained that only area based musicians are allowed to perform there. For that audience you have to play the truth; gotta be real or they’ll walk out on you or not show up at all. I look at the whole idea as a community service to perform there because many patrons of the church are on a fixed income and it gives me great pleasure to perform for such an appreciative audience. I could write a book about them but I’ll save THAT for later!”
So, thank you to the church and its leadership, co-pastors Brian and Ruth Hamilton. We appreciate, as the website says and their programs over the years have shown, “their creative, authentic, and innovative ministry.”
For more information, go to http://www.westminsterdc.org, or call 202-484-7700.
Legendary programmer and
for the music Bobby Hill Jr.
Bobby Hill Now at WOWD-LP
Bobby Hill tells us he has “transitioned” from WPFW-FM 89.3, his longtime home (a big loss for them) to the new WOWD-LP, the Takoma Park startup playing many types of alternative music including several jazz programs. Hill’s email alert:
Did you hear? After 3-decades plus, Bobby Hill has transitioned from WPFW to WOWD. WOWD is Takoma Park’s NEW! FM (94.3FM) & streaming (takomaradio.org) radio station. Bobby brings and shares:“This! Music” – Free, improvised and other creative forms of jazz-based music. No standards. No standard repertoire. Saturdays 10AM-1PM.”
photo courtesy Assaf Kehati
The Assaf Kehati Trio at Blues Alley Oct. 24.
InPerson … Assaf Kehati
Guitarist Assaf Kehati’s trio performed for a good crowd at Blues Alley last month, displaying a nimble sound that floated from jazz to jazz rock and more than a little jazzy blues rock at times.
Kehati, originally from Israel came to the states in 2007 and has played with performers such as George Garzone, Donny McCaslin, Anat Cohen and drummers Victor Lewis and Billy Hart. He has received acclaim for his albums “A View From My Window,” “Flowers and Other Stories,” and “Naked.
That night at Blues Alley Kehati, along with a humorous, entertaining stage presence that enlivened the evening and brought smiles from the crowd, displayed a deft touch and a feel for bright melodicism, shown on tunes like “My Little Sunshine,” with Kehati strumming gently at the start, then picking up the cadence with darting lines of free spirited joy, “Englishman in New York” and “Enjoy the Silence.”
High points of the set included Kehati’s playfulness on an intriguing arrangement of “Old Devil Moon,” but also some inventive, straight ahead riffing. “Naked,” the title tune from his latest album, which Kehati described as talking about “being true to who you are and what you are about,” was a mystical dramatic journey with his contemplative lines of racy and bluesy searching, and exploring emotions.
“Can You Come for A Second,” became a jamming, foot-stomping bluesy trip, Kehati picking, then strumming intensely, over the throbbing bass of Michael O’Brien and the efficient rapping and cymbal work by drummer Peter Traunmueller.
For more information see http://www.assafkehati.com.
InReview … Christie Dashiell “Time All Mine”
A songbird known for her many flights of uplifting vocals with Howard University’s award-winning Afro Blue group and recordings by Reginald Cyntje and Sin Qua Non in particular, Christie Dashiell, a semifinalist in last year’s Thelonious Monk vocalist competition has stepped out with a formidable debut CD, “Time All Mine” on the House Studio Records label.
Highlights include the title tune, with Dashiell’s elegant vocals embellishing “time” in the stirring choruses, as well as “Dreamland,” an enchanting, catchy melody ride, “Dynasty,” featuring Dashiell’s seamless, quicksilver scats, “Oh,” a true gem for its emotive and rhythmic simplicity and urgent and soaring Dashiell phrasings. The true standout is “How to Love,” with Dashiell’s frank, open and pure storytelling delivery in a song, and song in a story dramatic interplay.
For more information, see http://www.christiedashiell.com.
InReview …. Michael Tracy’s “Hora Certa”
From Russia to Japan to Brazil and many locations in between, educator Michael Tracy has earned laurels as one of our foremost “Ambassadors of Jazz” – and he plays a pretty mean saxophone too.
“I love being in Brazil, being around my Brazilian friends in their homeland and in the States,” says Tracy on the liner notes of his most recent CD, “Hora Certa.” “ … ‘My Brazilian Journey’ started in 1998, my first of many trips … It is my hope that this recording shares that journey, that love of the music, the life of this country and its people.”
Saxophonist and professor Michael Tracy.
Indeed “Hora Certa” (or “Right Time”) flows through the speakers as a song of enjoyment, with the tunes, all originals by the musicians on the CD, recorded in March and May 2015.
The title tune “Hora Certa,” sizzles with Tracy’s tenor saxophone riffs ripping and rolling over the hot guitar of Eudes Carvalho, the rippling piano of Flavio Silva, Hamilton Pinheiro’s bluesy and grooving bass lines and Pedro Almeida’s colorful melodies and whipping riffs of his own on drums.
“Bem Brazil” highlights Silva’s ringing touch on piano and Tracy’s bluesy, wailing tenor flights. “Waltz for Julia” showcases Carvalho’s sweet strumming on guitar and “Com Pressa,” maybe the highlight for its twists in rhythms and spiraling intensity, is an insistent jam, featuring Tracy and Silva exchanging hot licks. “Para Casa” is a highlight because of Tracy’s searing tenor in its melancholy contemplative mode, squeezing every ounce of feeling from a phrase. “Volta ao Mundo” shows off Tracy’s soaring soprano sax melody-making – and Silva’s on piano.
But virtually every tune on “Hora Certa” is its own highlight.
Tracy earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Louisville and is a professor and director of the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program at the University of Louisville School of Music, says his website. He has played with performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Rich, J. J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, Johnny Mathis, Marvin Hamlish, the Four Tops and the Temptations. Not your normal highbrow.
See http://www.michaeltracy.com or http://www.cdbaby.com for more information.