Announcing this year’s D.C. Jazz Loft Series at the DC Jazz Fest: Marc Cary, Tarbaby & much more!

Photo by Jati Lindsay

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

As summer draws near, we’re looking forward to an exciting season for the arts – and CapitalBop is getting right into the thick of it. We’re proud to announce our return to the DC Jazz Festival for the second annual D.C. Jazz Loft Series, where we’ll pair famous innovators from around the country with some of the District’s brightest stars. Marc Cary, a D.C. native and national figure, is performing with his futurist ensemble Cosmic Indigenous; experimental bop super-trio Tarbaby and bass clarinet master Todd Marcus are also headlining shows. On each of the three nights, we’re offering midnight shows at an extra-cheap discount. (We have Hipnotic Records, our principal sponsor, and GNT LLC, our partial sponsor, to thank for helping us keep tickets affordable.)

The Jazz Loft MegaFest is on June 9. Photo courtesy Deneka Peniston/Revive Music

Our goals this year are much loftier than last time: The series will culminate in a daylong Jazz Loft MegaFest on Sat., June 9. This won’t be any old concert: From 3 p.m. till 2 a.m., you’ll be immersed in a marketplace of improvised sound, visual art, quality food, drinks and creativity. We’re converting a gorgeous loft space on New York Avenue (for the die-hards, it’s just around the corner from the old Red Door digs) into a pop-up shop, music venue, art gallery, movie theater, and – with assistance from the foodies at the Taste of DC – an eatery and bar, catered by some of the top restaurants in the District.

Alright, already – so what’s the lineup? Check out the names below, and click on each one to jump to a preview of the show they’ll be putting on.

Todd Marcus Jazz Ensemble
June 1 / 9 p.m. / the Dunes / $10 adv

with the Christie Dashiell Quartet

Tarbaby (Orrin Evans, Eric Revis & Nasheet Waits)
June 2 / 9 p.m. / the Fridge / $10 adv

with Kris Funn & Corner Store


Jazz Loft MegaFest with Marc Cary’s Cosmic Indigenous
June 9 / 3 p.m.-2 a.m. / 629 New York Ave. NW / $12 adv
Music, dancing, food & drink by Taste of DC, pop-up shop, art exhibitions & more

3:30-6 / Jazz Academy Youth Combo, directed by Paul Carr
4:00 / Screening of Icons Among Us (side stage)
5:30 / Shaolin Jazz: An Interactive Panel on Jazz and Hip-Hop, feat. Kokayi, Dr. Will Smith, Keanna Faircloth, DJ 2-Tone Jones & more (side stage)
7:00 / Elijah Jamal Balbed + Tarus Mateen + Kush Abadey
8:30 / Lenny Robinson’s Mad Curious
10:00 & midnight / Marc Cary’s Cosmic Indigenous

Todd Marcus Jazz Ensemble (tix)

Todd Marcus can’t seem to get his fill of idiosyncrasies, or challenges. He’s a bass clarinetist, for starters: The instrument is almost unheard of, and when you do take a look at the cats who have played it (Eric Dolphy, Bennie Maupin) you realize that the shoes to fill aren’t just few — they’re formidable. Then there’s the fact that Marcus leads a nine-piece big band. He’s one of the only people using that configuration, and by doing so he’s set himself up for a rough ride (the title of his debut album, the excellent In Pursuit of the Ninth Man, refers to the difficulties of scheduling nine musicians for the same gig). Thankfully, both Marcus’s oddball instrumentalism and his offbeat ensemble are astonishingly strong, modern and infectious. Few people improvise with more fervor or write music better than he does, and the Baltimorean – who releases a fresh CD in June – is surely on his way to national jazz stardom.

Christie Dashiell Quartet (tix)

“Christie, man, just watching you perform – your voice feels like warm butter on grits.” That’s what Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men had to say when he first heard Christie Dashiell perform last year on NBC’s The Sing-Off. She was then the backbone of Afro-Blue, the Howard University a capella group that very nearly came home with the TV program’s grand prize. Now, she’s back to working as a jazz musician in New York and D.C., sharing her rich voice and seemingly endless supply of positive vibes; hope and joy spring from every syllable Dashiell sings. Here she’ll lead her own quartet through a blend of original compositions, and covers of jazz and pop songs.

Tarbaby (tix)

Tarbaby is a jazz supergroup on a mission. Featuring pianist Orrin Evans (leader of the acclaimed Captain Black Big Band), bassist Eric Revis (a longtime collaborator with Branford Marsalis and a strong bandleader) and drummer Nasheet Waits (who performs with Jason Moran, among other greats), this band is uncompromisingly experimental and unabashedly outspoken. Its music is constantly roiling, often stung with beauty when at its most dissonant, or quavering with brutal force during quiet ballads. On The End of Fear, Tarbaby’s latest disc, the message is clear: Collectively, as a people, we’ve got plenty of distance left to go before we’re living up to our shared promises, but we realize beauty only through scraping and challenging and pushing past the limits of communal memory.


Video of Tarbaby features Logan Richardson on saxophone

Kris Funn & Corner Store (tix)

At just 32, Kris Funn is one of the most accomplished jazz bassists on the D.C. scene, and in the country – he’s done stints with Kenny Garrett and Christian Scott (in whose band he still plays), and has backed such greats as Pharoah Sanders. But forget all that for a second: Funn recently debuted his own group, Corner Store, featuring drummer Quincy Phillips of the Roy Hargrove Quintet, at a jam-packed D.C. Jazz Loft. The band burned the house down, with Funn’s blues-battered bass lines, rocking originals, and dramatically danceable revisions of John Coltrane and Sam Cooke tunes taking center stage. Musicians are often hard-pressed to describe their own music in words, but Funn has an irrefutable description for Corner Store’s tunes: “spirituals for the new millennium.”

“Visceral,” Kris Funn & Corner Store (live at the D.C. Jazz Loft)

Marc Cary’s Cosmic Indigenous feat. Awa Sangho (tix)

Marc Cary has been one of the best in the game ever since the early ’90s, when he worked with Dizzy Gillespie and Abbey Lincoln. One thing he’s never done, though, is get comfortable. Cary – who grew up in D.C. and helped define the 1980s go-go sound here – has made albums ranging from swinging post-bop (Trillium) to electronics experimentalism (Rhodes Ahead, Vol. 1) to soul-funk (N.G.G.R. Please) to mixtures of jazz, Afro-Caribbean music and hip-hop (Abstrakt|Blak). His latest project, Cosmic Indigenous, throws everything into a pot and turns up the heat to a boil. The quintet is devastatingly danceable, which distracts you from how much creativity is happening onstage: Cary plays keyboard and laptop music, Malian singer and dancer Awa Sangho croons and yowls, two percussionists interweave (Sameer Gupta on tabla and drums, and Daniel Moreno on Latin percussion) and trumpeter Igmar Thomas brings a punchy rhythmic sensitivity to his melodic improvisations.

New & unreleased track: “Orange Navals Growing Out Beyond Opposites,” Marc Cary’s Cosmic Indigenous

Lenny Robinson’s Mad Curious (tix)

Drummer Lenny Robinson has precision and grace, even at the swiftest tempos – but he’s also attuned to the malleability of a cymbal, or a snare drum: He might leave long pauses when you least expect, or twist a tom tom into sounding like something completely otherworldly. In his trio, Mad Curious, Robinson is joined by two of the greatest musicians in D.C. jazz, saxophone searcher Brian Settles and star bassist Tarus Mateen.

Elijah Jamal Balbed + Tarus Mateen + Kush Abadey (tix)

Tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed is a young gun who plays every note like he’s got something crucial to prove. He swings hard, and calls up the memory of his forebears in the music – tenor greats like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Both of those masters made some of their most captivating, exploratory music in stripped-down trios, so it will be excellent to hear Balbed alongside two fellow adventurers: bassist Tarus Mateen (whose résumé includes stints with Marc Cary, Betty Carter and – for the past 11 years – Jason Moran) and drummer Kush Abadey (a 20-year-old sideman for Wallace Roney who’s already drawing comparisons to Tony Williams).

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