by Giovanni Russonello and Luke Stewart
All things must pass. A wiser man might add — not before they’ve been wrung for all they’re worth. And so, we announce the final D.C. Jazz Loft at Red Door. If they’re going to tear down the building anyway, we might as well send it up in flames with some fire music. Six top-notch artists are lined up for the show on Saturday, Jan. 21, which starts at 7 p.m. and runs until your bedtime.
Traditionalists and avant-garde nuts, hardcore fans and bored wanderers, don’t miss out on this show for the ages. Look below for a description of the acts, and for a link to the Facebook event. (It bears noting that the D.C. Jazz Lofts will continue after this month; they’ll just have to relocate. Further information on the new location is forthcoming.)
Brian Settles Trio
Not much can be said about Brian Settles that hasn’t already been written in these digital pages. We’ve been unable to contain our praise for the searing saxophonist ever since his trio first blew an entire audience off its feet at the D.C. Jazz Loft last February. Just weeks ago, his debut record was named CapitalBop’s album of the year, and the Washington City Paper decorated Settles with a pair of end-of-annum honors. There’s no arguing it: He’s one of the town’s most singular voices. As soon as he puts the saxophone to his lips, Settles’ sound is unmistakable – quavery, heaving, bottled up and set to burst. For the Red Door blowout, Settles’ trio returns for another sizzling show.
Brian Settles & Central Union, “Gardenia”
Kris Funn Trio
Among bass players in the D.C. area, Kris Funn is without a doubt one of the most well respected and revered. At Red Door, he will be debuting his own trio and exhibiting a handful of fresh originals. Originally from Baltimore, Funn comes from a musical family, his father Charles being a major educator and performer in the jazz community there. Kris was a computer science major at Howard University, but during his time there he joined Quincy Phillips and Allyn Johnson in the Young Lions trio, a group whose gigs remain one of the most popular D.C. jazz conventions. After graduating, Funn went on to tour with some of the finest musicians in contemporary jazz, including Kenny Garrett and Christian Scott. The loft leadership debut of this brawny but lyrical bassist is sure to thrill.
Lydia Lewis, “Stop Loss” (by/feat. Kris Funn)
The blustery, blistering free jazz sounds of OOO (a.k.a. the Tri-O Trio) have graced the loft a number of times – most notably during the DC Jazz Fest, when the band opened for Darius Jones. Stalwart D.C. saxophonist Aaron Martin implores and demands, leading the group’s rocky propulsion ever onward. Here the trio adds a couple of ace improvisers for a one-off collaboration: trumpeter Lewis “Flip” Barnes, a veteran of William Parker’s bands, and tenor saxophonist Ras Moche, who has played with William Hooker and Sabir Mateen. (OOO bassist Luke Stewart is also a CapitalBop editor; he contributed to this post, but not to this write-up.)
Elijah Jamal Balbed Quartet
Among D.C.’s brightest rising stars, tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed will be less than one week shy of his 22nd birthday when he performs at the loft. With a sound that’s fulsome but sleek, Balbed swings through jazz standards like a drag racer handling a curve. Still, every time Balbed performs a classic tune, he seems to find yet-undiscovered pockets to shake out. And then there are his original compositions – windingly cinematic explorations that duck and weave and startle. Here the post-bop prince will lead his own quartet.
Elijah Jamal Balbed Quartet, “Imanust”
Jonathan Parker Quartet
D.C. born and raised, alto saxophonist Jonathan Parker currently resides in New York City. His quick-witted compositions and stark improvisational sense display a fondness for Wayne Shorter. Even as he sticks to the acoustic jazz paradigm, Parker often glides into 21st-century grooves. Parker, who studied with Gary Bartz and Billy Hart before graduating from Oberlin Conservatory, will return to his hometown to give a taste of a contemporary Big Apple.
Jonathan Parker Quartet, “Clearyisms”
Jonah Parzen-Johnson Solo
Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, baritone saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson is steeped in that city’s rich musical tradition. An alum of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he was mentored in composition and improvisation by Mwata Bowen and Matana Roberts. Now a major figure in the Brooklyn jazz communty, Parzen-Johnson performs regularly with many groups, including the popular Afrobeat ensemble Zongo Junction, which burned the house down in November at D.C. DIY space Subterranean A. At Red Door, he will be performing a special solo set.
Jonah Parzen-Johnson, “I Turn Left Over Train Tracks”
Photo on flyer by Carlyle V. Smith/CapitalBop.