by Giovanni Russonello
One statement that’s anathema to the jazz fan: “I don’t dislike jazz, I just don’t understand it.” Those of us who love this music know that understanding its machinations is auxiliary to enjoying it (just like with rock, reggae, classical, hip-hop, what-have-you). Focusing on the technicalities implies that the sounds themselves don’t have what it takes to excite us and lift our spirits. And that’s silly.
So why do so many people assume the music is too esoteric for them? Mostly, they’ve never really experienced it. Why’s that? Probably because they’ve never been guided to it: It’s not playing on the radio, blazoned across the cover of Rolling Stone, popping up on Spotify.
But this past weekend, the people found the music, and the music found its way into their hearts. CapitalBop held the final D.C. Jazz Loft at Red Door on Saturday, and thanks to a bevy of consciousness-raising from the local press, hundreds of people packed the place. The result was a smashing, rousing success, where everyone from initiates to connoisseurs fell under the spell of OOO+, the Elijah Jamal Balbed Quartet, the Brian Settles Trio and more. The highlight of the evening came ’round midnight, when bassist Kris Funn debuted his band, Corner Store. An esteemed sideman for national stars Christian Scott and Kenny Garrett, the D.C. native showed off a set of inventive covers and original compositions (who knew the cat could write like that?).
The set’s climax was a stripped-down version – soused in sweat and tears – of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Guitarist Samir Moulay scraped his keening notes off the loft’s dusty floor, and drummer Quincy Phillips’ rock-hard beat tugged the song along. An mp3 of that is available for streaming and download below. (After a filthy solo guitar intro, things really heat up around 2:20.) Also, scroll down for photos from throughout the night. And don’t forget that the D.C. Jazz Loft isn’t disappearing, just migrating. We’ll be at the Dunes in Columbia Heights every second Sunday from here on out, starting Feb. 12. Hope to see you there!
All photographs by Giovanni Russonello/CapitalBop. Audio recording by Luke Stewart/CapitalBop.