Weekend in Jazz | 2.25-2.27: Wrapping up Black History Month with historic performances

The legendary hard-bop bassist Buster Williams performs at Blues Alley this weekend. Courtesy "Cowboy" Ben Alman

by Giovanni Russonello
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Welcome to this week’s installation of “Weekend in Jazz,” our list of every D.C. jazz show on our radar. If you haven’t made it out to hear jazz yet in February, Black History Month, don’t let the opportunity slip away. A bright way to celebrate would be heading to Bohemian Caverns this weekend for some radical protest music, or going to appreciate a living legend at Blues Alley. These and the rest of our favorite shows have a  label. As always, you can read CapitalBop’s full listings directly at our monthly calendar, if you’d rather. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, FEB. 18
cb picks:

  • Buster Williams, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Amiri Baraka, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Trumpeter DeAndrey Howard leads his hard-bop group, Collector’s Edition, every Friday night late at Utopia. But this weekend, he’s bringing the band to Westminster Presbyterian for the church’s famous, weekly “Jazz Night.” Collector’s Edition is joined on this engagement by Kristine Key, a delicate-voiced and plaintive – but soulful – singer. The instrumentalists include Howard, Elijah Jamal Balbed on tenor saxophone, Vince Smith on piano, Emory Diggs on bass and Terrance Arnett on drums. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website

Karen Gray Trio, Sala Thai (Bethesda), 6:30 p.m. | Commanding vocalist Karen Gray is joined by guitarist Gantt Kushner and bassist Hugh Johnson in her laid-back renditions of jazz standards. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarSala Thai website

Potomac Jazz Project, Sala Thai (U St.), 6:30 p.m. | The Potomac Jazz Project is a jazz combo, led by bassist Stan Hamrick, that takes on modern and classic jazz tunes with a showmanly flair, as well as skill. The cast of supporting musicians tends to rotate, but it’s usually a very solid lineup. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarSala Thai website

Yamomanem Jazz Band, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | The Yamomanem Jazz Band plays a faithful take on New Orleans jazz, conjuring the days of King Oliver and early Louis Armstrong with its lush brass section. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarSala Thai website

Jolley Brothers, B. Smith’s, 7 p.m. | The Jolley Brothers, Noble on keyboard and Nate on drums, play thrice a weekend at B. Smith’s, the upscale soul-food restaurant in Union Station’s massive East Hall. The Jolleys, who perform with a bassist, comprise one of D.C.’s most exciting and auspicious acts. With roots in gospel, soul and the modal bop of the 1960s, the brothers (who also compose prolifically) bring some of the most creative elements in the African-American music canon forward into the 21st century, all while stamping it with their own distinctive flavoring. But B. Smith’s is a restaurant first, and the music remains in the background – no matter how expertly played. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarB. Smith’s website

Elijah & the Po’ Boys, Bayou, 7 p.m. | Tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed leads the Po’ Boys trio — usually with drums and guitar — four nights a week during dinnertime hours at the New Orleans-themed Bayou. A strong, Dexter Gordon-like player, he performs mostly tunes from hard bop’s heyday and other standards. To hear Balbed stretch out with a full quintet, stay late on a Thursday night, when he plays Bayou’s featured set. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Bayou profile

Buster Williams, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Bassist Buster Williams is hard-bop royalty. Known for his precise technique and commanding swing, Williams performed with Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Chick Corea and so many others, and since the mid-1970s has led a formidable recording career as a leader. Williams performs here with an all-star, straight-ahead jazz quartet featuring saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist Patrice Rushen and drummer Cindy Blackman. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Joe Gransden, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Vocalist and trumpeter Joe Grandsen performs light and swaggering jazz, in the style of the swing era. He performs tonight with a talented cast, featuring pianist Chris Grasso, bassist Tommy Cecil and drummer Lenny Robinson. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental Hotel website

Andrea Wood & Michael Kramer, Tasting Room, 8 p.m. | Singer Andrea Wood has started catching people’s ears since returning to D.C., her hometown, in 2009. The Duke Ellington School of the Arts graduate moves fearlessly up and down octaves, all the while maintaining a distinct sense of purpose. She can explore the upper register in a beguiling waft, or plunge into the basement with buoyant, swelling articulation. Wood and guitarist Michael Kramer play Brazilian and classic jazz standards every week as background fare at the Tasting Room, a wine bar in Friendship Heights. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Tasting Room website

Roger Kellaway & Eddie Daniels, Library of Congress, 8 p.m. | The highly skilled pianist Roger Kellaway has mastered a vast range of styles as a jazz player, in addition to being a well-respected score composer. His approach is delicate, but inescapably bluesy. He performs in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress with the hard-bop clarinetist Eddie Daniels. The concert is free, but tickets are required. No minimum. View event on calendar | Library of Congress website

Amiri Baraka, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | In the mainstream discourse of the United States, you’ll often hear the poet Amiri Baraka described as “controversial.” Baraka, on the other hand, would call the United States’ mainstream discourse “controversial.” This is, after all, a nation founded on the genocidal killing of Native American Indians, enslavement of over 100 million Blacks and systemic racism that survives vivaciously today. Baraka is one of the few poets left in our post-Reagan, very post-’60s world who is willing to face down the country’s inherent – and still inevitable – hypocrisies. His famous (and, many would say, infamous) “Who Blew up America?” is probably the most historical and poignant, poetic appraisal of the deep issues that truly warranted examining in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Oh, and did I forget to mention that he’s also one of the leading ethnomusicologists of our time? And a legendary jazz critic? Baraka, the former poet laureate of New Jersey (and the reason that such a title no longer exists), performs here with his jazz band: René McLean on saxophones, Alan Palmer on piano, James King on bass and Rudy Walker on drums. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30. $25 cover in advance, $30 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Miles Griffith Trio, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m. | Vocalist Miles Griffith favors spirit and clarity over rigid precision, singing jazz standards, popular classics and original songs with warmth and freedom. He’ll perform here with the accomplished organist Greg Hatza and one of D.C.’s leading drummers, Nasar Abadey. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 9:30 p.m. | The stalwart D.C. piano player Peter Edelman every week leads a rotating cast of musicians that often outgrows the title “trio.” No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Maureen Mullaney, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | Maureen Mullaney sings jazz and blues songs with a light ensemble. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarBlack Fox profile

Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | Arguably the city’s best jazz trumpeter, Donvonte McCoy plays every Friday and Saturday at the hip 18th St. Lounge. He likes to mix in some funk as well during the lounge gig, and he’s liable to inflect a touch of Chuck Brown-esque groove into his combo’s treatment of classic bop tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. Cover varies ($5-10), no minimum. View event on calendar | 18th St. Lounge profile

DeAndrey Howard’s Collector’s Edition, Utopia, 11 p.m. | Trumpeter DeAndre Howard’s weekly engagement at Utopia brings hordes to the restaurant and bar every Friday night. He and his small group, Collector’s Edition, play standards with a friendly, inviting touch, and they add to the positive vibes already flowing throughout the room — especially when Howard tosses aside the trumpet to sing a spontaneous blues. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Utopia profile

SATURDAY, FEB. 19
cb picks:

  • Buster Williams, Blues Alley
  • William Parker, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.
  • Elijah Jamal Experience, Utopia, 11 p.m.

Jam Session with Peter Edelman, Columbia Station, 4 p.m. | Pianist Peter Edelman, a constant presence on the D.C. jazz scene for years now, leads an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendarColumbia Station profile

Jolley Brothers, B. Smith’s, 7 p.m. | The Jolley Brothers, Noble on keyboard and Nate on drums, play thrice a weekend at B. Smith’s, the upscale soul-food restaurant in Union Station’s massive East Hall. The Jolleys, who perform with a bassist, comprise one of D.C.’s most exciting and auspicious acts. With roots in gospel, soul and the modal bop of the 1960s, the brothers (who also compose prolifically) bring some of the most creative elements in the African-American music canon forward into the 21st century, all while stamping it with their own distinctive flavoring. But B. Smith’s is a restaurant first, and the music remains in the background – no matter how expertly played. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarB. Smith’s website

Jacqui Simmons & Friends, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | Jacqui Simmons sings jazz standards with a heartfelt and elegant presentation. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarSala Thai website

Mark Mosley Trio, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | Baltimore guitarist Mark Mosley plays a slick hand as a smooth jazz guitarist, but he can also hunker down on serious bop. He performs laid-back straight-ahead here with his trio. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Triple Double Jazz Band, Sala Thai (Bethesda), 7 p.m. |  Consisting of Joey Whitney on tenor sax, Ed Gallagher on guitar, Alan Pachter on bass and Tom Reed on drums, the Triple Double Jazz Band plays straightforward, straight-ahead versions of jazz standards. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Elijah & the Po’ Boys, Bayou, 7 p.m. | Tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed leads the Po’ Boys trio — usually with drums and guitar — four nights a week during dinnertime hours at the New Orleans-themed Bayou. A strong, Dexter Gordon-like player, he performs mostly tunes from hard bop’s heyday and other standards. To hear Balbed stretch out with a full quintet, stay late on a Thursday night, when he plays Bayou’s featured set. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarBayou profile

Lena Seikaly & Potomac Jazz Project, 7:30 p.m., Extra Virgin Restaurant | Vocalist Lena Seikaly sings jazz standards with a confident and playful demeanor, displaying a haziness reminiscent of Esperanza Spalding as well as a deference to traditional greats. The Potomac Jazz Project is a quartet that takes on modern and classic jazz tunes (and even some pop covers) with a showmanly flair, as well as skill. It’s led by bassist Stan Hamrick, and its rotating lineup often features some of D.C.’s best musicians. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Extra Virgin’s website

Buster Williams, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Bassist Buster Williams is hard-bop royalty. Known for his precise technique and commanding swing, Williams performed with Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Chick Corea and so many others, and since the mid-1970s has led a formidable recording career as a leader. Williams performs here with an all-star, straight-ahead jazz quartet featuring saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist Patrice Rushen and drummer Cindy Blackman. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendarBlues Alley profile

Joe Gransden, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m.| Vocalist and trumpeter Joe Grandsen performs light and swaggering jazz, in the style of the swing era. He performs tonight with a talented cast, featuring pianist Andrew Adair, bassist Zack Pride and drummer Lenny Robinson. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarMandarin Oriental Hotel website

William Parker, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | Legendary free jazz bassist William Parker is an accomplished man. A renowned recording and performing artist since the 1970s, when he worked with Cecil Taylor, Parker also organizes the Vision Festival in New York City, perhaps the foremost avant-garde jazz event in the world. Parker’s latest project is “The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield,” a not-very-free-jazz exploration of soul legend Mayfield’s inspirational, socially charged music. On the recent album “I Plan to Stay a Believer,” Parker and his Inside Songs ensemble explore tunes like “People Get Ready” and “This Is My Country” with an old-school gospel approach, but the singular feel of avant-garde musicians truly digging in. The group includes poet Amiri Baraka (who performs at the Caverns with his own group the previous night), vocalist Leena Conquest, saxophonists Sabir Mateen and Darryl Foster, trumpeter Lewis Barnes, pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Michael Wimberly. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30. $25 cover in advance, $30 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendarBohemian Caverns profile

Miles Griffith Trio, Twins Jazz, 9 p.m. | Vocalist Miles Griffith favors spirit and clarity over rigid precision, singing jazz standards, popular classics and original songs with warmth and freedom. He’ll perform here with the accomplished organist Greg Hatza and one of D.C.’s leading drummers, Nasar Abadey. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendarTwins Jazz profile

Kaos Theory, Columbia Station, 9:30 p.m. | Kaos Theory is a smooth funk band. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarColumbia Station profile

Yamomanem Jazz Band, Bayou, 10 p.m. | The Yamomanem Jazz Band plays a faithful take on New Orleans jazz, conjuring the days of King Oliver and early Louis Armstrong with its lush brass section. There’s no better place in D.C. for them than Bayou, the Crescent City-themed restaurant that serves delicious Gulf Coast specialties. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Bayou profile

Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | Arguably the city’s best jazz trumpeter, Donvonte McCoy plays every Friday and Saturday at the hip 18th St. Lounge. He likes to mix in some funk as well during the lounge gig, and he’s liable to inflect a touch of Chuck Brown-esque groove into his combo’s treatment of classic bop tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. Cover varies ($5-10), no minimum. Vie?w event on calendar18th St. Lounge profile

Elijah Jamal Experience, Utopia, 11 p.m. | Young powerhouse tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed heads up one of the swinginest shows on U Street every Saturday night. His sound drips with the blues, and from the bell of this 20-year-old’s horn seem to rise the ghosts of Coleman Hawkins and Dexter Gordon. With the Washington City Paper‘s 2010 Best New D.C. Jazz Musician award under his belt, Balbed can always be expected always to deliver the goods. No cover, 1-drink minimum View event on calendarUtopia profile

SUNDAY, FEB. 20
cb picks:

  • Buster Williams, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Jolley Brothers, B. Smith’s, 12 p.m.

Kevin Pace Trio, Chef Geoff’s, 11 a.m. | It’s a sad day at Chef Geoff’s. Kevin Pace, a stalwart element of the restaurant’s Sunday brunch hour for years, is playing his final show there. Pace has a strong command on the bass and an intuitive ear as a composer. He performs here, as he has for so long, with Rodney Richardson on guitar and Joe Herrera on trumpet. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Chef Geoff’s website

Jolley Brothers, B. Smith’s, 12 p.m. | The Jolley Brothers, Noble on keyboard and Nate on drums, play thrice a weekend at B. Smith’s, the upscale soul-food restaurant in Union Station’s massive East Hall. The Jolleys, who perform with a bassist, comprise one of D.C.’s most exciting and auspicious acts. With roots in gospel, soul and the modal bop of the 1960s, the brothers (who also compose prolifically) bring some of the most creative elements in the African-American music canon forward into the 21st century, all while stamping it with their own distinctive flavoring. B. Smith’s is a restaurant first, and the music remains in the background – no matter how expertly played. But as far as jazz brunch goes, it’s hard to top the Jolleys’ music. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendarB. Smith’s website

Jam Session with Peter Edelman, Columbia Station, 4 p.m. | Pianist Peter Edelman, a constant presence on the D.C. jazz scene for years now, leads an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Levine Jazz Quartet, Strathmore Education Wing, 4 p.m. | The Levine Jazz Quintet, a combo comprised of jazz educators at the Levine School of Music, plays five number-oriented jazz tunes (think “Take Five” and “Seven Steps to Heaven”) while the CityDance Ensemble performs simultaneously. The quintet includes trumpeter Chris Battistone, saxophonist Noah Getz, pianist Robert Sykes, bassist Pepe Gonzalez and drummer Andrew Hare. $20 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Strathmore website

D.C. Jazz Jam, Dahlak, 6:30 p.m. | This jazz jam presents a friendly, relaxed environment where professionals and amateurs can play together. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | View Dahlak profile

Potomac Jazz Project, Laporta’s, 6:30 p.m. | The Potomac Jazz Project is a quartet that takes on modern and classic jazz tunes (and even some pop covers) with a showmanly flair, as well as skill. It’s led by bassist Stan Hamrick, and its rotating lineup often features some of D.C.’s best musicians. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Laporta’s website

Buster Williams, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Bassist Buster Williams is hard-bop royalty. Known for his precise technique and commanding swing, Williams performed with Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Chick Corea and so many others, and since the mid-1970s has led a formidable recording career as a leader. Williams performs here with an all-star, straight-ahead jazz quartet featuring saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist Patrice Rushen and drummer Cindy Blackman. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendarBlues Alley profile

David Caldwell-Mason Trio, Twins Jazz, 8 p.m. | The young pianist David Caldwell-Mason displays a range of influences, but his sensibilities are distinctly modern – and his own. His music is exciting, and expertly presented. He performs here with Kellen Harrison on bass and Art Lillard on drums. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $10 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 8:30 p.m. | The stalwart D.C. piano player every Sunday night leads a rotating cast of musicians that often outgrows the title “trio.” No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar |Columbia Station profile

Cheryl Jones Trio, Utopia, 9 p.m. | Singer Cheryl Jones has a weekly engagement every Sunday at Utopia, where she sings with depth, force and clarity. Jones is equally likely to sing jazz standards, pop tunes or gospel classics. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Utopia profile

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