CapitalBop returns to the DC Jazz Fest: Orrin Evans, Makaya McCraven, Marquis Hill, Michele Rosewoman & more

Jazz nowadays seems to get bigger, bolder and more exciting with every passing moment. And a lot of the action is happening in big ensembles, where textures and colors and rhythms can play around in a gurgling cauldron.

So next month, for our sixth annual DC Jazz Loft Series at the DC Jazz Festival, we’ve decided to present three nights dedicated to exploring mid-size and large ensembles. All three of these nights will feature music from very different points on jazz’s stylistic map. Every one of these shows features world-touring, heavy-hitting musicians.

We’ll be presenting Philadelphia’s Orrin Evans and his Capt. Black Big Band, New York-based Michele Rosewoman and New Yor-uba, and Chicago rising stars Makaya McCraven’s In the Moment and the Marquis Hill Blacktet.


    > SATURDAY, JUNE 11 Marquis Hill Blacktet + Makaya McCraven’s in the Moment + Carolyn Malachi [tix]
    > FRIDAY, JUNE 17 Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-uba + Amadou Kouyate [tix]
    > SATURDAY, JUNE 18 Orrin Evans’ Capt. Black Big Band + Washington Renaissance Orch. Octet [tix]


The series spans two weekends – June 11, 17 and 18 – and it’ll take place in the ground-floor gallery space at Arris, just a block from Yards Park. On the second weekend, our shows will be a kind of after-party for the main-stage concerts at Yards Park.

DC Jazz Loft Series 2016Works by local visual artists will hang on the walls, and a DJ will spin music between sets, and after the shows. Festival-goers coming from the concerts at The Yards on June 17 and 18 will receive discounted admission to the CapitalBop shows.

At last year’s DC JazzFest, we converted an empty warehouse in Northeast D.C. into a theater, and presented a star-studded lineup over three straight nights. The shows were all packed, and earned copious praise from the press—including a major feature on NPR Music.

This year’s DC Jazz Loft Series at the DC JazzFest will build on that success, focusing on theever-evolving sounds of the jazz big band. A classic but flexible format, it has catalyzed large-scale innovation – and body-moving music – since the early days of jazz. The large ensemble allows for equal measures of creativity and power. Today it’s still a laboratory for some of the music’s greatest leaps ahead, its broad canvasoften allowing contemporary composers tointerject the sounds of hip-hop, electronic music and international influences into their work.

About the Lineup

The DC Jazz Loft Series kicks off on Saturday, June 11, with a double-bill featuring two of the most startling young talents blowing in from Chicago: drummer Makaya McCraven’s In the Moment, a funk- and electronic- influenced quintet that’s making big waves, and the Marquis Hill Blacktet, led by the trumpeter who won the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.

The evening will culminate in a joint performance in the wee hours, with both McCraven and Hill’s bands onstage together, creating an improvisational big band. Both ensembles are part of Chicago’s thriving new jazz scene, and it will be a special privilege to hear them in the process of spontaneous creation, in a late-night loft hang. Grammy-nominated jazz/soul powerhouseCarolyn Malachi, a vocalist and D.C. native who is celebrating the release of her latest album,Rise [Story 1], will perform an opening set.

On Friday, June 17, pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman arrives in D.C. for a special presentation with her much-acclaimed large ensemble, New Yor-uba. For over 30 years, this group has blended Afro-Cuban music and experimental jazz, always staying on the cutting edge. Their DCJF show will be the D.C. debut of the Chamber Music America-commissioned Oru de Oro, the most ambitious work of Rosewoman’s award-winning career.

A rhythmic suite featuring master Cuban folklorist Roman Diaz, this extended composition is focused around a sacred sequence of rhythms played on the traditional bata drums, known as the Oru Igbodu (or Oru Seco). In this fully orchestrated Oru Seco, numerous Orishas/deities are endowed with Rosewoman’s distinctive musical content, while displaying and integrating the mastery of New Yor-Uba’s featured improvisers and master drummers—a truly uncompromised synthesis of profound musical idioms. The concert is supported by a grant from CMA, and presented in collaboration with the Painted Bride Arts Center in Philadelphia and the Vision Festival/Arts for Art in New York City.

Opening for Rosewoman will be D.C.’s Amadou Kouyate, a renowned Malian-American musician who represents the 150th generation of a West African griot family.

Closing out the DC Jazz Loft Series, on Saturday, June 18, pianist Orrin Evans and his Capt. Black Big Band will bring their powerful brand of progressive straight-ahead jazz. The group is often held up as a leading exponent of large ensemble jazz today, and the New York Times has called it “percussive, punching and hard swinging …With its multiple composers and even multiple pianists, it’s got range.”

In a very special moment for the DC JazzFest audience, drummer Nasar Abadey and pianist Allyn Johnson will present an eight-person iteration of their own extraordinary big band, the Washington Renaissance Orchestra, immediately before Evans. Jazz’s spotlight often shines brightest on New York City, but this evening will bring to the fore the two greatest big bands in Philadelphia and D.C., showing that the music continues to thrive worldwide.

In a similar way, June 11’s focus on Chicago also sends a message about jazz in the so-called Second City, where some of the music’s greatest innovations continue to be wrought.

We hope to see you out there!

Funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The performance of Michele Rosewoman and New Yor-Uba, presented in collaboration with Arts for Art and Painted Bride Art Center, is supported by Presenter Consortium for Jazz, a program of Chamber Music America funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

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About Giovanni Russonello

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A co-founder of CapitalBop, Giovanni Russonello is also a music writer and critic for the New York Times. He also teaches writing as a lecturer at New York University's School of Professional Studies. He previously served as a contributor to the Washington Post, the FADER, JazzTimes, NPR Music and others, and hosted “On the Margin,” a books show on WPFW-FM. He graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in history, with a focus on African-American history. Reach Giovanni at [email protected]. Read him at or Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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