This Sunday at the DC Jazz Loft: Experimental guitarist Sandy Ewen and swinging sax stalwart Gabe Wallace

The DC Jazz Loft is a home for all forms of creative improvised music, and there’s no better example of that than this month’s concert: back-to-back sets featuring experimental guitarist and multimedia artist Sandy Ewen and jazz saxophonist Gabe Wallace.

As always, the loft starts at 7pm at Rhizome DC, just off the Red Line in Takoma. There are no tickets — just a suggested donation of $10 (or more!). Audience members are welcome to bring food or some drinks to share in the potluck. And musicians should bring their instruments: lofts often end with a jam, and all are welcome.

Sandy Ewen is a rare out-of-town visitor to the loft: she hails from Toronto, studied in Texas, and has recently relocated to New York City. Ewen’s education in architecture and experience creating music for interdisciplinary performance clearly informs her wide-open approach to her instrument; she often eschews guitar picks for found items like steel wool, railroad spikes, nails, sidewalk chalk and virtually anything else that can create an unexpected and beautiful response from steel strings and a pickup. She performs a solo set at the loft.

Gabe Wallace hasn’t been in D.C. for too long. But this city’s jazz scene is grounded in the music’s history — and Wallace’s fulsome saxophone tone, which would sound right at home in a golden-era Dexter Gordon album, has quickly enamored him to many of the District’s top musicians. Wallace is a consummate technician (that’s to say, he can play basically anything on his instrument) and his vast improvising language allows him to sound at home in a myriad of musical contexts. Like many successful gigging jazz musicians, though, he’s been slow to establish an identity as a bandleader, and the trio he brings to the loft will not doubt be an exciting glimpse into what’s next for him.

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In case you’re new to the DC Jazz Loft’s saga: In 2010, CapitalBop founders Giovanni Russonello and Luke Stewart put on the first DC Jazz Loft at Red Door, an artist-run studio space tucked in an alley just north of Chinatown. As more artists joined in and audiences grew, the loft became not just a jazz show, but a reliable facet of the D.C. arts scene at large. Red Door was eventually demolished to make way for new construction (oh, D.C.) and the loft bounced around to other venues before landing at Union Arts in 2013, where it stayed for three years before again meeting its end at the hands of developers.

Part of the problem was that the CapitalBop team wasn’t sure where to take the loft after that. We couldn’t find a place that would allow us to maintain the spirit of insurgency and liberated expression that was so important to these shows. But now, D.C. again has such a place: Rhizome DC is a collectively run space in Takoma that has become a haven for creative artists of all stripes. Thanks to Rhizome, the DC Jazz Loft has a home again, and it’s here to stay.

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Jamie Sandel

About Jamie Sandel

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Jamie is an arts organizer and musician with a background in music composition and performance, writing, improvisation studies, sound and graphic design, and theater. In addition to his leader work as a jazz violinist, he regularly takes part in cross-genre collaborations up and down the east coast. Jamie is a native of Silver Spring, MD, and returned to the area in 2018 after some time in Massachusetts, where he assisted the Amherst College Concert Office and the Amherst Symphony Orchestra. He graduated with a degree in music from Amherst College. Reach Jamie at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wjsandel.

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