News | At new series of Tuesday shows, Lyle Link brings friendly vibe, focus on musical interplay

Lyle Link has started a new series of Tuesday-night shows at Twins Jazz, aimed at creating a lively and music-centric vibe. Courtesy Antoine Sanfuentes

by Giovanni Russonello
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The recent demise of the Sunday Jazz Lounge might have left a serious void in the way of regular opportunities to hear D.C.’s top musicians mingle and air new ideas. But here comes a new series, Lyle Link Tuesdays with Marty Nau.

Held at Twins Jazz, also the site of the erstwhile jazz lounges, this new, more-or-less-weekly feature is aimed at providing a place where the music is thrilling and the vibe is friendly to both musicians and audiences. Not quite an open jam session, with its musicians’ signup list and tedious solos from amateurs, but also not a concert where the bandleader maintains careful decorum and speaks only to introduce the band.

“We call it a ‘hang’ – some place you can go and hang out and just check out the music,” saxophonist and flautist Lyle Link said, explaining the typical jazzbo terminology.

Along with his partner in the project, alto saxophonist Marty Nau, Link held the first couple of Tuesday night shows earlier this month. He has another planned for tomorrow, Aug. 30, and then again for most of the Tuesdays in September. He noted that things are still in the “getting off the ground” stages, but said that the turnout so far – from musicians and listeners – has been a pleasant surprise.

Until recently, Link led a combo every Tuesday at Utopia. And Nau used to hold the Wednesday-night chair at the One Step Down, which until its shuttering in 2000 was the District’s most respected spot to hear local jazz talent. Link said that he and Nau are looking to create a similar atmosphere to what existed at the One Step – at once convivial, laid-back and focused on the music.

The music at these shows is sure to be swingin’ and straight-ahead, and as long as Link is on the bandstand it’ll be packed with soul. But the idea is not to hew to a strict stylistic impulse. “Marty’s coming from a bebop background, whereas I like some modern stuff too. We’re trying to get a variety of perspectives,” Link said.

In that vein, the backing band at Link’s Tuesdays changes every week. This week, the group includes pianist Tim Whalen, bassist Blake Meister and drummer Dave McDonald (a holdover from the Sunday Jazz Lounge), a set of accomplished musicians.

Lyle Link Tuesdays with Marty Nau continue this week, running from 8 to 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30. The cover is $10, plus a $10 food and drink minimum. Find more information on that show here, and buy tickets in advance here.

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