News | The D.C. Jazz Loft returns this Sunday!

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by Giovanni Russonello and Luke Stewart
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The D.C. Jazz Loft is back. This Sunday, there’ll be another night of improvised delirium, a throwback to an earlier time – at least in the fact that you might be so enrapt you forget about checking your cell phone for the entire night. If so, it’ll be because the spontaneous composition going on a few feet in front of you has grabbed you and won’t let go.

For our third loft, held as usual at Red Door, we’re bringing back some people who made deep impressions at the first couple shows, plus a few newcomers. They’ll all be presented in formats new to the loft. The show is BYOB, and it’s open to everyone, whether you can pay or not, but we strongly suggest a $10 donation to the musicians. Look below for a guide to the performers.

It’s worth noting that this show isn’t part of CapitalBop’s recently announced D.C. Jazz Loft Series, set to take place in June at the D.C. Jazz Festival. But if you’re a jazz loft lover, please visit to find out more about the series – and consider donating to our Kickstarter campaign (a great way to support high-quality, low-frills live music while reaping cool rewards).

Without further ado, here’s the lineup at this Sunday’s loft:

Alto saxophonist Braxton Cook is barely 20 years old, and he’s already recognized as one of the D.C. area’s most dynamic improvisers. Filled with verve, Cook’s solos bound and burst with a sense of controlled exhilaration. Cook, who was just accepted into the Juilliard School of Music, is already a seasoned bandleader, having helmed straight-ahead groups at venues like Twins Jazz, and every Saturday night at Eighteenth Street Lounge he plays in Donvonte McCoy’s popular soul-jazz combo. At the loft, Cook will lead a stripped-down trio – hear him stretch his concepts over a pliable bass-drum backing.

The undeniable highlight of the second D.C. Jazz Loft was a what-just-hit-us-smack-in-the-face set of collectively improvised music from the Brian Settles Trio. Saxophonist Settles and bassist Tarus Mateen are already known entities in both D.C. and New York City, Mateen as a member of the internationally acclaimed Jason Moran Trio. To local jazz lovers, then, the most surprising part of that trio was drummer Tiacoh Sadia, an Ivory Coast native now living in D.C. His pulsing, rumbling interjections gave Settles’ melodies and Mateen’s stomping bass lines a furious sense of impact. Turns out, Sadia grew up immersed in traditional West African music but fell in love with Duke Ellington and Art Blakey, and he has performed around Asia, Africa and Europe. At the loft, he’ll lead a quartet that plays straight-ahead jazz with distinct West African influences.

As mentioned above, the Brian Settles Trio ran away with the last loft. Settles’ incisive, searing exclamations and his brooding urgency had folks hooting and crying out through the band’s entire performance. A few weeks later, Settles took on the challenge of playing an entirely unaccompanied set at the Sunday Jazz Lounge, the brainchild of guitarist Rodney Richardson and trumpeter Joe Herrera. So we thought – why not ask Settles back to the loft to strut the solo chops he honed at the lounge? Here, the District’s reigning saxophone champ will play without that pesky distraction known as accompaniment.

All of our D.C. Jazz Lofts are loosely modeled on the historic lofts of the bebop era, when musicians – maybe frustrated by the rigidity of jazz clubs, or simply hoping to try out a new composition on some colleagues – would hang in a Manhattan studio until all hours of the night, jamming and tossing around ideas. The U St. All-Stars, a collection of the city’s top bop players that came together to recreate that same vibe, have been the cornerstone of our first two lofts. This time, we’re paring things down, and a smaller corps of U St. All-Stars will perform. The group includes the fiery pianist Hope Udobi, deliberate and hard-swingin’ bassist Blake Meister and the prescient teenage drum talent Allen Jones. As is always the case at the loft, the All-Stars’ set will eventually break open into a jam session, which will conclude the night. So musicians, bring something to play!

The D.C. Jazz Loft takes place at 7 p.m. this Sunday. Red Door is located at 443 I St. NW, halfway down the alley on the left side.



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