Lafayette Gilchrist is one of the most powerful piano players to come out of Washington, D.C. in the past half-century. Though he’s recently been living up in Baltimore and touring widely, he holds a deep connection to his hometown. That’s borne out in his 2014 album The Go-Go Suite, which he recorded with a killer nine-piece band called New Volcanoes. But wait, these innovative, heart-pumping, butt-shaking tunes haven’t even been performed in D.C. yet? With that we knew had to do something about it.
This Sunday, CapitalBop is hosting our second Traveling Loft, featuring Gilchrist and New Volcanoes, plus the amazing Allyn Johnson Trio. Our traveling shows are a lot like the regular, monthly DC Jazz Loft—it’s just that once every season we take the shows to different venues in a different part of D.C.
Among pianists still living in D.C., it’s hard for anyone to compete with Allyn Johnson in terms of sheer command, or the irrepressible energy of his playing. If you sat around counting the number of notes the guy is often playing at one time, you’d be struck. This won’t be the first time the two piano powerhouses have shared a bill: They did friendly “battle” at CapitalBop’s Three-Piano Cutting Contest, during last year’s DC Jazz Festival—that was one of our most powerful shows. Packed, high-spirited, filled with energy and camaraderie.
It’s a thrill to be able to bring Gilchrist back to town. He tends to stay busy, touring with David Murray or recording prolifically as a leader or playing around the country with his own bands. The New Volcanoes’ set on Sunday is going to be a combination of many things—reggae, jazz, Afro-Cuban, free improvisation—but most of all it’s coming from someone whose taproot is D.C. That means go-go, and that means dancing.
Come out to the beautiful studios at the Dance Institute of Washington, where a wall of windows looks out onto 14th Street in the heart of Columbia Heights. In keeping with good old DC Jazz Loft tradition, the night is BYOB…the dancers just ask that you avoid bringing red wine—it stains the wood floor. The institute is located at 3400 14th Street NW, and the doors open at 7 p.m. Allyn Johnson will play at 8, and Gilchrist’s New Volcanoes will hit at 9.
Make sure to grab tickets early, because they’re just $10 online (where they’ll be $15 at the door). Bring a drink and a friend and come on out. (And stay tuned online…in just a couple days we’ll release a CB Sessions video with Lafayette, shot in a Baltimore attic with an upright piano.)