The tenor saxophone is the instrument most associated with jazz—strong, voice-like, and iconic. It symbolizes power and narrative and leadership. So of course jazz has a long history of friendly competition between the major tenor players: Classic albums like Blowing in from Chicago, Soul Summit and Tenor Madness are where reputations were put on the line, strategies and sounds were fought for, and fans’ allegiances were decided.
Okay, forget about all the one-upsmaship talk: It’s just fun to hear a bunch of expert horn players trade ideas, feed off each other, and build energy together. That’s what’s in store this weekend at Union Arts, when CapitalBop hosts our first-ever “Tenor Madness” edition. We’re thrilled to be featuring three greats from around the area: Lyle Link, Elijah Easton and BJ Simmons. Each will play a set of his own, and then the night will end in a saxophone summit, with all three performing together. As always, the loft is donation-based, and we suggest $15 per person. All of it goes to the musicians. Doors open at 7:00, and the music starts at 7:30.
Lyle Link is one of the most versatile and consistently beautiful saxophone players around. With a soulful and sophisticated sound, Link’s melodic flights can defy gravity. He’s been a mainstay of the D.C. jazz scene for well over a decade, and his set at the DC Jazz loft back in April 2012 was probably among the best we’ve ever presented.
Elijah Easton is a D.C. resident and a strong saxophonist on the rise. He’s already played in everything from house shows with Nag Champa, the trip-hop/electronica/experimental jazz band, to a White House concert with Wynton Marsalis. Hear him with his own combo here, blowing in his strong, distinctive manner, hard and cool. The tenor technician BJ Simmons has worked in hip-hop, jazz, funk, soul and plenty of other genres. Just like Easton, he’s a saxophonist on the rise, with a warm and burly tone and an expressive delivery.