Our second-ever Spotlight artist-in-residence was Elijah Jamal Balbed, a prolific young voice on the tenor saxophone in D.C. Balbed showcased new, original music alongside three different ensembles over three nights, including a workshop performance at Sitar Arts Center and two shows in the intimate upstairs room at Local 16, an Afghan restaurant and nightclub in the heart of U Street.
In the just-released video below, shot by Lauren Honesty, Balbed performs at Local 16 with his Saturday, Sept. 29 band: Noble Jolley on keys, Delorean Fullington on bass, and Kelton Norris on drums. The group plays “Washington Hospital Center,” a freewheeling and lively tune named for the place where Balbed was born. The tune is also a clever homage to Billy Strayhorn’s “Upper Manhattan Medical Group” (musically, it’s a contrafact, meaning that it sets a new melody to Strayhorn’s familiar chords).
The central purpose of the Spotlight Residency is to shine a light on the innovative, original music that D.C. improvisers are making, day in and day out. To that end we’ll be releasing full-length music videos after each residency that capture some fraction of the music’s live power.
Make sure to subscribe to our email list so you don’t miss our next Spotlight residency (Oct. 26-28, featuring the masterful alto saxophonist Sarah Hughes), or any of our other upcoming shows!