Weekend in Jazz | 1.18-1.20: Inauguration blues

John Lee plays at the New Deal Café on Friday. Courtesy Timothy Forbes Photography/flickr

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

The District is bracing for a tourist invasion this weekend, with President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony coming up on Monday. Where to hide out? Maybe in the basement of Bohemian Caverns, or the remote New Deal Café, located in Greenbelt, Md. Or maybe the upstairs hideaway of Twins Jazz. Admittedly, all these spots might end up brimful of people, too. But at least they’re all hosting stellar jazz bands. You can find info on all those shows and many more in this week’s edition of “Weekend in Jazz.” Our favorites have a label. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, JANUARY 18

cb picks:

  • Buck Hill & Friends, Westminster Presbyterian, 6 p.m.
  • Andrea Veneziani Trio, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • John Lee Experience, New Deal Café, 8 p.m.
  • D.C. Inaugural All-Stars, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Buck Hill & Friends, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | Tenor saxophonist Buck Hill is a D.C. legend. Had he moved to New York City, he surely would have become a national figure. He was already making waves with his music by the mid-1940s, and in the coming years he honed his skills as a bebop master alongside Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and other greats who came through D.C. to perform. Hill’s uncompromising swing and rich, reedy tone were originally “discovered” by the famous guitarist Charlie Byrd, with whom Hill recorded a series of albums in the 1950s. By the ’70s, he was recording as a leader alongside Buster Williams, Kenny Barron and others. Here he leads a night of nostalgic swinging dedicated to remembering D.C.’s classic jazz legacy. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website

Karen Gray Trio, Sala Thai (Bethesda), 7 p.m. | Commanding vocalist Karen Gray sings laid-back renditions of jazz standards in a drumless trio. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Potomac Jazz Project, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | The Potomac Jazz Project is a jazz combo, led by bassist Stan Hamrick, that takes on modern and classic jazz tunes with a showmanly flair, as well as skill. The cast of supporting musicians tends to rotate, but it’s usually a very solid lineup. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

L’Tanya Mari & Friends, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | Singer L’Tanya Mari is influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, singing jazz with depth and soulful warmth. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Andrea Veneziani Trio, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Shifting sturdily from virulent to deft and romantic, the rising Italian bassist Andrea Veneziani leans hard on heft and earthy timbre. At this show, he’ll be accompanied by the guitarist Kenny Wessel and the drummer Nasar Abadey, and will probably travel the gamut from free improvisation to his own gently pressurized compositions. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

En Vogue, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | En Vouge, a groove-laden R&B vocal duo, has won seven MTV Video Music Awards, more than any other female band in history. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $55 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Sharón Clark Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Vocalist Sharón Clark sings with fervor and soul, plus impressive precision. She’s one of D.C.’s top jazz singers. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

John Lee Experience, New Deal Café, 8 p.m. | A piquantly flavorful guitarist, John Lee goes out looking for adventure. He often finds it in the crevices between notes, mismatching scales, and a broad palette of effects pedals. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | New Deal website

D.C. Inauguration All-Stars, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | For this special Presidential Inauguration weekend performance, four of the District’s most incendiary improvisers come together for a night of vigilantly contemporary jazz. The band includes the brothers Nathan and Noble Jolley on drums and keyboard, respectively, plus the bassist Kris Funn (who plays with the famed trumpeter Christian Scott, and whose own band, Corner Store, is one of D.C.’s finest boundary-busting small groups) and the strong trumpeter Deandre Shaifer. $18 cover in advance, $23 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

ELEW, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the pianist Eric Lewis had stints in the early-2000s with Wynton Marsalis and the late Elvin Jones, but recently coined a new moniker, ELEW, and even his own new genre, rockjazz. Indeed, he’s the only one playing it. Rockjazz is essentially a way of reworking pop tunes for the solo piano, with special attention to keeping all their grandeur, and volume, intact. There’s very little jazz involved. But when he gets in front of an attentive audience, Lewis does intersperse a great deal more traditional jazz (it’s a good thing – he can play as few can). No matter how you feel about rockjazz, it’s sure to be a rollicking ride. $25 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 website

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 9 p.m. | The stalwart D.C. piano player Peter Edelman every Friday night leads a rotating cast of musicians that often outgrows the title “trio.” No cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Alfredo Mojica, Bossa Bistro, 9 p.m. | Alfredo Mojica, who sang at Bossa for years with the group Sin Miedo, unites salsa, jazz and Latin American balladry. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Bossa profile

Cashandra J, Black Fox Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | CaShandra J sings jazz standards and originals with a combo. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Black Fox profile

Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | Arguably the city’s best jazz trumpeter, Donvonte McCoy plays every Friday and Saturday at the hip 18th St. Lounge. He likes to mix in some funk as well during the lounge gig, and he’s liable to inflect a touch of Chuck Brown-esque groove into his combo’s treatment of classic bop tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. After all, the setting is that of a dance club, not a jazz joint – no tables and chairs or hushed applause after every solo. Cover varies ($5-10), no minimum. View event on calendar | 18th St. Lounge profile

SATURDAY, JANUARY 19

cb picks:

  • Andrea Veneziani Trio, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Leonard Brown & Joyful Noise, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Steve Synk Trio, Columbia Station, 9:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Jam Session with Peter Edelman, Columbia Station, 4 p.m. | Pianist Peter Edelman, a constant presence on the D.C. jazz scene for years now, leads an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Charles Woods, Johnny’s Half Shell, 6 p.m. | Saxophonist Charles Woods plays and has recorded in both free and straight-ahead jazz styles, but for his regular gig at Johnny’s Half Shell he keeps things within the traditional bop realm. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Johnny’s Half Shell website

Mark Mosley Trio, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | Baltimore guitarist Mark Mosley plays a slick hand as a smooth jazz guitarist, but he can also hunker down on serious bop. He performs laid-back straight-ahead here with his trio. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Full Ascent, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | This jazz band plays in a number of traditional styles, from hard-bop to Dixieland to calypso. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Red, Hot & Blue, Wesley United Methodist, 7:30 p.m. | Red, Hot & Blue is a co-ed a capella group of Yale University students. Its repertoire ranges from jazz classics to Britney Spears tunes. $10 suggested donation. View event on calendar | Welsey United website

Andrea Veneziani Trio, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Shifting sturdily from virulent to deft and romantic, the rising Italian bassist Andrea Veneziani leans hard on heft and earthy timbre. At this show, he’ll be accompanied by the guitarist Kenny Wessel and the drummer Nasar Abadey, and will probably travel the gamut from free improvisation to his own gently pressurized compositions. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

En Vogue, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | En Vouge, a groove-laden R&B vocal duo, has won seven MTV Video Music Awards, more than any other female band in history. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $55 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Bonnie Harris Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Straight-ahead jazz vocalist Bonnie Harris leads a very talented quartet. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

Leonard Brown & Joyful Noise, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | Dr. Leonard Brown, a Northeastern University professor of music and African-American Studies, has a searing attack on both soprano and tenor saxophones. But he’s meditative and patient with the notes he engages. Bridging avant-garde impulses with classic hard-bop, he treats rhythm and tempo loosely, often stretching phrases and emphasizing their most salient moments with a light growl or subtle repetition. He performs at Bohemian Caverns, his son Omrao Brown’s club, with a quartet called Joyful Noise that includes local heavyweights Bob Butta on piano, Herman Burney on bass and Kush Abadey on drums. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $20 cover in advance, $25 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

ELEW, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the pianist Eric Lewis had stints in the early-2000s with Wynton Marsalis and the late Elvin Jones, but recently coined a new moniker, ELEW, and even his own new genre, rockjazz. Indeed, he’s the only one playing it. Rockjazz is essentially a way of reworking pop tunes for the solo piano, with special attention to keeping all their grandeur, and volume, intact. There’s very little jazz involved. But when he gets in front of an attentive audience, Lewis does intersperse a great deal more traditional jazz (it’s a good thing – he can play as few can). No matter how you feel about rockjazz, it’s sure to be a rollicking ride. $25 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 website

Cubista, Bossa Bistro, 9 p.m. | Cubista is a salsa band that plays at Bossa every Saturday. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Bossa profile

Some Like It Hot, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | Some Like It Hot is a small jazz and that performs traditional music from the swing era. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Black Fox profile

Steve Synk Trio, Columbia Station, 9:30 p.m. | Lyrical bassist Steve Synk, a music major at the University of Maryland, leads a young trio that explores music ranging from standards to originals, groove-based contemporary jazz to swinging bop. No cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | Arguably the city’s best jazz trumpeter, Donvonte McCoy plays every Friday and Saturday at the hip 18th St. Lounge. He likes to mix in some funk as well during the lounge gig, and he’s liable to inflect a touch of Chuck Brown-esque groove into his combo’s treatment of classic bop tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. After all, the setting is that of a dance club, not a jazz joint – no tables and chairs or hushed applause after every solo. Cover varies ($5-10), no minimum. View event on calendar | 18th St. Lounge profile

SUNDAY, JANUARY 20

cb picks:

  • Jazz Brunch: Reginald Cyntje, Twins Jazz, 11 a.m.
  • Leonard Brown & Joyful Noise, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 p.m.
  • Chuchito Valdés, HR-57, 8 p.m.

Gospel Brunch, The Hamilton, 10 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. | Every Sunday morning, the Hamilton presents two sets of rafters-raising gospel, along with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Two separate shows at 10 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. $25 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | The Hamilton website

TBA, Acadiana, 11 a.m. | Performer TBA. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Acadiana website

Jazz Brunch: Reginald Cyntje, Twins Jazz, 11 a.m. | Twins Jazz’s new Sunday Jazz Brunch initiative revolves around the magnetic powers of Reginald Cyntje’s trombone. Last year, he released his debut CD, “Freedom’s Children: The Celebration,” a glimmeringly hopeful record immersed in the warm, danceable rhythms of Cyntje’s native U.S. Virgin Islands. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Twins profile

Harlem Gospel Choir, Howard Theatre, 12 p.m. | The talented Harlem Gospel Choir, which has been active since 1986, performs a Sunday brunch show every week at the Howard Theatre. Either an all-you-can-eat buffet or an a la carte menu are available. Doors open at noon, and the music starts at 1:30 p.m. Tickets vary ($35 for all-you-can-eat or $20 for admission and a la carte options in advance, $45 or $30 at the door). View event on calendar | Howard website

Jam Session with Peter Edelman, Columbia Station, 4 p.m. | Pianist Peter Edelman, a constant presence on the D.C. jazz scene for years now, leads an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

D.C. Jazz Jam, Dahlak, 6 p.m. | This jazz jam presents a friendly, relaxed environment where professionals and amateurs can play together. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Dahlak profile

Potomac Jazz Project, Laporta’s, 6:30 p.m. | The Potomac Jazz Project is a quartet that takes on modern and classic jazz tunes (and even some pop covers) with a showmanly flair, as well as skill. It’s led by bassist Stan Hamrick, and its rotating lineup often features some of D.C.’s best musicians. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Laporta’s website

Leonard Brown & Joyful Noise, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 p.m. | Dr. Leonard Brown, a Northeastern University professor of music and African-American Studies, has a searing attack on both soprano and tenor saxophones. But he’s meditative and patient with the notes he engages. Bridging avant-garde impulses with classic hard-bop, he treats rhythm and tempo loosely, often stretching phrases and emphasizing their most salient moments with a light growl or subtle repetition. He performs at Bohemian Caverns, his son Omrao Brown’s club, with a quartet called Joyful Noise that includes local heavyweights Bob Butta on piano, Herman Burney on bass and Kush Abadey on drums. Two separate sets at 7 & 9 p.m. $20 cover in advance, $25 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

DC Choro, Grill from Ipanema, 7:30 p.m.| DC Choro is a sextet that plays Brazilian music drawing on European folk traditions. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Grill from Ipanema profile

Mike Flaherty’s Dixieland Jazz Direct, Zoo Bar Café, 7:30 p.m.| This combo specializes in traditional New Orleans-style jazz. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Zoo Bar website

Chuchito Valdés, HR-57, 8 p.m. | Although he’s most recognizable for his lineage (his father Chucho and grandfather Bebo are both famous Latin jazz innovators), the pianist Chuchito Valdés deserves his own level of recognition. He’s an intense performer, with a modernistic Afro-Cuban style that’s magnanimous in demeanor and bursting with energy. Valdés’s last album, “Cuban Dreams,” was nominated for a Latin Grammy award. $25 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 website

Tim Reynolds, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Tim Reynolds, a member of the Dave Matthews Band and frequent collaborator with Matthews in a duo setting, is a master of the crunchy-bohemian strain of post-folk acoustic guitar playing. His music is somewhere on a strain that has passed through the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers, but now lies somewhere a little less transgressive. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 8:30 p.m. | The stalwart D.C. piano player Peter Edelman every Sunday night leads a rotating cast of musicians that often outgrows the title “trio.” no cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

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Giovanni Russonello

About Giovanni Russonello

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Giovanni is the founder of CapitalBop, and a music critic for the New York Times. He previously served as a contributor to the Washington Post, the FADER, JazzTimes, NPR Music and others, and hosted “On the Margin,” a books show on WPFW-FM. As head of CapitalBop, he has covered the D.C. jazz scene since 2010. (He is no longer directly involved in the presenting of CapitalBop's concerts.) He graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in history, with a focus on African-American history. Reach Giovanni at [email protected] Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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