Weekend in Jazz | 1.4-1.6: Ringing in the new year with a bevy of innovators

Salim Washington plays at Twins with his Harlem Arts Ensemble this weekend. Courtesy story cooking/flickr

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

The Young Lions, one of the best homegrown groups in the city, bring their restless blend of bebop, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean and so much else to Bohemian Caverns this weekend. Meanwhile, Salim Washington, a fellow explorer of the many branches of the African Diaspora, plays at Twins Jazz. And the quicksilver guitar experimentalist Anthony Pirog finishes the weekend off at Twins, with a performance on Sunday night.

These are just a few of the many thrilling jazz performances going on this weekend. You can find details on all of them in this week’s edition of “Weekend in Jazz,” a listing of every D.C. jazz show on our radar. Our favorites have a label, and as always, you can read CapitalBop’s full listings directly at our D.C. jazz calendar, if you’d rather. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, JANUARY 4

cb picks:

  • Lavenia Nesmith, Westminster Presbyterian, 6 p.m.
  • Young Lions, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Salim Washington & the Harlem Arts Ensemble, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Lavenia Nesmith Ensemble, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | The singer Lavenia Nesmith, who has portrayed Mahalia Jackson in one-woman shows, performs here with the type of all-star local cast we’ve come to expect from Westminster Presbyterian’s weekly Jazz Night. Nesmith brings her gospel-influenced style to bear alongside Lyle Link on saxophone, Bob Butta on piano, Bhagwan Khalsa on bass and Alphonso Young, Jr. on drums. $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. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Yamomanem, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | The Yamomanem Jazz Band plays a faithful take on New Orleans jazz, conjuring the days of King Oliver and early Louis Armstrong with its lush brass section. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

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

Karl Anthony Trio, Icehouse Café, 8 p.m. | The drummer Karl Anthony leads a straight-ahead jazz trio. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Icehouse Café website

Chris Thomas King, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The guitarist and vocalist Chris Thomas King is on a mission: to revitalize the moldering world of blues music with infusions of hip-hop and other contemporary ideas. He draws on lessons he learned in the hometown that he shares with the blues, New Orleans, and tours throughout the world. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $22.50 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Young Lions, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | Bohemian Caverns is an old haunt for the Young Lions. At this point, both the octogenarian club and the more than 15-year-old group are institutions. This trio formed when its members were college students in D.C., and began playing weekly at the now-defunct Café Nema. Along the way, the Lions took up a late-night residency at Bohemian Caverns and found acclaim for their groove-soaked improvisations, which tugged on the chain of the jazz tradition. The trio covers a range of styles, from Afro-Caribbean to hip-hop to bebop. Its bassist, Kris Funn, is a regular sideman for superstar trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah; the drummer Quincy Phillips plays in trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s quintet; and the pianist Allyn Johnson, director of the University of the District of Columbia’s Jazz Studies program, is one of D.C.’s most revered pianists. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30. $15 cover, $20 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Antonio Parker Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Alto saxophonist Antonio Parker’s playing is swingin’ and soulful, with a bright, aggressive tone. He casually sprinkles neo-soul and R&B influences into his otherwise straight-ahead bop, and his improvisation shows a redolence to Kenny Garrett’s. $15 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

Salim Washington & the Harlem Arts Ensemble, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m. | Salim Washington is a consummate saxophonist, flautist and oboist who blends a range of music from the African Diaspora in his Harlem Arts Ensemble – from ’70s funk to avant-garde jazz. It’s a captivating mix. Two separate sets at 9 & 11 p.m. $17 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Aaron Myers, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | Guitarist Peter Fields and vocalist Tara Hoffman team up for a light dose of jazz standards and pop tunes. 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 5

cb picks:

  • Young Lions, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Salim Washington & the Harlem Arts Ensemble, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m.
  • Steve Synk Trio, Columbia Station, 9:30 p.m.
  • WKP Trio w/Herb Scott, Black Fox Lounge, 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

District Jazz Trio, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | A self-described “cool swinging jazz trio,” the District Jazz Trio is saxophonist Seth Popkin, pianist Dan Nathan and bassist Roger Rosa. The group plays jazz standards. 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

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

Chris Thomas King, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The guitarist and vocalist Chris Thomas King is on a mission: to revitalize the moldering world of blues music with infusions of hip-hop and other contemporary ideas. He draws on lessons he learned in the hometown that he shares with the blues, New Orleans, and tours throughout the world. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $22.50 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Young Lions, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | Bohemian Caverns is an old haunt for the Young Lions. At this point, both the octogenarian club and the more than 15-year-old group are institutions. This trio formed when its members were college students in D.C., and began playing weekly at the now-defunct Café Nema. Along the way, the Lions took up a late-night residency at Bohemian Caverns and found acclaim for their groove-soaked improvisations, which tugged on the chain of the jazz tradition. The trio covers a range of styles, from Afro-Caribbean to hip-hop to bebop. Its bassist, Kris Funn, is a regular sideman for superstar trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah; the drummer Quincy Phillips plays in trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s quintet; and the pianist Allyn Johnson, director of the University of the District of Columbia’s Jazz Studies program, is one of D.C.’s most revered pianists. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30. $15 cover, $20 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Salim Washington & the Harlem Arts Ensemble, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m. | Salim Washington is a consummate saxophonist, flautist and oboist who blends a range of music from the African Diaspora in his Harlem Arts Ensemble – from ’70s funk to avant-garde jazz. It’s a captivating mix. Two separate sets at 9 & 11 p.m. $17 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Antonio Parker Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Alto saxophonist Antonio Parker’s playing is swingin’ and soulful, with a bright, aggressive tone. He casually sprinkles neo-soul and R&B influences into his otherwise straight-ahead bop, and his improvisation shows a redolence to Kenny Garrett’s. $15 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

WKP Trio w/Herb Scott, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | The WKP Trio is a straight-ahead jazz ensemble consisting of Kenny Peagler on piano, Percy White on bass and Will Stephens on drums. Here, the group is joined by a young, soulful powerhouse of an alto saxophonist, Herb Scott, and the vocalist Barbara Papendorp. 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 6

cb picks:

  • Jazz Brunch: Reginald Cyntje, Twins Jazz, 11 a.m.
  • Anthony Pirog Trio, Twins Jazz, 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

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

Anthony Pirog Trio, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Guitarist Anthony Pirog’s music runs the gamut from post-bop to electric fusion to ambient soundscapes. You’ve got the ideas of M83, Allan Holdsworth and Bill Frisell all vying for space in his overflowing cauldron. With a trio, Pirog pries away at the rhythmic logic of small-group jazz, wielding a battery of effects pedals, and a patient improvisatory instinct. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $10 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Chris Thomas King, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The guitarist and vocalist Chris Thomas King is on a mission: to revitalize the moldering world of blues music with infusions of hip-hop and other contemporary ideas. He draws on lessons he learned in the hometown that he shares with the blues, New Orleans, and tours throughout the world. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $22.50 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 View event on calendar | Liv website

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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 editor@capitalbop.com. Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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