Weekend in Jazz | 10.25-10.27: Avant-garde heroes, a young vocal master & Mulgrew memorial shows

Wadada Leo Smith presents his nearly five-hour “Ten Freedom Summers” suite over three performances on Friday and Saturday. Courtesy allaboutjazz.com

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

When an artist whose position in the avant-garde jazz pantheon is already secure presents the D.C. debut of his recently Pulitzer Prize-nominated work, you notice. When you consider that Wadada Leo Smith’s epic “Ten Freedom Summers” centers on the achievements and unfulfilled promises of America’s quest for racial justice — a journey that at many points traced its way through the streets of this city — and that it’s being presented exactly 50 years after many of the biggest moments in that struggle took place, you may decide there’s no choice but to go see what this is all about. If you’re so inclined, head to the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Friday or Saturday at 8 p.m., or Saturday afternoon at 3. If you go to the Saturday evening show (or even if you don’t), arrive at 7 for a free listening session and interactive conversation with Smith, guided by CapitalBop.

But these milestone performances aren’t the only things worth your time this weekend. Henry Threadgill, another visionary who like Smith has helped reshape the world of avant-garde music since the 1970s, performs a free concert at the Library of Congress on Friday evening. It’s sold out, but last-minute tickets can be picked up at the door if you arrive early enough. On Saturday, the vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant presents her cool, nostalgia-defying renditions of standards and forgotten classics at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. And on both Friday and Saturday, Twins Jazz hosts a tribute to the late Mulgrew Miller, led by Thad Wilson. All our favorite shows below have a label. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25

cb picks:

  • Thad Wilson Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Library of Congress, 8 p.m.
  • Wadada Leo Smith, Atlas Performing Arts Center, 8 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.
  • Jazz Jam, Ulah Bistro, 11 p.m.

EC3, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | Las Vegas-based Ernest “EC3” Coleman is a talented tipper – a straight-ahead drummer with serious chops. He spent years on the road with bass legend Al McKibbon, and nowadays leads his own groups, in addition to other sideman work. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website

Lena Seikaly, Chez Billy, 7 p.m. | For the first installment of a new, weekly series of Friday-night jazz at Chez Billy, the vocalist Lena Seikaly sings. Seikaly covers jazz standards and her own relatively straight-ahead originals with a confident and playful demeanor. Here she’s joined by a small combo. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Chez Billy 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

Night & Day Trio, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | The Night & Day Trio plays traditional, swing-oriented jazz, featuring Renée Tannenbaum on vocals, Mike Suser on piano and vocals and Dennis Johnson on saxophone. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Triple Double Jazz Band, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | Consisting of Joey Whitney on tenor sax, Ed Gallagher on guitar, Alan Pachter on bass and Tom Reed on drums, the Triple Double Jazz Band plays straightforward, straight-ahead versions of jazz standards. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Art Sherrod & Ann Nesby, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 8 p.m. | Art Sherrod & Ann Nesby perform smooth jazz and smooth R&B. $30 cover, $15 minimum for dining-area seating. View event on calendar | Bethesda Blues & Jazz website

Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Library of Congress, 8 p.m. | Since the late 1970s, the alto saxophonist Henry Threadgill has been synonymous with a certain sort of switchblade-wielding, gravity-flouting avant-garde performance. One-third of the famed trio Air, perhaps the 1980s’ most lauded free-jazz group, he now leads a combustive combo called Zooid, which includes the tuba player Jose Davila, the guitarist Liberty Ellman, the cellist Christopher Hoffman, the drummer Elliot Kavee and the bassist Stomu Takeishi. The band performs at the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress in a free concert. Tickets are required. View event on calendar | Library of Congress website

Wadada Leo Smith: ‘Ten Freedom Summers,’ Atlas Performing Arts Center, 8 p.m. | You get the sense that Wadada Leo Smith wouldn’t object to a cliche in this case: “He’s worked his life for this moment.” The moment in question really began last year, when his three-CD project “Ten Freedom Summers” came out after 30 years of research, introspection, composition and refinement. It pulls the angularity of some new Western classical and the writhing pugnaciousness of certain free jazz, standing them upright and giving them a powerful arc. The nearly five-hour work reflects on the achievements and unfulfilled demands of the Civil Rights Movement’s famous freedom fighters. The recording sat near the top of the list on most 2012 jazz critics’ polls, and it made Smith a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (though ultimately not a winner). In a career that includes co-founding the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and releasing three-dozen albums as a leader, this is Smith reckoning on another level with the way that art attacks assumptions. This weekend at the Atlas, he presents the entire Ten Freedom Summers suite over the course of three performances. Tickets $28.50 in advance, $33.50 at the door, $20 for students. Full, three-show package available for $85.50. View event on calendar | Atlas profile

Thad Wilson Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The trumpeter Thad Wilson plays with articulation and clarity, and a deference to melody that makes it easy to fall in love with his playing. In this way, he’s got some things in common with Mulgrew Miller, the eminent post-bop pianist who died earlier this year and who will be honored by Wilson in two nights of tribute this weekend. The trumpeter is a pleaser, whereas Miller was genteel, but there’s enough common ground in there to suggest a successful tribute. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Najee, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Flutist and saxophonist Najee is a well-known smooth jazz and urban contemporary performer. Two separate shows at 8 & 10 p.m. $55 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

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

Darius Scott Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Darius Scott is a soulful, savvy straight-ahead pianist. Here he leads his own quartet. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 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

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

Jam Session, Ulah Bistro, 11 p.m. | U Street restaurant Ulah Bistro has stepped up to fill the void that Utopia left open last year, when it closed to make way for the construction of a new condos complex. That restaurant housed the block’s most reliable, convivial jam sessions. Ulah gives a taste of that energy once a week, late on Friday nights. This week the Wayne Wilentz Trio performs. It’s a pianist-led group that played each week at Utopia, exploring straight-ahead and Brazilian music. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Ulah website

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26

cb picks:

  • Wadada Leo Smith, Atlas Performing Arts Center, 3 & 8 p.m.
  • CapitalBop Listening Session: Riffin’ with Wadada Leo Smith, Atlas Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m.
  • Thad Wilson Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Cécile McLorin Salvant, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 8 p.m.
  • Steve Synk Trio, Columbia Station, 9:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Wadada Leo Smith: ‘Ten Freedom Summers,’ Atlas Performing Arts Center, 3 & 8 p.m. | You get the sense that Wadada Leo Smith wouldn’t object to a cliche in this case: “He’s worked his life for this moment.” The moment in question really began last year, when his three-CD project “Ten Freedom Summers” came out after 30 years of research, introspection, composition and refinement. It pulls the angularity of some new Western classical and the writhing pugnaciousness of certain free jazz, standing them upright and giving them a powerful arc. The nearly five-hour work reflects on the achievements and unfulfilled demands of the Civil Rights Movement’s famous freedom fighters. The recording sat near the top of the list on most 2012 jazz critics’ polls, and it made Smith a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (though ultimately not a winner). In a career that includes co-founding the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and releasing three-dozen albums as a leader, this is Smith reckoning on another level with the way that art attacks assumptions. This weekend at the Atlas, he presents the entire Ten Freedom Summers suite over the course of three performances. Tickets $28.50 in advance, $33.50 at the door, $20 for students. Full, three-show package available for $85.50. View event on calendar | Atlas profile

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

Triple Double, Sala Thai (Bethesda), 7 p.m. | Consisting of Joey Whitney on tenor sax, Ed Gallagher on guitar, Alan Pachter on bass and Tom Reed on drums, the Triple Double Jazz Band plays straightforward, straight-ahead versions of jazz standards. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

CapitalBop Listening Session: Riffin’ with Wadada Leo Smith, Atlas Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m. | In conjunction with his three-show presentation of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated “Ten Freedom Summers,” Wadada Leo Smith sits down for a 45-minute, interactive conversation with the audience about his musical inspirations. CapitalBop’s Luke Stewart and Giovanni Russonello will facilitate the discussion by showing videos of performances by three artists whom Smith considers important to him, then asking a few preliminary questions. From there, where the conversation heads is up to the audience members. Stick around for the final portion of “Ten Freedom Summers,” which Smith will perform at 8 p.m. Entry to the discussion is free. View event on calendar | Atlas profile

Marcus Johnson, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 8 p.m. | Pianist Marcus Johnson makes highly danceable smooth jazz, with strong inflections of funk. He frequently indulges in pop covers, and is arguably the city’s best-known smooth jazz musician. $25 cover, $15 minimum for dining-area seating. View event on calendar | Bethesda Blues & Jazz website

Thad Wilson Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The trumpeter Thad Wilson plays with articulation and clarity, and a deference to melody that makes it easy to fall in love with his playing. In this way, he’s got some things in common with Mulgrew Miller, the eminent post-bop pianist who died earlier this year and who will be honored by Wilson in two nights of tribute this weekend. The trumpeter is a pleaser, whereas Miller was genteel, but there’s enough common ground in there to suggest a successful tribute. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 8 p.m. | The vocalist Cecile McLorin-Salvant – who won the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition – speaks through others, or makes the revelations of others seem to belong to her own voice. Her repertoire ranges from obscure covers to original compositions bearing the strong imprimatur of her influences. In her broad voice and almost theatrically precise articulation, the French-American singer treats jazz history with a venerating but investigative rapture. Here she and her tightly swinging quartet appear in a presentation of the Washington Performing Arts Society. Tickets $25. View event on calendar | Sixth & I website

Najee, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Flutist and saxophonist Najee is a well-known smooth jazz and urban contemporary performer. Two separate shows at 8 & 10 p.m. $55 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

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

Rekha Ohal Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | No description available. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 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, OCTOBER 27

cb picks:

  • None

 
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

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

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

Todd Simon, Kellari Taverna, 12 p.m. | The sturdy and swinging pianist Todd Simon performs every Sunday in a duo setting; his accompanists vary from bass to guitar to saxophone, depending on the week. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Kellari Taverna 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, 6:30 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

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

Trio Caliente, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7:30 p.m. | Trio Caliente mixes flamenco with Latin American influences, everything from Brazilian jazz to Cuban folk. The group consists of the guitarists Amilcar Cruz and Michael Bard, and the vocalist Deborah Benner. $12 cover, $15 minimum for dining-area seating. View event on calendar | Bethesda Blues & Jazz website

Najee, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Flutist and saxophonist Najee is a well-known smooth jazz and urban contemporary performer. Two separate shows at 8 & 10 p.m. $55 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

The Rootdowns, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The Rootdowns play a brand of jazz-funk that refers heavily to similar work from the late 1970s. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $10 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz 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 editor@capitalbop.com. Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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    Hi! Here at Bethesda Blues & Jazz, we’ve reduced the dining area minimum from $15 to $10!

    gillian /
  2. […] las%vegas%lounge%piano%duo%jazz%trio%listening%artist%album%review – Google Blog Search Weekend in Jazz | 10.25-10.27: Avant-garde heroes, a young vocal … EC3, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | Las Vegas-based Ernest “EC3? Coleman is a talented tipper – a straight-ahead drummer with serious chops. He spent years on … Night & Day Trio, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | The Night & Day Trio plays traditional, swing-oriented jazz, featuring Renée Tannenbaum on vocals, Mike Suser on piano and vocals and Dennis Johnson on saxophone. No cover, 1-drink ….. ?Bohemian Caverns / Lisa Sokolov Duo. 7:30pm. more info… […]

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