Weekend in Jazz | 11.30-12.2: Marc Cary brings his explorations home; One Step Down remembered

Marc Cary, right, will lead a band that includes the drummer Sameer Gupta at Bohemian Caverns this weekend. Courtesy kalamu.com

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

The great Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez takes the stage at the Kennedy Center on Friday night, and Marc Cary, one of D.C. jazz’s most beloved sons, is returning to his hometown for a two-night run at Bohemian Caverns. There’s also a One Step Down Retrospective at Westminster Presbyterian on Friday that’s worth hearing. And if you don’t know the acetous music of John Lee, one of the District’s greatest emerging guitarists, try to make it out to hear him at Bossa on Sunday night.

You can find details on all these shows and more 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, NOVEMBER 30

cb picks:

  • One Step Down Retrospective, Westminster Presbyterian, 6 p.m.
  • Danilo Pérez Trio, Kennedy Center, 7:30 p.m.
  • Marc Cary Focus Trio w/Brian Settles, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

One Step Down Retrospective, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | If Westminster Presbyterian Church’s weekly Jazz Night is a magnetic, convivial hang, the One Step Down was the stuff of legend. The Foggy Bottom jazz club was home to performances from D.C.’s most storied musicians, as well as jam sessions where young players just breaking in could get a feel for the stage. This evening at Westminster, a quintet of One Step veterans lead the proceedings: Steve Novosel on bass, Marshall Keys on saxophone, Thad Wilson on trumpet, Bob Butta on piano and Howard Chichester 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

Triple Double, 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

Triple Double, Sala Thai (Petworth), 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

Kristine Key Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Delicate-voiced and wistful singer Kristine Key is accompanied here by an expert quartet. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

Danilo Pérez Trio, Kennedy Center, 7:30 p.m. | Among the great modernizers of the Afro-Cuban tradition is Danilo Pérez, a Panamanian pianist of expressive rigor and virtuosic piquancy. He’s performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and others, and he’s a member of Wayne Shorter’s longstanding quartet. He appears here with his own trio, featuring the bassist Ben Street and the drummer Adam Cruz. Tickets $30, no minimum. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Jonathan Butler, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Jonathan Butler, widely recognized as the first Black musician to have his music played on white-controlled South African radio, sings R&B and smooth jazz, often with gospel influences. Over the past four decades, he has had hits across the globe, including his 1987 U.S. breakthrough “Lies.” Two separate shows at 8 & 10 p.m. $50 cover, $12 minimum, $2.50 surcharge. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Marc Cary Focus Trio w/Brian Settles, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | A percussionist, a transcendentalist, a smoke machine operator, a digital-age storyteller. Marc Cary is a pianist, but he doesn’t seem like only that. Cary, 45, grew up in D.C. and started out playing in go-go bands while studying at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. As he’s risen on the jazz scene, he’s continued to incorporate hip-hop and go-go into his music, while extending a wide-reaching arm to musics from across the globe, especially from India and West Africa. With his Focus Trio, Cary meshes forceful fluidity, splashes of blue notes, and harmonies shot through with a beam of natural light. He appears here with the trio – Sameer Gupta on drums and tabla, plus Tarus Mateen on bass – plus the saxophonist Brian Settles, appearing as a special guest. $23 cover in advance, $28 at the door, no minimum.. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns 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

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

Veronneau, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m. | The Virginia-based quartet Veronneau recently released an album paying tribute to “Jazz Samba,” Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s 50-year-old, pioneering bossa nova record. With a two-acoustic-guitar lineup and a strong siren out front in vocalist Lynn Véronneau, the band’s music hopscotches between Brazilian, gipsy jazz and Appalachian folk. Two separate sets at 9 and 11 p.m. $20 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Tosin Aribisala, Tropicalia, 9 p.m. | The Nigeria-reared, D.C.-based percussionist and vocalist Tosin Aribisala performs with a small ensemble. Aribisala – who toured for two years with Femi Kuti – calls his music “Afroblues.” It’s an apt term for a pastiche that combines all the orbital power of West African dance with the cleansing urgency of American blues. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Tropicalia website

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, DECEMBER 1

cb picks:

  • Marc Cary Focus Trio w/Brian Settles, 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.

StartUp Market w/the Mark Saltman Quartet, HR-57, 1 p.m. | Bassist Mark Saltman is a co-leader of the group Saltman Knowles, which often performs at HR-57. This afternoon he leads his own straight-ahead jazz quartet during Think Local First’s StartUp Market. At the event, food and craft entrepreneurs will be hawking their goods. Tickets $3 in advance, $5 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 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

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 (Bethesda), 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

Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra, Epiphany Church, 7:30 p.m. | The talented, traditional Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra performs a holiday-themed program, including Shorty Rogers’ “Swingin’ Nutcracker” and the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s reinterpretation of the “Nutcracker Suite.” Tickets $25. View event on calendar | Epiphany Church website

Paige Martin Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Vocalist Paige Martin, who contributed to the latest album by the U.S. Air Force’s jazz band, takes a straightforward approach focused on strength and projection. Here she leads her own combo. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

Jonathan Butler, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Jonathan Butler, widely recognized as the first Black musician to have his music played on white-controlled South African radio, sings R&B and smooth jazz, often with gospel influences. Over the past four decades, he has had hits across the globe, including his 1987 U.S. breakthrough “Lies.” Two separate shows at 8 & 10 p.m. $50 cover, $12 minimum, $2.50 surcharge. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Marc Cary Focus Trio w/Brian Settles, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | A percussionist, a transcendentalist, a smoke machine operator, a digital-age storyteller. Marc Cary is a pianist, but he doesn’t seem like only that. Cary, 45, grew up in D.C. and started out playing in go-go bands while studying at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. As he’s risen on the jazz scene, he’s continued to incorporate hip-hop and go-go into his music, while extending a wide-reaching arm to musics from across the globe, especially from India and West Africa. With his Focus Trio, Cary meshes forceful fluidity, splashes of blue notes, and harmonies shot through with a beam of natural light. He appears here with the trio – Sameer Gupta on drums and tabla, plus Tarus Mateen on bass – plus the saxophonist Brian Settles, appearing as a special guest. $23 cover in advance, $28 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Veronneau, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m. | The Virginia-based quartet Veronneau recently released an album paying tribute to “Jazz Samba,” Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s 50-year-old, pioneering bossa nova record. With a two-acoustic-guitar lineup and a strong siren out front in vocalist Lynn Véronneau, the band’s music hopscotches between Brazilian, gipsy jazz and Appalachian folk. Two separate sets at 9 and 11 p.m. $20 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

EC3 Quartet, HR-57, 9 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. $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

Jeron White, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | Bassist Jeron White leads a straight-ahead jazz combo. 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, DECEMBER 2

cb picks:

  • Jazz Brunch: Reginald Cyntje, Twins Jazz, 11 a.m.
  • Lewis “Flip” Barnes, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 p.m.
  • Chucho Valdés Quintet, GMU Hylton Performing Arts Center, 7:30 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 feat. Kenny Rittenhouse, Dahlak, 6 p.m. | This jazz jam presents a friendly, relaxed environment where professionals and amateurs can play together. This month, the jam welcomes December’s “monthly master,” Kenny Rittenhouse, a sleek and dime-turning trumpeter. 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

Lewis “Flip” Barnes, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 p.m. | The trumpeter Lewis “Flip” Barnes, a consummate improviser with a seeking instinct, is a familiar face on the avant-garde jazz scene; he’s been playing for years with the great William Parker. Here he leads a small group of his own in an installation of Transparent Productions’ “Sundays @ 7 @ the Caverns” series. Two separate sets at 7 & 9 p.m. $15 cover in advance, $20 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Emy Tseng & Julie Mack, Fusion Restaurant, 7 p.m. | The vocalist Emy Tseng focuses her pure and slender voice on popular tunes and standards – most of which she renders in a gently aerated, Brazilian-jazz style. Here she shares the bill with Julie Mack, who’ll also be singing Brazilian repertoire. Both vocalists will be joined by Matvei Sigalov on guitar, David Jernigan on bass and Leland Nakamura on drums. No cover, 1-drink minimum. $10 cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Fusion website

Chucho Valdés Quintet, GMU Hylton Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m. | Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés is known as the “dean of Latin jazz.” His father, Bebo, was a famous musician, as is his son, Chuchito. Valdés himself led the Afro Cuban-rock fusion band Irakere, a critical force in popularizing and diversifying the music of his homeland on the global stage. He has also performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea and plentiful other stars, and has won five Grammy Awards. In short, this guy is the real deal. Ticket prices vary ($30, $38 and $46), no minimum. View event on calendar | Hylton 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

Bill Heid, Black Fox Lounge, 8 p.m. | Bill Heid plays piano and sings blues songs and jazz standards. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Black Fox Lounge profile

Bobby Muncy, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Saxophonist Bobby Muncy writes snaky tunes influenced by 20th century classical and alternative rock, as well as jazz. He appears at Twins with a straight-ahead combo all five Sundays this December. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $10 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Jonathan Butler, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Jonathan Butler, widely recognized as the first Black musician to have his music played on white-controlled South African radio, sings R&B and smooth jazz, often with gospel influences. Over the past four decades, he has had hits across the globe, including his 1987 U.S. breakthrough “Lies.” Two separate shows at 8 & 10 p.m. $50 cover, $12 minimum, $2.50 surcharge. 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

John Lee Experience, Bossa Bistro, 9 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. $5 cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Bossa 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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