Weekend in Jazz | 12.20-12.22: Hometown heroes playing holiday shows all over the city

The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra performs a concert of swinging holiday fare at the Strathmore Mansion this Sunday. Courtesy mymcmedia.org

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

One hidden advantage to the holiday season: Touring musicians come home to be amongst family, so some of D.C.’s most active and well-traveled talents will be performing around town this weekend. On Friday, the famed Warren Wolf plays at Westminster Presbyterian, and Federico Peña performs at Bohemian Caverns with his Point of Origin band, featuring three D.C.-based musicians who tour the world with famous jazz and R&B acts.

Local favorites the Jolley Brothers play on Friday at Chez Billy, and on Saturday in an annual Christmas concert at the Caverns. And on Sunday, the Redd Brothers perform at Blues Alley. Most of these shows are sure to feature heavy emphasis on holiday fare. All our favorite shows below have a label. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20

cb picks:

  • Warren Wolf, Westminster Presbyterian, 6 p.m.
  • Jolley Brothers, Chez Billy, 7 p.m.
  • Federico Peña & Point of Origin, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.
  • Jazz Jam, Ulah Bistro, 11 p.m.

Warren Wolf, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | Warren Wolf shares his talents on the vibraphone with bold amiability. He inherits more from Milt Jackson than most current players on the instrument do, drawing on a sure-footed melodic sense and minor blues inflections. The Baltimore resident is a linchpin of the bassist Christian McBride’s famed band, Inside Straight, and he’s an in-demand sideman on the national scene (Wolf is an able-bodied drummer and pianist, as well as a vibes player). But he sticks to vibraphones when leading a band, and on his albums (the strong and agreeable 2013 effort “Wolfgang,” for example). He performs at Westminster with a nearly unbeatable quintet of local musicians: Lyle Link on saxophone, Mark Meadows on piano, Kris Funn on bass and Billy Williams 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

L’Tanya Mari Trio, 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

Potomac Jazz Project, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 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 lineup rotates. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Jolley Brothers, Chez Billy, 7 p.m. | The Jolley Brothers – Noble on keyboard and Nate on drums – have roots in gospel, soul and the modal bop of the 1960s. These twin musicians and composers bring some of the most storied elements in the African-American musical canon forward into the 21st century, stamping it with slick, modish energy. Here they perform alongside the top-tier bassist Kris Funn, whose heels are always dug deep in the dirt, even as his fingertips fly. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Chez Billy website

Project Natale, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Brothers Joe and Lou Natale – on bass and drums, respectively – play straight-ahead and Latin jazz with their reputable local quartet. It’s rounded out by two strong, swinging cohorts: tenor saxophonist Carl Cornwell and pianist Bob Butta. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Carol Riddick, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The Philadelphia-based vocalist Carol Riddick, who has recorded behind Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott and other notables, performs her own R&B repertoire here. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $12 minimum, $2.50 surcharge. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Alison Crockett, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m. | For those who have been following the jazz internet’s most popular – and circular – debate of the past two years, let’s put it to rest: #BAM exists. (That is, “Black American Music,” the big-tent term that Nicholas Payton coined as an alternative label for much contemporary jazz.) And it’s what Allison Crockett sings. She’s got the laggard rhythm of an Erykah Badu, the dance instinct of a Chaka Kahn, and the maverick relationship to the jazz canon of a Lizz Wright. Here she will be skewing straight-ahead, fronting a small combo featuring Chris Grasso on piano and James King on bass. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Madison website

Federico Peña & Point of Origin, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | The pianist Federico Peña was born in Uruguay, honed his talents as a session player in Buenos Aires, and established himself in the bands of R&B stars Me’shell N’degeocello and Maxwell. Now a mainstay of the D.C. jazz scene, he’s known for remarkable precision, wide vocabulary and smooth textures. This weekend he leads his own trio, Points of Origin, featuring two other world-traveled masters: Tarus Mateen on bass and Sean Rickman on drums. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30. $20 cover online, $25 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian 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

Antonio Parker Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | The alto saxophonist Antonio Parker’s playing is swinging and soulful, colored by 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 of Kenny Garrett. $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

U St. Jazz Jam, 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 saxophonist Herb Scott helms the proceedings. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Ulah website

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21

cb picks:

  • Lena Seikaly, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m.
  • Jolley Brothers, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Steve Synk Trio, Columbia Station, 9:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. 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

George Oakley Two-tet, Firelake Grill, 7 p.m. | The singer and reeds player George Oakley teams up with the guitarist Nick Lipkowski to present low-key jazz takes on classic repertoire, as background fare at the Firelake Grill. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Firelake Grill 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 (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

Lena Seikaly, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m. | The precocious young vocalist Lena 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 | Madison website

Project Natale, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Brothers Joe and Lou Natale – on bass and drums, respectively – play straight-ahead and Latin jazz with their reputable local quartet. It’s rounded out by two strong, swinging cohorts: tenor saxophonist Carl Cornwell and pianist Bob Butta. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Lynne Fiddmont, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Lynne Fiddmont sings a blend of jazz balladry and smooth R&B, often treating classic standards with heavy beats and flowing synthesizer lines. Here she performs Christmas fare. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Mark Meadows, Chez Billy, 8 p.m. | The pianist and sometime singer Mark Meadows plays music that loosely assimilates R&B and approachable modern jazz, deep in the groove and reaching upward. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Chez Billy website

Jolley Brothers, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 p.m. | The Jolley Brothers – Noble on keyboard and Nate on drums – have roots in gospel, soul and the modal bop of the 1960s. These twin musicians and composers bring some of the most storied elements in the African-American musical canon forward into the 21st century, stamping it with slick, modish energy. They’re back at the Caverns to play their third annual Christmas-themed show there. 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 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

Alfredo Mojica, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Alfredo Mojica, who sang for years with the group Sin Miedo, unites salsa, jazz and Latin American balladry. $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, DECEMBER 21

cb picks:

  • Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, Mansion at Strathmore, 5 & 7 p.m.
  • Redd Brothers, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 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

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

George Oakley Group, Redwood Restaurant, 11 a.m. | George Oakley invests all the reeds he plays – saxophone, clarinet and flute – with a whispering coolness. In this weekly brunch gig, he performs with a laid-back trio featuring Scott Giambusso on bass and Nick Lipkowski on guitar. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Redwood 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

Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, Mansion at Strathmore, 5 & 7 p.m. | Every Monday evening, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra fills D.C.’s premier jazz club with warmth, bodies and blaring brass. The 17-piece swing big band boasts a repertoire that ranges from Count Basie to John Coltrane to originals by the band members; some truly excellent soloists strengthen the arrangements. For this special Christmas concert, the group ventures to the Strathmore Mansion for two Sunday-evening sets – one at 5 p.m. and another at 7. (This is a makeup date, after the orchestra’s Dec. 8 engagement at Strathmore was canceled due to weather.) Tickets $25. View event on calendar | Strathmore website

D.C. Jazz Jam, Dahlak, 6:30 p.m. | The D.C. 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

Redd Brothers, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Brothers Chuck and Robert Redd – a vibraphonist and pianist, respectively – perform holiday music in a straight-ahead jazz format. Chuck spent years playing and traveling with famed guitarist Charlie Byrd; Robert is a music faculty member at Montgomery College. Two separate shows at 8 & 10 p.m. $18 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Larri Branch Agenda, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | In his Agenda band, the pianist Larri Branch pulls slow-burning hip-hop instrumentals together with straight-ahead jazz. Two separate sets at 8 and 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 [email protected] Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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