Weekend in Jazz | 2.7-2.9: The jazz loft premiers new acts; Kenny Garrett headlines at Blues Alley

Editorial board

This is your weekend to discover something new. The February edition of the D.C. Jazz Loft is all about new bands; the young and always-fresh tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed leads a quintet for a two-night run at Twins Jazz; and on Friday at the Strathmore Mansion, the Nigerian percussion whiz Tosin Aribisala performs music from his new CD. But the masters can’t be ignored, either: Catch the saxophone great Kenny Garrett at Blues Alley, and you’re not likely to be disappointed. You can also find our full listings at CapitalBop’s D.C. jazz calendar. All our favorite shows below have a label. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7

cb picks:

  • Maurice Lyles, Westminster Presbyterian, 6 p.m.
  • Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Kenny Garrett, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Lyle Link, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m.
  • Tosin Aribisala, Strathmore Mansion, 8:30 p.m.
  • Jazz Jam, Ulah Bistro, 11 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Maurice Lyles, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | Every year at Westminster Presbyterian, Maurice Lyles rings in Black History Month with an expert straight-ahead sextet in celebration of Black American music. The band includes Herb Smith and Carl Cornwell on saxophones, Wade Beach on piano, Steve Novosel on bass, and Lyles on drums. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website

Charles Rahmat Woods Duo, Firelake Grill, 7 p.m. | The saxophonist Charles Woods plays in both free and straight-ahead jazz styles, but for his regular gig leading a low-key duo at Firelake Grill, he keeps things within the traditional, swinging realm. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Firelake Grill website

Jacqui Simmons & Friends, Sala Thai (RI Ave.), 7 p.m. | Jacqui Simmons sings jazz standards with a heartfelt and elegant presentation. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai 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 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

Yamomanem Jazz Band, 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

Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The young saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed, one of D.C.’s brightest rising stars, has a hard-driving and sparely metallic sound. It’s redolent of Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, for you old-school buffs. But he refracts their lessons through the Young Lions of the 1990s, and speaks in the lingua franca of present-day post-bop. He headlines this weekend at Twins Jazz with an expert Quintet. For the Friday show, it features Victor Provost, a steel pan whiz with energy and precision to spare. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Kenny Garrett, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The saxophonist Kenny Garrett played for five years in Miles Davis’ band, and ever since he has been building a reputation as one of straight-ahead jazz’ stop bandleaders, built of propulsive energy and binding conviction. The Grammy winner’s soulful sound can be introspective or searing, sometimes both. He performs here with a combo. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $30 cover, $12 minimum, $2.50 surcharge. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Lyle Link, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m. | With a presentation that’s always spry and sometimes sultry, saxophonist and flautist Lyle Link tells you the music is about more than hearing. Listening is intuition, and sometimes it defies gravity. A soulful and sophisticated player who’s been a mainstay of D.C.’s jazz scene for over 10 years, he appears here with Chris Grasso on piano and Zack Pride on bass. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Loews website

Tosin Aribisala, Strathmore Mansion, 8:30 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. His latest CD is “Life Begins;” he’ll be performing selections from the record here. Tickets $20. View event on calendar | Strathmore 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

Antonio Parker Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | The alto saxophonist Antonio Parker’s playing is doggedly swinging, soulful and 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

Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 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, FEBRUARY 8

cb picks:

  • Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Kenny Garrett, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Lena Seikaly, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 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

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. | 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

Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The young saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed, one of D.C.’s brightest rising stars, has a hard-driving and sparely metallic sound. It’s redolent of Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, for you old-school buffs. But he refracts their lessons through the Young Lions of the 1990s, and speaks in the lingua franca of present-day post-bop. He headlines this weekend at Twins Jazz with an expert Quintet. For the Saturday show, it features the trumpeter Alex Pope Norris, a technical wizard who can squeeze gallons of citrusy emotion out of a high note. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Kenny Garrett, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The saxophonist Kenny Garrett played for five years in Miles Davis’ band, and ever since he has been building a reputation as one of straight-ahead jazz’ stop bandleaders, built of propulsive energy and binding conviction. The Grammy winner’s soulful sound can be introspective or searing, sometimes both. He performs here with a combo. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $30 cover, $12 minimum, $2.50 surcharge. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

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

Mark Saltman Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | The bassist Mark Saltman is a co-leader of the group Saltman Knowles, which often performs at HR-57. Here he leads his own straight-ahead jazz quartet. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 profile

Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 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, FEBRUARY 9

cb pick:

  • D.C. Jazz Loft, Union Arts, 7 p.m.
  • Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 8:30 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

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

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

D.C. Jazz Loft, Union Arts, 7 p.m.View event on calendar | D.C. Jazz Loft page

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 8:30 p.m. | It’s an annual tradition for Transparent Productions to feature the mighty Ethnic Heritage Ensemble during Black History Month. For more than three decades, the Chicago-based drummer/percussionist/vocalist Kahil El’Zabar has led the group, and its revolving membership has included some of the legendary musicians involved in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). As a former president of the organization, El’Zabar is deeply conversant with his own creative concept, as well as the society that has produced it. The current Ethnic Heritage Ensemble lineup, with the trumpeter Corey Wilkes and the saxophonist Ernest Dawkins, has been going strong for about a decade now, and time has only helped the instrumentally sparse group cohere. They are masters of raw-soul energy. Stop by for the performance and you will feel much more than you can see and hear. Two separate sets at 7 & 8:30 p.m. $15 cover in advance, $20 at the door, no minimum. [words by Luke Stewart] View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns 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

Kenny Garrett, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The saxophonist Kenny Garrett played for five years in Miles Davis’ band, and ever since he has been building a reputation as one of straight-ahead jazz’ stop bandleaders, built of propulsive energy and binding conviction. The Grammy winner’s soulful sound can be introspective or searing, sometimes both. He performs here with a combo. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $30 cover, $12 minimum, $2.50 surcharge. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

BSQ, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The Bob Schwartz Quartet plays easygoing, mid-century 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 editor@capitalbop.com. Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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