Weekend in Jazz | 6.28-6.30: Norwegian nocturnes, cutting-edge bop & an avant-garde double bill

Eivind Opsvik performs this Saturday at Twins Jazz as part of the Nordic Jazz Festival. Courtesy moldejazz.no

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

This weekend, the local jazz scene offers a smorgasbord of options. The Nordic Jazz Festival enters its second and final weekend at Twins Jazz; the highlight is likely to be Eivind Opsvik’s Saturday-night show of nocturnes and ruminations. Down the block, at Bohemian Caverns, the talented young pianist George Burton (whom I interviewed earlier this week) performs on Friday and Saturday; on Sunday, an excellent, definition-detonating program of avant-garde bands will close out Transparent Productions’ fall 2012/spring 2013 season. There’s info on all those shows and many more in this week’s edition of “Weekend in Jazz.” As always, you can find our full listings at CapitalBop’s D.C. jazz calendar. Our favorites have a label. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, JUNE 28

cb picks:

  • George Burton Quartet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Arnold Sterling Quintet, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | The Baltimorean Arnold Sterling plays bluesy alto saxophone in a style influenced by Sonny Stitt. Playing this week at Westminster Presbyterian’s jazz concert and fish-fry, he’s joined by Wendell Shepherd on trumpet, Vince Smith on piano, Steve Novosel on bass and Robert Shahid 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

Night & Day 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

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

Eero Koivistoinen, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | For the Finnish saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen, the influence of Wayne Shorter seeps into his playing – guided by a pert swing feel, a background in Finnish folk music and an interest in West African traditional rhythms. In this performance, part of the 2013 Nordic Jazz Festival, he appears with Alexi Tuomarila on piano, Jussi Lehtonen on drums and Jori Huhtala on bass. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $20 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Pieces of a Dream, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The famous smooth-jazz group Pieces of a Dream is celebrating its 38th year. The band emerged from Philadelphia’s R&B scene in the mid-1970s, under the wing of Grover Washington, Jr., and has since become known for its svelte, electric grooves. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $35 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Micah Smith Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | In his own work, the robust vocalist and songwriter Micah Smith pours the lapping flow of reggae and the slapping groove of neo-soul together with melismatic gospel and classic jazz. Here he will perform a repertoire of jazz standards with a strong group. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

EJ Strickland, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | EJ Strickland has forged himself an impressive résumé in the only way that most jazz drummers know how: by playing in bands led by some of today’s greatest musicians – among them the saxophonists Ravi Coltrane and Marcus Strickland, EJ’s brother. But now he’s putting his energies toward his own group, also comprised of top 20- and 30-something players. Strickland’s drum attack lies in patter and groove, equally informed by funk, hip-hop and post-bop. Here he plays with a quintet featuring Tivon Pennicott on tenor saxophone, Luis Perdomo on piano, Jaleel Shaw on alto saxophone and Linda Oh on bass. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $18 cover in advance, $23 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns 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

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

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

Simon Brothers Jam Band, Ulah Bistro, 11 p.m. | Since Utopia closed for renovations last year, the U Street jazz scene has been missing a reliable gathering place with free entry and serviceable jazz. Now Ulah Bistro is stepping in to fill the void. For the rest of the summer, and possibly in perpetuity, the restaurant’s upstairs lounge is hosting a late-night performance and jam session every Friday. This week, the slick and powerful pianist Todd Simon performs with his Simon Brothers Jam Band. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Ulah Bistro website

SATURDAY, JUNE 29

cb picks:

  • Jazz Brunch: Donvonte McCoy, HR-57, 11:30 a.m.
  • Eivind Opsvik, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • George Burton Quartet, 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.

Jazz Brunch: Donvonte McCoy, HR-57, 11:30 a.m. | HR-57, a reliable destination for strong, swinging jazz, recently added weekend brunch shows to its itinerary. The musician leading the way, Donvonte McCoy, is one of the best in the city. He plays the trumpet with focus and power and a contemporary rhythmic swagger, never overstating his case but easily drawing a soulful essence from the horn. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 profile

‘Thinking About Jazz: The Two Ettas,’ Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1 p.m. | The Howard University history professor Dr. Donald Roe will discuss Etta James and Etta Jones – the differences, similarities, and constant debate over who was superior. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster 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

Eivind Opsvik, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik, who’s been living and working in New York City for over a decade, can sound like he’s humming from inside the caverns of the instrument. Opsvik has made four albums in his “Overseas” series, and the latest, released last year, isolates sound from movement like almost no other recent record has. He appears here with a strong quartet of New York-based musicians: Jacob Sacks on piano, Brandon Seabrook on guitar and Jeff Davis on drums. The show is part of the annual Nordic Jazz Festival, which is always stationed at Twins Jazz. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $20 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Pieces of a Dream, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The famous smooth-jazz group Pieces of a Dream is celebrating its 38th year. The band emerged from Philadelphia’s R&B scene in the mid-1970s, under the wing of Grover Washington, Jr., and has since become known for its svelte, electric grooves. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $35 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Karla Chisholm Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | The singer Karla Chisholm’s music is somewhere between pop singer-songwriter, funk and jazz. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

George Burton Quartet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | The talented young pianist George Burton dips in and out of classic bop syntaxes, with cutting melodies and accompanying full-barrel rhythms that cast a fog over the divide between swing and groove. At the Caverns, his quartet includes Tim Warfield on tenor and soprano saxophones, Jeremy “Bean” Clemons on drums and Romeir Mendez on bass. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30. $18 cover in advance, $23 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns 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

Jenny George, Black Fox Lounge, 9 p.m. | Jenny George can’t yet drink legally at Black Fox Lounge, but she’s a prescient young vocalist who takes on jazz standards with strength and sensitivity. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Black Fox profile

Alfredo Mojica Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | No description available. 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, JUNE 30

cb picks:

  • Jazz Brunch: Donvonte McCoy, HR-57, 11:30 a.m.
  • MOM2 and OOO, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 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: Donvonte McCoy, HR-57, 11:30 a.m. | HR-57 – a reliable destination for strong, swinging jazz – recently added weekend brunch shows to its itinerary. The musician leading the way, Donvonte McCoy, is one of the best in the city. He plays the trumpet with focus and power and a contemporary rhythmic swagger, never overstating his case but easily drawing a soulful essence from the horn. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 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

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

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

MOM2 and OOO, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 p.m. | To close Transparent Productions’ fall 2012/spring 2013 season, here’s a bill to turn your head inside out – and do it with a sense of jagged unity and right purpose. First, the electronic experimentalists MOM2 (Mind Over Matter Music Over Mind, in full) will present a rough-hewn blend of digital exploration and turntablism, stirring together speeches and spoken word with other sounds, “musical” and otherwise. The small ensemble includes Thomas Stanley, Bobby Hill and Luke Stewart, who’s also a CapitalBop editor. After their set, the acoustic free-jazz group OOO (a.k.a. Tri-O Trio – catching on to a motif of playful deconstruction yet?) will perform its own cliff-hanging fire music. That band also includes Stewart; he’s joined by the alto saxophonist Aaron Martin and the drummer Warren “Trae” Crudup. The concert is a celebration of Black Music Month. Two separate sets at 7 & 9 p.m. $15 cover in advance, $20 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bethesda Blues & Jazz website

Pieces of a Dream, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | The famous smooth-jazz group Pieces of a Dream is celebrating its 38th year. The band emerged from Philadelphia’s R&B scene in the mid-1970s, under the wing of Grover Washington, Jr., and has since become known for its svelte, electric grooves. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $35 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Sharon Raquel, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The area vocalist Sharon Raquel performs here with Kash Wright and his trio. Raquel injects lightness and soul into jazz standards, and cites influence from Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan and Jane Monheit. The backing band comprises Prakash Wright on piano, Mike Montgomery on bass and Bobby Beall on drums. 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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About Giovanni Russonello

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A co-founder of CapitalBop, Giovanni Russonello is also a music writer and critic for the New York Times. He also teaches writing as a lecturer at New York University's School of Professional Studies. 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. 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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