Weekend in Jazz | 8.23-8.25: CapitalBop’s New Vintage Fest, Freddy Cole & more

Rafiq Bhatia, an innovative guitarist based in New York, headlines this Saturday’s New Vintage Jazz & Wine Fest. Courtesy rafiqbhatia.com

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

This weekend, the highlight — if you ask us — is the eight-hour-long New Vintage Jazz & Wine Fest, which CapitalBop is presenting on Saturday at the Fairgrounds. Come hear six amazing local bands featuring the likes of Heidi Martin and Tarus Mateen, as well as New York guitar phenom Rafiq Bhatia, our headliner, who plays that evening. And sip from over a dozen varieties of top-shelf wine.

If you’d rather stick to the club scene, there are plenty of great options: Area stalwarts Akua Allrich, Cheyney Thomas and Romeir Mendez are playing on U Street this weekend, and the great vocalist Freddy Cole is at Blues Alley. All our favorite shows have a label. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, AUGUST 23

cb picks:

  • Paul Carr, Westminster Presbyterian, 6 p.m.
  • Cheyney Thomas Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Freddy Cole, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Romeir Mendez Quartet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Paul Carr, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | The local straight-ahead saxophone eminence Paul Carr pays tribute to a tenor legend whose tack is more inward-facing, less obliging, than his own: Wayne Shorter. Carr’s an formidable player who loves straight-ahead for its open dialogues. Here he will honor Shorter’s 80th birthday with a stellar band: Warren Wolf on vibes, Allyn Johnson on piano, Herman Burney on bass and Harold Summey on drums. $20 cover, $15 minimum for dining-area seating. $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. | 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

Linwood Taylor, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 8 p.m. | Linwood Taylor is a guitarist in the Chicago electric blues tradition. $15 cover, $15 minimum for dining-area seating. View event on calendar | Bethesda Blues & Jazz website

Cheyney Thomas Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The bassist Cheyney Thomas, a longtime D.C. resident and typical face at HR-57 across town, leads his own straight-ahead quartet this weekend at Twins. $15 cover, no minimum. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $16 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Freddy Cole, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Singer and pianist Freddy Cole shows plenty of similarities to his brother – the world-famous singer and pianist Nat King Cole – but his croonerism is laden with a gravellier, bluesier texture. While his older brother was a star in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, Freddy Cole enjoyed only middling succes. But since the 1970s, he has recorded a slew of well-received albums. His inflection and pop-jazz approach will remind you of the King, sure, but as he insists in one of his tunes, “I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me.” Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Romeir Mendez Quartet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | You know how Charles Mingus had a way of heaving the bass out of its subaltern position, so that you could virtually feel sweat seeping from it, and little battles being fought inside its body? Romeir Mendez, a young bassist accruing esteem on the D.C. scene, is after something similarly earnest and strong. He appears at Bohemian Caverns for just one night this weekend, with his quartet. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $15 cover in advance, $20 at the door, $10 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

Lecount w/the James Benson Trio, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | The guitarist James Benson manages a handsome blend of jazz, blues, West African music and classic guitar rock. Here his trio supports the local vocalist Lecount Holmes. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Black Fox 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

Todd Simon & Friends, 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. Utopia used to house the most reliable, convivial jam sessions on the block; to get a taste of that energy, you can now visit Ulah on any Friday night. This week, the slick and powerful pianist Todd Simon leads the jam – which is sure to be teeming with local talent just finished with the evening’s gigs. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Ulah Bistro website

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24

cb picks:

  • New Vintage Jazz & Wine Fest, the Fairgrounds, 2 p.m.
  • Freddy Cole, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Cheyney Thomas Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Akua Allrich, 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.

New Vintage Jazz & Wine Fest, Fairgrounds, 2 p.m. | CapitalBop presents the New Vintage Jazz & Wine Fest, featuring six bands from the top shelf of the D.C. scene, plus the famed New York-based guitarist Rafiq Bhatia. The music starts at 2:30 p.m., and runs till 10. Local bands include the Funk Ark, an Afrobeat ensemble; the trumpeter Donvonte McCoy with the vocalist Heidi Martin; and the straight-ahead bass clarinetist Todd Marcus. Over a dozen high-quality wines will be available for tasting. Tickets start at $30. View event on calendar | New Vintage Fest 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

Russell Carter Quintet, Wesley United Methodist, 6:30 p.m. | The saxophonist Russell Carter, a longtime performer on the D.C. scene and the father of two young jazz musicians on the rise in New York City, continues the weekend’s celebration of Wayne Shorter’s 80th birthday by performing a selection of his spacial, taciturn compositions for Miles Davis’ second great quintet. $10 suggested donation. View event on calendar | Wesley 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

Cheyney Thomas Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The bassist Cheyney Thomas, a longtime D.C. resident and typical face at HR-57 across town, leads his own straight-ahead quartet this weekend at Twins. $15 cover, no minimum. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $16 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Freddy Cole, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Singer and pianist Freddy Cole shows plenty of similarities to his brother – the world-famous singer and pianist Nat King Cole – but his croonerism is laden with a gravellier, bluesier texture. While his older brother was a star in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, Freddy Cole enjoyed only middling succes. But since the 1970s, he has recorded a slew of well-received albums. His inflection and pop-jazz approach will remind you of the King, sure, but as he insists in one of his tunes, “I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me.” Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Akua Allrich, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba are two strong influences that bubble up in Akua Allrich’s Afrobeat- and jazz-infused music, and here she presents a night of music paying tribute to both. The Howard University graduate, who composes many of her own tunes, is a searingly effervescent singer who wields a sort of earthbound optimism. 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 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

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, AUGUST 25

cb picks:

  • Akua Allrich, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 p.m.
  • Freddy Cole, 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

TBA, 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

Akua Allrich, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 p.m. | Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba are two strong influences that bubble up in Akua Allrich’s Afrobeat- and jazz-infused music, and here she presents a night of music paying tribute to both. The Howard University graduate, who composes many of her own tunes, is a searingly effervescent singer who wields a sort of earthbound optimism. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $20 cover in advance, $25 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Dunes 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

Big Band Caliente, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7:30 p.m. | Big Band Caliente, a locally-based 18-piece ensemble, practices the storied art of large-ensemble Latin jazz, as passed down from Machito to Eddie Palmieri to Arturo O’Farrill. Big Band Caliente features the drummer Marty Knepp, the baritone saxophonist Mark Tabor and the trumpet player Scott Holbert. $10 cover, $15 minimum for dining-area seating. View event on calendar | Bethesda Blues & Jazz website

Freddy Cole, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Singer and pianist Freddy Cole shows plenty of similarities to his brother – the world-famous singer and pianist Nat King Cole – but his croonerism is laden with a gravellier, bluesier texture. While his older brother was a star in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, Freddy Cole enjoyed only middling succes. But since the 1970s, he has recorded a slew of well-received albums. His inflection and pop-jazz approach will remind you of the King, sure, but as he insists in one of his tunes, “I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me.” Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Kurtis Adams, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Saxophonist Kurtis Adams, the director of jazz studies at West Virginia’s Shepherd University, plays savvy modern jazz. $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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