Weekend in Jazz | 4.5-4.7: Kennedy Center rolls up the red carpet and polishes up the dance floor

Meshell Ndegeocello, a D.C. native, performs a re-imagining of Fats Waller’s repertoire with Jason Moran at the Kennedy Center this weekend. Courtesy songkick.com

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

This weekend, the Kennedy Center is hosting back-to-back shows at its Supersized Jazz Club. The makeshift dance-floor venue is an innovation of Jason Moran, the center’s jazz advisor, who’s on the hunt for new ways to get young jazz audiences interacting with the music. He performs his Fats Waller Dance Party program at the venue on Friday night with the vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello; that show is free, and if you do nothing else this weekend, it’s the one to catch. Elsewhere, Christian Scott (aka Christian aTunde Adjuah) is at Bohemian Caverns, and two redoubtable saxophonists perform at Blues Alley: Rudresh Mahanthappa is there on Friday, and James Carter on Saturday and Sunday. 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, APRIL 5

cb picks:

  • Thad Wilson & Allison Crockett, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Christian Scott (aka Christian aTunde Adjuah) Quintet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Jason Moran & Meshell Ndegeocello: Fats Waller Dance Party, Kennedy Center, 9:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Vince Evans Quartet, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | At this week’s installation of “Jazz Night,” the soulful, rhythmic pianist Vince Evans leads a hard-hitting band that includes the Fred Foss on saxophone, Eric Wheeler on bass and Jay Jefferson 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

Potomac Jazz Project, 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. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Yamomanem, 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

Thad Wilson & Allison Crockett, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The trumpeter Thad Wilson, a stalwart of D.C.’s jazz scene, has a forward and affirmative attack. You can hear the influence of hard-bop greats like Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. He’s joined here by the strong vocalist Allison Crockett in a tribute to Clifford Brown, the warm and welcoming bebop trumpeter, and Sarah Vaughan, the great virtuoso vocalist. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $16 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Rudresh Mahanthappa, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Rudresh Mahanthappa, one of the world’s leading alto saxophonists, blends an abundance of post-bop fury – a constant sense of pushing, striving and igniting – with Indian classical impulses. Mahanthappa, who was named alto saxophonist of the year in DownBeat’s 2011 and 2012 critics’ polls, appears here with his new group, Gamak, featuring the cutting guitarist David Fiuczynski. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Lori Williams Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Smooth-voiced singer Lori Williams is a regular member of the local jazz group Saltman-Knowles. Here she steps out, singing standards at the fore of her own quartet. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

Christian Scott (aka Christian aTunde Adjuah) Quintet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | Since his teenage years, when he played in the band of his uncle, the famous New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison, the trumpeter Christian Scott has immersed himself in the history of jazz. It’s a story that you can’t tell without including the overlapping strains of swing, soul and social protest. On his latest album, a two-CD release called Christian Atunde Adjuah, Scott finds his taproot in the New Orleans music that incubated him and the West African rhythmic cycles that underpin it. But he’s a product of the hip-hop generation, and a time when the prevailing perspective on what belongs in jazz’s playground has been duly liberated. At the Caverns, he will perform with his quintet. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $25 cover in advance, $30 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

Jason Moran & Meshell Ndegeocello: Fats Waller Dance Party, Kennedy Center, 9:30 p.m. | The 38-year-old pianist Jason Moran, who serves as the Kennedy Center’s jazz advisor, is a sort of iconoclast on piano – it’s in the way he tosses lapping, pseudo-free clusters of sound over the keyboard, and buries the harmonic structure of songs. But there’s something big that he shares with other members of his generation: a commitment to re-instilling dance and greater audience involvement into jazz. He hearkens back to an earlier time, while embracing some of the strategies that have made hip-hop so popular. That’s why he and the neo-soul singer Meshell Ndegeocello teamed up last year to create the “Fats Waller Dance Party,” a funked-out revival of Fats Waller’s tunes, featuring a full band of jazz musicians playing refracted, grooving music. Here they present the concept at the “Supersized Jazz Club,” a makeshift – but welcoming – dance venue that Moran introduced to the center this season. An hour before the show, the choreographer Maija Garcia will lead a “Soul of Jazz” dance class, teaching an approach that adapts contemporary dance to jazz and Afro-Latin rhythms. Free, but tickets required. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center 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, APRIL 6

cb picks:

  • Thad Wilson & Allison Crockett, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • James Carter Organ Trio, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Christian Scott (aka Christian aTunde Adjuah) Quintet, 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.

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

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

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

Thad Wilson & Allison Crockett, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The trumpeter Thad Wilson, a stalwart of D.C.’s jazz scene, has a forward and affirmative attack. You can hear the influence of hard-bop greats like Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. He’s joined here by the strong vocalist Allison Crockett in a tribute to Clifford Brown, the warm and welcoming bebop trumpeter, and Sarah Vaughan, the great virtuoso vocalist. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $16 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

James Carter Organ Trio, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Few musicians know what to do with devastating virtuosity like James Carter does. A wunderkind saxophonist in the early 1990s, Carter has spent over two decades wowing audiences with his abilities: lightning-quick reflexes, never-ending melodic inventiveness, circular breathing, mastery of all kinds of different saxophones. He’s likely to lean hard on his baritone sax when he performs with his organ trio at Blues Alley. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $37.75 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Indigo Love, Harmony Hall Regional Center, 8 p.m. | The smooth and collected vocalist Indigo Love performs a repertoire of tunes once sung by the great Sarah Vaughan. Tickets $30. View event on calendar | Harmony Hall website

Lena Seikaly Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Vocalist Lena Seikaly sings jazz standards with a confident and playful demeanor, displaying a haziness reminiscent of Esperanza Spalding, but also nodding to traditional greats. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

Christian Scott (aka Christian aTunde Adjuah) Quintet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | Since his teenage years, when he played in the band of his uncle, the famous New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison, the trumpeter Christian Scott has immersed himself in the history of jazz. It’s a story that you can’t tell without including the overlapping strains of swing, soul and social protest. On his latest album, a two-CD release called Christian Atunde Adjuah, Scott finds his taproot in the New Orleans music that incubated him and the West African rhythmic cycles that underpin it. But he’s a product of the hip-hop generation, and a time when the prevailing perspective on what belongs in jazz’s playground has been duly liberated. At the Caverns, he will perform with his quintet. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $25 cover in advance, $30 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

Los Caribbeat, Haydee’s (Mt. Pleasant), 9 p.m. | Los Caribbeat is a small ensemble that plays upbeat, danceable Afro-Caribbean jazz. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Haydee’s website

Zet Harris Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | No description available. $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

Soulive, Kennedy Center, 9:30 p.m. | A hip-swiveling trio that has always kept an ear toward jazz and the Donald Byrd-influenced funk fusion of the 1970s and ’80s, Soulive – now in its 14th year – is among the most popular bands of its kind. Featuring Allan Evans on drums, Neil Evans on Hammond B3 organ, and Eric Krasno on guitar, the band often loops in horn players and singers at its live show. It will perform at the Kennedy Center’s “Supersized Jazz Club,” a newly conceived, standing-room venue in the center’s atrium. Tickets $20. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center 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

SUNDAY, APRIL 7

cb picks:

  • James Carter Organ Trio, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Trio Ode, Twins Jazz, 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

Halley Shoenberg, Mansion at Strathmore, 3 p.m. | The young reedist Halley Shoenberg plays jaunty originals and classic jazz tunes with her acoustic quintet. The band includes John Jensen on trombone, Jon Ozment on piano, Jonathan Steele on bass and Tony Martucci on drums. Shoenberg splits time between alto saxophone and clarinet. Tickets $20. View event on calendar | Strathmore 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 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

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

James Carter Organ Trio, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Few musicians know what to do with devastating virtuosity as well as James Carter. A wunderkind saxophonist in the early 1990s, Carter has spent over two decades wowing audiences with his abilities: lightning-quick reflexes, never-ending melodic inventiveness, circular breathing, mastery of all kinds of different saxophones. He’s likely to lean hard on his baritone sax when he performs with his organ trio at Blues Alley. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $37.75 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Trio Ode, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | With Rachel Sberro on vocals, Alex Martin on guitar and Russell Sledge on bass, Trio Ode blends French chanson, classic jazz and bossa nova. 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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