Weekend in Jazz | Local lights shine on U Street; Kennedy Center showcases national stars

The bassist Tarus Mateen will bring his writhing, deep-in-the-pocket attack to Bohemian Caverns this weekend. Courtesy bobtravis/flickr

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

The vocalist Jessica Boykin-Settles and the bassist Tarus Mateen are powerful performers, songwriters and mentors on the D.C. scene, but they tend not to lead their own bands nearly enough. This Friday and Saturday, each is playing at a club on U Street: Boykin-Settles at Twins, and Mateen (the subject of an in-depth CapitalBop profile last year) at Bohemian Caverns. It’s worth your while to check out at least one of them.

Over on the banks of the Potomac, the soon-to-expand Kennedy Center will be showcasing a smattering of the country’s most exciting jazz stars: a lineup curated by the Monterey Jazz Festival on Friday, and the young piano phenom Kris Bowers on Saturday. 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, FEBRUARY 1

cb picks:

  • Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, Kennedy Center, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m.
  • Jessica Boykin-Settles Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Corey Harris, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Tarus Mateen, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Maurice Lyles, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | Maurice Lyles leads an expert straight-ahead sextet in this celebration of Black American music to ring in Black History Month. 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. $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 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

Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, Kennedy Center, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. | One of the country’s most storied jazz conventions, the Monterey Jazz Festival regularly books the top brass of contemporary jazz for one weekend in September. Here, it is taking its talents on the road, and will present an all-star band featuring the vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, the bassist Christian McBride, the pianist Benny Green, the drummer Lewis Nash, the saxophonist Chris Potter and the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire – all rigorous tinkerers with the straight-ahead tradition. Two separate shows at 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. Tickets $38. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Ethan Foote Ensemble, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | Bassist Ethan Foote, a member of top-notch progressive quartet Sanga Equation, here leads his own combo through straight-ahead and Latin jazz. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Black Fox profile

Jessica Boykin-Settles Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Jessica Boykin-Settles is a widely respected vocalist, and a teacher at Howard University who has mentored a handful of the city’s fine young singers. She’s got a firm delicateness to her approach, and she is an expert improviser. Here she’ll perform with a deft trio: Allyn Johnson on piano, Eliot Seppa on bass and Kush Abadey on drums. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Corey Harris, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Corey Harris plays the Delta blues with depth and credibility. He’s also a dedicated eclectic, exploring genres from reggae to Malian popular music. During this weekend run, he turns his attention to the Caribbean, performing a program he calls the “Rasta Blues Experience.” Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Julie Hall Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Vocalist Julie Hall passionately projects a swirling, blooming tone, and flavors her renditions of jazz standards with a pregnant tremolo. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

Tarus Mateen, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | The bassist Tarus Mateen is one of D.C.’s most spellbinding musicians – stomping, writhing, fluttering, and always deep in the pocket. He’s been a sideman for Betty Carter, Terence Blanchard and Marc Cary, as well as a smattering of renowned hip-hop and reggae groups. For the past 12 years Mateen has recorded and toured the world in pianist Jason Moran’s universally acclaimed trio, the Bandwagon. This weekend will be Mateen’s first as a headliner at Bohemian Caverns; during his Tuesday-night residency at the club in July, Mateen veered cleanly from West African grooves to modal post-bop to neo-soul retouchings of Billie Holiday’s music. He will perform here with David Robbins on keyboard, Terence Arnett on drums and Brittany Tanner on vocals. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $15 cover in advance, $20 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Antonio Parker, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Alto saxophonist Antonio Parker’s playing is swingin’ and soulful, with 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 to Kenny Garrett’s. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 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

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

Aaron Myers, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | Vocalist Aaron Myers leads a straight-ahead jazz quartet, featuring piano, bass and drums. 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

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2

cb picks:

  • Kris Bowers, KC Jazz Club, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m.
  • Jessica Boykin-Settles Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Corey Harris, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Tarus Mateen, 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.

Dee Dee Bridgewater Master Class, Kennedy Center, 11 a.m. | Dee Dee Bridgewater, one of jazz’s best known active vocalists, handles her role as an onstage ship captain with panache and wit, harkening to Betty Carter. Here she will lead a vocals master class. Tickets $12. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center 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

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

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

Kris Bowers, KC Jazz Club, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. | Kris Bowers has a crystalline excitement about his approach to the piano – which at its best can feel like a full integration of the jazz tradition with the complementary forces of Black popular music. The Los Angeles native is just 23, but he’s already won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and performed alongside some of the world’s top stars. He’s one to watch. Two separate sets at 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. $16 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Jessica Boykin-Settles Quartet, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Jessica Boykin-Settles is a widely respected vocalist, and a teacher at Howard University who has mentored a handful of the city’s fine young singers. She’s got a firm delicateness to her approach, and she is an expert improviser. Here she’ll perform with a deft trio: Allyn Johnson on piano, Eliot Seppa on bass and Kush Abadey on drums. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Corey Harris, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Corey Harris plays the Delta blues with depth and credibility. He’s also a dedicated eclectic, exploring genres from reggae to Malian popular music. During this weekend run, he turns his attention to the Caribbean, performing a program he calls the “Rasta Blues Experience.” Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Big Joe Maher Trio w/Lyle Link, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Drummer Big Joe Maher plays boogie-woogie and blues, and sings in a playful drawl. His band is rounded out by the soulful, highly skilled saxophonist Lyle Link; Bill Heid on piano; and Tommy Cecil on bass. No cover, 1-drink minimum.View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental website

Tarus Mateen, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | The bassist Tarus Mateen is one of D.C.’s most spellbinding musicians – stomping, writhing, fluttering, and always deep in the pocket. He’s been a sideman for Betty Carter, Terence Blanchard and Marc Cary, as well as a smattering of renowned hip-hop and reggae groups. For the past 12 years Mateen has recorded and toured the world in pianist Jason Moran’s universally acclaimed trio, the Bandwagon. This weekend will be Mateen’s first as a headliner at Bohemian Caverns; during his Tuesday-night residency at the club in July, Mateen veered cleanly from West African grooves to modal post-bop to neo-soul retouchings of Billie Holiday’s music. He will perform here with David Robbins on keyboard, Quincy Phillips on drums and Brittany Tanner on vocals. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $15 cover in advance, $20 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Saltman Knowles, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Saltman Knowles is a band that blends Latin, straight-ahead and soul-jazz influences. The core trio consists of joyous and smooth-voiced singer Lori Williams, pianist William Knowles and bassist Mark Saltman. But the group’s ancillary instrumentation — like its musical ambitions — is always changing: On the band’s latest CD, Saltman Knowles refashioned itself as an octet, complete with the steel pan sounds of Victor Provost. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 website

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

Jeron White, Black Fox Lounge, 9:30 p.m. | Bassist Jeron White leads a straight-ahead jazz combo. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Black Fox 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, FEBRUARY 3

 
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

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

DC Choro, Grill from Ipanema, 7:30 p.m.| DC Choro is a sextet that plays Brazilian music drawing on European folk traditions. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Grill from Ipanema 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

Jam Session with Michael Price, Twins Jazz, 8 p.m. | The bantam-like pianist Michael Price leads an open straight-ahead jam session. $10 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins 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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