Weekend in Jazz | 6.29-7.1: Two small festivals finish strong

For the first time, Elijah Jamal Balbed will spend a full weekend at Bohemian Caverns with his quintet. Courtesy Timothy Forbes Photography

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

This weekend, the DC Djangofolies festival and the Nordic Jazz Fest wrap up with strong shows, and saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed plays his first full weekend as a leader at Bohemian Caverns. Find details on those performances and many more in this week’s edition of “Weekend in Jazz,” a listing of every D.C. jazz show on our radar. Our favorites have a label, and as always, you can read CapitalBop’s full listings directly at our D.C. jazz calendar, if you’d rather. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, JUNE 29

cb picks:

  • Washington Jazz Ensemble, Westminster Presbyterian, 6 p.m.
  • Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Hot Club of DC & the Rhythm Chiefs, Glen Echo Bumper Car Pavilion, 8:30 p.m.
  • Björn Thoroddsen (Nordic Jazz Fest), Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

George V. Johnson, Jazz in the Garden, 5 p.m. | The springy and elastic singer George V. Johnson performs straight-ahead standards. Free. View event on calendar | Jazz in the Garden website

Washington Jazz Ensemble, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | The Washington Jazz Ensemble has been around, in some form or another, since the 1970s. In 1978, the group recorded its only record, an eponymous romp through hard-bop originals and jazz standards that has become something of a lost gem. The group’s membership has changed since then, and the album’s tenor saxophonist Buck Hill, a D.C. legend, won’t be with the band at Westminster Presbyterian tonight. But the group is sure to swing nonetheless, with bandleader Allen Houser on trumpet, Knud Jensen and Paul Hannah on saxophone, Darius Scott on piano, the great Steve Novosel on bass and Howard Chichester 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

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

Chris Prince & Lance Jackson, Urban Eats, 7:30 p.m. | Revalyn Gold is a straight-ahead jazz vocalist. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Urban Eats website

Janine Gilbert-Carter Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Vocalist Janine Gilbert-Carter has a fulsome set of pipes that employs with masterful finesse and delicateness, in a style not entirely unlike Betty Carter’s. She often sings gospel, but she’s just as apt to do straight-ahead jazz – which is what’s on the bill at the Mandarin Oriental. No cover, 1-drink minimum View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental Hotel website

Airmen of Note, Air Force Memorial, 8 p.m. | The Airmen of Note, the Air Force big band, features some of the strongest musicians in D.C. jazz. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Air Force Memorial website

Regina Belle, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Regina Belle is a Grammy Award-winning R&B singer who has had hit singles stretching back to the 1980s. She has recently been turning up the gospel influence, and her newest release, “Higher,” is her most pious. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $43 cover, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | The 22-year-old tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed, a lustrous rising star on the D.C. scene, handles his metallic, full-bore tone with conviction. He harks back to Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, but refracts their lessons through the Young Lions of the 1990s and speaks in the lingua franca of present-day post-bop. A recent stint in New York has gone a long way toward expanding his vocabulary, and his approach to group dynamics. For the first night of his inaugural weekend run at Bohemian Caverns, Balbed’s joined by some of the best minds in D.C. jazz: Kenny Rittenhouse on trumpet, Allyn Johnson on piano, Zach Brown on bass and Quincy Phillips on drums. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $18 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Hot Club of DC & the Rhythm Chiefs (DC Djangofolies), 8:30 p.m. | Guitarist Stephan Caucheteux is the founder of the weeklong DC Djangofolies festival, which continues here with a double bill featuring Caucheteux’s band, the Hot Club of DC, and the Rhythm Chiefs. This pair of District-area Gypsy jazz combos will power a night of swing dance francais at the outdoor, covered Glen Echo Bumper Car Pavilion. The night starts with a 30-minute beginners’ swing dance class for the jitterbug-inclined. Tickets $15. [words by Ken Avis] View event on calendar | DC Djangofolies festival 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

Björn Thoroddsen (Nordic Jazz Fest), Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m. | Guitarist Björn Thoroddsen, a native of Iceland, is a virtuosic soloist who performs a range of material – from standards to pop covers to originals – on his acoustic guitar. Two separate sets at 9 and 11 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz 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. View event on calendar | HR-57 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, JUNE 30

cb picks:

  • Spectrum Road, Howard Theatre, 8 p.m.
  • Elijah Jamal Balbed, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Steve Synk Trio, Columbia Station, 8:30 p.m.
  • Sunna Gunnalaugs Trio (Nordic Jazz Fest), Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 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

Veronneau, Petworth Jazz Project, 7 p.m. | Virginia-based quartet Veronneau recently released an album paying tribute to Jazz Samba, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s 50-year-old pioneering bossa nova record. With a two-acoustic-guitar lineup and a strong siren out front in vocalist Lynn Véronneau, the band’s music hopscotches between Brazilian, gipsy jazz and Appalachian folk. Free. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Nancy Scimone, Henley Park Hotel, 7:30 p.m. | Nancy Scimone reaches into the jazz and popular American songbooks during this weekly gig at the Henley Park Hotel in downtown D.C., where she’s accompanied by a pianist. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Henley Park’s website

Spectrum Road, Howard Theatre, 8 p.m. | The supergroup Spectrum Road pays tribute to the life and work of drummer Tony Williams, who joined Miles Davis’ band when he was 17 and had become, arguably, the most important pioneer of jazz-rock fusion by the time he was in his mid-20s. Spectrum Road, named for one of Williams’ songs, “Via the Spectrum Road,” reworks the music of Lifetime, Williams’s seminal jazz-rock project from the late 1960s and ’70s. The band includes the flaring guitarist Vernon Reid, who became famous as a member of the funk/hard rock band Living Colour; organist John Medeski, of Medeski, Martin & Wood; bassist Jack Bruce, who founded the legendary blues-rock band Cream before joining Williams for a stint in Lifetime during the early ’70s; and drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, a virtuosic disciple of Williams. Tickets $45 in advance, $50 day of show. View event on calendar | Howard Theatre website

Regina Belle, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Regina Belle is a Grammy Award-winning R&B singer who has had hit singles stretching back to the 1980s. She has recently been turning up the gospel influence, and her newest release, “Higher,” is her most pious. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $43 cover, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Bonnie Harris Quartet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 8 p.m. | Straight-ahead jazz vocalist Bonnie Harris leads a very talented quartet. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Mandarin Oriental Hotel website

Steve Synk Trio, Columbia Station, 8:30 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

Elijah Jamal Balbed, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | The 22-year-old tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed, a lustrous rising star on the D.C. scene, handles his metallic, full-bore tone with conviction. He harks back to Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, but refracts their lessons through the Young Lions of the 1990s and speaks in the lingua franca of present-day post-bop. A recent stint in New York has gone a long way toward expanding his vocabulary, and his approach to group dynamics. For the second of two nights in his inaugural weekend run at Bohemian Caverns, Balbed’s joined by some of the best minds in D.C. jazz: Samir Moulay on guitar, Mark Meadows on piano, Zach Brown on bass and Quincy Phillips on drums. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $18 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Sunna Gunnalaugs Trio (Nordic Jazz Fest), Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m. | Pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs hails from Iceland. Here, as part of the Nordic Jazz Festival, her trio performs its overcast, brooding music. Two separate sets at 9 and 11 p.m. $15 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Ajay Parham, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Ajay Parham is a smooth, deep-voiced vocalist who sings R&B with inflections of jazz. But on the bandstand at HR-57, where he’s long been a stalwart performer, Parham often tries his hand at jazz standards. $12 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

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, JULY 1

cb picks:

  • Chuck Redd, Acadiana, 11 a.m.
  • Brian Settles & Central Union, Bohemian Caverns, 7 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

Chuck Redd, Acadiana, 11 a.m. | Vibraphonist Chuck Redd spent years playing and traveling with famed guitarist Charlie Byrd; now he leads his own bands frequently. 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

Brian Settles & Central Union, Bohemian Caverns, 7 p.m. | Saxophonist Brian Settles, built of brooding tone and purling vigor, is among the District’s foremost musical personas. He toys with painfully truncated phrases, hammering and stretching them to a breaking point, then tossing them off into space. There exists no stronger testament to his rolling vision and attentive leadership than “Secret Handshake,” his debut album, released last year. Recorded with his quintet, Central Union, the record is a love note to the avant-garde, with eight original pieces that broach the far-out and the deeply intimate. At this show, presented as part of Transparent Productions’ ongoing “Sundays at 7 at the Caverns” series of experimental music, a condensed version of Central Union will perform, with Neil Podgurski on piano, Tarus Mateen on bass and Jeremy Carlstedt on drums. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

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

Airmen of Note, Carter Barron, 7:30 p.m. | The Airmen of Note, the Air Force big band, features some of the strongest musicians in D.C. jazz. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Carter Barron website

Bobby Muncy, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m. | Saxophonist Bobby Muncy writes snaky tunes influenced by 20th century classical and alternative rock, as well as jazz. He appears at Twins with a straight-ahead combo four out of five Sundays this July. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $10 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Regina Belle, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Regina Belle is a Grammy Award-winning R&B singer who has had hit singles stretching back to the 1980s. She has recently been turning up the gospel influence, and her newest release, “Higher,” is her most pious. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $43 cover, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Djangofolies Jam Session (DC Djangofolies), New Deal Café, 8 p.m. | The fist Djangofolies DC festival comes to a close with jam session featuring the Hot Club of DC, joined by other performers who played during the weeklong festival. Bring your guitar, fiddle, clarinet or just your ears for an opportunity to join in. No cover, 1-drink minimum. [words by Ken Avis] View event on calendar | New Deal Café website

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 9 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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