Jazz’s top brass at Blues Alley, plus young D.C. sax star Braxton Cook (WEEKEND IN JAZZ)

Saxophonist Braxton Cook, left, pictured with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, performs at Bohemian Caverns this weekend. Courtesy braxtoncook.com

The young alto saxophone star Braxton Cook returns to his hometown for his first weekend run at Bohemian Caverns. And at Blues Alley, four of the top trumpeters in the business convene for a handful of performances. Read more>>

Russell Gunn on blasting across boundaries & his new project with Dionne Farris (INTERVIEW)

Russell Gunn played at Bohemian Caverns recently with Dionne Farris. Courtesy nicotoulouse.com

Russell Gunn was ahead of the pack in the 1990s, when jazz and hip-hop were treated as oil and vinegar. The trumpet virtuoso recently traveled to D.C. with his newest project, in which he fronts a band alongside the soul singer Dionne Farris. Read more>>

Jon Batiste on NOLA, modern music and Stay(ing) Human: ‘There’s room for everybody’ (INTERVIEW)

Jon Batiste, second from left, played with his Stay Human band at the Howard Theatre. Courtesy Peter Lueders

The star keyboardist and bandleader Jon Batiste recently brought his Stay Human band to the Howard Theatre. The band lets its New Orleans roots extend in all sorts of directions — toward second line, hip-hop and more — but its main goal is always to get the whole audience involved. Read more>>

Award-winning pianist Myra Melford on her inspirations and new solo project (INTERVIEW)

At the KC Jazz Club, young drummer Jamison Ross takes his audience on a Joy Ride (LIVE REVIEW)

Kennedy Center’s new jazz season includes Muhal Richard Abrams, Cassandra Wilson & more

CapitalBop’s top 5 albums of 2013

CapitalBop Best Albums of 2013
At a time when just about every musician seems to be putting out his or her own recording, D.C.’s jazz scene yielded a manageable and strikingly high-quality crop. It’s not just the quality but the variety, in terms of sound and perspective, that grabs your attention about these albums.
Read more at the top albums page>>

Kenny Rittenhouse Septet,
New York Suite

Kenny Rittenhouse has developed a reputation as one of the DMV’s most versatile and virtuosic trumpeters, able to bounce between classical music and various sorts of jazz with the poise of a true master. His sophomore album, New York Suite, further exhibits him as a gifted composer, crafting complex lines and harmonies, all the while making great use of his excellent group. Read Luke Stewart’s review

Siné Qua Non, Simple Pleasures

The first thing to note about the debut album from Siné Qua Non is the instrumentation. A drum set, percussion, steel pan and bass, with winds and frequent vocals on top. Those first three fit within the drum family, so this group’s rhythm section is truly an unfettered interplay between drums and bass. Read Luke Stewart’s review

Reginald Cyntje, Love

The trombonist and composer Reginald Cyntje isn’t against didacticism, and he doesn’t have to be. Music creates rare opportunities to deliver serrated messages with a cushion, and that demands conviction. Cyntje’s blog finds him ministering from the pulpit of life, and he has insight. But you worry about Love, a concept album that’s heavy on vocals and filled with abstract-noun song titles (“Faith,” “Determination,” “Peace”). Read Giovanni Russonello’s review

Brian Settles Trio, Folk

One of the more studied saxophonists of the D.C. area, Brian Settles has released an album that feels like a new start – a new beginning – rather than a follow-up to his debut, 2011?s Secret Handshake. Where the preceding record was a strong exploration of various aesthetic and timbral approaches, the newer Folk presents Settles’ music with much more focus and deliberation. Read Luke Stewart’s review

Allyn Johnson & Sonic Sanctuary, The Truth

If you want to get to know a local jazz scene, or a new strain of thinking in the music, look to its pianists. Eighty-eight keys make up an orchestra unto themselves, percussive and complementary and narrative. Pianists are called “professors” because they lead by example and by diplomacy, even when they’re not bandleaders; other players can relate their own ideas to the keyboard, and a good pianist can relate them to each other. Read Giovanni Russonello’s review


Jason Moran is the Kennedy Center’s jazz adviser. Courtesy mpix46/flickr

Interview | Jason Moran on the Kennedy Center’s new jazz season
Recently named jazz advisor Jason Moran is working to expand the center’s audience. Read more>>

Joe Herrera, a full-time musician, says he sometimes feels compelled to consider getting a day job.

Sriram Gopal’s Swing District | ‘Real’ musicians vs. part-time musicians
In his monthly Swing District column, CapitalBop’s Sriram Gopal confronts the perceived differences between full-time musicians and those with day jobs, and argues that both have to make certain sacrifices. Read more>>

Steve Coleman, left, with Jonathan Finlayson.

Interview | Steve Coleman: An innovator for the ages
In this interview, the saxophonist Steve Coleman discusses his anti-genre approach to music, and much more. Read more>>

Documentary film Oxygen for the Ears tells the story of D.C.’s historic jazz scene.

The Smithsonian is reinvigorating its Take 5! series with a focus on famous composers.

Sriram Gopal’s debut Swing District column: The universal benefits of giving jazz a chance.

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