by Giovanni Russonello
On Dec. 5 of last year, five acts — ranging from pugnacious metal fusion to swingin’ hard-bop — crammed into a tiny room in the lofted studios at 443 I St. NW, and gave what some called one of the most memorable concerts this city has seen in years. It was CapitalBop’s first D.C. Jazz Loft. At the lofts that have followed, a slew of local acts has passed through the infamous Red Door tucked in a nondescript Chinatown alley. In the process, they have made a musical case for the breadth and bite of this city’s teeming jazz scene.
This month, we’re rounding the corner on a milestone — the D.C. Jazz Lofts’ one-year anniversary — while gliding onto a homestretch: At the end of January, Red Door will shut down, and the lofts will have to relocate. But we’re not slowing down. This month’s jazz loft, to be held on Sunday, features a ferocious lineup including the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra’s saxophone section (which will duke it out in a friendly fight to the death, a Battle of the Saxes), jazz loft stalwarts the Jolley Brothers and the talented Michelle Webb. Tell your ma, tell your pa, there’s gonna be a burner at the D.C. Jazz Loft this Sunday at Red Door.
BATTLE OF THE SAXES
with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra’s front line
In the past year and a half, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra has established itself as one of the District’s most popular and cohesive big bands, thrilling capacity crowds at the basement club with cohesive, interlaced performances. But this Sunday, the orchestra’s five-person saxophone front line will duke it out amongst themselves in a Battle of the Saxes. Just after finishing up a special holiday-themed show at the Caverns, the saxophonists will play over a stripped down, bass-and-drums rhythm section, a sharp contrast to the lush backing they enjoy in the orchestra. And they’ll be at the mercy of the jazz loft’s captive audience, whose response will determine which is the dominant sax.
Brent Birckhead of the BCJO solos at the first D.C. Jazz Loft
JOLLEY BROTHERS TRIO
The only D.C.-based band to headline a show during CapitalBop’s D.C. Jazz Loft Series at the DC Jazz Fest, the Jolley Brothers may have also been the one to elicit the strongest response. To a packed Red Door audience, the Jolleys ran through their repertoire of originals, jazz standards and 1980s R&B, all defined by Nate and Noble Jolley’s groove-centric synchronicity. Here the Jolleys, who released an excellent debut album this year, return to the loft for another electrifying set.
The Jolley Brothers, “Her Story Remembered”
Michelle Webb doesn’t just play the guitar — she’s also a a composer, DJ and master practitioner of the oud (the North African and Middle Eastern stringed instrument that predates the guitar by centuries). Her work ranges widely, from a psych-dub project with DJ Chris Burns to a reworking of the milestone 1970s fusion album Love Cry Want. At the loft she’ll go back to the basics and perform a solo guitar set.
Michelle Webb plays at Twins Jazz
Flyer photo credit: Carlyle V. Smith/CapitalBop