by Giovanni Russonello
Over the past few years, the slow percolating of female musicians into jazz’s mainstream has turned into a steady surge. So much so that it almost feels a little passé to even feature a special women’s night and or an explicit spotlight for women artists; it might make more sense just to focus on parity. But we’re not all the way there yet — the D.C. scene still doesn’t get to hear from our talented female musicians often enough. With that in mind, and considering that the Washington Women in Jazz Festival is just around the corner, we’ve decided to host a special Women’s History Month edition of the D.C. Jazz Loft this weekend, with a lineup of all female headliners.
The bandleaders are all stellar musicians, who have recently been playing a big role on the D.C. scene. They are the saxophonists Gabrielle Murphy and Leigh Pilzer, and the vocalist Integriti Reeves. You can read a little more about them below.
The loft will take place again upstairs at Chez Billy, the cozy Petworth den that serves delicious French food and drinks from a full bar. It’s located at 3815 Georgia Ave. NW, just across the street from the Petworth Metro stop. As usual, we suggest a $15 donation to the musicians, but no one will be turned away if they can’t give that much. Make sure to come out and catch some of D.C.’s best musicians in action.
Integriti Reeves, fresh out of Baltimore’s Peabody Institute and now a graudate student at Howard University’s Jazz Studies program, is enamored with the work of classic jazz vocalists like Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. It’s Billie Holiday whom Reeves emulates the most, singing ballads with a sibilant, brooding tone that invites you in and keeps you close.
The baritone saxophone, like everything rewarding about jazz, is built around the power of contradictions. It’s got a lot of brawn, but there’s a gentleness to the sound as well – something like carefully torn construction paper. Leigh Pilzer pulls a lot of wit and verve out of that dialectic. As a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, co-leader of the respected Leigh Pilzer-Jen Krupa Quintet, and a frequent performer with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, she shows off the virtuosity and versatility of her classic bop sound. At the loft, she’ll be leading a drums-free combo.
Gabrielle Murphy — a native of Baltimore and, like Reeves, a Peabody graduate — has a swirling, biting tone on the alto saxophone. She has recently moved up to New York City, but continues to return to D.C. and Baltimore frequently. Here the young sax powerhouse will stretch out with a spare trio featuring two world-traveled stars: Quincy Phillips (of the Roy Hargrove Quintet) on drums and Kris Funn (of the Christian Scott Quintet) on bass.
Photo on flyer of Integriti Reeves courtesy Timothy Forbes Photography.