CapitalBop :: News

Show announcement | Presenting Mary Halvorson and Allison Miller at the Wash. Women in Jazz Fest

Mary Halvorson. Courtesy Peter Gannushkin

The renowned guitar innovator Mary Halvorson comes to D.C. this Wednesday for a performance at Union Arts. Courtesy Peter Gannushkin

The Washington Women in Jazz Festival is in its fourth year, and it’s bigger and badder than ever. At CapitalBop, we’re thrilled to be presenting two of the biggest and baddest names in jazz, at the festival’s main event on Wednesday: Mary Halvorson and Allison Miller.

The concert takes place at Union Arts, home base for CapitalBop. If you came to our D.C. Jazz Loft earlier this month, or any time in the past six months, you know what an enchanting place it is to hear music. Come out on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and hear Halvorson and Miller tear things up with a band featuring some excellent instrumentalists from D.C. and around the country. The band features Amy K. Bormet on piano, Sarah Hughes on alto saxophone, Jaimie Branch on trumpet and Karine Chapdelaine on bass.

Allison Miller. Courtesy Allison Miller

Allison Miller. Courtesy Allison Miller

Mary Halvorson’s albums have become perennial fixtures on critics’ best-of lists in recent years, and for good reason: She has a fabulously original way of redirecting the currents of sound that leave her guitar. She flows them upstream, and starts small battles between them. Her years of study with the legendary Anthony Braxton and collaborations with fellow innovators like Jason Moran and Jon Irabagon have borne fruit. Continue reading

News | In newly announced jazz season, Kennedy Center reaches for breadth, and new ideas

SFJAZZ Collective

The SFJAZZ Collective, featuring Miguel Zenón, right, brings its contemporary sound to the Kennedy Center in the 2014-15 season. Courtesy Kristophe Diaz/

by Allen Jones & Giovanni Russonello
CapitalBop contributor & editorial board

The Kennedy Center’s newly announced 2014-15 jazz season offers a broad but digestible lineup that mixes performers young and old, avant-garde and traditional, in a range of settings. It also steps into new terrain, with two multimedia presentations that blend jazz with film.

It is the pianist and MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran’s third season as artistic advisor for jazz, and the lineup reflects his newly refined approach: It’s both inclusive and ambitious, and captures much of the essence of the national jazz scene’s present diversity, without taking many steps beyond the music’s mainstream.

“I’d like to do as much as possible to highlight the varieties of this magical form of music that is constantly in flux,” Moran told CapitalBop in an email, after the announcement was made on Tuesday. “There is a lot to look forward to.”

The season gets most of its avant-garde programming in early: Kicking off the season is the free-form, groove-based electronica duo Mehliana, featuring Brad Mehldau on vintage analog synthesizers and Mark Guiliana on drums and effects. The band will perform a dance set on Oct. 4 at the Crossroads Club, a makeshift dance-floor venue that Moran dreamt up in 2012.  The avant-garde pianist Muhal Richard Abrams follows that one week later with a performance in the Terrace Theater. Abrams, a former teacher and longtime mentor of Moran’s, will appear as part of the Jason’s Select Series.

Continue reading

Show announcement | Elijah Jamal Balbed, Tim Whalen & Amy K. Bormet at the D.C. Jazz Loft

Click for hi-res version

Click for hi-res version

This Sunday we’re back with the March edition of the D.C. Jazz Loft, and it features three artists we’ve been wanting to highlight for quite a while. With the weather climbing steadily toward spring this weekend, it’s a perfect moment to dig out of your igloo and head to Union Arts for some unexpected sounds.

We’ll be featuring Amy K. Bormet, the talented pianist who also runs the Washington Women in Jazz Festival. (Later this month, CapitalBop will co-present a really exciting show with the festival, featuring Bormet alongside international stars Mary Halvorson and Allison Miller. You can think of this as an appetizer, or just a bonus portion.) Then there’s the 24-year-old tenor saxophone whiz Elijah Jamal Balbed, who’s been playing on CapitalBop stages since 2010, and will be leading a truly top-flight quintet featuring some of the area’s very best. And the pianist Tim Whalen, a commanding player with a knack for fascinating arrangements and compositions, will lead a quartet featuring the excellent saxophonist Tedd Baker.

Doors at Union Arts open at 7, and the music will be going til late. The loft is BYOB, and a donation of $15 for the musicians is suggested. When you get to Union Arts, enter through the back entrance (turn into the parking lot off of 4th Street NE). See you there! Continue reading

Show announcement | Introducing three groups you need to hear at this Sunday’s D.C. Jazz Loft

Click for hi-res version.

This Sunday we’re excited to present a fabulous lineup of local artists on the rise — they’re all playing around with unique forms of jazz, and making something new. If you’ve been to any of our shows at Union Arts DC, you know how easy it is to chill out and immerse yourself in creative music there — it’s the perfect venue for the musical discoveries that the jazz loft provides.

This month’s installation of the loft features Shannon Gunn, a trombonist for the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra and the leader of the Bullettes, an impressive all-female big band; Telescopix, a band led by the exciting trumpeter Joe Brotherton, who’s got experience in everything from reggae to house to bebop; and Abinnet Berhanu, a young drummer who’s recently been playing with some of the city’s most respected elders.

Doors at Union Arts open at 7, and the music will be going until at least 10:30. The loft is BYOB, and a donation of $15 for the musicians is suggested. When you get to Union Arts, enter through the back entrance (turn into the parking lot off of 4th Street NE). See you there! Continue reading

News | Library of Congress’s new Max Roach collection sheds light on crucial musician & activist

Max Roach

Max Roach’s papers were officially added to the Library of Congress’ archives last week. Courtesy

by Luke Stewart
Editorial board

Years in the making, the vast and illuminating Max Roach collection was finally unveiled on January 27 at the Library of Congress. The approximately 100,000-item archive gathers many of the famed drummer’s correspondences with musicians, poets, political luminaries and other personal friends; photos; music scores; and recordings, representing every period of Roach’s nearly 60-year career. And it includes the manuscript to an autobiography that he co-wrote with the late Amiri Baraka, but eventually abandoned.

At the event, Larry Appelbaum, the library’s chief jazz archivist, mentioned in his remarks that one of the most revealing aspects of this collection is Roach’s contracts. For the first time, the public can see and analyze the interaction between a widely noted and well-respected musician and the mid-century music industry. “Never before have we been able to see in such a vast collection the place where the musician meets the business,” Appelbaum said.

Roach is widely considered to be one of the most influential musicians in jazz. He joined the New York City scene in the early 1940s, just as bebop was being born, and his fierce, cross-hatched swing feel helped give the music its identity. He would go on to become a famed bandleader (first with the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet, then with a variety of bands, including his all-percussion ensemble M’Boom), as well as an important Civil Rights and Black Power activist and advocate for the rights of jazz musicians. The library’s collection sheds light on all these sides of his persona. Continue reading

Riffin’ with Don Byron, king of the clarinet and preacher of jazz’s New Gospel

Let’s be honest: You getting tired of all these jazz projects that claim to combine bop with some distant musical genre, and just end up feeling forced? Jazz and baroque music, jazz and Norweigian folk, jazz and gamelan. Don Byron deserves part of the blame for it. But wait, hear us out here.

Sometimes doing a thing stupendously well can lead to a lot of lesser-than acolytes. Maybe that’s what happened with him. See, Byron was ahead of the curve in the early 1990s, when he started to meld his loves for jazz and klezmer music. Since then he’s made high-concept, high-quality music that finds fresh perspectives on the Black experience — from 1998′s Nu Blaxploitation album, a funk-and-hip-hop mashup featuring his Experimental Dred band, to his latest project, the New Gospel Quintet. That’s the band he will bring to the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Saturday night.

And before the show, you’ll have a chance to pick apart Byron’s vast palette of influences and ideas at the latest installment of Riffin’: CapitalBop Listening Sessions at the Atlas. Here’s how it works: At 7 p.m., Byron will sit down with CapitalBop’s Luke Stewart to watch videos of performances from some of his biggest influences. It’s all meant to spark an open conversation — not a lecture or a panel discussion — between you, the audience, and Byron. Entry is free.

After the 7 p.m. session, Byron will perform with his New Gospel Quintet, a band that bounces and grooves with the positivity and straight-to-your-heart conviction of an evangelist. Byron’s interplay with the vocalist Carla Cook is something to marvel at. Tickets to the performance will be available at the session, or you can pick them up online for a discount. Continue reading

Riffin’ at the Atlas continues with D.C.’s guitar god, Anthony Pirog

This Thursday our monthly series, Riffin’: CapitalBop Listening Sessions at the Atlas, welcomes its first local artist. Anthony Pirog will sit down for an open conversation about his influences, facilitated by CapitalBop and guided by the questions of audience members — like you.

Pirog is among the District’s most distinctive and expansive musical thinkers, and one of its most adaptable. That means you’re liable to see him in a variety of contexts, be it free jazz or rock or straight-ahead. (Maybe you’ve heard him with his well-loved Janel & Anthony project.) He’s recently recorded an A-plus album with two fabulous accompanists: Michael Formanek on bass and Ches Smith on drums. The record isn’t out yet, but the trio will be at the Atlas Performing Arts Center this Thursday to perform. It’s their first public show. (Our Riffin’ session is at 7 p.m., and the concert is at 8.)

Listening to the trio’s recording is a bewilderingly comforting experience: Influences run in and out of each other; searing, stadium-ready wails from his electric guitar give way to skittering jazz chords, then a switchboard’s worth of Stockhausen twiddlings—through it all, your feeling is not of being jolted so much as expanded. Somehow, Pirog has held your hand, shown you poise through the process.

At the Atlas on Thursday, we’ll be watching performance videos of three musicians who have influenced Pirog. Then the audience will get to have a dialogue with him about what we’ve just watched, how he relates to that music, and his own artistic process. The Riffin’ session is free, so even if you don’t have a ticket to the show you can come and chat with us. But we do encourage you to stick for the trio’s performance at 8 p.m. — it’ll trace a path worth following. Continue reading

Show announcement | D.C. Jazz Loft on Sunday: Noble Jolley, Jamal Moore, Prather’s Groove Orch.

DC Jazz Loft

Click for hi-res version of the flyer.

There was a time when you thought there was nothing more dizzying and mercurial than a Wayne Shorter solo. Then you found out what a globally warmed winter feels like in D.C. Ohh. Over the past month, the city has been expressing a state of lunacy, or frustration, or spite. It massages us into gentle, 70-degree abstraction before plunging us into an acrid freeze. Yech.

Last month the D.C. Jazz Loft got snared in it when we had to cancel our show because of icy roads. But this Sunday we’re getting our revenge, bringing two out of the three artists who were scheduled to play in December: the great pianist Noble Jolley, and the powerful avant-garde saxophone player Jamal Moore. Joining them on the bill is Sam Prather, an exciting pianist, drummer and vocalist who will be leading his Groove Orchestra.

The show is at Union Arts, CapitalBop’s new home as of this fall. It will be a deep-grooving but laid-back evening of good music and good people. The loft is BYOB, and a donation of $15 is suggested–it all goes to the musicians. You can get to Union Arts through the back entrance, by turning into the parking lot off of 4th Street NE. It may be cold this Sunday, or it may be balmy; these will be sounds for all seasons. Continue reading

This Thursday! Grammy-nominated drum star Matt Wilson talks shop at our latest Riffin’ session

Riffin’: CapitalBop Listening Sessions at the Atlas, CapitalBop’s series of fun, ear-opening artist conversations, continues tomorrow with the world-renowned drummer Matt Wilson. He’s not just one of the most in-demand drummers in the game — playing with Herbie Hancock, Joe Lovano, John Scofield and so many others — he’s also a beloved jazz educator, and one of the funniest dudes in music. So talking to him about his ideas and his influences is guaranteed to turn up insights and draw laughs.

One memory that sticks out for us at CapitalBop: At the 2011 Undead Music Festival, we heard him perform a solo set at a skate park in a dreary neighborhood in Brooklyn. The sound was soft, and humid, and deep — the entire set moved from simple, swaying beats to complicated patterns that whipped your brain like heavy cream. Then, at the end, he locked into a simple four-beat pattern and started singing something. It slowly registered, and everyone cracked up — then started singing along. Before you knew it, he’d gotten a whole room of jazz freaks to belt Mariah Carey’s “I’ll Be There.” Only when you hang with Matt Wilson, folks.

At the Riffin’ session on Thursday, we’ll be watching three classic videos of musicians who have influenced Wilson. After each one, we’ll ask you — the audience — to give us some reactions to what you’ve just seen, and ask Matt a question or two. Each of the first two sessions in the series have been fascinating and exciting. This one is sure to be no different. So arrive by 7, hang out at the session with Matt and us CapitalBop folks, and then stay for his performance at 8 p.m., which will feature his unconventional holiday post-bop band, Christmas Tree-O (no kidding…okay, a lot of kidding…but this is a real thing, and the band’s skill is powerful). The group will be joined by trumpet great Terell Stafford, a special guest. Continue reading

Show announcement | Sunday’s D.C. Jazz Loft at Union Arts: 3 free thinkers from around the scene

Click for hi-res version of the flyer.

Last month, we held the very first D.C. Jazz Loft at Union Arts, and it reminded us why we do this. The night was cozy but exhilarating, bringing together players and listeners with all different points of view on jazz and life, and leading to a lot of unexpected conversations, musical and otherwise. From the saxophone sounds of D.C. legend Fred Foss to the chamber-jazz free improv of Brad Linde’s Underwater Ghost project, there were a lot of musical paths to explore.

This Sunday we’re back with round two at Union Arts (which happens to be D.C.’s newest collectively run arts space, with its own unfolding story of art and exploration). This time around, we’re presenting three more very different acts: the pianist-led Noble Jolley Quartet; the avant-garde saxophonist Jamal Moore, one of D.C.’s more under-sung talents); and the strong trumpeter Joe Brotherton.

Come join us for a fun, laid-back evening of music, people and good vibes. The loft is BYOB, and a donation of $15 is suggested, all of which goes to the musicians. You can get to Union Arts through the back entrance, by turning into the parking lot off of 4th Street NE. See you there! Continue reading