NEW YORK – It’s an undeniable reality that New York City is the Mecca for jazz musicians, the ultimate point of ascension. And, bittersweet as it is to see talented cats leave D.C. behind, it’s hard to deny the appeal of a town boasting dozens of places to play, plus a forward-marching sense of innovation and creative community. Some of that is definitely present in D.C., and it’s growing. But this past weekend’s Winter Jazzfest in New York was the quintessential example of how much remarkable talent and wildly varied music is bouncing around the Big Apple.
Of course, some of the two-night, five-venue festival’s best performers did have roots in D.C. Howard University jazz studies graduate Geri Allen, who often returns to the District, performed with legendary reedist Don Byron’s New Gospel Quintet (above), one of the weekend’s most unexpected and exhilarating acts. Allen applied driving abandon to the group’s knees-on-the-ground, hands-in-the-air, rump-shaking-every-which-way repertoire of Black church music. Continue reading