Tag Archives: Brent Birckhead

Album review | The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra’s A Bohemian Christmas, Vol. 1

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, D.C.’s only resident big band, has been around for two-and-a-half years now; it’s good to see they’ve released their first album. But a Christmas record? Usually that’s comes later, as a way to cash in after you’ve used your first few CDs to establish a sound and an identity.

Selected as one of five discs on “CapitalBop’s Best Albums of 2012: Honorable Mention.” Click to view the full list.

But wait – in a lot of ways, it makes sense. The BCJO already has the reputation. It’s based on their live show, a reliable caffeine pill most every Monday night of the year. If you’re a District-area jazz fan, it’s stands to reason you’ve probably already heard this band, gotten to know it, enjoyed it. Plus, this is the third year that the orchestra has folded Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s “Nutcracker Suite” – plus other Christmas fare – into its December repertoire. It’s a sort of specialty product for them by now, and they know this material inside out. Continue reading

News | Announcing the D.C. Jazz Loft, 9.11.11

Click for a hi-res version of the flyer.

by Giovanni Russonello

The powers that buy have decided, and so it is final: In four months, there will be no more Red Door. That’s why it was with slight melancholy and an added sense of dutifulness that we set about planning the upcoming D.C. Jazz Loft. Luckily, we got some tremendous musicians on board, and we’re thrilled about the company we’ll be keeping. It’s time to make the most.

So here it is: We’re announcing the next D.C. Jazz Loft, scheduled for 7 p.m. this Sunday, Sep. 11. It’ll feature music ranging from hip-hop fusion to straight-ahead to post-bop. The night will end with a commemorative free jazz jam session, in honor and contemplation of the show’s fateful date. As always, the loft is donation-based and BYOB. Don’t miss out on the grunge and grit at Red Door, where the music is elevated.

Todd Marcus is only one in a handful of jazz musicians ever to call the convention-fragging bass clarinet his primary instrument. It’s a naturally quiet horn, with a papery whisper and a doleful gentleness. But Marcus can really tear things up on there, swinging his butt off and marshaling a thick, powerful tone. He’s signed to Hipnotic Records (which is also a friend of CapitalBop), and he recently released In Pursuit of the 9th Man, his debut record, filled with his modern-skewing compositions. Here the Baltimore native performs with a tremendous band of D.C. and Charm City brethren: Harry Appelman on piano, Eric Wheeler on bass and Eric Kennedy on drums. Continue reading

News | Announcing the U St. All-Stars at Bayou, presented by CapitalBop

Click for a hi-res version of the flyer.

by Giovanni Russonello
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Our mission with CapitalBop has always been to build something new – a wider jazz audience, a scene where musicians have more places to play that encourage innovation – while drawing on the traditions of this legendary jazz town that is D.C.

That’s why we’re especially excited to announce our concert at Bayou on Friday, Apr. 22, featuring the U St. All-Stars.

Dig this: Any jazzbo who was in D.C. during the 1980s and ’90s will tell you the One Step Down was the place to be. National stars came through on weekends to play at the Pennsylvania Ave. club, and on weeknights local legends like Lawrence Wheatley led jam sessions. The spot had a jukebox stacked with the great hard-bop recordings – tunes by Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Pianist George Colligan recalls that in D.C., “the One Step was the REAL jazz club.” Continue reading

Video | The Brian Settles Trio blows your mind, and other highlights from February’s D.C. Jazz Loft

Saxophonist Brian Settles debuted a new trio, featuring Tarus Mateen and Tiacoh Sadia, at the last D.C. Jazz Loft, drawing an exuberant response. Carlyle V. Smith/CapitalBop

by Giovanni Russonello and Luke Stewart
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Gearing up for CapitalBop’s third D.C. Jazz Loft this Sunday, we thought the time was right to share some of the amazing music and art that got passed around at Red Door during the previous loft. That was almost two months ago, but the music is still fresh and brimming in our memories. As it is in these audio recordings and this video compilation – which has clips of all four acts at the last loft.

The Brian Settles Trio undeniably ran away with the show – Settles’ saxophone mastery was augmented by globally renowned bassist Tarus Mateen and globe-trotting drummer Tiacoh Sadia. This group had never played together before, so spontaneity and bold experimentation reigned throughout its set. It was clear that the tunnels these experts were traveling were unfamiliar even to them. That’s why it was such a mind-mashing experience – the trio shot a contagious sense of kinetic abandon throughout the room. The video and audio below capture at least some of that energy.

Other audio clips available for download are the U St. All-Stars’ wailing take on “A Night in Tunisia” (things really heat up at 1:40, when the solo section opens) and a poem recited by Charles Rahmat Woods of the avant-free quartet D.C. Love Orchestra. (The Brad Linde Quartet’s thrilling set of post-cool-jazz innovation wasn’t caught on record. Bummer!) Updated 4.7.11 1:25 p.m.: Despite our own technical issues, Brad Linde caught his quartet’s performance on tape. The group’s free improvisation is now available below. Continue reading

Announcing CapitalBop’s first D.C. Jazz Loft!

Click to view a higher resolution version of the flyer.

by Luke Stewart and Giovanni Russonello
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What: D.C. Jazz Loft, presented by CapitalBop
When: Sunday, Dec. 5, 7 p.m.-midnight
Where: Red Door, 443 I St. NW
Cost: Free, small donation suggested

We’re pleased to announce that this Sunday, CapitalBop will hold its first D.C. Jazz Loft, a collection of performances featuring some of the city’s most innovative musicians in a relaxed, creative environment.

The event is inspired by the jazz lofts of the bebop era, when musicians would come together in New York apartments after their gigs to stretch out creatively and try new ideas, free from the constraints of often-stuffy jazz clubs. The D.C. Jazz Loft is designed to highlight the talents of many of the District’s best improvisational musicians – be they beboppers, free-jazz cats or fusion players. Continue reading

News | Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra announces special Christmas shows (AUDIO)

Brent Birckhead solos on alto saxophone Monday night, as baritone saxophonist Brad Linde and the rest of the orchestra play behind him. Giovanni Russonello/CapitalBop

by Giovanni Russonello
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The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, a CapitalBop darling, will play a pair of special-edition Christmas shows next month, its leaders announced Monday.

On Dec. 13 and 20, D.C.’s one and only house big band will perform selections from Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, leaders Joe Herrera and Brad Linde told CapitalBop. They’ll also play charts from Stan Kenton and Thad Jones, and Herrera, who plays trumpet, is working on his own “non-traditional” arrangement of “Silent Night.” Continue reading

Live review | Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra: Monarchs of Monday night 9.20.10

The orchestra performs at a gig last month. Giovanni Russonello/CapitalBop

by Giovanni Russonello
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Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra
Bohemian Caverns
Mon., Sep. 20, 2010

If there was any sort of question before, it’s been put to rest: The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra is the most reliable weeknight gig on U Street.

After five months of playing every Monday night at the Caverns, this 16-piece big band seems almost as much a part of the club as its craggy walls. Indeed, the band’s dynamic arrangements and punchy soloists have a broad appeal – it’s no secret why the orchestra attracts sizable and diverse audiences week after week. Continue reading