Tag Archives: Hope Udobi

News | CapitalBop teams up with Pink Line Project, brings jazz innovators to Anacostia warehouse fest

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

This Saturday, CapitalBop joins forces with the Pink Line Project and dozens of artists, musicians, architects, DJs and clothiers at the free, 12-hour-long LUMEN8Anacostia festival. Throughout the afternoon, from 2 to 6 p.m., we’ll be showcasing some of the District’s top young musical innovators — all players who have wowed listeners at past D.C. Jazz Lofts.

The festival is stationed at the Lightbox, a four-floor pop-up venue in a (perhaps haunted) former Metropolitan Police Department evidence warehouse. (Check out these pics from the secret party and concert that went down there last month.)

At the LUMEN8Anacostia website you can find a full guide to the multifaceted artistic bonanza that will run from noon to midnight on Saturday. For our portion, CapitalBop will present Kris Funn & Corner Store, the Donvonte McCoy Quartet, DJ 2-Tone Jones and a jam session led by Hope Udobi, Eric Wheeler and Warren “Trae” Crudup. Superstar photographer Jati Lindsay will also be showcasing a collection of his spectacular jazz shots. Below is a guide to the bands that will perform. Hope to see you there on Saturday! Continue reading

News | Firing on all cylinders at November’s D.C. Jazz Loft, presented with Reel Fest DC

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by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

Imagine yourself traipsing down U Street on a Wednesday night in November 2009. Walking toward 14th Street, you sense a warm glow to your left. You slide down the three steps and into the doorway at 1344 U St. You’re in Café Nema, and Elijah Jamal Balbed, a slight, shaggy-mopped 19-year-old, is playing the saxophone. He swings and bleats, cutting notes open with a flick of the wrist before squeezing them dry. The quiet man sitting in the right-hand corner, under the window, plucking his amber-tinted electric bass, is Tarus Mateen. You can’t catch much of his downturned, sunglass-hidden face, and even still you probably wouldn’t recognize him, but he’s one of the world’s most respected jazz bassists. On drums, Lenny Robinson is sitting in. As with any great drummer, each glinting stroke of his ride cymbal is a mobilization, a spark, a firecracker tossed at his bandmates’ feet. By the doorway, a handsome young cat in a fedora lurks, one foot angled toward the door but both ears committed to the music. It’s the pianist Hope Udobi, a frequent presence at the R&B club Indulj Lounge over by 12th and U, and at Twins Jazz near 14th.

Magical nights like this one at Nema came to a sudden end last year, when the club closed. But the rest of the District’s jazz community has been quick to fill in where Nema left off. One prime example is CapitalBop’s D.C. Jazz Lofts, where the sense of community has been recreated mightily. This month, we’re hosting our eighth loft, and all the cats named above will be there to perform.

Mark your calendar for this Sunday, Nov. 13. Doors open at 7 p.m., and as usual, admission is free – though we suggest a $10 donation to the musicians. This loft will be doubly exciting because it’s not just a CapitalBop event: We’ve partnered up with the radical film extravaganza Reel Fest DC, and the show will serve as the official after-party for the four-day-long festival. With jazz, merriment and filmographics combined, there’s no reason not to swing by. (Particularly if you’re a musician, since there will be a jam at the end of the night.) Tell your friends, and come enjoy the hang. 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

Photos | Searing combos and a stunning solo set at the third D.C. Jazz Loft

At the D.C. Jazz Loft's night-capping jam, Hope Udobi, Blake Meister, Brad Linde and Allen Jones took a moment to decide on a song. Carlyle V. Smith/CapitalBop.

by Carlyle V. Smith and Giovanni Russonello
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Another jazz loft, another chance to hear a range of improvisers dive into fiery, energetic conversations. The Braxton Cook Trio, the night’s sleeper pick, started things off at Red Door on Sunday with a series of stripped-down jazz classics. The 20-year-old Cook’s alto saxophone — which few in the audience had ever heard — punched and glided over the brawny foundation of Eliot Seppa on bass and Warren “Trae” Crudup III on drums. Drummer Tiacoh Sadia’s quartet was up next. The Ivory Coast native told the audience of the first time he’d heard bebop drumming — how he had thought Art Blakey must have been five separate drummers — and proceeded to do his best to match Blakey’s intensity in long solos replete with astounding double- and triple-hits on the bass drum.

Then came Brian Settles, who had led a trio featuring Sadia at the previous loft, this time performing an unaccompanied set. He began with the horn out of his mouth, playing his soprano saxophone as a percussion instrument. He tapped the keys, and a rhythmic pattern of tones bubbled out of the horn’s body. Settles went on to explore the tonal and harmonic depths of the soprano and tenor saxophones, staying mostly free of form — but for a few points of contact with Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” — even as his dexterity and wealth of ideas made it clear he had prepared specifically for this performance. (Settles’ first solo-sax outing came last month, at the Sunday Jazz Lounge, a gig that he said inspired a specialized practice routine.) Continue reading

News | The D.C. Jazz Loft returns this Sunday!

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by Giovanni Russonello and Luke Stewart
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The D.C. Jazz Loft is back. This Sunday, there’ll be another night of improvised delirium, a throwback to an earlier time – at least in the fact that you might be so enrapt you forget about checking your cell phone for the entire night. If so, it’ll be because the spontaneous composition going on a few feet in front of you has grabbed you and won’t let go.

For our third loft, held as usual at Red Door, we’re bringing back some people who made deep impressions at the first couple shows, plus a few newcomers. They’ll all be presented in formats new to the loft. The show is BYOB, and it’s open to everyone, whether you can pay or not, but we strongly suggest a $10 donation to the musicians. Look below for a guide to the performers. Continue reading

Weekend in Jazz | 12.24-12.26: Very few jazz shows this Christmas weekend

Pianist Hope Udobi performs Christmas music with his quartet at Twins Jazz on Friday. Giovanni Russonello/CapitalBop

by Giovanni Russonello
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Welcome to this week’s installation of “Weekend in Jazz,” a full list of every D.C. jazz show that we can get our hands on. Not too many shows are going on this weekend, as many venues take a break for the Christmas holiday. If you’re just breezing through, check for the shows with a label — those are our favorites. As always, you can read CapitalBop’s full listings directly at our monthly calendar, if you prefer. Happy hunting!


cb pick:

  • Hope Udobi, Twins Jazz, 9 p.m.

Christmas Eve Jazz, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4 p.m. | Nowhere in D.C. would it make more sense to celebrate jazz and Christmas together: Westminster Presbyterian Church for over 10 years has been bringing a variety of the District’s best jazz musicians together every week for its “Jazz Night.” Every Friday, the house of God becomes a hub for fish frying, communing and jamming on straight-ahead. For its special, earlier-than-usual Christmas Eve Jazz show, Westminster hosts Vince Evans on piano, Phillip Hamilton on alto sax, James King on bass and Jay Jefferson on drums. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website
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Photos of the week | 10.21-10.27

This past week saw everyone from international stars to local talent shining on the D.C. jazz scene. Among other greats, David Sanborn visited D.C. with his trio, playing a weekend-long run at Blues Alley. On the local side of things, the University of the District of Columbia Jazz Ensemble put on a great concert at the UDC auditorium on Monday; this was followed by a special performance by the Calvin Jones Legacy Ensemble, featuring special guest and local favorite Paul Carr on saxophone. Here are a few photos from the past week.

Guitarist David Fiuczynski, left, and bassist Tony Grey step off the stage after playing a fiery set at Twins Jazz on Saturday night. Giovanni Russonello/CapitalBop

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Live review | Elijah Jamal Quartet just might be D.C.’s next big thing

Saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed and drummer Allen Jones took chances at HR-57, and it paid off. Giovanni Russonello/CapitalBop

by Giovanni Russonello
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Take note, Washington, D.C.: The Elijah Jamal Quartet appeared last night at HR-57 in its first show ever as a group, and from the sound of things, this was the start of something very big. Sure, the famous Eric Lewis (a.k.a. ELEW) showed up for a much-anticipated and rollicking solo show at the end of the night, but it was the local band that provided the most excitement. Continue reading

Live review | John Williams II: Proficiency and the art of patience

By Giovanni Russonello
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John Williams II Quartet
Twins Jazz
Wed., Aug. 25, 2010

At Twins Jazz on Wednesday night, two middle-aged men sitting near the front were getting grumpy. They’d been waiting for fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. Apparently, this pair had thought that in the jazz lexicon a “short break” means a short break. But none of that mattered when trumpeter John Williams II did return to the stage with his quartet for the last set of the night. The two men stopped groaning, stopped conversing. They were transfixed by the combo’s hard-charging, versatile bop.

With a fulsome tone and lyrical precision on the horn, Williams led an auspicious cast of younger musicians – including guitarist Samir Moulay, Blake Meister on bass and drummer Warren “Trae” Crudup III – who paid close attention to the music’s roots while leaning hard in the direction of new ideas. Continue reading