Tag Archives: William Parker

Interview | Flip Barnes: From the musical melting pot of 1970s D.C. to an experimental present

Lewis “Flip” Barnes brings his four-trumpet band to Bohemian Caverns this Sunday. Courtesy allaboutjazz.com

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

If you keep your ear to the ground on some of D.C.’s most outside-the-box music happenings, you might recognize Lewis “Flip” Barnes. His rustling experimentalism, and his lyrical swagger, if not his name. The Virginia-born, New York-raised, and Howard University-educated trumpeter plays frequently in D.C. with major names in avant-garde jazz: the bassist William Parker, the trombonist Joseph Bowie, the saxophonist Ernest Khabeer Dawkins.

This Sunday, his Nemesis band headlines the first Transparent Productions show at Bohemian Caverns since the club’s month-long emergency closure. Nemesis is an experimental four-trumpet combo that punches and swells and bursts. The only other instrument in the group is a lone guitar, played by Barnes’ son, Asim.

In the interview below, Barnes talks about how his work with William Parker, a free-jazz eminence, has helped shape him; the importance of his tenure on D.C.’s vibrant music scene in the 1970s; and what we should expect on Sunday night. Continue reading

Weekend in Jazz | 11.9-11.11: Chick Corea, William Parker, Chuchito Valdés & the D.C. Jazz Loft

The Oscillators perform this Sunday at CapitalBop’s D.C. Jazz Loft. Courtesy oscillatorsdc.com

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

Some of the best living musicians in jazz are in D.C. this weekend, spanning across many subgenres. There’s Chick Corea, the catholic innovator who came to prominence in the late 1960s and ’70s; the free-jazz bassist William Parker; the Latin jazz scion Chuchito Valdés; and the great Jason Moran, who will present “A Night of Comedy & Music” with the likes of David Alan Grier manning the microphone. (Read our interview with Moran, in which he discusses how he came up with the idea for the presentation.) And CapitalBop is presenting its November D.C. Jazz Loft this Sunday night at 7; there’ll be an exciting blend of acts, and it’s taking place in Petworth, right off the Green Line.

You can find details on all these shows and more in this week’s edition of “Weekend in Jazz,” a listing of every D.C. jazz show on our radar. Our favorites have a label, and as always, you can read CapitalBop’s full listings directly at our D.C. jazz calendar, if you’d rather. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9

cb picks:

  • Romeir Mendez Quartet, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Michael Thomas Quintet, Twins Jazz, 9 & 11 p.m.
  • Chuchito Valdés, HR-57, 9 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Howard Franklin Quintet, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | What began as an experiment over a decade ago continues today as one of Washington’s greatest weekly traditions: Westminster Presbyterian Church’s “Jazz Night.” Every Friday night, the house of God becomes a hub for fish frying, communing and jamming on straight-ahead jazz. This week, the headliner is Howard “Kingfish” Franklin, a rambunctiously swinging drummer who plays with some of the greatest musicians in the D.C. area. Here he appears with a quintet of young and lustrous musicians: Elijah Balbed on saxophone, Donvonte McCoy on trumpet, Hope Udobi on piano and Blake Meister on bass. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website Continue reading

Weekend in Jazz | 12.2-12.4: Notes from the underground

Little Women perform at Red Door on Saturday. Courtesy Ben Goldstein

by Giovanni Russonello
Editorial board

This weekend, two of the world’s most exciting avant-garde acts arrive in D.C. for one-off shows. At Red Door on Saturday, there will be a rare performance by noise/punk/jazz band Little Women, featuring alto saxophonist and D.C. Jazz Loft Series star Darius Jones. And the following night, the last installation of Transparent Productions‘ series at Bohemian Caverns will also constitute the first public performance by the William Parker Organ Quartet. (You can read our interview with Parker, a legendary bassist, here.) Find details on these performances and many more in this week’s edition of “Weekend in Jazz,” a listing of every D.C. jazz show on our radar. Our favorites have a label, and as always, you can read CapitalBop’s full listings directly at our D.C. jazz calendar, if you’d rather. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2

cb picks:

  • Gretchen Parlato & Gerald Clayton, Atlas PAC, 8 p.m.
  • Etienne Charles, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Jackie Hairston, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | What began as an experiment over a decade ago continues today as one of Washington’s greatest weekly traditions: Westminster Presbyterian Church’s “Jazz Night.” Every Friday night, the house of God becomes a hub for fish frying, communing and jamming on straight-ahead jazz. This week, Jackie Hairston leads an organ trio featuring Michael Hairston on saxophone and Earl Ivey on drums. The group is joined by vocalist Marlene Ross. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website

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Interview | William Parker: ‘Melody as magic’

William Parker discussed his new organ quintet. Courtesy blackstarliners.blogspot.com

by Luke Stewart
Editorial board

William Parker is the most iconic bassist of New York City’s downtown scene, and one of today’s most important jazz musicians.

Growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s and ’60s, he was exposed to the city’s rich jazz culture first-hand through studies with an array of notable bassists, from Jimmy Garrison to Milt Hinton to Wilbur Ware. In the 1970s he became the regular bassist in Cecil Taylor’s group, gaining entrée to the thriving experimental scene. In the 1980s, he formed the formidable collective group Other Dimensions in Music, which included notable members of New York’s avant-garde scene, such as Matthew Shipp, Roy Campbell Jr. and Daniel Carter. He also co-founded and continues to organize the Vision Festival, one of the premier showcases of improvised music in the world.

In 2010, Parker made a very special recording with an organ quartet in dedication to his uncle, Joseph Edwards. Entitled Uncle Joe’s Spirit House, the project marked a new type of exploration for the bassist. The drummer on the album is Gerald Cleaver, who is known as one of the most versatile musicians on the New York scene. In Parker’s words, Cleaver can play “any style, any kind of rhythm or nuance in the music, and still have a very original concept.” The saxophonist is Darryl Foster, a veteran in R&B, having performed with Sam and Dave, among others. He was also with Parker for the bassist’s “Inside Sounds of Curtis Mayfield” project. On organ is Cooper-Moore, widely renowned as a leader on jazz’s avant-garde as well as a skilled builder of unique instruments.

At Bohemian Caverns on Sunday, Parker will hold the organ quartet’s world premiere, performing live with the group for the first time. In anticipation of that show, Parker took some time to discuss his life and music with CapitalBop. This interview was previously broadcast Wednesday evening on WPFW. Continue reading

News | Transparent Productions kicks off fall series of experimental jazz shows at Bohemian Caverns

Angelica Sanchez will perform on Sunday at Transparent Productions' first show at Bohemian Caverns. Courtesy Michael Weintrob

by Giovanni Russonello
Editor-in-chief

Fourteen years ago, experimental jazz in D.C. was a dog without a home. d.c. space, the beloved alternative-music venue on a deserted block in Chinatown, had fallen by the wayside in 1991, and even the straight-ahead jazz scene was barely beginning to awaken after decades of dormancy.

Then Transparent Productions came into the picture. Founded in 1997 by WPFW disc jockey Bobby Hill and three fellow free jazz fans, the group set about presenting experimental shows in small venues where the focus was indisputably on the music. Over the past decade and a half, Transparent has moved from spot to spot – using everything from performing arts centers to cafés – but the m.o. has remained the same.

“We try to do something different – present music that generally isn’t presented here in D.C.,” Hill said. “The audience doesn’t have to buy food and drinks … and 100 percent of the proceeds that comes through the door goes to the artist. If [a venue is] supportive of our approach, then we can work together.” Continue reading

Special feature | Remembering a moment in D.C. with the late Billy Bang, a fiery jazz violin master

Billy Bang, shown shown here in a 1999 performance at the Vision Festival in New York, played multiple times in D.C. Courtesy Michael Wilderman/jazzvisionsphotos.com

by Marc Minsker
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Jazz violinist Billy Bang passed away earlier this month at the age of 63, a victim of lung cancer. Bang led a life full of intensity – both on the stage and off.

The first time I presented this masterful musician in concert in D.C., I gained some insight into his complex character. A man who’d battled personal demons as well as the Vietcong, Billy Bang was quite possibly the greatest jazz violinist of his generation. More frenetic than Leroy Jenkins but equally skilled in his improvisational sense, he had an amazing stage presence and brilliant charisma that had to be seen to be believed. Offstage, he had an irascible streak to him that many friends traced back to a torturous tour of duty in Vietnam. Continue reading

Weekend in Jazz | 2.25-2.27: Wrapping up Black History Month with historic performances

The legendary hard-bop bassist Buster Williams performs at Blues Alley this weekend. Courtesy "Cowboy" Ben Alman

by Giovanni Russonello
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Welcome to this week’s installation of “Weekend in Jazz,” our list of every D.C. jazz show on our radar. If you haven’t made it out to hear jazz yet in February, Black History Month, don’t let the opportunity slip away. A bright way to celebrate would be heading to Bohemian Caverns this weekend for some radical protest music, or going to appreciate a living legend at Blues Alley. These and the rest of our favorite shows have a  label. As always, you can read CapitalBop’s full listings directly at our monthly calendar, if you’d rather. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, FEB. 18
cb picks:

  • Buster Williams, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Amiri Baraka, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th Street Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Trumpeter DeAndrey Howard leads his hard-bop group, Collector’s Edition, every Friday night late at Utopia. But this weekend, he’s bringing the band to Westminster Presbyterian for the church’s famous, weekly “Jazz Night.” Collector’s Edition is joined on this engagement by Kristine Key, a delicate-voiced and plaintive – but soulful – singer. The instrumentalists include Howard, Elijah Jamal Balbed on tenor saxophone, Vince Smith on piano, Emory Diggs on bass and Terrance Arnett 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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News | Amiri Baraka and William Parker reach into canon to present a revolutionary message for today

Bassist William Parker and poet Amiri Baraka this weekend will honor Black History Month with a forward-looking tribute to Curtis Mayfield. Courtesy andynew and bjanepr

by Luke Stewart
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This weekend, Bohemian Caverns hosts a special, two-day performance series in honor of Black History Month. It is only appropriate that the iconic founder of the Black Arts Movement, Amiri Baraka, should be a part of it.

The Black Arts Movement started in New York City in the 1960s, and developed in a time when Blacks all over the globe were in a period of transition. In Africa, many nations were tossing off the shackles of colonial rule, and in America, Blacks were beginning to stand en masse against systematic racism from both the government and the people. The Black Arts Movement was a facet of this resistance against oppression.

“It started, really, with the assassination of Malcolm X. All of us were living down in the Village, but decided to move to Harlem to be in the center of Black life,” Baraka told me in a phone conversation yesterday. Continue reading