Grant Archives, Anacostia Museum Keep Jazz History Living
“The only jazz-specific archive in the DC area is found at the University of the District of Columbia … At the heart of the archives is the Felix E. Grant Collection, which includes sound recordings, audio interviews, photographs, books and manuscript material,” says the spring 2014 “Jazz in Washington” publication by the Historical Society of Washington, DC. “These relate to Grant’s fifty-year career as a jazz radio broadcaster in Washington. Although internationally known, particularly for his involvement in promoting Brazilian music, Grant also had a keen interest in local history, evidenced by his research of Duke Ellington’s life in the city.” The Grant archives later acquired other materials of local significance, “including the Ron Elliston Collection, which focuses on the East Coast Jazz Festival (now the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival) that Elliston co-produced with his wife, vocalist Ronnie Wells, between 1992 and 2007.”
Paul Carr picked up the mantle from Elliston and Wells and will produce more jazz living history during this February’s Black History Month when the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival returns on Feb. 16-19.
Besides the Grant archives (see www.jazzarchives.org), other places to visit for jazz history include the Anacostia Community Museum at 1901 Fort Place SE. Its Henry P. Whitehead Collection was created by a local historian who did research on the U Street neighborhood including the Howard and Lincoln theaters. See www.anacostia.si.edu or call 202-633-4820.
Other collections are the National Museum of American History, Archives Center; Library of Congress; Martin Luther King Jr. Library’s Washingtoniana Collection; National Archives and Records Administration; and Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.
Mid-Atlantic Jazz Warms the Month
The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival at the Hilton Hotel and Executive Meeting Center in Rockville offers a pre-festival Mardi Gras gala event on Feb. 16 featuring Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, along with Carr’s Jazz Academy of Music band.
The shows continue on Friday through Sunday, Feb. 17-19. Festival organizer Paul Carr says, “This year, we are showcasing the guitar. We have some of the best jazz guitarists in the world going head to head, Paul Bollenbeck, Bobby Broom and Russell Malone (Saturday Feb. 18).” Other stars include Vanessa Rubin, DeAndrey Howard and the Collector’s Edition, Herb Scott and Houston Person, Etienne Charles and Creole Soul, Kathy Kosins, Akua Allrich, Karen Lovejoy, the Paul Carr Quartet, Steve Turre, and Rene Marie. See www.midatlanticjazzfest.org.
InPerson … Tedd Baker
Our reigning boss tenor Tedd Baker displayed his chops for a large crowd at Westminster Presbyterian Church last month, with some sizzling and at times witty lines on his saxophone, playing with the always melodic Janelle Gill on piano, Kris Funn, bass, C. V. Dashiell, drums, and Imani Grace Cooper on vocals. Cooper’s soaring soprano was one highlight of the evening on “The Nearness of You,” along with her enchanting, sultry phrasing.
InPerson … MLK Day Jam
Pianist Hope Udobe was one of the stars during the jam session on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday celebration at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society in Northeast DC last month, with bright and swinging notes enlivening tunes like “Caravan,” “Soul Eyes,” and “Alone Together.” Bandmates included trumpeter and drummer DeAndrey Howard, bassist Mark Saltman, and young alto sax man Dominick Ellis. A member of the University of Maryland Baltimore County jazz ensemble, Ellis delivered fluid, lyrical lines on his horn all afternoon – hot and spicy on the jams and melancholy and wistful on the ballads. A young man to look out for.
Steve Monroe is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @jazzavenues.