Jazz Avenues

December 2017


“Duke [Edward Kennedy Ellington], who acquired his sobriquet as a youth for his dignified demeanor and smart dress, took piano lessons at an early age. He often recalled, however, that he was at first more interested in baseball, art, and girls than in music. In high school, he began to take the instrument seriously, studying the piano rolls of Harlem stride pianist James P. Johnson … He declined a scholarship to study painting at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn because he was a financially successful pianist and booking agent in the Washington, D.C. area.”
―“Jazz Portraits” by Len Lyons and Don Perlo (William Morrow and Company Inc., 1989)

Wishing All a Merry Jazzy December
Wishing one and all a merry jazzy December and urging all to enjoy the bountiful holiday music awaiting us this month, including a rendering of “Nutcracker Suite” music by our own DC jazz legend, Duke Ellington. The Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra presents the suite at Blues Alley on Dec. 12. According to his website, www.ericfeltenorchestra.com, Felten, now based in this area, “grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where he began studying trombone at age nine with his grandfather, a veteran of east-coast bands from the Swing Era. At 24, Eric was named best new jazz trombonist by the International Trombone Association. He moved to Washington in 1989, and in 1990 formed the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra, a big band known for its interpretations of the music of Frank Sinatra, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Count Basie and Benny Goodman, among other greats of the big band era.”

Ellington recorded “The Nutcracker Suite” for the Columbia label in 1960, featuring jazz interpretations of the Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker” arranged by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

For more information on the Felten orchestra date, go to www.bluesalley.com.

Other merry offerings include the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra on Dec. 18 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center; Joe Herrerra & Rodney Richardson’s “Holiday Party” on Dec. 24 at Blues Alley; Wade Beach’s Brazilian Jazz shows at Twins Jazz on Dec. 29-31; Cyrus Chestnut’s New Year’s Eve gig at Blues Alley on Dec. 31 and Dee Dee Bridgewater’s Jazz New Year’s Eve at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 31.

InReview … Tedd Baker’s ‘Duos, Volume I’
Our formidable tenor saxophonist Tedd Baker, one of our favorite Jo Jo’s Lounge performers, who is always pushing the envelope, has released his first volume of “Duos,” a recording pairing him with various, also formidable, artists like Sharon Clark, Paul Pieper, Kris Funn and Quincy Phillips.

Baker and vocalist Clark form a personal gem on “Autumn in New York,” while Baker and drummer Todd Harrison sizzle on “Joshua” for example. Other highlights include Pieper with Baker on “Turn Out the Stars”; the mystical rendering of the Thelonious Monk “Eronel” with Baker and drummer Phillips; “Minority” with Phillips; “Ask Me Now” with Baker and bassist Funn; and “Chega De Saudade,” the Antonio Carlos Jobim tune, with Baker and drummer Alejandro Lucini.

From his website we learn that Baker, besides his impressive solo career, has worked with a “wide variety of jazz greats and contemporary artists” including Barry Harris, George Duke, Duane Eubanks, David Sanborn, Slide Hampton, Eddie Daniels, Jon Faddis, Vanessa Rubin, Jason Moran, Jeremy Pelt and Butch Warren, among others. He began playing professionally in Boston as a teenager and in 2002 he joined the Airmen of Note, US Air Force Band, in Washington, DC.

For more information see www.teddbaker.com. 

December highlights: … Sharon Clark, Dec. 9, Jazzway 6004/Baltimore … Victor Provost, Dec. 10, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Fred Foss, Dec. 17, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … BSQ, Dec. 10, Twins Jazz … Ben Williams and The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Orchestra, Dec. 12, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club … Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra/Duke Ellington “Nutcracker,” Dec. 12, Blues Alley … Freddy Cole, Dec. 14-17, Blues Alley … Tribute to Joe Williams/Aaron Myers, Dec. 15, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Michael Thomas Quintet, Dec. 15-16, Twins Jazz … Harriet Tubman Trio, Dec. 16, Kennedy Center Jazz Club … Thinking about Jazz/Joe Williams w/Aaron Myers, Dec. 16, Westminster … Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra/A Bohemian Christmas, Dec. 18, Atlas Performing Arts Center … Eric Byrd Trio & Friends, Dec. 22, Westminster … John Lamkin “Favorites” Jazz Quintet, Dec. 22-23, Twins Jazz … Joe Herrera & Rodney Richardson’s “Holiday Party,” Dec. 24, Blues Alley … Cyrus Chestnut Trio, Dec. 26-30, Blues Alley … Wade Beach & Brazilian Jazz, Dec. 29-31, Twins Jazz … A Jazz New Year’s Eve/Dee Dee Bridgewater’s “Memphis,” Dec. 31, Kennedy Center … Cyrus Chestnut/Integriti Reeves, Dec. 31, Blues Alley

December birthdays: Wynton Kelly 2; Jim Hall 4; Dave Brubeck, Frankie Dunlop 5; Jimmy Smith 8; Donald Byrd 9; Ray Nance 10; McCoy Tyner 11; Tony Williams 12; Clark Terry, Cecil Payne 14; Sy Oliver 17; Fletcher Henderson18; Chet Baker 23; Baby Dodds 24; Cab Calloway, Don Pullen 25; Earl Hines 28


Steve Monroe is a Washington, DC, writer who can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com and followed at www.twitter.com/jazzavenues.