“This year, JAM [at the Smithsonian] celebrates the relationship between jazz and justice by looking beyond the music to the dynamic ways jazz has played a transformative role in social justice, musician’s rights, and equality since its birth in America …”
―Jazz Appreciation Month 2018: “Jazz and Justice”
Garrett, Puente, Thomas, Tyner lead April JAM events
It’s easy to appreciate jazz in this April’s Jazz Appreciation Month, by enjoying the Smithsonian Institution’s JAM events, Kenny Garrett and McCoy Tyner, Tito Puente, Michael Thomas, UDC’s Calvin Jones Big Band Festival and much more music around town.
As the Smithsonian, the originator of Jazz Appreciation Month, says of its “Jazz and Justice” theme, “To better tell this story, for the first time JAM will not feature a musician but instead highlight … Norman Granz, and his work as an innovative producer, tireless promoter for his musicians, and uncompromising advocate for civil rights.”
Granz (1918-2001) was “one of the most influential impresarios” in the 20th century’s jazz scene, as the Smithsonian information tells us. Granz helped advance many jazz musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, to greatness, and his Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series is said to have marked a shift from nightclubs to concert halls and revolutionized the way audiences listened to jazz. In addition, Granz devoted his life to civil rights and equality, recognizing the power of music as a way to encourage desegregation. As a promoter and manager, Granz wrote nondiscrimination clauses into his musicians’ contracts and insisted on playing integrated concerts.
Smithsonian JAM events include the George Washington University Latin Jazz Band on April 19, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble on April 26 and the Big Band JAM! On April 27-29, with all events free at the National Museum of American History. For more on Granz and all JAM events, see www.americanhistory.si.edu/smithsonian-jazz.
Elsewhere This Month
The Kenny Garrett Quintet is at Blues Alley on April 14-15, with the legendary pianist McCoy Tyner at Blues Alley on April 19-20. The Tito Puente Birthday Celebration is at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, April 19. Master trumpeter Michael Thomas performs with his quintet on April 20-21 at Twins Jazz. There is a tribute to pianist and radio personality Marian McPartland at Westminster Presbyterian Church, April 27-28; and the annual Calvin Jones Big Band Festival, April 30, is at the University of the District of Columbia’s University Auditorium.
InPerson … Karen Lovejoy, WWJF
Bluesy goddess of song Karen Lovejoy pleased a room full of listeners last month, at the jazz brunch at Anacostia Arts Center, on “Speak Low,” “Upside Down,” “Stormy Monday” and many other favorites with band members Nick Mack, piano, Emory Diggs, bass, and Lawrence “Bubbles” Dean, drums.
Congrats to Amy K. Bormet on her eighth annual Washington Women in Jazz Festival last month, which included a rousing show before a packed house at Westminster with saxophonist Leigh Pilzer and her WWJF All-Stars, led by trombonist and vocalist Hailey Brinnel, pianist Bormet, Karine Chapdelaine, bass, and Ana Barreiro, drums.
April Highlights: … JazzFest/Victor Provost, David Leibman, April 14-15, Levine Music/Silver Spring … Cloudburst, April 15, Jazz and Cultural Society … Tyler Cassidy, April 15, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … USAF Airmen of Note, April 16, Blues Alley … Carl Grubbs Ensemble/Dorsey Family Benefit, April 15, Eubie Blake Center/Baltimore … UDC Small Jazz Ensembles, April 17, University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Recital Hall/Bldg. 46-West … Stan Kenton Legacy Band, April 18, Blues Alley … Charmaine Michelle, April 18, JACS … Twins Jazz Orchestra, April 19, Twins Jazz … Addison Brothers Salute Let-Um-Play, April 20, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Michael Thomas Quintet, April 20-21, Twins Jazz … Freddy Cole/Bethesda Blues & Jazz Youth Orchestra Fundraiser, April 21, Bethesda Blues & Jazz … Lena Seikaly, April 21, The Alex … Ravi Coltrane, April 21-22, Blues Alley … Freddy Cole, April 22, Bethesda Blues & Jazz … Steve Washington, April 22, JACS … Andrew Frankhouse, April 22, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Darden Purcell & Mason Jazz, April 25, Blues Alley … John Lamkin II Ensemble, April 25, Catonsville Senior Center/Baltimore … Veronneau “Celebrate Brazil,” April 26, Blues Alley … Juli Wood Quartet, April 26, Twins Jazz … Anthony Nelson, April 27-28, Twins Jazz … Tribute to Marian McPartland/The Three Divas, April 27, Westminster … Big Band JAM!, April 27-29, National Museum of American History … John Pizzarelli “Sinatra & Jobim,” April 27-29, Blues Alley … Calvin Jones BIG BAND Festival, April 30, UDC University Auditorium/Bldg. 46-East …
April Birthdays: Harry Carney 1; Booker Little 2; Jimmy McGriff 3; Stanley Turrentine 5; Randy Weston, Gerry Mulligan 6; Billie Holiday, Freddie Hubbard 7; Carmen McRae 8; Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau 12; Gene Ammons 14; Richard Davis 15; Bennie Green, Herbie Mann 16; Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente 20; Slide Hampton 21; Charles Mingus 22; Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson 24; Ella Fitzgerald 25; Teddy Edwards 26; Connie Kay 27; Duke Ellington 29; Percy Heath 30.
Steve Monroe is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. He can be reached at email@example.com or @jazzavenues.