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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Jazz Avenues

Women in Jazz and More East of the River
March blows in some musical high winds this year east of the river, thanks to the Washington Women in Jazz Festival (WWJF) as well as Vernard Gray and the Anacostia Arts Center.

WWJF events include the Young Artist Showcase and Jam Session, noon to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, March 10, presented by the Levine School of Music at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Center (THEARC/www.thearcdc.org) at 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE.

The showcase, admission $5 at the door, is “for emerging jazz women musicians in high school and college,” with selected artists performing with the WWJF trio, meeting and getting advice from professionals and hosting a jam session, according to WWJF information.

The next day, at 3 p.m., March 11, at the Anacostia Arts Center, Vernard Gray of East River Jazz presents another show in the Jazz Brunch series (second Sunday of each month), featuring songstress Karen Lovejoy, a longtime favorite for her soulful, sultry, distinctive phrasing.

“The Jazz Brunch has become a growing success, we are thrilled to be able to provide an experience such as this to the Anacostia community,” says Kadija Bangura, marketing manager for ARCH Development Corp. (www.archdevelopment.org), which runs the arts center. “Each month I meet a new guest who says, ‘I never knew this was here’ or ‘This is such a great event.’”

Gray says that the Arts Center asked East River Jazz to partner with the Jazz Brunch series “based on our presenting Sunday afternoon performances during our annual JAZZFest series … Of course, we were very much interested in the idea. Our immediate plans are to present a good mix of instrumental and vocal based interpretations of the music. Each of our events are ‘conversations’ with an audience that mix performance and related performer/patron discourse.”

WWJF returns east of the river for a 4 p.m. show on March 17 at THEARC, featuring the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra and works by composers/musicians Anna Webber and Angela Morris. See www.washingtonwomeninjazz.com.

InPerson … Sarah Hughes, Eliot Seppa, Herb Scott, Karen Lovejoy
Top performances last month included woodwind adventurer Sarah Hughes twice, first at Rhizome in a trio setting, playing meditative, soft melodies on clarinet, then moving to more urgent squawks, growls and groans during a free piece. Later in the month Hughes was downtown at the Smithsonian Art Museum, honoring Ornette Coleman, blowing riffing rhymes and rhythms on her searing alto sax.

Also, Eliot Seppa commanded his bass expertly at Sotto on 14th Street for the Tuesday jams. Dynamic sax man Herb Scott’s Capitol Hill jam at Mr. Henry’s drew a packed house one Wednesday night. Siren of song Karen Lovejoy delivered some poignant numbers in her show at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, including “I Concentrate on You” and “Willow Weep for Me,” while elsewhere, teenage phenom Matthew Whitaker wowed a large crowd with his cascading, rippling, sometimes funky, always swinging runs on piano and organ.

March Highlights: … Young Artist Showcase/Washington Women In Jazz Festival, March 10, Levine @ THEARC … Shannon Gunn Tribute to Women Composers/WWJF, March 10, Smithsonian American Art Museum … Orrin Evans/The Bad Plus, March 10-11, Blues Alley … Karen Lovejoy/East River Jazz Brunch, March 11, Anacostia Arts Center … Judith Ferstl/WWJF, March 13, Embassy of Austria … Dwayne Adell, March 13, Blues Alley … Shana Tucker/WWJF, March 14, Hill Center … Kevin Eubanks, March 15-18, Blues Alley … Tim Whalen Quartet, March 16-17, Twins Jazz … Amy K. Bormet’s Ephemera/Isabel Escalante, March 16, Georgetown University … Leigh Pilzer/WWJF All-Stars, March 16, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra/Anna Webber, Angela Morris, March 17, THEARC … Christie Dashiell, March 17, The Alex/Graham Georgetown Hotel … Sarah Hughes “Coy Fish” album release, March 18, Rhizome … Eric Byrd Trio, March 19, Blues Alley … Allyn Johnson Meet The Artist/Jamal Brown, March 20, University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Recital Hall, Bldg. 46-West … Reuben Brown Tribute, March 23, Westminster … Jeff Antoniuk/David Bach Consort, March 23-24, Twins Jazz … Irene Jalenti/Marco Panascia, March 24, The Alex … Akua Allrich, March 24, Kennedy Center Jazz Club … Japanese Jazz Series, March 26-29, Blues Alley … Samuel Munguia, March 27, UDC Recital Hall, Bldg. 46-West … Rene Marie, March 29, Clarice Smith Center/University of Maryland at College Park … Corcoran Holt CD release, March 29, Bethesda Blues & Jazz … Ricky Ford Quartet, March 30-31, Twins Jazz … HU Jazz Ensemble, March 30, Westminster … Jazz Night at the Movies/Buck Hill, March 30, Westminster …

March Birthdays: Benny Powell 1; Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Doug Watkins 2; Jimmy Garrison 3; Ricky Ford 4; Wes Montgomery 6; George Coleman 8; Herschel Evans, Ornette Coleman 9; Bix Biederbecke 10; Leroy Jenkins, Bobby McFerrin 11; Terence Blanchard 13; Quincy Jones 14; Cecil Taylor, Charles Lloyd 15; Tommy Flanagan 16; Nat King Cole 17; Harold Mabern, Charles Thompson 21; George Benson 22; King Pleasure 24; Ben Webster, Sarah Vaughan 27; Thad Jones 28; Michael Brecker 29; Freddie Green 31.


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

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