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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Jazz Avenues

Still one of this listener’s all-time favorite recordings, we honor August birthday hero Lester Young by remembering again his album “Lester Young in Washington, DC, 1956,” on the Pablo/Original Jazz Classics label. Recorded at Olivia Davis’ Patio Lounge – one of the back-in-the-day venues mentioned prominently in the recently released book “DC Jazz,” the album, with Bill Potts on piano, Norman Williams, bass, and Jim Lucht, drums, expertly frames Young’s supple, witty, at times ferocious, at other times hauntingly melancholy riffs on tunes like “A Foggy Day,” “Tea for Two,” “I Can’t Get Started,” “Jeepers Creepers” and others. The recording still brings wonder and surprise on every listening.

Other August (quite a heroic month) birthday heroes are Louis Armstrong, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Benny Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Count Basie, Wayne Shorter, Charlie Parker and Dinah Washington – just to name a few!

Anacostia Arts Presents ‘DC Jazz’ Panel, Kent Miller Quartet
Anacostia Arts Center, East River Jazz and MahoganyBooks bring us an afternoon of jazz from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 12, featuring the Kent Miller Quartet, following a panel discussion with the editor and contributors of the recently released book “DC Jazz: Stories of Jazz Music in Washington DC.”

The panel will explore what some feel is the “overlooked and little-known history” of DC’s contribution to jazz, with Blair Ruble, co-editor of “DC Jazz,” speaking on “DC jazz institutions, the cultural hotbed of Seventh and U Streets, as well as the great Duke Ellington’s time in the nation’s capital,” according to Anacostia Arts Center information.

Music will follow courtesy of the Kent Miller Quartet, “a kind of big band, straight-ahead jazz throwback” led by DC-based acoustic bassist Kent Miller.

Whalen’s Web Series Highlights Our Artists
Pianist and composer Tim Whalen is one of our first-rank pianists – and you can catch him in his next show at Blues Alley on Aug. 15 with his quintet for verification of his artistic talents. But we appreciate Whalen also for reaching out to spotlight other artists via his AceTone Sessions on, which have featured bassist Zack Pride, guitarist Paul Pieper and saxophonist Tedd Baker.

Hooker’s Album ‘Pillars …’ Wails
Drummer, composer, adventurist William Hooker’s new CD, “Pillars … at the Portal,” on his Mulatta Records label, is not for the faint of heart or the faint of ear. A veritable wall of sound it is, stretching the senses in a number of ways, but a worthy avant statement it is.


Of his group on this recording, we know bassist Luke Stewart and guitarist Anthony Pirog fairly well, having heard them up close and personal in their own adventuresome displays. Also backing Hooker’s whipping, slashing drum work are Jon Irabagon, tenor and soprano sax, and James Brandon Lewis, tenor sax, with some fierce deliveries and skyscraping riffs.

Notably moving on the album are the opener “Ray of Will,” with Hooker and Pirog both slashing and jamming over the horns and bass. “To Be and Do” is a 10-minute-plus driving, hypnotic excursion powered by horns and bass, as well as drums. Hooker slashes and bangs, and his whispers on cymbals in harmony with Pirog’s vintage searing, then spacey guitar riffs, highlight “Comes into View.”

Hooker appears with his trio on Aug. 19 at Twins Jazz. See for more information.

August Highlights: … Cheyney Thomas, Aug. 11, Twins Jazz … Ninth anniversary Jazz Jam, Aug. 12, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Marty Nau, Aug. 15, Twins Jazz … Tim Whalen Quintet, Aug. 15, Blues Alley … The Music of Wayne Shorter/Tim Green, Aug. 17, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Carol Morgan, Aug. 17-18, Twins Jazz … Elin, Aug. 18, The Alex … DeAndrey Howard, Aug. 19, DC Jazz Jam … William Hooker, Aug. 19, Twins Jazz … Anthony Pirog Trio, Aug. 20, Blues Alley … Cyrus Chestnut, Aug. 23-26, Blues Alley … Celebrating U Street and DC Jazz/Davey Yarborough, Aug. 24, Westminster … Thinking about Jazz/U Street Jazz; Jazz in DC/Blair Ruble, Aug. 25, Westminster …Steve Washington, Aug. 25, The Alex … Reginald Cyntje, Aug. 26, DC Jazz Jam … Brad Linde’s Therapy Band, Aug. 26, Twins Jazz … Shannon Gunn, Aug. 29, Twins Jazz … Thad Wilson, Aug. 31, Twins Jazz …

August Birthdays:… Big Nick Nicholas 2; Eddie Jefferson 3; Louis Armstrong, Sonny Simmons 4; Lenny Breau 5; Rahsaan Roland Kirk 7; Lucky Millinder, Benny Carter 8; Jack DeJohnette 9; Claude Thornhill 10; Russell Procope 11; Earl Coleman, Pat Matheny 12; Mulgrew Miller 13; Stuff Smith 14; Oscar Peterson, Mal Waldron, Bill Evans 16; Ike Quebec, Duke Pearson 17; Oscar Brashear 18; Jimmy Rowles 19; Count Basie, Art Farmer 21; Bobby Watson 23, Claude Hopkins 24;Wayne Shorter, Pat Martino 25; Branford Marsalis 26; Lester Young 27; Kenny Drew 28; Charlie Parker, Dinah Washington 29; Kenny Dorham 30.


Steve Monroe is a Washington, DC, writer who can be reached at and followed at

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