Jazz Avenues

Bobby Felder’s Big Band plays at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Nov. 23.

I’m Free
“Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free, I’m following the path God laid for me. I took his hand when I heard his call, I turned my back and left it all … I could not stay another day, to laugh, to love, to work, to play. Tasks left undone must stay that way. I’ve found that peace at the close of the day.”
―From the memorial service program “Celebrating the Life of Ronald Sutton Jr.,” Oct. 2, 2018, at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Mark Prince Brings His Jazz to Anacostia
Accomplished drummer Mark Prince brings his distinguished sound to Anacostia for a Second Sundays Jazz Series concert from 3 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 11 at the Anacostia Arts Center.

A DC native and Howard University graduate, Prince studied under the legendary Grady Tate and was classically trained as a National Symphony Fellowship recipient. He developed a musical style based on an intense groove of fusion, funk and jazz.

The free concert at the arts center, 1231 Good Hope Road SE, is co-produced by East River Jazz. For more information, go to www.eastriverjazz.net or www.anacostiaartscenter.com or call 202-631-6291.

Packed House Celebrates Life of Ron Sutton Jr.
“If my parting has left a void,” said the memorial service program, “then fill it with remembered joy. A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss. Ah yes, these things I too will miss.”

The capacity crowd of friends enjoyed laughs, hugs, kisses, a sumptuous meal and much more that day of the Oct. 2 memorial celebration of the life of alto saxophonist and jazz ambassador Ron Sutton Jr. He passed to ancestry at the age of 55 in September after a heart attack, said close friend George V. Johnson Jr., the noted vocalist, Hank Mobley archivist and founder of the Washington DC Jazz Network.

Jamie Sandel wrote on CapitalBop.com: “Sutton’s playing was built upon the bebop vernacular of Charlie Parker, and reflected his training in DC’s tradition-steeped jazz community. But his sprightly and angular phrases had their own distinctive flavor, often moving in exciting and unexpected directions, fusing the old with the new.

“A frequent Sutton catchphrase was, ‘Back to the future,’” pianist Marc Cary said.


Sutton was among a cohort of young musicians who came of age in DC in the late 1970s and went on to apprentice with some of jazz’s mid-century greats. Before and during his time in high school at Duke Ellington School for the Arts, Sutton took part in Tony Taylor’s Lettumplay program, where he met many fellow youngsters who would also go on to become professional musicians: Cary, trumpeter Donvonte McCoy and saxophonist Bruce Williams, among others. After graduating from the program, Sutton returned as an instructor.

Raised in a musical family, Sutton also studied as a child with saxophonist Fred Foss, an influential jazz educator. “Ron was a kid who never quit,” Foss told CapitalBop.

Mayor’s Arts Awards
As reported in The Washington Informer last month, the 2018 Washington DC Mayor’s Arts awards included a Mayor Arts Award for Distinguished Honor to pianist and bandleader Allyn Johnson, director of jazz studies at the University of the District of Columbia; and a Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Creative Industries to the DC Jazz Festival.

November Highlights: … Roy Hargrove, Nov. 10-11, Blues Alley … James King, Nov. 11, Jazz and Cultural Society … Gabe Wallace, Nov. 11, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Count Basie Orchestra, Nov. 13, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club … Michael Nirenberg, Nov. 13, Blues Alley … Frank Vignola Hot Jazz Guitar Trio, Nov. 14, Blues Alley … Sendy Brown, Nov. 14, Jazz and Cultural Society … Naama Gheber Trio, Nov. 15, Germano’s Piattini … Roberta Gambarini, Nov. 15-18, Blues Alley … Larry Brown Quintet, Nov. 16, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Reginald Cyntje, Nov. 16-17, Twins Jazz … Miguel Zenon & Spektral Quartet, Nov. 16, Kennedy Center … Cecile McLorin Salvant, Nov. 17, Kennedy Center … Nicole Saphos, Nov. 17, The Alex/Graham Georgetown Hotel … Larry Appelbaum/Jazz Lecture on Sheila Jordan, Nov. 18, Levine School of Music/Silver Spring … Nico Sarbanes, Nov. 18, Jazz and Cultural Society … Joe Vetter Quartet, Nov. 18, Twins Jazz … Russell Malone, Nov. 21, Blues Alley … Bobby Felder Big Band, Nov. 23, Westminster … Project Natale, Nov. 23-24, Twins Jazz … Shacara Rogers, Nov. 24, The Alex … Craig Alston, Nov. 28, Jazz and Cultural Society …. Jeanne Gies/Larry Willis, Nov. 30, Germano’s Piattini.

November Birthdays: Lou Donaldson 1; Phil Woods 2; Arturo Sandoval 6; Hubert Laws 10; Ernestine Anderson 11; Sam Jones 12; Hampton Hayes, Idris Muhammad 13; W.C. Handy 16; Don Cherry 18; Coleman Hawkins 21; Teddy Wilson 24; Paul Desmond, Nat Adderley 25; Randy Brecker 27; Gato Barbieri 28; Billy Strayhorn 29.


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