Jazz Avenues

Dynamic songstress Sharon Clark performs on Dec. 28 at the Beacon Hotel Bar and Grill.

We Honor Donald Byrd, December Birthday Hero
Among our birthday heroes this month we especially honor our own Donald Byrd. As reported in the recent book “DC Jazz” by editors Maurice Jackson and Blair A. Ruble, “Dr. Donald Byrd founded Jazz Studies at [Howard University] in 1968 … As part of a shifting institution in a changing city, Howard’s jazz program gained group quickly. Donald Byrd’s career with the Blackbyrds lent acclaim to the burgeoning program. A trumpeter noted for being ‘one of the most knowledgeable people of Black music,’ he toured the United States with his band …”

Drummer Keith Kilgo said, “He’d constantly challenge you musically. He’d throw music in front of you and, whatever instrument you played, he’d make you go research all the cats that played it. Not only the jazz cats, the classical cats, the blues cats …”

Warren Wolf to Play at Anacostia Arts Center
Acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Warren Wolf is to appear in Anacostia for a Second Sundays Jazz Series concert from 3 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the Anacostia Arts Center.

Wolf, from Baltimore, was trained from the age of three on the vibraphone/marimba, drums and piano, according to information from his website, www.warrenwolfmusic.com, under the guidance of his father, Warren Wolf Sr. Wolf junior studied at Peabody in Baltimore and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“Beginning with classical music, Warren had studied classical composers from Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Paganini, Brahms, Vivaldi and Shostakovich. Warren also studied ragtime music, learning music from the songbooks of Scott Joplin, Harry Brewer [and others] … In jazz, Warren has studied artists and composers from Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Cal Tjader, Return to Forever, Weather Report, Wynton Marsalis and many others.”

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

InReview … Hope Udobi, James King
Among the live performances of note that we caught in recent weeks were a couple of dates at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, the first with the Hope Udobi Quartet. Udobi, one of our young lion pianists of note, who has been honored as an Artist in Residence by Jazz at Lincoln Center, rippled stirring melodies on “Beatrice,” “What Is This Thing Called Love” and his own composition “Lost.” Also starring that night was trumpeter Theljon Allen with several leaping, soaring solos, along with bandmates bassist Mikel Combs and drummer Charles Wilson.

Last month, bassist James “Tex” King, known by many for his work for several years with the Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra, led a group into JACS, and a standing-room-only crowd heard King’s throbbing, bluesy bass highlight several tunes along with his all-star band – University of the District of Columbia jazz studies guru and pianist Allyn Johnson, senior master drummer, percussionist and bandleader in his own right Nasar Abadey, and scintillating guitarist Donato Soviero. Soviero did honor to hall-of-fame guitarists Wes Montgomery and Grant Green, among others, with his saucy, rhythmic flowing lines. The group, with resident trumpeter DeAndrey Howard sitting in, thrilled the house on “Road Song,” “Mambo Inn,” “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” and other standards. 

December highlights: Jason Moran Tribute to James Reese Europe, Dec. 8, Kennedy Center … Tony Martucci, Dec. 8, Twins Jazz … Romeir Mendez/Terell Stafford & Tim Warfield, Dec. 8, Caton Castle/Baltimore … Freddy Cole, Dec. 8-9, Blues Alley … Fred Foss, Dec. 9, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Warren Wolf/Convergence, Dec. 9, Anacostia Arts Center … Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra “Ellington’s Nutcracker,” Dec. 11, Blues Alley … Angela Stribling/Tribute to Lena Horne, Dec. 14, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Quiana Lynell/Discovery Artist in KC Jazz Club, Dec. 14, Kennedy Center …Thinking about Jazz/Lena Horne: Jazz Voice to Political Activist, Dec. 15, Westminster … Chelsey Green & The Green Project, Dec. 15, Blues Alley … Alison Crockett, Dec. 15, The Alex/Graham Georgetown Hotel … John Lamkin II/CD Release Party, Dec. 15, Caton Castle/Baltimore … Brad Linde’s Therapy Band, Dec. 16, Twins Jazz … Benji Porecki, Dec 18, Blues Alley … Herrera-Richardson/The Jam Before Christmas, Dec. 24, Blues Alley … Rick Alberico, Dec. 19, Twins Jazz … Salim Washington, Dec. 21-22, Twins Jazz … Lena Seikaly, Dec. 22, The Alex … Sharon Clark, Dec. 28, Beacon Hotel Bar and Grill … Michael Thomas Quintet, Dec. 28-29, Twins Jazz … Cyrus Chestnut, Dec. 26-31, Blues Alley … Eugenie Jones, Dec. 31, Twins Jazz …

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 Henderson 18; 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