Jazz Avenues

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Jazz Black History Month Spotlight: Capital Jazz Festival 1985
Many years before the DC Jazz Festival took root, my souvenir booklet reminds us, we had this one:

“As Mayor of the District of Columbia, I am pleased to extend greetings to the musicians, performers, sponsor, guests and audience of the first annual Capital City Jazz Festival being held here in our capital city on June 7 and 8, 1985” [Mayor Marion Barry Jr.]

Performers at the DC Convention Center concert included Miles Davis, Max Roach and M’Boom, Philly Joe Jones and Dameronia, the World Saxophone Quartet, Howard University Jazz Repertory Orchestra and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

KAZE, Ethnic Heritage, Lena Seikaly, UDC Ensemble on Tap
Among the notable events this Black History Month, Transparent Productions continues its 23rd season by presenting KAZE with pianist Satoko Fujii at 8 p.m. on Feb. 13 at Allyworld in Takoma Park, Maryland, and Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 at Rhizome in Northwest DC. Tickets are $20 in advance (www.rhizomedc.org), $25 at the door.

Mr. Henry’s, the longtime jazz spot at Sixth and Pennsylvania Ave. SE that features Wednesday jam sessions is “rebooting” its Sunday Sharon Clark Metropolitan Singers Jam, with shows from 1 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 16 and 23. The venue also hosts the launch of Chris Grasso’s “Third Fridays Vocal Jazz” series with Lena Seikaly at 8 p.m. on Feb. 21. Tickets are $20. See www.mrhenrysdc.com for more information.

On Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m., Bobby Felder and Friends celebrate Black History Month with guest vocalists Tiya! and Dick Smith in the “Jazz@Wesley” series at National United Methodist Church, 3401 Nebraska Ave. NW. Call 202-363-4900 for ticket information.

JAZZAlive features the UDC Small Jazz Ensembles under the direction of Allyn Johnson at 12:30 p.m. at the University of the District of Columbia Recital Hall (Performing Arts – Bldg. 46-West), 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Long Live the Spirit of Vernard Gray
From our favorite master musician/bandleader Charles Rahmat Woods last month: “We also got word this evening of the passing of Bro Vernard Gray, executive director of the East of the River Jazz Fest and a true cultural entrepreneur and community leader in the Washington DC/Baltimore region. Some people may talk the talk, but Vernard Gray was a ‘sho nuf’ doer … he had a creative mind, worked hard and made things happen. He was also a staunch defender of DC’s Anacostia turf and its legacy … He will be sorely missed. May God bless his soul, accept the good he did and bring comfort to the family. Peace.”

Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Is Here!
National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Benny Golson, Ellis Marsalis, Kenny Barron, Roy Haynes and Jimmy Heath and more will perform at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival on Feb. 14-16 at the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville Hotel & Executive Meeting Center, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland.

InPerson … Lionel Lyles at JACS
Lionel Lyles came roaring into Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society one night last month with his tenor sax riffs on “Short Story,” a brawny, blowing vehicle for him and trumpeter Michael Fitzhugh, before both of them led a waltzing, lilting tempo on Lyles’ tune “The Nightlife,” also featuring pianist Justin Taylor’s tasteful melodies. Lyles also shined with bluesy licks on “Alternative Facts,” “5th Arrival” and tunes from his recent album “Simplistically Complex.”

February Highlights: … Ahmad Jamal, Feb. 8, Kennedy Center … Michael Thomas, Feb. 8, Twins Jazz … Dave Stryker, Warren Wolf, Feb. 8-9, Keystone Korner/Baltimore … Keiko Matsui, Feb. 8-9, Blues Alley … Bobby Muncy Quartet, Feb. 9, Twins Jazz … Reginald Cyntje, Feb. 9, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Integriti Reeves, Feb. 11, Blues Alley … Cyrille Aimee, Feb. 12, Blues Alley … Shacara Rogers, Feb. 14, Hill Center … Eugenie Jones, Feb. 14-15, Twins Jazz … Cyrille Aimee, Feb. 14-16, Keystone Korner/Baltimore … Jen Krupa, Feb. 16, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Roy Ayers, Feb. 20-23, Blues Alley … Akua Allrich Jazz Ensemble, Feb. 21, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Reginald Cyntje, Feb. 21-22, Twins Jazz … Spot On Jazz/Dance, Feb. 23, Atlas … Raoul Midon and Lionel Loueke, Feb. 23, Amp at Strathmore/North Bethesda … Matthew Niess, Feb. 23, DC Jazz Jam/The Brixton … Peabody Jazz Faculty Ensemble w/Sean Jones, Kris Funn, Feb. 24, Blues Alley … Paul Piper Sextet, Feb. 27, Twins Jazz … Bowie State University Community Jazz Ensemble, Feb. 28, Westminster … Jason Moran/The Bandwagon w/Cassandra Wilson, Feb. 28, Kennedy Center … Project Natale, Feb. 28-29, Twins Jazz … Thinking About Jazz/Benny Goodman: King of Swing, Feb. 29, Westminster … Marlow Rosado Quintet, Feb. 29, Atlas …

February Birthdays: James P. Johnson, Joshua Redman 1; Sonny Stitt, Stan Getz 2; Eubie Blake 7; Chick Webb 10; Machito 16; Stan Kenton, David Murray 19; Nancy Wilson 20; Tadd Dameron 21; James Moody 26; Mildred Bailey, Dexter Gordon 27.

Steve Monroe is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. He can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com or @jazzavenues.