What you see to the right is a work in progress. Scheduled to open in November, it’s situated at a storefront in the heart of Brookland, near the corner of 12th and Franklin streets NE, the brainchild and longtime dream of D.C. trumpeter and drummer DeAndrey Howard and his partner Alice Jamison.
D.C., meet the newest outpost of your local jazz scene: the Jazz and Cultural Society, or JACS. Howard, who will program the music and effectively run the place (he lives upstairs), has a vision for JACS very much modeled after Westminster Presbyterian Church’s Jazz Night (which, in turn, was inspired by the defunct organization Lettum Play).
JACS will host early evening performances—-always finished by 10 p.m.—-and serve juice and coffee, no alcohol, for a $5 cover at every gig. As for who will be playing there, Howard has a vision for that, too. “I want to show the city what it’s forgotten,” he says. “They’re obsessed out there with young, young, young—-but you’ve got to pay your dues. There’s a lot of old cats who are still cookin’, but this city has forgotten about them. And one thing in jazz is, you can’t forget about the people who came before you.”
To that end, Howard (who has mentored young D.C. musicians like Eric Wheeler and Corcoran Holt, both now building careers in New York) wants to program ensembles with a mix of young and old musicians, to give the former a chance to learn from the latter. This includes an idea for “a jazz workshop—-not a jam session, but a workshop. A thing where the greats like Wade Beach are working with the amateurs, telling them what to work on and giving them stuff to practice.” As for Howard, he will limit himself to playing once every two months. After years of being one of the busiest musicians in town, he’s tired of the rat race and doesn’t want to fall into the too-easy trap of monopolizing his own stage.
Initially, JACS will have gigs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, with hopes to expand to a full Tuesday-Sunday schedule. The early evening scheduling means that Friday night program will run up against the popular Jazz Nights at Westminster, but Howard says he envisions more of a cooperative setup with the church. “For example, if Westminster has [vocalist] Sharon Clark, we won’t have [vocalist] Janine Gilbert-Carter at the same time,” he says. “We’ll do, like, an organ trio, something like that. So the idea will be ‘Go out to hear Sharon at Westminster for the first hour, but then come on over to JACS and hear something different.'”
As seen in the photo above, the house already has a drum kit, baby grand piano, and Hammond B-3 organ. Howard says an upright bass is on its way. The “cultural” part of the venue’s name comes from Howard and Jamison’s hope that it will become a community culture and arts center in time. “Jazz and art and culture are all a part of society,” Howard says, “a society of intelligence.”
The Jazz and Cultural Society (JACS) is located at 2813 12th Street NE. A soft opening is planned for November 13.
Photo by DeAndrey Howard