Saturday, August 9
Here’s what I had to say last August, in my review of the New Vintage Jazz & Wine Festival at the Half Street Fairgrounds:
Despite unending claims of jazz’s death, people are willing to pay good money to see this music….indeed well worth paying for. It was incredible, flavorful music that brought head bobs and positive energy to the whole affair…. “We need this,” said pianist Allyn Johnson as he surveyed the scene at the Fairgrounds. He was right; the greatest nourishment any music scene can have is exposure. And the fact that this particular exposure was so successful suggests that, contrary to all of the naysaying, jazz has some populism left in it.
TL;DR: Great music, great atmosphere, great exposure. And it must have been a great success, as well, because all of the presenting parties involved are doing it again this year. The second annual New Vintage Jazz & Wine Festival is once again occupying the Half Street Fairgrounds (adjacent to Nationals Park) this Saturday, and once again it’s featuring great jazz curated by the tireless advocates at CapitalBop. There are six acts on the bill: young saxophonist extraordinaire Elijah Balbed and his quintet; drumming powerhouse Lenny Robinson and his Wayne Shorter tribute band Wayne Contingency; the aforementioned Johnson; the great Funk Ark; and two New York performers, the soul-jazz ensemble Soul Understated and the saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. Oh, and 15 varietals of wine. It begins at 2 p.m. at the Half Street Fairgrounds, 1299 Half Street NE. $20-$70.
Sunday, August 10
Club Heaven and Hell, the themed, three-level, low-gloss bar in Adams Morgan, isn’t on anyone’s short list of venues for a typical jazz band’s residency. But then, Sine Qua Non isn’t on anyone’s short list of typical jazz bands. Bassist Michael Bowie composes the music with classical forms and development in his mind. But he (and his band members, including saxophonist Lyle Link, steel pan player Victor Provost, drummer Mark Prince, and percussionist Ekendra Das) also pull in the sounds and rhythms of African, Latin, and Caribbean music, creating “a true world music,” in Bowie’s words. (Disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for Sine Qua Non’s album, Simple Pleasures.) He also calls it “TranSoul,” which as well is the name of the live show Bowie has designed around the band’s music. Whether that’s an appropriate event for Club Heaven and Hell—-well, there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there? Sine Qua Non performs at 8 p.m. at Club Heaven and Hell, 2327 Eighteenth Street NW. $10 advance, $15 door.
Tuesday, August 12
Anywhere around town that you might hear jazz, you’ll have heard the languid, deceptively gymnastic tones and economized short-note phrases of Joe Herrera‘s trumpet. Herrera, who embraces his instrument’s middle register, is in fact one of the best and most ambitious trumpeters in the District—-a player who’s been welcomed, even sought-after, on every bandstand in town. It’s not just his playing, either: Herrera is also a highly regarded composer, and more to the point an adept adventurer into new territories. (The Radiohead Jazz Project, with Bobby Muncy, is one of his many travails; co-leadership of the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra is another; the aforementioned Funk Ark is still another.) And so his residency this month at Bohemian Caverns is probably overdue. Joe Herrera performs at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $10.