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It’s easy to proclaim the inaugural season of jazz concerts at Atlas Performing Arts Center, which closed in December, a rousing creative success. Its commercial success seemed to be a little more mixed, but not unexpectedly so; Jazz at the Atlas is a new program in a still-developing area of the city, and by nature some events were better attended than others.
Still, the programming was formidable enough that the Atlas, in conjunction with artistic director Brad Linde, is moving full speed ahead with a second season, with a roster of 11 performances through the end of May by national artists, local musicians, and a combination of the two.
The season begins this evening with the Chris Byars Octet. A tenor saxophonist native to and based in New York, Byars is also a highly acclaimed composer who has won awards for his work from Chamber Music America and ASCAP. His octet’s current project, however, is an homage to another saxophonist/composer, the late, great, and rather unsung Lucky Thompson. At the Atlas, the group features another great unsung in octogenarian bebop pianist Freddie Redd. It’s an evening of classic jazz played by some of the music’s most seasoned craftsmen, and filtered through Byars’ skillful hand as arranger.
Here’s the full schedule for the season:
Jan. 18: Dan Roberts Trio (D.C.) Feb. 1: Jen Krupa-Leigh Pilzer Quintet (D.C.) Feb. 15:- Ben Allison Quartet (New York) March 14:- Andrew Cyrille’s 21st Century Big Band Unlimited (New York) March 21:- Amy K Bormet’s Washington Women in Jazz Festival featuring Allison Miller (D.C.) April 4: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society (New York) April 11: Steve Lehman Trio (New York) April 13: Endangered Blood (New York)/Noveller (New York)/DC Improvisors Collective (D.C.) May 2: Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet (New York) May 16: Out of the Cool: Gil Evans at 100 (DC musicians) May 30: Dan Tepfer Trio (New York)
There are also special performances lined up for June, including two for the DC Jazz Festival. One of these (June 3) remains unannounced; the other, on June 13, is a performance by drummer Joe Chambers‘ Moving Pictures Orchestra—-featuring D.C. stalwarts Brian Settles, Jessica Boykin-Settles, Donvonte McCoy, and Tom Baldwin.
Other performances are still in the works, including one by drummer and D.C. native Billy Hart‘s quartet, and a complete third season.