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Victor Provost is one of this city’s most unique jazz talents: D.C.’s only bebop steelpan drummer. For about a year, he’s been holding down Tuesday nights at JoJo Restaurant and Bar on U Street, mostly with his trio (Eric Wheeler on bass, Nate Jolley on drums). CapitalBop reported in October that Provost would be cutting down to a duo; alas, this too is no more.
Provost is no longer appearing at JoJo in any configuration, JoJo staff and Provost confirmed yesterday. Provost suggests that the parting was ultimately amicable—-“It was a great hang,” he says—-but that the arrangement was not working out from a business standpoint.
Provost’s departure is not the only big change in JoJo’s jazz schedule recently. At the end of the summer, drummer Lenny Robinson’s Mad Curious trio with saxophonist Brian Settles and bassist Tarus Mateen was let go from the club because, says Settles, “We were too loud. They wanted to go with a softer sound.” Incidentally, both Robinson’s trio and Provost’s are still listed on the canvas banner displayed just outside JoJo’s entrance that advertises the live music calendar.
That said, Provost hasn’t been looking for a replacement gig; he has bigger fish to fry. “The timing was right for me,” he explains, “because I’ve been concentrating on material for a record I’ll be making in a few weeks, so I’ve been laying low while I deal with that.” The recording session includes some big names, bassist Reuben Rogers and tenor saxophonist Ron Blake among others. This might, in fact, be a step toward the major career that many on the scene have predicted for Provost. Meantime, JoJo has filled the Tuesday slot with the TJ Turqman Trio, a young group featuring Turqman on bass, Martin McDonnell on guitar, and Graham Doby on drums, with a tremendous agility whose generally mainstream sound is beefed up by a funky electric bass that Turqman plays in a style more associated fretless bass (though Turqman has frets; I checked). Between Provost, JoJo, and Turqman, that makes it win-win-win. For those of us who love D.C. jazz, it’s a loss that we can’t hear Provost every week, but it’s never a bad thing to have a solid new band on the scene…so let’s call this one an even break.