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Roy Hargrove is no stranger to D.C., making frequent appearances at Georgetown’s Blues Alley and playing a headline engagement during 2007’s Duke Ellington Jazz Festival (now the D.C. Jazz Festival). Sunday night, however, he took a surprise detour from his four-night stand at Blues Alley to hit the clubs of U Street.
Tenor saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed reports that he was at U-Topia Bar & Grill at about 1 a.m., listening to the regular Sunday night band co-led by keyboardist Wayne Wilentz and drummer Jim West, when “next thing I know a man wearing a leather suit with black and orange Nike shoes is walking up to the stage to sit in with a flugelhorn. That was Roy Hargrove.” Over the next few hours, Hargrove’s impromptu sit-in became an open jam session featuring Jamal, singer Cheryl Jones, and local trumpet mainstays Donvonte McCoy, Joe Brotherton, and Israel Lattimore.
See what you miss when you decide you’ve “got to get up for work in the morning?”
But despair not! For, says Balbed, “I run a jam session at Utopia on Mondays, and although Roy has already left town, we may have appearances there tonight by some of the members of his band.” Not quite the same, perhaps, but a hell of a good excuse to hit U-Topia this evening anyway. (Another good excuse: the chicken pecan.)