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Last evening’s concert at the Kennedy Center turned out to be two separate acts, the Dave Brubeck Quartet followed by the Ramsey Lewis Trio, rather than the monumental duet concert I was expecting, but there was nothing disappointing about it. Each delivered a phenomenal set—Brubeck a program of standards and surprisingly contemporary sounds, Lewis one of his own gospel roots and gospel-tinged originals, capped off by their respective hits, “Take Five” and “The In Crowd.”
During both, I was sitting in a side tier with a charming lady, perhaps in her late sixties, who told me stories between sets of seeing Brubeck, Stan Getz, and others on the West Coast Jazz scene of the 1950s. When I told her that I was a freelance music critic, she got a funny smile on her face.
“Do you know a fellow named Ian MacKaye?” she asked.
“Of course,” I replied.
“My daughter lived with him for about 20 years,” she said. “He’s an amazing man, and he really encouraged her in her own art.”
I was sitting with the mother of Cynthia Connolly—longtime Dischord promotions director, D.C. scenester, and author of Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes From the DC Punk Underground (79–85).
Between that and the two divergent pianists on the stage, I can only conclude that the Kennedy Center has a unique ability to bring people together.