Author Archive for Michael J. West

Jazz Setlist, April 24-30: Return of the Son of JazzApril

Thursday, April 24
Since the mid '90s, there's really been one predominant figure on the jazz piano: Brad Mehldau. "Predominant" is not to say that he's the greatest pianist going (though he's certainly up there), but certainly he's the most visible and influential of his generation. Jazz educators tell of a decade meeting legions of young [...]

Jazz Setlist, April 17-23: More JazzApril

We're strictly local this week, folks, and that's a good thing.
Thursday, April 17
The Young Lions trio became an emblem, the triple faces of D.C.'s jazz renaissance, partly because they could make room for anything in their conception of jazz music. But whatever "anything" entailed, it was bound to be attached to groove. That's what allowed [...]

The Burning Alto Sax of Steven Garrison

This weekend I had my first encounter with a remarkably lyrical, bottomlessly soulful alto saxophonist right here in D.C., and his name is Steven Garrison.
He is a born-and-bred local, having gone to high school in Upper Marlboro and college at Bowie State, a current member of the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, and apparently quite well [...]

Jazz Setlist, April 10-16: JazzApril

Thursday, April 10
Gospel music gets impossibly short shrift when discussing the roots and tributaries of jazz. Oh, we'll talk all day and into the night about blues, ragtime, second-line parade bands, and even European-steeped institutions like the Creole operas of New Orleans. The church is an afterthought much of the time. But when Cyrus Chestnut [...]

Jazz Setlist, March 27-April 2: A Wild Weekend

Friday, March 28
Forty-five years ago next month, D.C.'s greatest musical son, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, returned home and visited the White House (where his father had sometimes worked as a butler in the early years of the 20th century) to celebrate his 70th birthday. It was a huge gala: A tribute band featuring Dave Brubeck [...]

One Track Mind: Greater U Street Jazz Collective’s Ballin’ the Jack

Standout Track: No. 4, “Style Section,” a portrait of ego in the nation’s capital. It consists of short, bluesy, hard-swinging passages punctuated by horn riffs from trumpeter Carl McIntyre and saxophonist Russell Carter, with a vocal duo (sung by Kortland Whalum and Sendy Brown) arguing about a pundit’s rising Washington profile. Then, over Thomas View’s [...]

Jazz Setlist, March 20-26: Potpourri

Friday, March 21
Legendary guitarist Pat Metheny has said that he is attempting to develop his Unity Band into "a platform that could cover the entire spectrum of things that I've done as a bandleader over the years, under one roof." If you know Metheny's oeuvre, think for a second about what he's saying. The entire [...]

U Street Jazz Jam Moves to Climax Sports Bar, at Least for Now

Last summer, diplomat-cum-jazz impresario Jeff Stacey began producing the U Street Jazz Jam, a weekly late-night jam session on Fridays at U Street NW's Ulah Bistro. It continues to this day, and will keep going—but not at Ulah Bistro.
Stacey says that business differences have forced a move for the U Street Jazz Jam. Tonight, led [...]

“The Scene Queen”: Amy K. Bormet Talks the Washington Women in Jazz Festival

Saturday night is the opening of the Washington Women in Jazz Festival, now in its fourth year. It's especially welcome this time around, as it sees the return (however brief) of pianist Amy K. Bormet. Bormet founded the WWJF in 2011, and it quickly became a well-attended and well-loved part of the D.C. jazz scene, [...]

Jazz Setlist, March 13-19: Vajazzled

Thursday, March 13
Myra Melford is arresting. The often experimental composer and piano player has worked with (and at the head of) a variety of ensembles. But her most recent release, last year's Life Carries Me This Way, highlighted Melford's solo work for the first time. She has a beautiful way with constructing melody lines, and perhaps [...]