Arts Desk

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

ballin

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 bass solo, pretentious talking: “Actually, I’m more of a digital political pathologist than a writer.” “We’ll do the Sunday talk shows, and you will be a God on automated, land-based weapon systems.”

Musical Motivation: The Greater U Street Jazz Collective’s mission is to reflect the cultural legacy of the U Street NW corridor—that is, African-American life and music in D.C., past and present. “There’s room for historical-based entertainment in D.C., on the ‘cultural tourism’ side of things,” says View, the quintet’s primary composer. “Those are the people we’re trying to teach, and that’s the story we’re trying to tell.”

The In Crowd: View isn’t just taking potshots at the superficiality of official Washington. “I wrote ‘Style Section’ at my desk, as senior counsel with the [American] Red Cross,” he laughs. It refers, obviously, to the Style section of the Washington Post and to the political class’s valuing their status over getting anything done. “It’s not like I never get caught up in this; we all get caught up,” he says, adding that the song has become a shorthand reference within the band. “We say ‘Are you in the Style section on this, or what?’ It’s a metaphor for inauthenticity, for getting away from the core purpose of what we’ve set out to do.”

LISTEN: Greater U Street Jazz Collective – Style Section

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