Jazz Avenues

Vocalist/educator Jessica Boykin-Settles performs during the Washington Women in Jazz Festival, which opens with a Young Artists Showcase event on March 12 at THEARC in Southeast.

WWJF Opens at THEARC in SE

East of the River welcomes the sixth annual Washington Women in Jazz Festival with an opening show featuring young artists, compliments of the Levine School of Music and festival founder Amy K. Bormet’s vision for expanding the music’s reach. The festival opens on March 12 with the Young Artist Showcase and Jam Session at 2 p.m. at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE. Emerging female jazz musicians – vocalist Ayodele Owolabi of Howard University, drummer/percussionist Sophie Adelman of Johns Hopkins, vocalist Amanda Ekery of the University of North Texas, tenor saxophonist Seika Van Keuren of George Mason University, and baritone saxophonist Ingrid Winkler of Richard Montgomery High School (Rockville) – will perform with the WWJF Trio and in a jam session afterward.

The Levine School of Music, based in Northwest DC, has helped educate young musicians east of the river for several years. “We have been at THEARC since the building opened in the spring of 2005,” says Levine’s director of marketing and communications Angie Fraser, “but have had a presence east of the river since (at least) the early 90s. We have about 250 students at this location.” The Levine School was founded in 1976, and “we are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year … [this] is our third year hosting the Young Artist Showcase … and the second year that it is at THEARC.”

Other WWJF events include a Kickoff Jam with pianist Bormet and friends at 6:30 p.m. on March 13 at The Brixton, and the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra and guest alto saxophonists Alexa Tarantino and Caroline Davis for 8 and 10 p.m. shows on March 14 at the Caverns.

Then, as Bormet says, “WWJF favorite Leigh Pilzer is bringing some of her amazing colleagues from DIVA down from New York City to perform swinging music at a new intimate venue, Allyworld [7:30 p.m. March 15], in Takoma Park … [and] the people of DC and my band demanded that [vocalist/composer] Fay Victor return to perform with us [7:30 p.m. March 16 at the Hill Center], after our spectacular sold-out concert last year at the House of Sweden.” 

Also, Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes return to Westminster Presbyterian Church at 6 p.m. on March 18. The festival has another event east of the river, the free closing show with vocalist Jessica Boykin-Settles at 2 p.m. on March 19 at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place SE. Boykin-Settles – who delivered a poignant song and history tour of the life of Billie Holiday at last year’s festival – this year presents “A guided tour of Sarah Vaughan, her life and music.”

For complete information, see www.washingtonwomeninjazz.com.


InPerson … Mid-Atlantic Fest a Jammer

A potpourri of sessions attended by good crowds highlighted the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival’s seventh annual get-together at the Hilton in Rockville last month, including the National Jazz Workshop All-Star Orchestra show in the atrium, with vocalist Rachel Neff’s soaring vocals on “Cherokee” matching the swinging horns, and then her joining the horns herself as a trumpeter on the front line; the Crooner’s Caucus show entertaining a large crowd at the Ronnie Wells main stage, while at the same time pianist Eric Byrd’s show in the MAJF Club featured jazz and gospel and soul jazz; the MAJF Juke Joint show one night had heads bobbing with Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark’s blues band; and festival organizer Paul Carr and vocalist Sharon Clark’s show before a packed main stage show for their CD release performance of “Carr & Clark,” their new recording that brims with hot romance and bluesy soulful storytelling on tunes such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Stella By Starlight.”


March Highlights: … Tim Whalen Septet, March 5, Twins Jazz … Jason Moran/Bohemian Caverns All-Stars, March 5, Kennedy Center … JazzForum/Zev Feldman, March 9, University of the District of Columbia Recital Hall/Bldg. 46 … Nasar Abadey, March 11-12, Twins Jazz … Washington Women in Jazz Festival March 12-19/www.washingtonwomeninjazz.com … Iva Jean Ambush, Karen Lovejoy, March 13, Jazz@The Motor House/Baltimore … Brad Linde/Alexa Tarantino, March 13, Twins Jazz … Twins Jazz Orchestra, March 17, Twins Jazz … Benito Gonzalez, March 18-19, Twins Jazz … Kevin Eubanks, March 24-27, Blues Alley … Afro Bop Alliance, March 25-26, Twins Jazz … Trio Caliente, March 29, Blues Alley … Electric Jazz Improv Collective/East of the River Concert Series, March, 19, Anacostia Arts Center … Danielle Wertz, March 20, The Brixton … Cold Spring Jazz Quartet/Music of Horace Silver, March 26, Germano’s/Baltimore … Seth Kibel, March 27, The Brixton …


March Birthdays: Benny Powell 1; Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Doug Watkins 2; Jimmy Garrison 3; Ricky Ford 4; Wes Montgomery 6; George Coleman 8; Herschel Evans, Ornette Coleman 9; Bix Beiderbecke 10; Leroy Jenkins, Bobby McFerrin 11; Terence Blanchard 13; Quincy Jones 14; Cecil Taylor, Charles Lloyd 15; Tommy Flanagan 16; Nat King Cole 17; Harold Mabern, Charles Thompson 21; George Benson 22; King Pleasure 24; Ben Webster, Sarah Vaughan 27; Thad Jones 28; Michael Brecker 29; Freddie Green 31. 

Steve Monroe is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. He can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com or @jazzavenues.

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