Jazz Avenues

Famed bandleader Paquito D’Rivera performs June 14 at the Kennedy Center.

DCJF: Fishman showcase honors the heritage

"So anyway I led the jazz ensemble … so I would go around and play in bands around in Brooklyn, and then when we moved to Westchester … I was doing the usual thing, concerts, weddings, bar mitzvahs, community center dances ... we would play everything … pop stuff, rock stuff, jazz stuff … MJQ … Erroll Garner ... Oscar …"

"Art Tatum?”

"You know," said Fishman, and he brightened and smiled, "Dizzy said once, semi-jokingly … out of respect, he said Art Tatum was the only musician who ever scared him! … Yeah, you know, I listened to Tatum, listened to [Earl] Hines … Nat King Cole … who many people don’t realize is a great jazz pianist …"

That was Charlie Fishman, producer of the DC Jazz Festival, a couple of years ago, reminiscing on his teenage years as a musician before he became an impresario of the music from Israel to America and beyond.

The fruits of Fishman's passion about jazz are now shared with all of us in this, the ninth year of his multi-faceted festival.

This year’s festival, June 5-16, features in its last week shows that include Cyrus Chestnut, Ron Carter, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet at the Hamilton, Paquito d’Rivera at the Kennedy Center, Susana Baca, and John McLaughlin at the Howard Theatre, the CapitalBop D.C. Jazz Loft Series, and Nasar Abadey, Lee Konitz, Pharoah Sanders, Fred Foss and others at various venues.

One special show has The Roots, the Grammy Award winning hip hop band, celebrating their 25th anniversary with a concert Saturday, June 15th at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf.

See dcjazzfest.org and capitalbop.com/dcjazzloft for complete information.

InPerson ... UDC Band Festival

It was a fabulous night at the 27th annual Calvin Jones Big Band Festival April 29 at the University of the District of Columbia before a large audience, thanks to Dr. Judith A. Korey and her UDC folks and the others who made it happen. 

The Howard University Jazz Ensemble directed by Fred Irby III was in top form, in particular on the group’s tribute to former HU jazz studies chairman Donald Byrd, who passed away earlier this year, with a scintillating performance of Byrd’s “Nai, Nai” highlighted by Gregory Chambers on piano. 

The University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble led by director Chris Vadala kept the jamming going, especially honoring Duke Ellington on his birthday with a golden “In A Mellow Tone.” The UDC Jazz Ensemble, led by director and pianist Allyn Johnson, closed the evening with some hot numbers, including the Calvin Jones tune, “Hangin’ Foot,” a bluesy swinger.  

And Willard Jenkins, WPFW Radio programmer, writer, openskyjazz.com creator, as well as scholar, promoter, artistic consultant and producer, received his Jazz Journalists Association 2013 Jazz Hero award, presented by Cedric Hendricks, executive producer of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference Jazz Issue Forum and Concert.

InPerson ... Debra Tidwell/Lafayette Gilchrist

The new Hill Center music season concluded in dramatic fashion May 22 with a commanding performance by Debra Tidwell, a one-woman cabaret of music, drama and comedy. Tidwell, a Helen Hayes Award nominee known for performances incorporating tunes from Broadway to Billie Holliday, dazzled that night especially on “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most,” and “Caravan.”

A few days later the Lafayette Gilchrist trio played some compelling sets of drama in its own right at Twins Jazz. Pianist Gilchrist, supported by Hilliard Greene, bass and Robert Shahid, drums, performed some of his vintage percussive, yet melodic, winding lyrical original compositions, tunes that take a free form flight while powering themselves ahead with a boppish and funky drive. 

June Highlights:  Nasar Abadey, June 12, Hill Center ... Lee Konitz, Brad Linde, June 14, Atlas Performing Arts Center ... Paquito D'Rivera, Jazz Meets the Latin Classics, June 14, Kennedy Center ... Ron Carter Golden Striker Quintet, June 13, The Hamilton ... Twins Jazz ... Buster Williams, June 13-16, Blues Alley ... Lori Williams, June 14, Mandarin Oriental Hotel ... Gary Jenkins All-Stars, June 14-15, Twins Jazz … The Brubek Brothers Quartet: Tribute to Dave Brubek, June 14, The Hamilton ... Pharoah Sanders, June 14-16, Bohemian Caverns ... Eric Alexander, June 17, Blues Alley ... Monty Alexander, June 20-23, Blues Alley ... Nordic Jazz, June 21-22, 28-29, Twins Jazz ... Arnold Sterling Jazz Quintet, June 28, Westminster Presbyterian Church ... 

June Birthdays: Josephine Baker, Dakota Staton 3; Oliver Nelson, Anthony Braxton 4; Monty Alexander 5; Jimmie Lunceford, Grant Green 6; Tal Farlow, Tina Brooks 7; Kenny Barron 9; Chick Corea, Geri Allen 12; Jaki Byard, Erroll Garner 15; Lucky Thompson 16; Eric Dolphy 20; Jamil Nasser 21, Milt Hinton 23; Reggie Workman 26; Andrew Hill 30.

Steve Monroe is a Washington, D.C. writer who can be reached at steve@jazzavenues. com and followed at www.twitter.com/jazzavenues.