by Michael J. West
Monday, April 15
Alto saxophonist Marshall Keys is one of the District of Columbia’s living treasures. His sound, well immersed in the Charlie Parker-Cannonball Adderley tradition of bebop playing, is as solid as it gets, his swing even more so. Though modest and self-effacing, he’s a true virtuoso musician who has something personal and erudite to say on the instrument. (That’s before we get into his work on soprano sax, or flute.) Keys is comfortable in any context, but there’s something special about seeing and hearing him in a duo setting. Say, for example, with guitarist Geoff Reecer, whose dulcet but lucid (and surprisingly sturdy) touch is a mainstay of D.C. music thanks to his membership of the US Air Force’s jazz ensemble (The Airmen of Note). Reecer is also a mainstay of happy hour at the bar of Dupont Circle’s Tabard Inn, where Keys will join him from 7:00-9:30 p.m. 1739 N Street NW. Free.
Wednesday, April 17
At least two major voices in the current jazz world, trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and vibraphonist Warren Wolf, have told me that D.C.-by-way-of-Baltimore bassist Kris Funn is their favorite bass player. And why not? Funn’s facility on the instrument is nothing short of remarkable. The sound (which packs fearsome power into a remarkably soft touch) is immediately recognizable as his; the ingenuity is fresh on every attempt; and Funn’s very presence brings an injection of enthusiasm and energy to the music on every level. What’s more, though, the bass player has something to say. His band and 2017 debut album, both named Corner Store, make that clear. Funn’s built both a perspective and a vision as a young black man and artist who made his way through Baltimore and D.C.; it’s our good fortune that he’s eager to share it. Kris Funn and Corner Store perform at 7 p.m. at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. $19.
Thursday, April 18
Guitarist, producer, documentarian and all-around visionary Ken Avis put together last year what may be the definitive (so far) document of our music with his CD compilation Capital Jazz. Among its baker’s dozen luminaries were songs by saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed, pianist Mark G. Meadows, vocalists Akua Allrich and Rochelle Rice, and violinist David Schulman and his band Quiet Life Motel. But jazz on record only goes so far, as Avis knows—so he has also conspired with the good folks at Strathmore to produce Capital Jazz as a performance series. The aforementioned five acts are all on the program for the diptych’s kickoff installment. (Its second will be next month.) “Prepare to suspend your idea of what jazz is,” wrote Avis in the liners for the Capital Jazz CD. Rest assured, if you’re not at least casually familiar with the scene now, the live version will force you to do the same. Capital Jazz begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda. $30.
Sunday, April 21
Happy Easter! Observant or not, you can celebrate the holiday in style at Twins, with accordionist-pianists. Did you know we had such creatures in our midst? Why, in fact, we have two! Simone Baron, whom you may know from her position in the chamber-tango-jazz ensemble (yes, we have one of those in our midst too) Arco Belo, also leads a trio of her own with bassist Steve Arnold and drummer Lucas Ashby. Then there’s Amy K. Bormet, who plays just about everywhere, with just about everyone, and is always looking for an unusual new adventure. With Baron, she has found one. The two women will alternate on accordion and piano, playing some music by Brazilian female composers as well as their originals and “bizarre versions of standards.” In keeping with the theme of the holiday, they have titled the program “Marshmellow-Flavored Music”—and Bormet, who will also sing, is doing her best to make the gig in a pink bunny suit. The music happens at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.
Michael J. West is a freelance writer, editor, and jazz journalist who has been covering the Washington, D.C. jazz scene since 2009. He spends most days either hunkered down in the clubs or in his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.
Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”
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