The DC Jazz Festival (DCJF) has launched a four-part program uniting jazz veterans and up-and-coming musicians through the “Generations Series.” The series, curated by pianist, composer and DCJF artist-in-residence Orrin Evans, kicked off on Oct. 12 and will continue every Thursday evening through Nov. 2.
The concerts are at the Kogod Cradle at Arena Stage.
Warriors Set the Tone
The first concert on Oct. 12 featured saxophonist Tia Fuller, drummer Koleby Royston, and D.C. musicians: bassist Steve Novosel and pianist Janelle Gill. Fuller told the audience that the evening’s theme was “Angelic Warriors.”
“We’re celebrating the angelic warriors who have led me and all of us. They continue to do so with their music,” said Fuller, a Berklee College of Music professor in Boston.
Fuller led the quartet through a dynamically performed set. Together, the group represented more than 60 years of experience. Each musician was spotlighted by giving each other space. With the established theme for the evening, the set primarily featured works by musicians with illustrious careers who have passed. Featured composers were pianists Mulgrew Miller, Mal Waldron and Geri Allen, drummer Ralph Peterson and saxophonist John Coltrane.
Fuller also included one of her compositions, “Crowns of Grey,” dedicated to her parents, Fred and Elthopia Fuller. Her father is a drummer, and her mother, a vocalist who died last year.
Blessed by Influencers
Following the set, Sunny Sumter, president and CEO of the DC Jazz Festival, facilitated a conversation with the artists. Audiences learned about the artists’ career mentors and working with vocalists.
D.C. native and Howard University graduate Gill, as well as Fuller, spoke fondly about the influence of Geri Allen.
Novosel mentioned some fabulous vocalists he has worked with, including his former wife, Roberta Flack, Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae, and Sarah Vaughan. As Novosel acknowledged, there was always something to learn.
Royston is Fuller’s nephew. His mother, pianist Shamie Royston performed in the inaugural “Generations” concert during DCJF Labor Day weekend. That means Royston is steeped in music.
Currently, a junior at The Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, he praised trumpeter Sean Jones as an influence. Jones is head of the jazz program at Peabody. Royster also talked about the valuable lessons learned by performing with an ensemble like the one curated for the “Generations Series.”
“If I am playing with people around my age, we all have the same level of experience,” said Royster. “But when I am in a situation like tonight, it forces me to hear things that I would not think about hearing.”
The Generations Series Continues
The “Generations Series” continues with three concerts. Receive a 25% discount by using the code COF25.
Oct. 19: Saxophonists Bobby Watson and Antonio Hart, Bassist Mike Boone, Drummer Mehdi Boone and pianist Jordan Williams.
Oct. 26: Bassist Buster Williams, Drummer Lenny White, Pianist Orrin Evans, Saxophonist Oliver Lake and Vocalist Joanna Pascale
Nov. 2: Pianist Kenny Barron, Solo Performance
For more information on the “Generations Series,” go to dcjazzfest.org. Receive a 25% discount by using the code COF25.
Source: Washington Informer