Ellington Festival: A Capital Idea
Afro-Cuban music was a staple at the festival. AfroBop Alliance from Annapolis played for the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe's monthly dinner, with Antonio Hart as guest soloist. Hart was also co-leader of "Soul of Corona," from Queens, at the Sunday morning brunch at the Sculpture Garden, with the sun itself showing up for the first time in days. Co-leader Michael Phillip Mossman, Hart and a contingent from Chico O'Farrill's big band, put a Latin spin on jazz standards and r&b and soul favorites. A tasty way to end my festival, though more Ellingtonia was on tap Sunday night.
I also found time to visit Cafe Nema on U Street, where drummer Quincy Phillips led an assertive trio of "Young Lions" one night and South African singer-actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones and a band called "Lalema" conjured up fond memories of Miriam Makeba's sweet soulful sounds.