The year was 1997 and I moved to the DC area with hope for a promising future. I was 21 and unaware what life had in store for me.
The year was pivotal personally and professionally. Many life changes took place that would define the future that I’m living now.
One thing that happened was meeting a group of experimental musicians from the DC metro area. I spent many jam sessions at Twins Lounge on Colorado Ave and One Step Down on Pennsylvania Ave. These sessions led to my first gig in DC with Kenny Rittenhouse on a Thursday at One Step Down (I had no idea I would book my first band leader gig a few months later in March of 1998).
The musicians that I met were open to the limitless possibilities of music. At the time, there was a respect factor that was without question. Young cats (me included) had tremendous respect for our elders. When they got on the band stand we moved out the way and waited to be invited. When they spoke, we listened.
At the time, there was talk about putting together a band that would combine the young cats and the experienced musicians. Calls were made and I was surprised to be a part of the group considering I was new to the area.
If memory serves me right, the band had its first gig as the HR57 Big Band. The concept was to create a group that was different and fresh.
Later on Thad Wilson booked a gig for the group at One Step down on monday nights starting in January of 1998. The band was billed as the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra.
What happened next? Well, I personally got to play with DC’s creative minds. Amazing rhythm sections accompanying a big band that some compared to the Mingus Big Band in New York City.
Every monday night you never knew who would be in the audience. The music was fresh. As a young musician, I developed among the great musicians that surrounded me.
The band started out as a community ensemble that sought after what was missing in the DC music community.
On January 19, 2012 at HR57, we will return to that concept.
The band will feature some of the original members like Allyn Johnson, Michael Thomas, Doug Pierce, Antonio Parker and James King. There are also some new faces like Brian Settles, John Williams and Corey Wallace. We will have a great time.
Thank you to all the DC musicians who nurtured me. I will forever be grateful.
With love and respect,