The nonprofit Lettumplay, an organization that specializes in good deeds and fine music, hosted a benefit for itself in the Lansburgh Building last night, stirring up some straight-ahead sounds that were a credit to the local jazz community. The several groups on the bill shared some players, all of them Washington-based; among them were drummer Roberta Washington, guitarist Noble Jolley and flutist Kofi Burbridge.
Jazz-Zen, a quartet, concluded a set of standards with a sensitively rendered "All Blues" on which all took turns on the familiar and haunting theme. Another foursome, the Lettumplay Youth Ensemble, which regularly launches members into the big time, was led by the precocious and boiling alto saxophone of Ron Sutton Jr.
At the top of the bill was Mary Jefferson, whose program encompassed blues shouting, husky torch singing and soft ballads. She opened with "In the Dark" in little girl timbre and Billie Holiday phraseology and went on to flag wavers, scatted be-bop and more blues. She was joined briefly by D.C. tap dance legend Mr. Rhythm for some fancy footwork on a rafter-rattling "See See Rider," and she had the hall clapping in time and dancing in the aisles for her finale, "Bye Bye Baby." Pianist Mack Holloway, electric bassist Joe Harris and drummer Washington accompanied. Jefferson was called back to the bandstand for a reading of a proclamation from Mayor Marion Barry's office, paying tribute to her for her longtime efforts in the musical education of young people.