As if there weren't enough jazz scheduled over the month (with the Kool, Wolf Trap, Smithsonian and City Wide festivals), Woodward & Lothrop and WMAL-AM have conspired to bring Washington "Jazz on Wheels." All this week, little-known local groups will play free lunchtime concerts at popular locations around town. "We were looking for amateur talent, people who hadn't recorded or played regularly," says WMAL jazz personality Felix Grant. The groups were chosen by Grant, Jazz Times publisher Ira Sabin and bassist Keeter Betts from almost 40 taped entries. Says Grant, who will emcee the concerts, "I'd go home at 2 in the morning and start listening to these numbered tapes. We ran a score on them and narrowed it down to 11; on May 2 we got together for the final selections."
The winners (and the locations where they will play): Friends and Brothers and vocalist Janice Price at Pershing Park tomorrow; Southern Comfort on the Mall in front of the Smithsonian Castle on Tuesday; Straight to the Point and vocalist Dee Brown at Farragut Square on Wednesday; Come Out Swinging at McPherson Square on Thursday; and Rites of Swing at Farragut Square on Friday. All concerts run from noon to 2 p.m. and will take place aboard the D.C. Department of Recreation's traveling showmobile.
Grant feels the winners represent a wide variety of styles and points out that vocalists Price and Brown entered as individuals. "We matched them up with new groups so we could include two more people that we might not otherwwise have had." On Friday night, Grant's "Album Sound" will be broadcast live from Woodie's F Street store, with three of the groups, both vocalists and a special appearance by Mike Crotty's Sunday Morning Jazz Band with special guests Buck Hill and Toni Wilson.