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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Airmen of Note, Kirk Whalum, and Paige Martin charm Lisner audience

Paige Martin, Kirk Whalum and the Airmen of Note perform at Lisner Auditorium

Attention, Super Bowl Half-Time Planning Committee: You could do no better than to hire the jazz ensemble, the U.S. Air Force's Airmen of Note, singer Paige Martin, and saxophonist Kirk Whalum to perform "God Bless America."
Really.
Last week the house was full at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium when the band of horns, saxes, guitar, bass, piano, and percussion performed with Grammy winner Whalum and the Air Force's Martin, truly stunning in the free performance.
(With closed eyes, the loud applause and whoops of joy almost carried one away to Verizon Center where the Caps had just won another overtime game, or so it seemed, and I exaggerate (a little, but not much).)
If Whalum played one crowd favorite, he played all crowd favorites, including John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and the memorable, "Soweto," performed with his longtime piano partner, John Stoddart.
When a woman in the audience cried out "thank you" after Whalum said he composed "Desperately" for his girlfriend, it took the performer a nano-second to gather his wits and identify his girlfriend of 31 years to be his wife. The audience loved it all.
The show lasted 15 minutes short of two hours with no intermission and total solid entertainment. The energetic and contagious big band sounds echoed throughout the place, but no one danced in the aisles. (Because there was no room!)
When Whalum wasn't on stage the always popular Dick Golden was emcee.
In the audience was Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) who was recognized twice.
Whalum lives in Memphis where he got his gospel roots and where he is still heavily involved in ministry. In the Bluff City he is president and CEO of STAX Music Academy, a school for "young, aspiring musicians," according to program notes. He has been nominated for 11 Grammys.
It was the second of the Airmen's Jazz Heritage Series which ends November 18 when trumpeter Doc Severinsen comes to town for a free performance at Lisner.
Attention, Lisner: Is there any place to seat latecomers besides ushering them as much as one hour late to auditorium seats where they interrupt the enjoyment of those who got there on time? (Sniff) The Caps don't seat latecomers during "the action."
Who: Doc Severinsen
What: The U.S. Air Force's Airmen of Note and the Jazz Heritage Series

When:
8:00 p.m., November 18, 2011
Where: Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H streets NW, 730 21st Street, NW
Cost: It's free!
Metro station: Foggy Bottom (3 blocks) or Farragut West (more blocks)
For more information: 202-994-6800

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