From Cecile Oreste of danceDC
Luis and I descended the stairs of Bohemian Caverns on U Street NW last Monday night not knowing what to expect. The music venue was cold and dark, but the space quickly warmed up with a full crowd of spectators and the music of the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra.
Learn about the incredible history of Bohemian Caverns, which first opened in 1926 then closed in 1968 and reopened 30 years later.
Directed by baritone saxophonist Brad Linde and trumpeter Joe Herrara, this 17-piece big band has been described as a “gem for the District” by the Washington City Paper. They perform every Monday from 8 to 11 pm at Bohemian Caverns at 11th and U NW.
Back in December 2009, Brad Linde approached Bohemian Caverns club owner Omrao Brown with the idea of creating an in-house resident big band in D.C. They both thought there was not only room for such a group in the District’s thriving jazz scene, but also the need for one. Together, they established the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, naming it of course after Brown’s club on U Street NW.
“I knew about the success of big bands in other areas, so we thought, ‘Why not do it here?’ ” said Linde. “It’s been hugely popular. I never thought it would take off the way that it did.”
Contrary to my belief, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra does not conduct regular rehearsals. They are given charts every week to sight read during the performance. In addition to playing popular compositions chosen by Linde and Herrara, the band plays music composed by fellow members or charts suggested by their fans. “It’s a collective, more diverse artistic direction. We play everything from classic big band to the future of big band,” Linde said.
Up next for the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra is a live recording on April 11 and their One Year Anniversary Celebration on April 18. They will also be performing as part of the D.C. Jazz Festival, which runs June 1 through June 13. For more information about the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, visit their website.