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Sunday at the Tabard Inn

Every Sunday evening, at the Tabard Inn in downtown Washington DC, bassist Victor Dvoskin provides one of the great bargains of the Washington DC jazz scene, an evening of free jazz. No, not three hours of avant-garde expression, three hours of fine jazz music with no cover and no minimum. For the price of a glass of wine or, in my case, a cup of tea, one can sit in the Tabard Inn's lounge and hear Victor, a top-quality bassist, working with a duo with the best local guitarists and/or keyboard players. And occasionally, as he did this weekend, he adds a guest artist, usually flutist Ali Ryerson.

Dvoskin first gained popularity in the former USSR in the early seventies. He played for nine years with Allegro, a jazz combo led by pianist Nikolai Levinovski, and Soviet jazz critics considered him the number-one bass player of the eighties. He eventually formed his own group The Viktor Dvoskin Quartet, which appeared at the 1990 Grenoble Jazz Festival. In 1991, Victor first came to Washington, DC as a part of the Russian/American Jazz Quartet, Jazznost. He liked it so much that he has been in residence ever since, working with the best Washington jazz artists while also touring internationally. He has released more than 25 jazz recordings in Russia, the United States, France, and Israel

At the Tabard Inn, Dvoskin works with a variety of local artists, principally guitarists. On two occasions when I have caught him, he was joined by Steve Herberman, a graduate of the Berklee College Of Music and a faculty member at Towson University near Baltimore and the Levine School of Music in DC. Guitarist Jimmy Bruno's comment that "Steve Herberman is one of the freshest new jazz voices on the scene today" is right on the mark, he is an excellent player with a lovely touch on the instrument and an advanced harmonic sense.

On this occasion, however, Dvoskin was joined by pianist Bob Hallahan from Richmond, VA., and guest performer Ali Ryerson on flute and alto flute.

Hallahan is known as Richmond's premier jazz artist. (See http://members.aol.com/Bobhallahan/) A faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University, Bob has appeared as a featured solo pianist at The Kennedy Center and as a sideman in groups led by such artists as saxophonists Joe Henderson, James Moody, Lou Donaldson, Arthur Blythe, Clifford Jordan and Bud Shank, trumpeters Clark Terry and Freddie Hubbard, and singers Anita O'Day and Sheila Jordan. It is shame we don't hear him more frequently in Washington, he is far too good a performer to be hidden away down in Richmond. Joel Siegel Washington writer Joel Siegel sums it up nicely: Bob is a " thoughtful, lyrical pianist (who) can swing hard when required."

Ryerson is quite simply one of the premier flutists in jazz, "easily the most important jazz flutist to have emerged thus far this decade," according to the San Francisco Express. She has worked with such artists as Dr. Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, Stephanne Grappelli, Red Rodney, Laurindo Almeida, Art Farmer, Maxine Sullivan, Roy Haynes, Julius Baker, and (as principal flutist with the Monterey Bay Symphony) Luciano Pavarotti. (See aliryerson.com) On this particular evening she was in top form. She combines many years of classical training, which have given her a gorgeous sound and faultless intonation, with a very deep understanding of jazz-she is the daughter of the first-rate guitarist Art Ryerson who worked with all the leading figures of the big-band era. She chooses great material, such as Chic Corea's Windows and the beautiful bossa nova Estaté, and digs deeply into them with graceful and swinging improvisations. Hallahan's solos were of equal quality, lyrical, inventive and always to the point. And Dvoskin is a masterful performer who also deserves to be better known. He has a big sound and great time, and his solos are consistently interesting.

I would have been happy to pay for an evening of such satisfying music. That you can just walk in and enjoy performances of such high quality is one of life's little miracles. If you are in Washington on a Sunday evening, drop in to the Tabard Inn for a couple of hours and see what Victor has going on. You will not be disappointed.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Victor Dvoskin
  • Concert Date: 11/21/2004
  • Subtitle: Ali Ryerson Joins the Victor Dvoskin Duo
  • Venue: Tabard Inn
  • City State Country: Washington DC
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