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Thursday, Aug. 18
A jazz guitarist who cites T-Bone Walker as a prime influence has told you volumes about his music before he even plays a note. Kenny Burrell, who turned 85 three weeks ago, lives up to the implications. (He also made his breakthrough in collaboration with organist Jimmy Smith, an equally revealing fact.) Burrell’s guitar work, smoky and blues-tipped, have become perhaps the cornerstone of what soul-jazz guitar (and to a great degree, mainstream jazz guitar, period) is supposed to sound like. A musician suitable, in short, for one of the tribute concerts that have become the trademark of the Smithsonian’s Take 5! Happy hour concert series. Guitarist Josh Walker leads the evening performance, accompanied by tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, organist Todd Simon, bassist Karine Chapdelaine, and drummer Sam Prather. It begins at 5 p.m. at the American Art Museum’s Kogod Courtyard, 8th and F Streets NW. Free.
Friday, Aug. 19
One of the great tragedies of the closure of Bohemian Caverns last March is that opportunities to see the great 17-piece Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra went from weekly to rare, just like that. They’ve done some high-grade work in the interim, of course; they performed a master class with Maria Schneider at the Library of Congress in April; paid tribute to the music of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis during the DC Jazz Festival; and, still unheard, they recorded an album of arrangements by pianist Dan Roberts. But unless and until they have a regular presence and gig, any public performance by them has become precious. Well, here comes one! It features one of the founding members, Charles Phaneuf, up from North Carolina for the occasion. And it’s at Washington’s most hallowed hall for the performing arts. The BCJO performs at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, 2700 F Street NW. Free.
Saturday, Aug. 20
Speaking of the BCJO, those who caught their last few shows may remember the featured presence of Caroline Davis during the Washington Women in Jazz Festival last March. Davis, who was born in Singapore, came up in the Chicago jazz scene and is now based in New York. She plays alto saxophone with a tart tone and a penchant for long lines that unwind like a rolling ball of yarn, but change direction unpredictably. Well, okay, there are certain things you can predict: use of repetition as a tool of momentum, and a generous dollop of the blues. Davis is currently working with trumpeter Marquis Hill, another up-and-coming, Chicago-cultivated musician; drummer Jay Sawyer; and our own hometown bassist Kris Funn. They perform at 9 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $15.
Monday, Aug. 22
The bassist and D.C. native is hardly a stranger around to his hometown, but Ameen Saleem is mainly doing it up in New York City (and on tour with the great Roy Hargrove). Still, he makes time to do his own thing—but as it happens, his own thing is a lot of things. He loves jazz, he loves funk, and he loves R&B and soul music (classic and neo-). “If there’s a bass there,” he says, “I’ll play it.” Of course the bass is only part of the mix. Saleem enlists singer Mavis Swan Poole, guitarist Craig Magnano, saxophonist Stacy Dillard, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, and drummers Gregory Hutchinson and Jeremy “Bean” Clemons for his new album The Groove Lab, pushing as hard into the 21st century as the music is willing to go. They have a CD release concert happening at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $22.50.