City Paper is not for tourists
Stefon Harris’s musical language is just as immediately compelling as his vibraphone playing. In both his written compositions and his improvisations, Harris exhibits a command of the classical jazz vocabulary—the same one used by Ellington, by Monk and Mingus, by Gil Evans—and a knack for assembling it in new and satisfying ways. Should you get accustomed to that style, however, he’ll throw you a curveball: for example, refitting a go-go beat onto an Evans arrangement of George Gershwin, as he did on his most recent album, 2009’s Urbanus. As firmly as Harris grasps the tradition, he’s not afraid to take flying leaps into terra incognita. So the news that he’s coming to Washington with both a new band and new music should be met with excitement, even if there’s no way to predict what genres he’ll channel. The Stefon Harris Quartet performs at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $25–$30. (202) 299-0800. bohemiancaverns.com.