Standout Track: No. 6, “Independence Blues,” a lithe, bop-infected piece for Kocur’s alto sax. The tune is so jaunty and playful that its traditional 12-bar-blues form is initially easy to overlook, but pianist Amy Bormet’s solo work, which includes eight ever-greasier choruses, and drummer C.V. Dashiell III’s slow burn serve as reminders.

Musical Motivation: “Independence Blues” started as a one-note riff—Kocur says the melody that he developed “had a patriotic sound to it—that’s the ‘Independence’ part.” The “Blues” part, he adds, is an extension of that patriotism: “There’s nothing more American than the blues.” Not surprisingly, Kocur wrote the song—which features himself, Bormet, Dashiell, and bassist Oliver Albertini—around the Fourth of July.

Extracurricular Activity: Kocur’s quartet came together in Thad Wilson’s Ugetzu Big Band, of which all four are members. But Kocur himself is on extended leave from the orchestra’s regular Monday night gig at Bohemian Caverns, thanks to an evening job teaching at Northern Virginia Community College. Kocur hopes to help start a jazz program there, but in his current courses—composition and music appreciation—swinging isn’t on the syllabus. “Right now it’s focused mostly on the classical repertoire, and we expand that with rock and pop music for the sake of variety,” he says. “But you know I’ve gotta have my thing in there, so I’m gonna have to sneak some jazz into the classroom, too.”