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13

THURSDAY

Vocalist Patti Austin was robbed at this year’s Grammy Awards when her strongest effort to date, a meat-and-potatoes big-band celebration of Ella Fitzgerald, lost to Diana Krall’s latest cocktail snack. Austin has now expanded her Ella tribute into a stylized concert that combines elements of African ritual music with bebop to explore the roots of Fitzgerald’s art. BeboperElla features a quintet of virtuoso jazz instrumentalists and a six-member vocal ensemble drawn from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where Austin has taught master classes. Framed by narrator Tim Cain’s commentary about the evolution of bebop, Austin’s repertoire includes classic bop compositions as well as a selection of songs from her For Ella disc. After years of lazily squandering her considerable talents on middle-of-the-road pop-rock, Austin has challenged herself with a program that promises to be both entertaining and edifying. See it at 7:30 p.m. (see City List for other dates) at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $35. (703) 549-7500. (Joel E. Siegel)