We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Musicians of several generations and styles converge at Blues Alley tonight to interpret selections from the Great American Songbook. Dave McKenna, the 70-year-old senior participant, has been dubbed “the hardest swinging jazz pianist of all time” by New Yorker critic Whitney Balliett. Following a long apprenticeship as a sideman with Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Buddy Rich, and others, McKenna struck out on his own, often working as a solo performer. (His powerful, rock-steady left hand precludes the need for a rhythm section.) His encyclopedic knowledge of classic songs allows him to structure long, witty medleys based on themes such as rain and moonlight. Just short of three decades younger, singer-pianist Daryl Sherman shares McKenna’s birthplace—Woonsocket, R.I.—as well as his vast repertoire of well-known and obscure songs. A thoughtful, sweet-voiced vocalist influenced by Mildred Bailey and Teddi King, Sherman collaborated with McKenna on the newly released Arbors Jazz CD Jubilee, a celebration of the centennials of Fred Astaire, Hoagy Carmichael, Noel Coward, and Duke Ellington. For this engagement, South Carolina-bred tenor saxophonist Houston Person will take a brief leave from his customary performance partner, singer Etta Jones, to flavor the Yankee duo’s musical chowder with some bluesy fatback. With D.C. percussionist Chuck Redd adding local seasoning and the club’s kitchen cooking up its Cajun fare, we can be assured of a tasty evening. At 8 and 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $16. (202) 337-4141. (Joel E. Siegel)