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JUNE 3 & 4

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Although it’s now commonly accepted that jazz’s earlier stages were distinctively marked by Afro-Caribbean rhythms, reggae’s rock-steady beats and simple melodies still seem at odds with jazz’s improvisation and rhythmic flexibility. Usually the marriage of the two results in sluggish smooth jazz that insults fans of both genres. But on his latest album, Stir It Up: The Music of Bob Marley, Jamaican-born pianist Monty Alexander (pictured) manages to find the common threads of the two musics and weave them together with impressive results. Alexander’s supremely melodic playing echoes that of Nat “King” Cole, illustrating vintage doo-wop’s influence on Bob Marley’s crooning. And while Alexander’s piano romanticism sounds antiquated compared with the playing of his decidedly bebop sidemen, it’s graced with rhythmic spark and harmonic sophistication. Even though the record never manifests the confrontational stance of Marley’s protest songs—or even the blunted ecstasy of its title track—it does evoke the yearning sensuality that helped songs like “Waiting in Vain” and “Is This Love?” become booty-call classics. And thanks to legendary drummer and producer Sly Dunbar, “Could You Be Loved” is treated to an enticing dub remix. The record boasts both a “Jamaican Reggae ‘Ridim’ Section” provided by the Gumption Band and a “U.S.A. Jazz Rhythm Section” comprising guitarist Derek DiCenzo, drummer Troy Davis, and bassist Hassan J.J. Wiggins. Alexander will be joined by the U.S. team at 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday, June 3, and Friday, June 4, at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Rear. $18. (202) 337-4141. (John Murph)