We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.


Saturday night offers Cuban music aficionados a rare treat, the country’s longtime favorite dance band, Los Van Van, and !Cubanismo!, trumpeter Jesus Alemany’s group of resident and expatriate Cuban musicians. While non-Cuban Latin music has often come to mean syrupy salsa or hybrid disco, Cuban music, isolated and embargoed from the Yankee commercial market, has maintained its pre-Castro sonic strengths—high-pitched Iberian brass-, flute-, and violin-supported melodies; jazzy improvisational interludes; and danceable, contrapuntal percussion. Although Los Van Van have modernized the sound slightly, adding synthesizers and poppier vocal melodies, they’ve kept its traditional core. !Cubanismo! offers a rootsier approach, taking forgotten rhythms out of songbooks and onto the dance floor. Sunday’s jazz and blues matinee offers a potpourri of innovators, journeymen, and newcomers. While headlining trio Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, and Tracy Nelson’s Sing It! is poorly produced and marred by Nelson’s over-the-hill twang, any chance to hear New Orleans veteran Irma Thomas’ restrained but potent vocals should not be missed. Chicago’s Otis Clay may not be as strikingly brilliant as Al Green, but on This Time Around, recorded with Green’s producer Willie Mitchell, his passionate cry impresses nonetheless. Also appearing are bawdy blues showman Bobby Rush, legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden’s Quartet West, young New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton & his Quintet, Corey Harris, Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Jimmy McGriff-Hank Crawford Quartet, the Ron Holloway Group, and the Darren Barrett Quintet. Grover Washington Jr. and Cassandra Wilson at 8 p.m. Friday, June 26, $16-28. Los Van Van and !Cubansimo! at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 27, $15-25. Matinee at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 28, $16-20. All performances at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, 1624 Trap Rd., Vienna. (703) 255-1860. (Steve Kiviat)