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MAY 30

Sunny Sumter is an anomaly in contemporary music—a young woman who wants to sing traditional jazz. Not acid jazz, not jazzy R&B, not that music variously described by new radio stations as “soft,” “cool,” or “easy” jazz, but straight-ahead, Sarah-and-Ella-gizing jazz. Sumter knows this complex and mellifluous jazz is a calling. Slowly and surely she’s making a name for herself, and not simply because of her great voice, good looks, and stage presence. Her dedication to the music separates Sunny from the pack. She listens even as she sings, constantly studying and learning. Jazz is not an easy path, and everybody wants to be the next Cassandra Wilson, but few are willing to put in this kind of hard work. If Sumter’s debut CD, Getting to Know You, gives any indication, we’ll be knowing her for years to come. An important lesson that Sumter learned early on is that a jazz singer is nothing without her band. Onstage, she always gives the musicians their props. Tonight, she’ll be joined by another up-and-coming jazz artist, saxophonist David Sanchez. With three critically acclaimed recordings under his belt and a blessing from legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, the Latin stylings of this young jazz lion are not to be ignored. Hearing these two voices combine and complement each other like old spirits in new bodies promises to be one of this year’s more memorable jazz events. At 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th & Constitution Ave. NW. $17. For reservations call (202) 357-3030. (Holly Bass)