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Thursday, August 23
It’s hard to overstate the prestige, at least within D.C.’s corner of the jazz world, of Cyrus Chestnut’s pedestal as the New Year’s performer at Blues Alley. He’s only the third artist to have that annual booking, following in the footsteps of giants Ahmad Jamal and Monty Alexander. It’s a high honor for a richly deserving artist—one who is as audacious and razor-sharp smart on the bandstand as he is soft-spoken elsewhere. Long recognized for the gospel pedigree in his playing, Chestnut contains multitudes: far more than just hymns and their derivatives. His new album Kaleidoscope includes covers of Mozart, Debussy, Ravel, and—wait for it—Deep Purple, all in an effort to recalibrate our expectations of the wonderful pianist. (Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes to Kaleidoscope.) And you don’t have to wait until the champagne pops to hear him do it. The Cyrus Chestnut Trio (featuring Eric Wheeler on bass and Chris Beck on drums) performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $30-$35.
Friday, August 24
It’s long been understood that Keter Betts was, until his 2005 passing, both the dean of D.C. bassists and the dean of the D.C. bass tradition—two different things. But of course, the latter title might be unfairly glossing over the fact that Betts wasn’t a D.C. native; he was born in the upstate suburbs of New York City, settling in D.C. in his twenties (though he did remain here for more than 50 years). I’ve previously suggested James King as Betts’ successor for dean of D.C. bassists, and D.C. native Michael Bowie for dean of the tradition. Both of those musicians are brilliant, even superhuman players—but I’m wrong to dean them. The honor must in both cases go to Steve Novosel. He’s not a native either (he grew up in the Pittsburgh suburbs). But not only has he been here for nearly 60 years; not only has he have a stupendous resume that includes the likes of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Milt Jackson, Eddie Harris, and everyone in D.C. who can swing a blues—but get this: Novosel came to D.C. as a trumpet player and switched because at the time there was a shortage of bassist in the DMV. That’s how long he’s been here… and that’s how downright foundational he is to the D.C. tradition. He deserves the tribute being held for him this week, if anyone does. The Tribute to Steve Novosel features a quintet of veteran D.C. straight-ahead masters and begins at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St. NW. $5.
Saturday, August 25
It seems that CapitalBop is getting its jazz-advocacy wheels turning again. Things have overall been fairly quiet for the nonprofit musical presenter with the double whammy of its loss of a dedicated performance space (the former Union Arts loft on New York Avenue NE) and the diminished role of its founder Giovanni Russonello, now jazzing up the pages of The New York Times. For a while, there was a quarterly concert and an arm of the DC Jazz Festival, and that was that. But Luke Stewart, the prime mover behind CB’s live concerts, and Jamie Sandel, the managing director, have put together something new and exciting: a monthly residency, not far removed from the old Tuesday night residencies at Bohemian Caverns, designed to give an artist room to engage an audience and to workshop some ideas. The inaugural artist in what’s called the CapitalBop Spotlight Residency is the always great Reginald Cyntje, trombonist extraordinaire, and a band that also features bass powerhouse Tarus Mateen. They perform at 7:30 and 9 p.m. at Local 16, 1602 U St. NW. $15.
Sunday, August 26
You probably know all about the many saxophones that Brad Linde wields, and about the many bands that he leads or co-leads. Were you also aware, though, that he plays piano? That he even leads his own piano trio? That’s right. The Brad Linde Therapy Band II (not to be confused with the original Therapy Band, in which Linde plays/played drums) is yet one more of Linde’s many ensemble experiments (not to be confused with experimental ensembles, although this one might be that, too). He works therein with bassist Mark Lysher and drummer Jeff Cosgrove—two musicians who have also been known to color outside the lines—on what will apparently be “an evening of torch songs and standards.” At the beginning of the evening, the trio will be augmented by three other young musicians from Linde’s day gig at Georgetown Day School (pianist Xavier Davies, guitarist Eli Thayer, bassist Alex Carmen). It begins at 8 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.