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Friday, August 17
One of the things that jazz in the 2010s has brought us is the return of the search for a unified field theory. This was a major focus of jazz in the ’70s, between the Black consciousness and Pan-African movements, jazz fusion, and the avant-garde and loft jazz scenes, there were real and significant attempts to forge a musical sound that accounted for all of African-American folk, popular, and art traditions simultaneously. Jazz’s contact with hip-hop has brought that quest roaring back to life, especially in recent years, and not insubstantially in D.C. Enter Samuel Prather’s Groove Orchestra, a protean, expansive ensemble that can at any given moment reflect the jazz, hip-hop, funk, soul, R&B, or go-go traditions—as well as whatever else happens to hit drummer/keyboardist/all-around polymath Prather in the muse. Every performance is part journey, part exhibition, part cultural feast. Samuel Prather’s Groove Orchestra performs at 8 p.m. at Sotto, 1610 14th St. NW. $15.
Sunday, August 19
Most live venues of any genre consign their second-string stuff to the matinee performances. (Please don’t be offended if you’re reading this en route to a matinee; this is conventional wisdom.) Twins, by contrast, is exceedingly rare with its afternoon shows—and when you see one on the bill, you know it’s going to be something special. Case in point: the legendary drummer/percussionist/composer/sonic wayfarer William Hooker, a highly acclaimed and respected experimental and creative musician who now makes his home in eastern Virginia. D.C. is lucky enough to have him be a frequent visitor to our shores in order to either display or workshop his latest projects; even so, a set with a trio that features our own brilliant and adventurous figures, bassist Luke Stewart and tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, automatically notches us up to another level. It’s off your usual jazz-gig rotation, certainly—but try not to miss it if you can help it. The William Hooker Trio performs at 4 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Monday, August 20
Anthony Pirog has been most visible lately as a member of The Messthetics, the power trio that finds the guitarist united with the former Fugazi rhythm section (i.e., bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty). It’s a hell of a gig—no wonder he’s keeping busy with that one. But it’s always nice to see him heading back onto the bandstand at the local jazz clubs, if only for one night. Pirog is always doing something intriguing, whether he’s acting as a third of The Messthetics, half of Janel and Anthony (with his wife, cellist, and label honcho Janel Leppin), a fourth of Kung Fu Bastard (which he co-leads with temporarily displaced saxophonist Bobby Muncy), or at the head of his own projects. It’s the latter, of course, that finds him at the head of the Anthony Pirog Trio with bassist Jeff Reed, drummer Mike Kuhl, and Brian Settles on sax. They play at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $10-$22.
Wednesday, August 22
By all accounts, Strathmore does right by the participants in its Artist-in-Residence program. Its alums include Elijah Balbed, Noble Jolley, Christie Dashiell, and Integriti Reeves, all of whom have nothing but positive reviews. Each of those musicians has also had opportunities to return to the sprawling Strathmore campus for performances. This week, another one will have that same opportunity. Mark G. Meadows, the D.C.-via-Baltimore-via-D.C. pianist, composer, and vocalist, brings his sextet to the Gudelsky Gazebo, just outside the Mansion. Meadows has developed three particular signature tunes, one of which you should hope to hear: “Once Upon a Purple Night” (which this writer likes to pretend he had a small hand in popularizing); “Stay Woke,” one of the key songs of our particular moment; and his inspired rearrangement of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years.” Actually, it won’t be a tremendous surprise (but it will be wonderful) if you hear all three. The Mark G. Meadows Sextet performs Live from the Lawn at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda. Free.