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Thursday, July 26
It’s always a welcome sight to find Marty Nau’s name on the bill at Twins Jazz. Nau held a long, weekly Tuesday night residency there a while back, and the alto saxophonist more than earned that place. Nau has worked all the major big bands in DC: he’s a current member of the U.S. Navy Commodores, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. Whether in those ensembles or on his own, he swings and bops with absolute ferocity, with zeal. It surely has something to do with the mentorship of Phil Woods, the alto saxophone great who was in turn mentored by Dizzy Gillespie—that makes Nau third generation, but indubitably a dyed-in-the-wool student of the bebop masters. This Thursday night finds him at the head of a quartet featuring pianist Wade Beach, bassist Kris Monson, and drummer Dave McDonald. They perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Friday, July 27
Q.: What’s better than a Friday night set of experimental jazz? A.: a full Friday night triple bill of experimental jazz. Well, for the sake of not putting such restraints on the thing, let’s call it an evening of creative music, instead. Either way, though, it begins with Baltimorean mandolin player Corey Thuro, who improvises on the instrument—and has developed a unique, idiosyncratic concept of it that should, and does, make for a scintillating solo performance. Next up, the prolific, ever-absorbing duo of D.C. saxophonist Sarah Hughes and drummer Nate Scheible, who are half of the band Coy Fish but also a potent and inventive force in their own double-headed right. Topping the marquee is a second duo, this one from New York: guitarist Lucas Bode and composer and audio artist John Thayer, who work together in a specialized concept of jazz, rock, African, and 21st century electronic music. Everything begins at 8 p.m. at Rhizome, 6950 Maple St. NW. $10.
Monday, July 30
This week—at other times too, but this week especially—tenor saxophonist Elijah Balbed is immersing himself deep into multi-genre fusion. On Saturday (in the increasingly unlikely event that it doesn’t rain) he’s bringing his jazz/go-go blend The JoGo Project to the Petworth Jazz Project. On Sunday he and badass drummer Isabelle De Leon together lead a soul-injected jam session in Southwest. What’s more, every Monday night, Balbed holds down another weekly jam session at a Georgia Avenue pub. This one is a hybrid of jazz, turntablism and other deejaying, electronics, and the general hip-hop vibe. The name of this intensive and astonishingly forward thinking session (which also features the house band of Mark G. Meadows on keyboards, Dante Pope on drums, and Ramy Amenra El Oyoun as DJ) is “Mixtape Monday,” and you’re invited to bring your appetite and your instrument—or, just your ears. Mixtape Monday begins at 8 p.m. at Homestead, 3911 Georgia Ave, NW. Free.
Wednesday, August 1
Aaron Myers is an impressive vocalist—as much a soul singer as a jazz one, with church spilling out of his pores (not to mention his mouth). However, Myers may be even more impressive as a master of ceremonies. The man was born to ham it up, to work the crowds, to create a fun and engaging environment, and to watch him is to realize that he’s as happy to do so in speech as in song. It’s what makes him a great host for the weekly jazz jam session that happens at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill every Wednesday night. The music, of course, is the focus and is also fun and engaging; in June, this writer encountered a young man with a French horn at the jam. His intonation needed some work, but his swing was second to none. It’s those kinds of diamonds in the rough that the Capitol Hill Jazz Jam brings out. It begins at 8 p.m. at Mr. Henry’s, 601 Pennsylania Ave. SE. Free.