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A caveat: Sunday, the 24th, is an embarrassment of riches. This installment of Setlist could easily have been a week of Sundays, so to speak, thus it only seemed reasonable to pick two for that date. This writer apologizes that only two could fit.
Friday, June 22
I ask forgiveness in advance. I mean no disrespect commenting on someone’s name, given or family. But the name of Jazzmeia Horn—a jazz singer with such a horn-like voice (the standard to which jazz vocalists aspire)—it seems so poetic, so prophetic. This writer remains in awe of her performance three years ago at the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. The boldness of her choice, singing Monk’s “Evidence” entirely as an improvised scat line (save for the conclusion, which was a vocalist bit), was outdone only by the sheer power and beauty of the delivery. Even for those who are ambivalent about the Monk Competition (which, given last year’s dormancy, may be a moot point, but I digress) must acknowledge that those are the kinds of moments that make history therein. All the more reason to see her in a more intimate, acoustically warm context. Jazzmeia Horn performs at 8:00 p.m. at City Winery, 1350 Okie St. NE. $25-$35.
Sunday, June 24
Sax trios (the kind with bass and drums) are in general a more aggressive complement to their bigger quartet brothers. At times that can seem counter-intuitive, since there’s less dense texture and fewer people on the attack, but the piano can also be something of a wall in a jazz unit, hemming the band into a particular harmony. There’s nothing wrong with that—but if the band wants less restraint, more maneuverability and less cushion for the blows, a trio offers that in spades. And no trio, perhaps, offers it more than James Brandon Lewis’s trio. His big swaggering growl, not dissimilar to David Murray’s (and one of Murray’s heroes, Ben Webster), splays itself across the listener’s range like a person who knows their territory is wherever they want it to be. Of course it doesn’t help to have the trio filled out by our own Luke Stewart (bass) and Trae Crudup (drums): Rhythm sections are usually the back line, but in this case they may be more like advance men. The James Brandon Lewis Trio performs at 2 p.m. at the Goethe Institute of Washington, 1990 K St. NW. Free.
With Sonny Rollins now unable to play, Herbie Hancock has the strongest argument for the title of Living Embodiment of Jazz. At 78, he shows no sign of slowing down from a schedule that would overwhelm the best of us regular people. He tours relentlessly, teaches jazz at UCLA, is working on a new album with producer Terrace Martin (which suggests that he’s not backing off from the cutting edge, either), and is the UNESCO goodwill ambassador who founded and spearheads the annual International Jazz Day celebrations. That kind of work ethic makes it seem almost incidental that he also rewrote the rules of jazz harmony, first as a member of the great 1960s Miles Davis Quintet and then in his own projects, as well as fiercely innovating the landscapes of jazz fusion and electronic music. Some of those accomplishments take priority over others—he certainly doesn’t play “Rockit” very often anymore—but they collectively seal that Living Embodiment status. Herbie Hancock performs at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda. $59-$119.
Tuesday, June 26
Oh, how the jazz world gets caught up in The Nomenclature Game. “Yes, but is it jazz? What is jazz? Is everything/anything jazz? Shouldn’t we find a new word anyway?” Regardless of where you stand on any of these questions, it is exhausting to go ‘round on it. So for Tuesday evening in Washington, here’s the bottom line. Would you like to hear some experimental music performed in the tradition of adventures in syncopation and improvisation with roots in the New Orleans brass band tradition that label-appropriate or no fulfills Wayne Shorter’s manifesto, “Jazz means ‘I dare you’?” If so, then you would like to go see Jeb Patton, a trombone daredevil of long standing in the rich musical world of Chicago, in his collaboration with Dan Ruccia, visionary and daring composer, violist, and improviser. Call it whatever the hell you want, as long as you don’t miss it. Jeb Patton and Dan Ruccia perform at 8 p.m. (with opening acts by Jeremiah Cymerman and Bbob Drake & J. Guy Laughlin) at Rhizome, 6950 Maple St. NW. $10.