Friday, April 13
The columnist behind Crescendo in Blue was particularly impressed at this year’s Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival by the GW Jazz Orchestra, a big band that, lacking any institutional support from the GW University’s music department, the students simply organized and administer themselves. “This writer chooses to blame the lack of institutional involvement for my never hearing them before,” CiB wrote, “but that was an unfortunate oversight no matter the reason. The ensemble is solid, and the rhythm section crackerjack.” The band really is pretty spectacular, having (either by cultivation or kismet) an absolutely electric chemistry among the ensemble, a solid book of big band charts from Duke Ellington to Sammy Nestico to Gordon Goodwin, and a notable willingness to take chances with same. Part of what these kids have organized is an annual concert—and here it is. The GW Jazz Orchestra performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Saturday, April 14
There are jazz vocalists, and there are jazz vocalists … and there’s Jen Shyu, who is not remotely comparable to anyone else. Born in Illinois, Shyu is of Taiwanese and East Timorese heritage, and she has spent considerable time studying a much wider spectrum of Asian musical and cultural traditions. Her newest release, Song of Silver Geese, fuses all of them, along with Western compositional and American jazz and improvisational techniques, in an experimental but remarkably subtle (though it gradually builds up tonal and rhythmic forthrightness, its use of dynamics remains nuanced and careful) form of music that simply can’t be more easily described that what I’ve done here. Here is an artist who has spent several years working with Steve Coleman, and had an important part in Anthony Braxton’s inscrutable opera Trillium J, making music that is more idiosyncratic and complex than either of those two avant-garde giants. Jen Shyu and Jade Tongue perform at 8:15 p.m. (with opening performance by saxophonist Jamal Moore at 7:30) as part of CapitalBop’s Traveling Loft Series at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE. $15.
Sunday, April 15
If you’re reading this, you probably already know that the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra dropped its first real album of selections from its original book of arrangements (no, I’m not counting the Christmas record) in January. What’s more, if you were paying careful attention, you may have noticed the two important words at the end of its title: “Volume One.” Well, in addition to being Jazz Appreciation Month, April is also the anniversary month for the BCJO, and this year for their eighth birthday they are releasing the tacitly promised, eagerly awaited Volume Two of Bohemiana: The Compositions and Arrangements of Dan Roberts. How do they combine the birthday commemoration with that of the album release? With a party, of course! The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra performs at 6 p.m. at Levine School of Music’s Maryland Campus, 900 Wayne Ave. in Silver Spring (part of the 2018 Levine Jazzfest). $10.
Monday, April 16
The stakes for the NEA Jazz Masters fellowship have been raised in recent years. Each new federal budget proposal suggests that the new class of Masters will be the final one. The latest appropriations have renewed the National Endowment for the Arts’s lease on life—but with no guarantees. Of course, even in the worst-case scenario, it won’t be the last accolade that pianist Joanne Brackeen, guitarist Pat Metheny, and vocalist Dianne Reeves (this year’s honorees) receive; each is a living master of the music with transcendent influence on the art. Still, for those who appreciate the opportunity to see the titans of America’s great musical contribution feted by their country, and honored with tributes by their musical comrades-in-arms—this year including Christian McBride, Eddie Palmieri, and Terri Lyne Carrington, among others—celebrations like these become something akin to life-or-death events. The NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert takes place at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, 2700 F St. NW. Free.