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Thursday, March 29
The bass clarinet, as you may have noticed, has become increasingly prominent on the jazz landscape. If you’ve noticed that, moreover, you may also have noticed that Baltimore’s Todd Marcus has become perhaps its most prominent practitioner. It’s fascinating to hear: Marcus plays the bass clarinet with the aggressive, high-speed runs and devices that we associate with the tenor saxophone—and the register isn’t far off either. But the softer tone, the more sinuous phrasing, make for continual surprises. All that said, it would be malpractice to focus on Marcus’s playing at the expense of his compositional chops, which are formidable to say the least (and damn brilliant might be a better descriptor). Marcus has a Mingus-ian kind of symphonic-but-swinging scope, and puts it in the service of exploring his roots as an Egyptian American that make for beautiful, remarkably accessible stuff. Mix in a large ensemble and it’s better still. The Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra performs at 8 and 9:30 p.m. at the Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Road SE. $15.
Friday, March 30
U Street’s JoJo Restaurant and Bar has been gradually expanding its schedule of live jazz. The spot is not open Monday, but as of this week it will host music every night that it is open. Friday, the final piece of the puzzle, will now offer what JoJo calls the Friday Jazz Funkout. Its inauguration features a double bill that we can fairly characterize as “ridiculous.” The opening salvo is fired by trumpeter Donvonte McCoy, who appears during happy hour with a rhythm section that includes keyboardist Jordan Williams, bassist Steve Arnold, and drummer Terrence Arnett. The late show is a second quartet, one led by brilliant bassist Tarus Mateen and featuring saxophonist Brian Settles, Baltimore-based keyboardist Lafayette Gilchrist, and drummer Allen Jones. Come for both acts, or choose one or the other—either way, you’re going to get some extraordinary music. The Friday Jazz Funkout begins at 5:30 p.m. (continuing to 12:30 a.m.) at JoJo, 1518 U St. NW. Free.
Monday, April 2
The received wisdom is that we learn who a jazz musician is when we hear them play. In Andrew White’s case, however, we learn an awful lot as soon as he enters the room. The saxophonist wears funky, colorful clothes in weird combinations, speaks raucously, and likes to make gleeful, garish faces when he converses with fans or poses for a selfie. To be fair, his demeanor becomes serious business when he’s got his alto or tenor sax in his mouth—but in that case, it’s his sound that becomes outsized and irrepressible. White blows hard and somewhat coarse, freely moving in and out of tonality according to his whim, but with a merry swagger and forward momentum that only stops swinging when it can find room to funk. It’s the sheets-of-sound approach invented by White’s indisputable idol, John Coltrane, but even more explosive: augmented to be, like everything else about White, larger than life. The Andrew White Quartet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.
Wednesday, April 4
Pianist Hope Udobi is a still a young man, with a young man’s penchant for ostentation in his solos. But have you heard the actual content of that ostentation? Balanced, fully formed melodic ideas, developed both melodically and harmonically without fallback on the easy licks (though often playing subversive games with those licks). In fact, he often doubles on electric keyboard and piano, playing sustained left-hand chords on the electric while tripping right-hand melodies on the acoustic. That might not mean much, though, without groove…and Udobi brings buckets of groove to everything he touches. He has one of the great, most acute and attuned rhythmic senses of already densely rhythmed Washington jazz. He doesn’t need bass and drum accompaniment. As luck would have it, he won’t have any on this night. Hope Udobi performs at 7 p.m. at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. $18.