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Jazz Setlist has returned.
If you hadn’t heard, you probably pieced it together at some point over the past few months: Washington City Paper’s rocky Q4 last year is no secret, and Setlist was part of the collateral damage. Washingtonian carried us for 4 months, and we can’t thank them enough for it. (But we will try—thank you, Andrew Beaujon, in particular.) Still, it was clear to all involved that Jazz Setlist and City Paper were meant for each other, and therefore we’ve reunited. And it feels so good.
Thursday, March 15
What better way to start out a new week of D.C. jazz than with a double shot? Okay, true, trumpeter Leo Maxey (and with him, his clear, pealing, beautifully precise trumpet sound) is technically the only name on the bill—but he comes to Twins with two separate projects. The first is Maxey’s ten-piece Maximal Winds ensemble, featuring among others trumpeter Joe Herrera and tenor saxophonist Billy Wolfe, doing their wonderful thing. Then, for the late set, Maxey teams up with Wolfe to convene their new MW9 nonet, which will perform the original music of Maxey and Wolfe. There are not too many overlaps between these bands’ lineups (though in fairness there will probably be more than usual tonight, for logistics’ sake.) Still, talk about bang for your buck—two “little big bands,” both with Maxey’s trumpet in the lead, performing back to back … and you never even have to leave your seat. Leo Maxey performs with Maximal Winds and the MW9 at 8 and 10 p.m. (respectively) at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.
Friday, March 16
After leaving The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2010, musical director and sidekick Kevin Eubanks picked up his long-dormant recording career—and got slapped with the epithet “smooth jazz.” Whoever made the charge hadn’t been paying attention. Eubanks, the second of three jazz-playing brothers from Philadelphia, is certainly a groove-minded fusion guitarist who’s equally strong as a melodist. A lazy ear might immediately peg him as a smooth guy. But Eubanks doesn’t make music for the lazy ear. His funky rhythms are subtly complex; his improvisations are remarkably sophisticated; and his vocabulary on the guitar accounts for the full spectrum of jazz history on the instrument. More to the point, though, Eubanks loads his music with soul. It takes on several shapes, from hot riffs to exquisite ballads, and no small amount of humor and wit as well: but it’s real, and it’s undeniable. Kevin Eubanks performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $35-$40.
Saturday, March 17
Ah, yes, the endlessly delightful day each year when our sidewalks fill with vomiting douchebags in stupid green hats. Setlist supposes you could join them out there if you want to. On the other hand, you could also check out one of the most buzzed about rising young stars in jazz. Vibraphonist Joel Ross’s has been on New York jazz people’s lips for a few years now; he’s still very young but is already the most original vibist since … wow. Khan Jamal, perhaps? He certainly stretches out farther in the instrument than anyone since Jamal, though he also has an affinity for the lightning fast runs of Joe Locke, two-mallet resonant chords of Steve Nelson and the brittle, percussive staccato of Lionel Hampton. If these name drops don’t seem to suggest individuality, consider how incredibly different these four are from each other—then combine them and see if you don’t arrive at something truly new. (You’ll also arrive at someone who knows the vibraphone lineage deeply.) Most importantly, though, you’ll arrive at something that doesn’t end in green barf. Joel Ross and Good Vibes perform at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s KC Jazz Club, 2700 F St. NW. $30.
Sunday, March 18
Perhaps no young musician in D.C. has come as far as quickly as Sarah Hughes has. It wasn’t so long ago that she was an undergrad playing alto in the reed section of the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra; today she’s an experimental saxophonist and composer, one of the most consistently interesting thinkers and performers on the scene. To drive that point home, in fact, she’s releasing an album with a quartet called Coy Fish. Dig this: Coy Fish’s lineup includes Hughes, bassist Dan Ostrow, drummer and percussionist Nate Scheible … and Sam Burt, a Baltimore musician who not only plays but manufactures the daxophone. No, that’s not a typo; a daxophone is an electric, bowed instrument on which the daxophonist plays an irregularly shaped wooden “tongue.” (Note the above about Hughes being “consistently interesting.”) This performance is the culmination of the 2018 Washington Women in Jazz Festival, which is just another compelling reason not to miss it. Sarah Hughes and Coy Fish perform at 7 p.m. at Rhizome, 6950 Maple St. NW. $15 advance, $20 door.