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Thursday, August 10
Hey, you know—you work downtown, it’s a grind and it’s dull. And when you’re in the midst of the August recess, it surpasses dull and goes into downright dreary. Don’t you need a recharge, come midday? One that includes two of the most inspired bass players this town has to offer? Well, then, make your way down to Franklin Square, the finest of the downtown squares. Therein, you shall find first the duo of superb vocalist Akua Allrich and the equally superb bassist Kris Funn, together the Prez and Lady Day of D.C. Following this, you shall encounter the ensemble led by virtuoso jazz/funk/whatever else bassist Tarus Mateen. And you shall pay not a penny for this miraculous pairing, part of the Downtown DC LIVE series. It begins at 12 p.m. at Franklin Square, 13th and I Streets NW. Free.
Friday, August 11Perhaps you caught Sharel Cassity and her quintet, Elektra, at the Yards Park stretch during last year’s DC Jazz Festival. If not… boy, did you miss it. Cassity, an alto saxophonist, has had a straightahead jazz trajectory, having worked with the likes of drummer Winard Harper and pianist Cyrus Chestnut. But this new group turns instead towards electrified funk grooves, which lately has thrust D.C. native Rashaan Carter into the spotlight. That said, Elektra is also so named for the Marvel Comics badass, and thus has featured a number of badass women, including pianist/keyboardist Miki Hayama, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and drummer Lucianna Padmore, along with the clear, soulful, aggressive sax playing of Cassity herself. Cassity’s other credits include Sherrie Maricle’s DIVA Project, that of the all-female big band, and she feels that it’s important to bring female role models (like the aforementioned comic character) to the forefront of jazz. So do like I’ll do: bring your daughter. Sharel Cassity’s Elektra performs at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free.
Sunday, August 13
There’s a certain contingent of jazz musicians who continue to mine the “cool jazz” movement of the early and mid 1950s for inspiration. Now let’s admit, first and foremost, that that movement has gotten a bad rap in recent years, far too often reduced to its admitted (mainly) whiteness of both creators and clientele. But there was some damned exciting stuff coming out of there, not the least of them the classic Gerry Mulligan Quartet and the various ensembles led by drummer Shelly Manne. These were people who made the idea of a “pianoless” ensemble a thing of controversy, not least because the lack of a chordal instrument gave the band room to color outside the lines. (Think it’s a coincidence that Ornette Coleman had his first big break in Los Angeles? Nope.) Trumpeter Carol Morgan is one of those latter-day musicians who draws from that school as evidenced by the title of her 2016 album, Post Cool. Brad Linde, the D.C.-based saxophonist, is another, and he works with Morgan’s quartet (along with bassist Jon Roche and drummer Kevin McDonald). 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Tuesday, August 15The Firebird Trio, led by trombonist Shannon Gunn and featuring a rotating cast on the organ and drums, has for a little while now been one of the most consistently interesting musical residencies in the city. (They play every Tuesday night at Columbia Station in Adams Morgan.) For quite a while their trademark was to perform a classic album—often an organ jazz record, but not always—in its entirety during the first set. But Gunn is currently giving life to a new idea/direction: an electronic mix of house and jazz music, featuring effects pedals for that oh-so-processed sound, and a weird new palette to experiment with. Making that work only requires a good combination of sidemen to round out the vision.. .and as it happens, Gunn has the superlative work of organist Justin Taylor and drummer Allen Jones to help guide her along this week. They begin at 8 p.m. at Columbia Station, 2325 18th St. NW. Free.