Thursday, July 27
My father, who was in advertising, introduced me to Loston Harris when he found a record by the vocalist/pianist that he was thinking about using in a TV spot. (He ultimately did.) Harris, a Fairfax native, has a soft, low, but astonishingly round voice (it splits the difference, shall we say, between Chet Baker and Harry Connick Jr.) that goes beautifully with his luminous piano playing. And both sides of that equation evidence some astonishing rhythm. Harris has an older, more traditional style of swing, and he augments it with a songbook full of standards (albeit some of them fairly obscure) and often a full swing-time ensemble. It works well when doing a tribute to Frank Sinatra, one of Harris’s specialties. But it serves even better in a small ensemble like a trio—especially one that features the beautiful work of guitarist Mark Whitfield. The Loston Harris Trio performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.Saturday, July 28
Here’s the thing about Cecil Brooks III, the drummer. On the one hand, he can play as sensitively and tastefully as anyone; when he plays a ballad with the brushes, it’s got a shimmery, whispery texture to it that only accents as hard as the soloist tells him to—if indeed at all. Nevertheless, Brooks is at his best when he’s pounding the hell out of that kit. One of his regular outfits is one with an organ, which means it’s a soul-jazz unit. Which, in turn, means that he’s knocking around his snare drum as though it were on the other end of batting practice. In short, Brooks is a groove player, which may be exactly the thing you need on a hot weekend night in the depths of a Washington summer. It helps to have his regular saxophonist, also a D.C. regular, Anthony Nelson on hand, along with bassist Herman Burney and pianist Paul Odeh. They perform at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. $15.