Friday, April 28
There is naturally nothing freer than a solo instrumental performance: no accompaniment, no harmony, no timekeeping. In a sense it’s music at its most audience-interactive—you, the listener, fill in the gaps. Which makes it somewhat ironic that Dave Rempis, the Chicago-based saxophonist with a firm avant-garde reputation, packs so much melody into his solo recitals. There’s certainly a fair share (if not more) of free blowing in his music, but he has a repertoire of solo saxophone compositions and a stable of melodic devices that he uses in improvisation as well. Not that solo performance is his sole dominion: Rempis’ current tour involves a combination of this, and collaboration with the local ensembles at his every stop. In D.C., his creative partnership is with Heart of the Ghost, a creative music trio anchored by—who else?—Luke Stewart on bass, along with saxophonist Jarrett Gilgore and drummer Ian McColm. They perform, along with an opening set by San Francisco Bay Area multi-instrumentalist Jim Ryan, at Rhizome, 6950 Maple St. NW. $10.
Saturday, April 29
Randy Weston remains a sui generis musician. Jazz has gone in and out of pan-African phases, and a number musicians have concentrated (some more than others) on the African musical traditions that are firmly planted in the roots of jazz. Weston has made that exploration his life’s work, however—it is as powerful and emphatic a force in his music as the blues or as Thelonious Monk (Weston’s piano guru). Indeed, Weston has lived for long stretches on the African continent, has visited and studied most of its countries and regions (not just music, but its history and current events), and makes his performances into tours of those places and ideas. Thus, until science brings us a way to revive Duke Ellington from the dead, it seems hard to imagine a better person to celebrate the intersection of Jazz Appreciation Month, Ellington’s April 29 birthday, and African American history and culture. Specifically, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where Weston and his long-lived African Rhythms Quintet perform at 7 p.m. Free.
Amongst our good neighbors to the Great White North (by the way, guys, sorry about the trade war), Montreal probably has the richest jazz tradition and legacy. This, after all, is the hometown of Paul Bley, Oliver Jones, Maynard Ferguson, and yes, Oscar Peterson, the piano titan whom some misguided souls believe was the greatest jazz pianist who ever lived. Out of that scene as well comes B’s Bees, one of its current most popular jazz acts. The quartet led by drummer Brandon Goodwin is remarkably tight, taking its cues from (non-Canadian) bass legend Charlie Haden—especially his Quartet West. But the band members (pianist Joe Ferracuti, bassist Alec Safy, guitarist Julien Sandiford) also write their own alluring compositions; indeed, they are currently performing their Kanata Suite. B’s Bees (with special guest Elijah Balbed) perform at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Sunday, April 30
Chris Barrick has an astonishing facility on the vibes. He’s also got great gifts for melody and rhythm, mind you, and a splendid ear for harmony. But the truly remarkable thing is the way he’s able to articulate them—clear, precise, and with formidable speed. (Remarkably, he might be even faster when he’s playing four mallets than he is with two—you try that sometime.) The native Washingtonian went off some years ago to do some shedding time in the Midwest, getting degrees from Indiana U and the University of Cincinnati and sticking around to do some playing and teaching in those parts. But he’s home again, and he’s working with the crack rhythm section of pianist Josh Espinoza, bassist Ethan Philion, and drummer Ele Rubenstein. These are all young players—that rising generation of jazz cats we’re always on the lookout for. The Chris Barrack Quartet performs at 8 p.m. at Villain and Saint, 7141 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda. $15.