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Friday, Feb. 10
Around this time last year, you might have seen Jazzmeia Horn at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. A few years before that, you could have encountered her as part of KC’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program. In between, she won the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, followed by a remarkable performance and win at the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. At the latter, Horn did something you don’t see often at the Monk competiton: her take on “Evidence,” the obligatory Monk tune in her performance, was almost entirely composed of scat singing, with a soup-con of vocalese thrown in at the end. Ostentatious? Perhaps. But a sign of supreme confidence, and in her case it’s well earned. Jazzmeia Horn is something special, which is why she’s in the hot seat, back at KenCen in the Discovery Artist series. She performs at 7 and 9 p.m. at the KC Jazz Club, 2700 F St. NW. $35.
Saturday, Feb. 11
Would that there were some official sanctioning body that could declare Nicole Mitchell the world’s greatest flute player. She richly deserves it. Her sound, velvety and often verbose, is capable of absolutely gymnastic motion that she achieves without sacrificing stateliness, which is quite an accomplishment. But her facility on the flute is matched by her facility with composition—especially her large-scale compositions for full ensemble. Indeed Mitchell has worked with a number of ensemble projects, small and large (even massive). But much of her best work has occurred with her Black Earth Ensemble. (It’s her go-to band, although since the instrumentation and size varies with the needs of the piece, it’s probably fair to say that it’s distinguished just by not being one of her more specialized projects.) Using an eight-piece configuration, Mitchell—who turns 50 in a week—presents an audacious, highly ambitious multimedia piece entitled Mandorla Awakening. It begins at 8 p.m. (with opening sets by cellist Janel Leppin and her Ensemble Volcanic Ash) at Capital Fringe, 1358 Florida Ave. NE. $15 advance, $20 door.
Someone with the kind of structured thinking that David Schulman exhibits in his violin playing—especially in the multiple layers of rhythm he likes to work with—might not strike anyone as a great improviser. And indeed, much of the music that Schulman performs with his band Quiet Life Motel focuses on extending and embellishing his composition. It also features a dizzying variety of stylistic influences, from contemporary classical to Latin to go-go (!!!). But Schulman also loves jazz, as one can hear in the harmonies and (to a great degree) those overlapping rhythms on his 2016 album, Anhinga. He is also an extraordinary, expressive improviser on the violin, wonderfully moving and frequently surprising in his ideas—and mysterious and haunting in their execution. It’s not always on display when performing with Quiet Life Motel, but when he gets there… boy does he get there. David Schulman and Quiet Life Motel perform at 7 p.m. at Bossa Bistro, 2463 18th Street NW. $10.
Tuesday, Feb. 14
Yes, yes, it’s Hallmark-holiday, insert-your-own-cynical-epithet-here, Valentine’s Day. And perhaps you want to—or you’re expected to—come up with something special that evening. Well, what better way to say “I love you” than with the gift of a spatula live jazz? Pianist Benjie Porecki has one of the District’s, if not the world’s, strongest and most sophisticated rhythmic touches on the instrument. That makes it all the more baffling that he’s capable of such delicacies and lyricism as you’ll often hear in the same solo that features a groove-infested workout. Max Murray is probably most often heard around these parts in the MARS 4-Tet, where he has an uncanny knack for laying down hard but steady beats without being obtrusive or domineering. There’s a promise of fantastic percussive synergy, then, when they perform in a duet setting. (Intimate parties of two—that’s Valentine’s Day right there, isn’t it?) That’s what happens beginning at 7 p.m. at The Alex, in the basement of the Graham Georgetown Hotel—1075 Thomas Jefferson Ave. NW. Free (but reservations required).