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Setlist doesn’t want you thinking about anything after this weekend except voting. But in the build-up to that, here are the goods:
Thursday, Nov. 3
Not everyone particularly likes to use the word “fusion” in connection with jazz (and there are fairly valid reasons for avoiding that association—for example, Chick Corea’s albums from about 1978-82). The fact remains, however, that the cutting edge of jazz has from its gestational days in New Orleans been (at least in part) defined by how open it is to other styles, traditions, possibilities. And few ensembles in D.C. embrace that fact more than Sam Prather. As a drummer, pianist, singer, and composer, Prather is already accustomed to thinking about music in several dimensions at a time. But his Groove Orchestra, a medium- to large-sized ensemble, depending on the night, explores several dimensions of a single dimension. (Hands up if you guessed “groove.”) How meta! But then isn’t jazz supposed to do that? It’s polyrhythmic: Swing, the building block, is itself a combination of African, Afro-Caribbean, and European/American marching band rhythms. The ever-sharp Prather just takes that mix to its next logical step, adding funk and hip-hop and R&B and some Afro-Latin rhythms of his own. The Sam Prather Groove Orchestra performs at 8 p.m. at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $20.
Friday, Nov. 4
Changamire has never appeared in this column, and yet it already stands ready to run out of adjectives and analogies for the D.C. singer. Her sense of rhythm and the trajectory of her occasional scats reminds one of Sarah Vaughan… but almost nothing else about her does. Likewise, the kittenish, deceptively demure quality of her voice and delivery bears some hallmarks of Eartha Kitt… but she’s otherwise completely different from Eartha. There are even shades of Sade in the smoky low end of her range… but nowhere else. Now consider the divergence among those three (potential) forebears, and ask yourself whether there isn’t something truly unique at the intersection point among them. Changamire puts those individual pipes to work this weekend at a benefit for the Black Women Playwrights’ Group in a duet performance with Clifton Brockington, her longtime pianist and a quite sensitive accompanist. The benefit begins at 5 p.m. at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th St. NE. $20.
Saturday, Nov. 5
It’s only been seven months, not really enough time for anything to fill the yawning gap left in the scene by Bohemian Caverns’ closure. And indeed, there will probably not be one venue in D.C. that takes up the Caverns’ incredible combination of great local jazz and cutting-edge New York and national artists. But as we’ve noted before, U Street’s JoJo Restaurant and Bar is working hard to be the new home for D.C.’s own magnificent jazz artists. Sunday afternoons belong to the jazz vocalist jam session; tenor saxophonist Tedd Baker hosts Tuesdays, trumpeter Joe Brotherton Wednesdays, and alto saxophonist Marshall Keys Thursdays. Starting this weekend, the downstairs bar expands to its fifth night of live jazz with a straightahead quartet led by trombonist Reginald Cyntje and tenor saxophonist Brian Settles. Pianist Todd Simon and drummer Kelton Norris join them at 9:30 p.m. at JoJo, 1518 U St. NW. Free.