Saturday, Oct. 8
It doesn’t take a foreign policy expert to imagine that the U.S. cultural exchange with Cuba will only be getting richer in years to come. The real question is whether the influx of musical ideas in that exchange will be able to keep up with Harold López–Nussa for richness. At 33, the Havana pianist is part of a young generation of innovators on the rise in Cuba; “innovation” in this case still comes directly out of the Afro-Cuban tradition. López-Nussa is second to none, for example, as a player of guajeo (those syncopated chords that are the distinctive feature of salsa music), having mastered the bright harmonic bursts. But that’s only the start of one of the most stunning rhythmic conceptions in the music right now, which includes López-Nussa chanting tough verses that form a polyrhythmic layer. He’s an important, up-and-coming voice in Afro-Cuban jazz. The Harold López-Nussa Trio performs at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s KC Jazz Club, 2700 F St. NW. $20.
Sunday, Oct. 9
It wouldn’t do to reduce an artist as nuanced and talented as Akua Allrich to component parts. But if you were to suggest that a merger of Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba formed her foundation, you’d certainly be on to something. Indeed, Allrich herself doesn’t deny that: She celebrates it. Every October since 2009, she has mounted an evening of tribute to those two seminal, pathbreaking vocal artists. At this point it’s certainly fair to call it one of the keystones of local jazz. Neither Simone nor Makeba can be constrained to “jazz,” of course—but neither can Allrich. It’s the music with which she’s most associated, but with a generous helping of the West African music that came from her family, and more pure soul than can be quantified. This music is not to be missed. Akua Allrich performs at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $20-$25.
Wednesday, Oct. 12
When Deandrey Howard founded Alice’s JACS in 2014, one of his major purposes was to offer an outlet to some of the area’s more seasoned players. That is to say, those who have established themselves as staples of local jazz but who have seen their profile overshadowed by younger musicians. (And let’s face it, the spotlight tends to favor the young upstarts.) Cheyney Thomas might be a classic example of those D.C. veterans. The bassist’s rock-ribbed work is offset by his love of countermelodies—all but a living textbook for what the bass is supposed to be, as a rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic part of the band. As a bonus, he also plays the instrument with a hearty, terrifically deep sound. Thomas was a regular bandleader during the last days of the still-mourned HR-57. Though Thomas remains a favorite freelancer, his ensemble has not been heard from much lately. Let’s thank Howard for giving him a forum. Cheney Thomas performs at 6 p.m. at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th Street NE. $5.