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Thursday, Sept. 15
One of the most reliable benchmarks for longevity and high quality in D.C. jazz, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s ALC Jazz Forum and Concert, is now in its 31st year. Just look at this list of past performers: Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Roy Haynes, Geri Allen, Randy Weston. Gary Bartz, and more. This year, though, is something of a spectacular: The CBC celebrates the 50th anniversary of Jazzmobile, a roving producer of jazz concerts and events that was cofounded by pianist and D.C. native Dr. Billy Taylor, and the 90th birthday this month of the late great John Coltrane. The headliner is an ensemble dubbed Jazzmobile All-Stars, including trumpet great and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Owens, bassist and educator Larry Ridley, and drummer Winard Harper (who was the regular drummer in Taylor’s own trio). Opening for them? That would be the also great Washington Renaissance Orchestra, directed by our own pianist Allyn Johnson and drummer Nasar Abadey. And as always, it’s free of charge. The 31st Annual CBCF ALC Jazz Concert begins at 8 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW. Free.
Monday, Sept. 19
Maija Rejman is a very small lady with a husky voice. She doesn’t look, or even initially sound, like a Brazilian-jazz singer of impressive ability. But she will surprise you with an astounding rhythmic ear, and more importantly, horsepower to go with that ear. She also has a marvelous facility with the delicate lyricisms of the Brazilian Portuguese tongue. I saw her this summer at Old Engine 12 (whose days as a jazz venue, incidentally, appear to be over); I came in uncertain about what I was about to see, and came out a true believer. See her with a crack band like trombonist David Sacks, bassist David Jernigan, and pianist Wayne Wilentz—the latter probably the top-line Brazilian jazz musician in the city—and you will be too. Majia performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave NW. $20.
Tuesday, Sept. 20
While Miles Davis and Chick Corea and John McLaughlin were exploring the spaced-out, lyrical, jazz-on-hallucinogens version of fusion, Corea’s sometime bassist Stanley Clarke took a harder, funkier approach. The tempi, the volume, the beats, the chops, the rock edge, the soul, all got throttled up past 11 to, like, 15 in Clarke’s hands. (But Clarke didn’t abandon the lyrical side of jazz; pieces like “Desert Song” turned the lyricism up off the charts, too!) Clarke ranked alongside Jaco Pastorius as the most important bassists of the 1970s fusion era; Pastorius is gone, Clarke is still here, and every bit the brilliant virtuoso that he ever was. His music has gained a softer center, more interested in texture than intensity…but one shouldn’t go to see him these days expecting something tame, either. Especially when he and his drummer of the moment begin to throw down. Stanley Clarke performs at 8 p.m. at The Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $37.50.
Wednesday, Sept. 21
As mentioned above, John Coltrane would have been 90 years old on September 23. His influence on jazz in the nearly 50 years since his death have been incalculable—especially for saxophonists. You’ll rarely encounter one who hasn’t incorporated some aspect of ‘Trane’s playing into their sound, be it “Trane changes” or “sheets of sound” or just his ability to power through long rambling statements that jazz critic/historian Gary Giddins described as “not a poem…a very long novel.” Elijah Balbed doesn’t wear that influence on his sleeve; he’s more obviously indebted to Dexter Gordon, one of ‘Trane’s own formative influences. But he’s got a toe or two on Trane’s launchpad too, so for this performance he’s paying tribute too. Balbed’s usual quintet scales back to a quartet (Coltrane’s preferred format), featuring Deante J. Childers on piano, James King on bass, and Keith Killgo on drums. They perform at 6 p.m. at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th St. NE. $5.