Thursday, Sept. 8
There are undoubtedly a few people here and there who will disagree… but the following point is hard to argue: Dennis Chambers is very likely the most technically commanding drummer alive. Here’s what I saw him do over just two songs last summer:
“He starts off swinging on…’Out of the Blue,’ but pivots to heavy funk for the tune’s crescendo. Then it’s back to swing, though Chambers loosens and tightens the rhythm on a dime. He has a long feature on the next tune, ‘KT.’ [Guitarist Mike] Stern and bassist Tom Kennedy vamp, and the drummer works up into some uncountable subdivisions of the beat—then mutates it across four or five change-ups in the groove.”
Fusion, funk, swing, groove. He can do it all, and rock and blues backbeats as well. He leaves other drummers in awe. And this weekend he’s at the helm of what is billed as simply The Power Trio, featuring the aforementioned Tom Kennedy on bass and saxophonist Bob Francesschini. They are fusion veterans, and they will blow you away. They perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25-$30.
The name of Bill Washburn’s quartet, Rhythminic Accents, has no official explanation that can be found. Rhythminic? You get the gist, of course, but what’s with the extra syllable? This writer likes to think of that mystery word as a legit adjective, meaning “of or relating to Rhythm-A-Ning,” Thelonious Monk’s giddily iconic composition on the chords of “I Got Rhythm.” Washburn, a pianist and drummer, loves to put Monkian flourishes and twists into the songs he plays, which include R&B and some pop tunes in addition to the jazz repertory; all of it is filtered through the wonderful sounds of straightahead hard bop. With saxophonist Zack Graddy joining the usual Washburn cohorts Ismail James West (bass) and Joe Henderson (drums), the band—who was a staple of the old HR-57, but have been quiet in recent years—is back with a vengeance, and at a venue that might have been made for them. Rhythminic Accents performs at 6 p.m. at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th St. NE. $10.
Jazz obsessive and researcher Bertrand Uberall seems to really have something going with the new “Jazz in the Basement” series at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. One doesn’t generally think of downtown big-city as the gathering place for jazz fans and musicians, but here it is, happening once a month, and it seems to be attracting a following. (Of course Uberall is no stranger to making downtown D.C. swing; he’s also the brains behind the Take 5! Happy hour series at the Portrait Gallery). September’s edition of the series features a quartet led by Chris Barrick, a vibraphonist and Cincinnati native whom you may have seen with Elijah Balbed and Jonathan Parker, among others. He’s got a beautiful tone, he swings like mad, and he’s got a rhythm section (pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Ethan Philion, drummer Ele Rubenstein) that will back that up. They perform at 2:30 p.m. in room A-5 of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW. Free.