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Thursday, Sept. 1
It wasn’t that long ago—last year, in fact—that free jazz artist Nate Wooley was somewhat on the defense, having recorded an album’s worth of early compositions of Wynton Marsalis called (Dance to) the Early Music. (Of course, trumpeter Wooley dragged trumpeter Marsalis’s tunes pretty far over to his, admittedly opposite, end of the spectrum. But that didn’t matter to the purists.) He hasn’t been quite so controversial with his freer form trio project, Icepick (with bassist Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten and drummer Chris Corsano). Still, if you really listen in, you’ll find that it’s not that far removed from Early Music. Wooley’s improvised expectorations gather up into quite melodic phrases, and Haker-Flaten and Corsano employ the same kind of breakneck swing that Bob Hurst and Jeff “Tain” Watts pursued with such alacrity on those first Wynton records. Is it for fans of straight-ahead jazz? No. But it’s within the tradition, and don’t you forget it. Nate Wooley’s Icepick performs (with guitarist Anthony Pirog and his trio opening) at Songbyrd, 2475 18th St. NW. $12.
Friday, Sept. 2
I can tell you very little about what the band has in mind for the program labeled “Labor Day Special – Movie Tunes.” I have no information about what songs or what movies they’ll be working from, whether it’s classics of the film world like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or more obscure soundtrack picks like James Brown’s Black Caesar. Frankly that’s a secondary concern at best, when you have a band comprising bassist Michael Bowie (the dean of the Washington bass school), saxophonist Charlie Young (director of both the Howard University Jazz Studies program and of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra), pianist Andrew Adair (an extraordinary talent that we in D.C. do not hear from enough), vibraphonist Warren Wolf (a jazz superstar-in-the-making), and drummer C.V. Dashiell, a young monster on the kit. For half a sawbuck’s admission, that’s all you need to know. They begin at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St. NW. $5.
Sunday, Sept. 4
Freddie Dunn has clearly learned from the grand masters of the trumpet. Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, and especially his namesake Freddie Hubbard (along with a little bit of Miles) all have left traces of themselves in his playing style. But Dunn is also a Washington musician, and you can’t be a Washington musician in the 21st century without funk, go-go, and R&B having substantial effects on what you do. It’s easily detectable in his rhythmic conception, which swings naturally but has a unique, driving rubato that pushes the beat ever onward. Even the points where he stretches out a note seem to have an urgent aggression to them. Don’t ask me how he does it; if I could tell you, you wouldn’t need to go see him play. The Freddie Dunn Sextet performs a special Labor Day concert (presented by the D.C. Council on Arts and Humanities) at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Free.
Wednesday, Sept. 7
There are not enough opportunities for Setlist to say so, but it adores jazz flute. Its high, round tone seems to float over the changes and the rhythm section of a song, but at the same time its lithe, traipsing ability with phrasing and its delightful range make it an often aggressive, adventurous instrument—especially when it’s got someone with a real flair for complex harmony and rhythm blowing through it. Since D.C. was the childhood home of Frank Wess—founding father of jazz flute, to a significant number of people—you’d think we might have a deeper tradition with the instrument; but it just doesn’t pop up that much around here, and certainly not with someone who plays it as their primary axe. Enter Bill Haymon, who as it happens comes directly out of the Wess tradition—his searching, tripping-the-light-fantastic approach should be in the jazz-flute textbooks. Fronting a solid rhythm section (keyboardist Sammy Monguia, bassist Tim Jones, drummer Manny Kellough), Bill Haymon performs at 6 p.m. at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th St. NW. $5.