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Friday, July 22
Trumpeter Thad Wilson has been around D.C. for a long time, in many ways a lodestar for the local scene. Vocalist Kristin Callahan, on the other hand, is relatively new to the scene—being a young woman, and one who for several years was more prominent in Baltimore than in the District. Still, both are formidable and unique talents. Callahan has an enormous reservoir of drama, theatrical to the point that it’s nearly operatic, to draw on. Wilson has a tremendous grounding in jazz from (at least) the swing era through (at least) the avant-garde, and weekly work with (A) a big band and (B) a free-jazz ensemble to put his ideas and exquisite trumpet sound through its exercises. Wilson’s heading up a mere quartet (pianist Todd Simon, bassist Mike Pope, drummer Dante Pope) in accompanying Callahan this weekend… but as we all know, it’s not the size that counts. (*rimshot*) The Thad Wilson Quartet with Kristin Callahan performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Saturday, July 23
There are two glorious hidden treasures indigenous to Washington, D.C. that most have heard of, everyone should appreciate, but don’t get the attention they deserve. One of these is Akua Allrich, the astonishingly powerful vocalist who draws from Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba as her primary influences (she has traditionally performed an annual concert paying tribute to both of them), but has a far wider and deeper pool of artistic inspiration that has given rise to her own original tunes as well as her repertoire of covers. The other is the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a national park that cultivates gorgeous lotuses, waterlilies, and other water plants in ponds at the edge of the river. As Allrich says, “[It] helps me to remember that there is still so much beauty in the world, despite the ugliness we have to deal with in day-to-day living.” Allrich will add another layer of beauty to the surroundings when she performs with her band The Tribe: flutist Jamal Brown, pianist/trumpeter Dre King, bassist Zack Pride, drummer C.V. Dashiell, and percussionist Agyei Hargrove. They begin at 5 p.m. at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE. Free.
Sunday, July 24
The voice of Cae Joseph Massena is extremely difficult to categorize. It has the immediacy of gospel, the intimacy of folk, the technical chops of jazz, casual colloquialism of pop. Only two things about her voice can be said without qualification: It’s warm, and it’s beautiful. It will make for a fine pairing with the sensitive, melodic, but hard swinging piano style of one Amy Bormet, the Washingtonian-turned-Los Angeleno who’s nonetheless spent the month of July in residence at Robert Harper Books. Sunday afternoons there have been the setting for a weekly series that Bormet calls “Colloquy: Duets of Poetry and Music,” with this Sunday standing as the last of the series. It takes place at 2 p.m. at Robert Harper Books, 6216 Rhode Island Ave.in Riverdale Park. $12 advance, $15 door.
Tuesday, July 26
Let me disclaim, first, that I don’t know that I’ve ever heard another band that attempts to fuse jazz with traditional Korean music. So it’s without any real context that I say that SE:UM is gripping, extremely convincing music. The quintet features a gayageum (a Korean string instrument that’s not unlike a zither or Japanese koto), which shares the front line with saxophone and trumpet/flugelhorn; the rhythm section comprises a bass and traditional Korean percussion. The music is stark, sometimes plaintive, and remarkably strong in both Eastern musical tradition and the strong swing beat of jazz. SE:UM is actually only half of a bill that also includes the Youngjoo Song Trio, led by the namesake pianist who is one of the most celebrated of Korean jazz musicians (her latest album, last year’s Reflection (10 Year Anniversary), is beautiful), though traces of Korean music are harder to detect. Both bands are presented by the Korean Cultural Center Washington, D.C. They perform at Bethesda Blues and Jazz, 7719 Wisconsin Ave. $20.