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Friday, July 15
Kelly Shepherd plays the alto saxophone, while John Coltrane played tenor; nonetheless, Grand Master ‘Trane can be heard in every facet of Shepherd’s playing. Not to say that that’s a surprise, of course; Coltrane is surely the most influential saxophonist of the past half-century, and is by no means limited to a subsection of that instrument. Nor is Shepherd slavish—even as he echoes ‘Trane, he’s adopted a post-bop approach to his axe that sounds ruminative, pondering, even on his dizziest and most impassioned flights. Formerly based in Baltimore (though now residing in New England), Shepherd’s band NoMad Stories features a flexible lineup, although it’s often stocked with some of the best musicians in the Baltimore-Washington area; no matter who’s behind him, though, Shepherd is an experience in his own right. Kelly Shepherd and NoMad Stories perform at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Tuesday, July 19
In the waning days of Bohemian Caverns, when the schedule was packed with the best of our local talents to send the place off (whether they knew it or not), Michael Bowie played a night with his new project Blast. Talk about fusion! Bowie’s always been a fan and practitioner of that (admittedly rather nebulous) subgenre of jazz, but seeing this bass virtuoso and incredible thoughtful, accomplished composer fronting a quartet that’s roaring forth with a version of Foo Fighters’ “Everlong,” well, that’s a whole other level of nebulous. But boy, oh boy, was it electrifying. The band (Bowie, guitarist Shawn Purcell, keyboardist Micah Robinson, drummer CV Dashiell) has as much versatility as energy, and a creative approach to both selecting and arranging the tunes, which span a wide berth of popular styles and fit them with…well, let’s just call it “the Michael Bowie vision.” Michael Bowie’s Blast performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $20.
Wednesday, July 20
Say, when was the last time you dropped into see the Jonathan Parker Octet? In its case, we round up: an eight-piece equals a big band. What it lacks in numbers it makes up for in orchestral texture: Parker, a shrewd composer and arranger as well as an alto saxophonist, fans out the tone colors in his ensemble so that they make the most vivid rainbow. Each instrument is extremely present in the mix, and tend to have imaginative parts to contribute. (Or, better still, they’ll each have an important voice in Parker’s complex harmonies.) Add to that the adventurous, but firmly melodic compositions themselves, also by Parker (who also throws in some intriguing cover selections) , and you’ve got yourself a winner. The Jonathan Parker Octet performs at 8 p.m. at The Wonderland Ballroom, 1101 Kenyon St. NW. Free.