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Friday, July 8
Fans of Rochelle Rice—and you should be one, considering the singer’s glorious and overflowing abilities—have been anxiously awaiting the completion and release of her debut recording for some time now. Well, the time has come. What’s been heard of Wonder is beautiful, spiritual music, steeped in Rice’s trademark fusion of jazz, pop, and soul/R&B. While that’s a fairly accurate description of her music, though, the truth is that there’s really nobody quite like Rochelle Rice. Think of her not in terms of style, but simply of her voice. Clear and earnest and expressive, she wields it with impeccable skill and precision. At the same time, there’s a paradox embedded into it: a kind of perpetual youthfulness, but also the shaping of a lifetime of experience. Rochelle Rice performs her Wonder CD release party at 8 p.m. at AMP by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave. in North Bethesda. $20-$30.
There are two great reasons to stop into Old Engine 12 on Friday night to see The Firebird Organ Quartet. First, of course, is the band. This is trombonist Shannon Gunn’s band with organist, whom I recommended in last week’s Setlist in a trio configuration. They groove out the ying-yang, to put it mildly. But this week things are taking on a slightly different cast: Gunn is leading it as a four-piece band, for one thing, featuring the very talented guitarist Elijah Cole and the astonishing drummer Abinnet Berhanu—and she’s also breaking in a new organist, a recent arrival by the name of Josh Espinoza. The other reason? The room. Old Engine 12’s upstairs bar and lounge is a splendid space with lots of room, gorgeous and comfy couches that line up in front of the stage, and fantastic acoustics. It’s honestly got potential to be one of the best venues in town; all it needs is you. The Firebird Organ Quartet performs from 8 to 11 p.m. at Old Engine 12 Restaurant, 1626 North Capitol St. NW. Free.
Saturday, July 9
Pianist and WWJF founder Amy K. Bormet can’t seem to quit us—thank God. Though she now makes her home in Los Angeles (boo), Bormet was long one of the District’s most irrepressible and adventurous musical personalities. That she continues to maintain a presence here is a plus all around. Primarily that consists of the Washington Women in Jazz Festival that takes place every March, but this year Bormet is spending the month of July in residence here as well, and it starts with this special birthday celebration at what’s now known as Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society. The core of the performance is Bormet’s trio, comprising two of her favorite area musicians: bassist Karine Chapdelaine and drummer Andrew Hare. But there’s also a special guest in New York-based alto saxophonist Gabrielle Murphy, who has been associated with the WWJF since its first year. The Amy Bormet Trio with Gabrielle Murphy performs at 7:30 p.m. at Alice’s JACS, 2813 12th St. NE. $10.
Sunday, July 10
Who knows how CapitalBop manages to keep their thumb so thoroughly on the pulse of D.C. jazz, but man, do we all benefit from it. Gio Russonello and Luke Stewart did three nights of DC Jazz Festival-ing last month as opposed to their monthly hang (and by all accounts, they’ve been DCJF’s most consistently high-quality programming, but that’s a discussion for another day). This month they’re back to the grind, with yet another killer bill. The show begins with the phenomenal Sa Ankh Djed, aka Jamal Moore, a multi-reedist/percussionist/electronics wiz whose hypnotic sounds makes for a beautiful, contemplative spirit; next up, Elijah Easton, a young tenor saxophonist who I think these days is best described as “tearing up the town” with his horn; finally comes Heidi Martin, one of the best loved, most soulful, and expressive vocalists on the scene today. That is one hell of a majestic lineup, and I do mean “majestic.” It begins at 7 p.m. at Union Arts, 411 New York Ave. NE. $15 (suggested donation).