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Saturday, June 25
It’s always a pleasure when the Nordic Jazz Festival comes to town. It’s a bit overshadowed by (and worse, sometimes coincident with) the DC Jazz Festival, which is a shame. Scandinavia, as it happens, has one of the most fully formed visions of what jazz can be of any place outside the United States. By that I mean that Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland (who have elements of common history and culture) have discovered unique methods of combining their aesthetic traditions with those of the African-American jazz vernacular. Sometimes they favor one side or the other of that equation, and sometimes those sides become insoluble. That said, Equilibrium, a multinational trio (featuring Belgian clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst, Danish guitarist Mikkel Ploug, and Norwegian singer Sissel Vera Pettersen), make a sound that is not of this world: minimal, spacious and contemplative, it has the feeling of sinuous, abstract ice sculptures. It’s as stately as a museum, but it will pierce your heart. Equilibrium performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Sunday, June 26
The closing of Bohemian Caverns was a body blow. That one hurt, kids, and it still does. Its ten years’ operation coincided so perfectly with the new golden age of D.C. jazz that it’s hard to know if one can even call it a coincidence. Between that and Omrao Brown’s unswerving dedication to the music and its scenes local and national—sometimes even international—and you had the best jazz club in Washington, probably one of the best in America. The three months since its loss have been particularly tough ones for D.C. jazz, and maybe that’s why it seems to fitting to pause and remember, as The Young Lions (pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Kris Funn, drummer Quincy Phillips), one of the favorite acts to grace the Caves’ bandstand, pays tribute this weekend to Brown and the Caverns. They perform at 3 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW. Free.
Monday, June 27
It was only two months ago that Dwayne Adell last graced these pages, when he performed at Bethesda Blues and Jazz. That’s not too soon to see this description- (and frankly logic-) defying piano player. He is one of the greatest pianists alive, in any place or in any genre. Adell (born and raised in New York) taught himself to play by ear, everything from pop hits to Rachmaninov, switching to jazz as a young man in D.C. He knows the repertoire like the back of his hand, and can rework the most well-worn standard in fresh, exciting ways—but hum him a song on the spot, and he’ll play it back with ornamentation. There’s stride piano in his playing, as well as bebop and genre-transcending pyrotechnics. Hearing and seeing Adell play is what it must have been like to encounter Art Tatum, or Charlie Parker…or Mozart. Dwayne Adell performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $20.