Thursday, June 2
The moment of first hearing Jane Monheit, long about 2001 (i.e., the release of her second album Come Dream with Me), my immediate thought was that she was deeply influenced by Ella Fitzgerald. Specifically, she sounded like a sultry Ella Fitzgerald; say what you will about Ella, she wasn’t sultry. She was, however, perhaps the greatest jazz singer of the postwar era, and choosing her as an aesthetic starting point simply makes sense. Monheit has worked hard to shape her own style (and has done a delicate dance in doing so, shedding some of her youthful extravagances while also embracing and refining some others), but there’s still a great bit of Ella in there, and she finally lets it loose on her new album The Songbook Sessoins: Ella Fitzgerald. Wanna hear what she’s doing with Ella’s songs? Of course you do. Jane Monheit performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $45.
Friday, June 3
The DC Jazz Festival is coming, as it does every June, and that means that the city starts gearing up a week before and starts giving you, the public and the jazz fans, an early glimpse of the stuff that will take over the District of Columbia for ten days. If you’re on the lookout for what the local folks will bring to the table during the DCJF—and you should be—it’s hard to top the eight musicians who collectively style themselves The Listening Group All-Stars. It combines the talents of (deep breath) trumpeter Muneer Nasser, saxophonist/flutist Charles Rahmat Woods, saxophonist Fred Foss, flutist Bill Haymon, bassist Luke Stewart, and vocalists Chad Carter and Julian Hipkins. These are musicians who we know from a rather diverse set of contexts, but they’re all crack professional players, who on their worst day will figure out how to sound great together. The Listening Group All-Stars perform at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Sixth and I Streets SW. Free.
Sunday, June 5
Since the DCJF proper begins during the second weekend of June, they’ve got to program a lead-in during the first weekend, right? And so they do. Jazz ‘N Families Fun Days takes place each year at The Phillips Collection, where an instrument petting zoo, storytelling and crafts for kids, film screenings, and the wonderful “turning paintings into jazz” concept in the galleries all combine with a weekend-long succession of artists performing in the music room. The latter, for Sunday, includes some whoppers: The WPA Capital Jazz Youth Ensemble, The Howard “KingFish” Franklin Quartet, The Greater U Street Jazz Collective, David Schulman, BJ Simmons and Culture Shock, The Todd Marcus Quartet, The Eric Byrd Trio, and The Noble Jolley Trio. No matter what time you show up or how long you say, you’re virtually guaranteed to hear something fantastic. Jazz ‘N Families Fun Day begins at noon at The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. Free.
Wednesday, June 8
Herb Scott is doing a lot more of the heavy lifting on the local scene than you might be aware of, whether or not there’s a festival happening. That’s especially the case at Mr. Henry’s, which since its return to live jazz-dom early last year has retained the alto saxophonist as its curator. Scott’s biggest contribution has been his establishment of a Wednesday night Capitol Hill Jazz Jam. It’s as down-and-dirty as it sounds: your chance to hit the strip that stretches between the Capitol and the Marine Barracks and hear the DC cats blow—in the same room where Roberta Flack once had her breakthrough, no less—while you grab a burger and a beer. And incidentally, Roy Hargrove, the virtuoso post-bop trumpeter, is in town… and he loves jam sessions. Will he make it across town for this one? There’s only one way to find out. The Capitol Hill Jazz Jam begins at 8 p.m. at Mr. Henry’s, 615 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Free.