Thursday, May 19
OK, so the DC Improvisers Collective (DCIC) isn’t strictly jazz. Actually, it isn’t strictly anything, except strictly improvised. And we’re going to call that close enough this week because it’s just so damned good. Besides, there really is a profound jazz through-line in the music, as improvised music in America is close to requiring. But additionally, DCIC’s new album Ministry of Spontaneous Composition does a lot more with groove than their previous recordings do. Leader/guitarist/pianist Jonathan Matis claims that this has more to do with the current combination within the revolving membership than anything else, but what’s important is that this shit moves. And this evening, it moves behind Joe Lally: DCIC opens with an improvised set of its own, then provides, shall we say, spontaneous accompaniment to Lally’s songs. They play at 8:15 p.m. at Third Floor, 4200 9th St. NW. $10.
Friday, May 20
Vibraphonist Warren Wolf is a member of both the SFJAZZ Collective and the Mack Avenue Superband. He was a member of Christian McBride’s recent Inside Straight project, and worked with Bobby Watson, Tim Warfield, and Lewis Nash. Oh, and he’s about to release his third album as a leader. Which should tell you what a lucky thing it is that we can still catch someone of Wolf ‘s caliber at a $5 show at the “jazz church” in Southwest D.C. Yes, Wolf still lives in Baltimore, and still maintains a foothold in the local scene despite his growing national and international profile. Moreover, two other local players, bassist Kris Funn and drummer C.V. Dashiell, are his favorite rhythm section—and they’ll be with him on the bandstand this night, along with pianist Mark Meadows and vocalist Irene Jalenti. Wolf performs beginning at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I Streets NW. $5.
Saturday, May 21
Pianist Tim Whalen promotes his septet as “one of the most exciting jazz groups in the Washington, D.C. area.” You might call this self-hype, or “marketing” as they say… and you’d certainly be correct. But he’s got a pretty compelling case: trumpeter Joe Herrera, trombonist Reginald Cyntje, alto saxophonist Marty Nau, tenor saxophonist Tedd Baker, bassist Zack Pride, and drummer Ele Rubenstein, plus Whalen himself—one of the area’s finest pianist/composers? Any way you slice it, that’s an all-star lineup, D.C. style. And, when performing Whalen’s originals or the Bud Powell tunes from his recent CD Oblivion, they sound as great together as they do separately. Take my word for it. Actually, don’t. Just see for yourself The Tim Whalen Septet performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW.
Sunday, May 22
In the world of jazz vocals, you hear a lot of very clear, very precisely articulated instruments. Even the strongest of these tend to have a certain edge of delicacy to them, as if the whole enterprise would fall apart without that precision. There is honestly a very small elite of singers who could, if need be, get away with throwing it aside and just belting out a blues or gospel number. And one of those is Diane Schuur, a voice cast in iron and one who seems almost more comfortable as a shouter, at least until you hear her handle a ballad with kid gloves and recognize what a startling talent you’re in the presence of. On the current tour, you’re actually in the presence of several other extraordinary talents: saxophonist Ron Blake, bassist Francois Moutin, and her longtime drummer Reggie Jackson. Diane Schuur performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. in Alexandria. $35.