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Thursday, May 5
Julian Lage absolutely knocked me out when I first heard him in Gary Burton‘s quartet; he was playing an electric guitar, but was playing it like an acoustic. Which is to say, he was avoiding the temptation to lean on the traits that make the electric a different instrument than the acoustic. It’s the same spirit that one hears on Lage’s new trio release, Arclight. Sure, there’s a wash of plugged-in color here and there (generally as an obbligato), but by and large Lage is a picker, and one who doesn’t throw in a lot of distortion or reverb. He amplifies the instrument because he wants to hear it, and his dexterity and imagination take care of the rest. On Arclight you can hear that through filters that apply countrified, bluesy, and rockish tints to his postbop jazz playing—and you can hear it that way onstage, too. The Julian Lage Trio performs at 8 p.m. at the Barns at Wolf Trap, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna. $22.
Friday, May 6
Every year, just in time for the Detroit Jazz Festival (Labor Day), Detroit-based Mack Avenue Records assembles a new iteration of its all-star ensemble, The Mack Avenue Superband. It began in 2012, and in its four years it’s had only one constant member in drummer Carl Allen. (There are regulars, of course; legendary vibraphonist Gary Burton has been on board for three out of four incarnations.) Though he can dance on the edge as hard as anyone, it’s perhaps Allen’s presence (and his shimmery cymbal sound) that gives the Superband the looser, easier swing feel that is its calling card. But then again, the newest member—bassist Christian McBride—has also taken up the musical director position in the band; a new musical director can mean a new musical direction. The Mack Avenue Superband performs at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $30. (Note that this is the rescheduling of the snowed-out February 5 show.)
Saturday, May 7
Saturday, of course, is the Funk Parade. We all know it; there’s not an easy way to miss it, especially if you’re anywhere in the merest vicinity of U Street on Saturday afternoon. It’ll be full of music, food, more music, dancing, and music. So why do you need to hear about it here? Simply so you, jazz lover, have some idea of where you might want to focus your attention during the festivities. CapitalBop, as has become standard in the Funk Parade, will be curating a stage at the lot in front of the M.A. Winter building on U. Crossing that stage will be five amazing, groove-busting artists: Aaron “Ab” Abernathy and Nat Turner, a funk-soul band that evokes memories of The Sound of Philadelphia and Curtis Mayfield; Jenna Camille, a singer, songwriter, pianist, and drummer who works at the intersection of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B; Nag Champa, a band at the same intersection as Camille, but with more high-octane experimentalism; Trae Crudup and the Cover-Up, led by the jazz drummer who needs no introduction to DC jazz observers; and—who else?—Sam Prather, one of the multi-instrumentalist heroes of the scene, and his little-big-band Groove Orchestra. It begins at 1 p.m. at M.A. Winter, 1436 U St. NW. Free.
Wednesday, May 11
Rochelle Rice is not usually on the list of the great resources of the DMV area, but she should be. Even the greatest and most soulful singers have a kind of affect that makes them somewhat…opaque. The person talking to you in between songs seems somehow different than the person singing those songs. You don’t find that with Rice. What you see is what you get, and what you get is an uncanny blend of open clarity and genuine soulfulness—and an uncommon bond with the audience she is singing to. Rice’s current project is a tribute to one of her favorite singers, the great Carmen McRae; but she’s too self-possessed (and too sincere a one, as said before) to simply ape her hero. The project is called Carmen McRae Reimagined, and while it does feature McRae’s trademark songs, they’ll be performed in Rice’s own unique arrangements of them. She performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $20.