Friday, April 15
One of America’s most vital patrons of the arts sits right under our noses: the Library of Congress. We think of it more as a custodian, being that it’s, well, a library. But it has done extraordinary stuff in the realm of commissioning new work from American composers of all stripes. This year, a commission went to Maria Schneider, one of the most acclaimed and creative writers and bandleaders in the jazz world. (And an occasional crossover: It was Schneider’s orchestra that collaborated with David Bowie on the single release of his song “Sue.”) The resulting piece will have its premiere this Friday night at LoC’s Coolidge Auditorium. The details are still under wraps, but here’s everything we know about it: It’s a composition for her 17-piece orchestra, and it’s the follow-up to her critically adored, Grammy-nominated recording from last year, “The Thompson Fields.” That’s it—but that’s enough to make the mouth water. The Maria Schneider Orchestra performs at 8 p.m. at The Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free.
Sunday, April 17
There’s something poetic about juxtaposing the great innovations of the past with promising innovations of the present—as percussionist William Hooker well knows. He is in residency this weekend at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, offering live musical accompaniment to three different silent movie classics. The most compelling of these is a true landmark: Oscar Micheaux‘s 1920 film Within Our Gates, the oldest known film directed by an African American and an important portrayal of the racial landscape of the era. Hooker will perform with his four-piece ensemble that includes Janel Leppin on cello, On Davis on guitar, and Thomas Stanley on electronic effects. “Looking forward to exciting new films and ideas,” says Hooker of the residency. Well, the films aren’t new (though they are exciting), but the musical ideas no doubt will be both. The William Hooker Ensemble accompanies Within Our Gates in a 3:00 p.m. screening at AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $13.
Tuesday, April 19
Composer and bandleader Miho Hazama was here in March for the Washington Women in Jazz Festival, where the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra performed some of her music (in what would turn it to be one of its final performances at the now-closed Caverns). This time, she’s back with her own orchestra, and they’re playing a full program of Hazama’s music. This is a lush, deeply imaginative composition, which includes the most convincing writing for strings that jazz has seen in quite a long time. Oh, yes, that’s right—her big band includes a string quartet, and they play a part that’s both audible and indispensable. She is a rising star of large-ensemble jazz, perhaps the rising star, and the crown jewel in this year’s Japanese Jazz Series. Miho Hazama performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $20.
Wednesday, April 20
If you have ever heard Dwayne Adell perform, you surely need no cajoling to go out and see him again. But if you’ve never heard him perform, drop everything and buy a ticket immediately. Adell is a living miracle, a man who can seemingly learn any piece of music (from Rachmaninoff to Ellington) by ear, play it back, and improvise on it. He’s that kind of player of whom it’s hard to speak objectively, hard to say anything about without lapsing into breathless hyperbole…you know, like “living miracle.” The most grounded is probably the review by CapitalBop’s Luke Stewart that places Adell on a continuum with Art Tatum, Errol Garner, Bud Powell, and Oscar Peterson. That’s not breathless—it’s correct. Dwayne Adell performs at 8 p.m. at Bethesda Blues & Jazz, 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. $20.