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Look folks, the long and short of it is that with this week’s news about Bohemian Caverns, you should get out there to see every show you possibly can while there’s still time. In the next four nights there will be four different performances by four incredible artists: bassist Tarus Mateen leads a piano-drums trio on Friday at 8 and 10 p.m.; alto saxophonist Marshall Keys leads a new quintet project he calls Soulful Path on Saturday; Janel and Anthony, the experimental jazz/folk/rock/avant-garde duo, perform at 7 and 9 on Sunday; and the mighty Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra performs on Monday night. Go there. See them. Relish it.
But if you need more than that in your jazz diet, try these as well.
Thursday, March 17
With the Jazz and Cultural Society, DeAndrey Howard is on a mission to bring jazz back to the people. You can see it in their steady $5 admissions to their twice-weekly (Wednesday and Sunday) regular shows. But there are times when the non-profit, which just received a grant from the D.C. Commission for Arts and Humanities, is going to stick its neck out even further in pursuit of that mission. That includes its two-week stint of shows that JACS is calling “African-American Jazz meets Afro-Cuban Jazz!” That’s a lineup featuring trumpeter Howard’s longtime quintet Collector’s Edition (Tracey Cutler on sax, William Knowles on piano, Cheyney Thomas on bass, Harold Summey on drums) and a Latin jazz sextet led by Cuban-American bassist Pepe Gonzalez (featuring local dynamos Donvonte McCoy on trumpet, Ben Sands on saxophone, Jon Ozment on piano, Richard Seals on drums, and Sam Turner on percussion). This is strong, unfiltered, undiluted stuff, and it’s open to the public with no charge. It begins at 6 p.m. at JACS, 2813 12th St. NE. Free.
Friday, March 18
One of the best things about the Washington Women in Jazz Festival is that it all but guarantees a performance by Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes. D.C. is actually fairly rich with big bands, between Bohemian Caverns, Twins, the Smithsonian, the colleges, and the Armed Forces. But the women on those rosters are severely limited, if included at all, and trombonist Gunn’s ensemble demonstrates how silly that is. These women swing harder than holy hell. And they’re as thoroughly versed in the jazz tradition, and in the big band tradition in particular, as anyone with a Y chromosome. Gunn has shown, at least in this band, a predilection for the charts used by Count Basie’s New Testament band (perhaps not surprisingly, since the arrangements were far more emphasized than the soloists in that ensemble), but she’s also got quite an arranger’s ear in her own right. We’ll see what happens. Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes perform at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I streets SW. $5.
Tuesday, March 22
U Street’s now-defunct Cafe Nema had a reputation, indeed some might say a mission: creating a friendly musical hang, one where the band on the bill is great in its own right but an open jam session could break out any moment. Still much mourned, Cafe Nema was a jazzhead’s jazz venue. Its energy seems to be channeling itself a few blocks down U Street to JoJo Restaurant and Bar. Sunday brunch belongs to the weekly vocalists’ jam session; Wednesdays host a residence by trumpeter Joe Brotherton and his quintet. But another jazz musician has taken up residence on Tuesday nights: Tedd Baker, a tenor saxophonist who was also a Nema mainstay. At JoJo, he hosts a rotating staff of trios, this month focusing on fellow Nema regulars Kris Funn (bass) and Quincy Phillips (drums). If you know D.C. jazz then you know what a powerful mix those three form. They begin at 7:30 p.m. at JoJo Restaurant and Bar, 1518 U St. NW. Free.