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Friday, March 11
I think it’s fair to call Michael Bowie “restless.” The D.C. native bassist is arguably the best, most accomplished that the District has to offer, and arguably the most respected as well—he’s very much inherited the mantle left by the late Keter Betts and Butch Warren as the lodestar of the Washington bass tradition. He could easily coast on that, skating through a career on the monster D.C. backbeat that he knows so well, but that’s never been good enough for Bowie. His splendid world fusion band Sine Qua Non has launched in a completely distinctive and original direction. And now comes another new project, which he calls simply “BLAST.” There’s not a tremendous amount of information about their sound, save that it comprises “genre-bending pop covers,” and the lineup: guitarist Shaun Purcell, drummer C.V. Dashiell, and keyboardist/vocalist Micah Robinson. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I need to know. Michael Bowie’s BLAST performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $18-$23.
Sunday, March 13
If you haven’t noticed, there are quite a few jazz festivals that come through this town, of varying size and scope. But one of the most vital—and influential, as it turns out—is the Washington Women in Jazz Festival. Created and produced by pianist and D.C. native (now expatriate) Amy K. Bormet in 2011 to make sure that women have an ongoing part to play in the presentation of live jazz. It’s become an important part of D.C.’s jazz calendar these past six years, giving a great platform to the likes of Bormet, saxophonist Leigh Pilzer, singer Jessica Boykin-Settles, big band Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes, and others—not to mention an educational component. And it opens every year with a jam session, co-presented with the DC Jazz Jam. The latter is now resident at U Street’s The Brixton, a slice of pure weekly fun in ordinary times. It only gets better when the WWJF hits. The DC Jazz Jam featuring Bormet on piano, Nicole Saphos on bass, Lydia Lewis on drums, and Janine Gilbert-Carter as vocalist and emcee. It begins at 6:30 p.m. at the second floor of The Brixton, 901 U St. NW. Free.
Monday, March 14
The aforementioned Washington Women in Jazz Festival is primarily about the titular Washington women, of course…but then an important part of it also has to do with bringing women in jazz to Washington. Bormet is now one of those, making the trek from Los Angeles to present her festival every year, and she will be sitting in at the piano with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra this week, the always welcome return of a founding BCJO member. But the spotlight will be on three other visiting musicians come Monday night: saxophonists Caroline Davis and Alexa Tarantino, two alto saxophone young players who are high on the up-and-coming roster. In front, conducting, will be a musician who’s higher still on that roster: composer Miho Hazama, one of the most potent and imaginative big band jazz writers in the game at the moment. She’ll lead the band through her own compositions, as well as those of Bormet and saxophonist Leigh Pilzer, in a program the BCJO is calling “Alto Madness.” It begins at 8 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th Street NW. $20.
Tuesday, March 15
Listening to Manami Morita brings a strong urge to be hyperbolic—I want to tell you that she’s the swinging-est piano player I’ve ever heard, or some such. Well, I don’t really know that that’s true, and frankly I don’t want to go down the list of piano players I’ve heard and measure their rhythms against each other. (But it’s going to be hard to beat Count Basie.) It’s not hyperbole, however, to say that I’ve rarely heard pianists who throw themselves into their playing with quite as much seeming abandon as Morita does. She has a certain stride piano instinct, buried deep within her foundation, and a delight with irregular, super-syncopated figures. But she tempers those with a furious chordal attack and, yes, a huge sense of swing that is both a throwback to more rhythmically celebratory days, and is also wonderfully timeless. Manami Morita performs at 8 and 10 p.m. as part of Blues Alley’s “Japanese Jazz Series,” 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $20.