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Thursday, Feb. 18
The thing I haven’t mentioned about Christie Dashiell is that she’s unbelievably charming, onstage and off. There are a number (a BIG number) of musicians who are frankly minor talents, and get by mostly on charm. Dashiell could get by on charm. She does not, and perhaps it’s because she’s a major talent, too major to let it fester. Dashiell is a vocalist of seemingly limitless flexibiity; she can swing her face off, then turn around and do a deeply sensitive rendering of a ballad; then turn around again and let fly with a lengthy, twisting-and-turning vocal improvisation. She does it all with elegance, aplomb, and a velvet-and-satin contralto instrument that has become instantly recognizable to any ear in the city. And, increasingly, Dashiell is taking the country by storm as well… as those of us watching and listening always knew she must someday. Christie Dashiell and her quartet perform at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $18.
Friday, Feb. 19
By now you’ve heard that Union Arts is in trouble. The loft space on New York Avenue NE that has been the hub of D.C.’s creative (or experimental, or improvised, or whatever you feel like calling it) music scene since 2012; it’s now slated, in a story that’s drearily familiar to D.C. denizens, to become a boutique hotel. (It will include, we should note, some sort of arts program, but one that Union Arts folks feel is tokenism.) But the artists and supporters that have populated Union Arts these three years are not going down without a fight, and they invite you to bring them some support. There’ll be a benefit concert on Friday night that includes stalwart sonic explorers (often in the jazziest sense) Janel and Anthony, as well as the punk band Priests; Ian Svenonious‘s solo project Escape-ism, which he describes as “found-sound dream drama”; and Dais, a project by Adriana Lucia-Cotes that is billed as “experimental pop” and in fact is so eclectic and idiosyncratic that there simply isn’t a better description. It begins at 8:30 p.m. at 411 New York Ave. NE.
Saturday, Feb. 20
One does not go to see trumpeter Michael Thomas, admirable though his playing is. One goes to see the Michael Thomas Quintet. Thomas places premium value on the band (with tenor saxophonist Zack Graddy, pianist Darius Scott, bassist Kent Miller, drummer Frank Walker IV) as a unit; he doesn’t do bookings without them. And consider: The most famous and important small jazz bands (e.g., the John Coltrane “Classic” Quartet; Miles Davis‘s First and Second “Great” Quintets) tend to last four or five years with the personnel intact. Thomas’ is at eighteen years and counting, which should tell you something about both their chemistry and their commitment to music. It’s a very traditional, classic bebop and hard bop sound. Thomas is heavily influenced by the bluesy-but-thoughtful lines of Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan, two of the essential voices in that style’s creation; his frontline partner, Graddy, draws from Brown’s erstwhile partner Sonny Rollins with his visceral eruptions of sound. And the rhythm section is as tight and joyful as they come. The Michael Thomas Quintet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns. $18.
Tuesday, Feb. 22
It was about four years ago that I first heard Cristian Perez, then playing guitar with saxophonist John Kocur. When Kocur introduced his guitarist, I wrote his name down: “Cristian Perez—keep an eye on this guy.” It’s still a good idea; the Argentina native’s work is bearing fruit with his debut recording, Anima Mundi. It’s not uncommon for jazz musicians to adopt a one-world-music approach, especially those musicians born outside the United States: What matters is that they bring their own flair to it, and Perez does so. He is a composer who lets the music of Latin America, India, Japan, and America inspire him to unique directions, rather than trying to ape those styles outright. (“The Persistent Elephant” has qualities of Indian music, for example, but its rhythms and instrumental techniques have little in common with India.) It helps that Perez plays the somewhat lesser-used nylon-string guitar, giving his sound a special elasticity that, take my word for it, makes a difference when he plays live. Actually, you don’t have to take my word for it, do you? Cristian Perez performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $20.
Photo: Jonathan Timmes