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Friday, Feb. 5 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.
Saturday, Feb. 6 Federico Gonzalez Peña was born in Uruguay, raised in Argentina, and has been in the United States for more than thirty years now. If he’s multicultural, he’s also multidisciplinary, educated at Berklee College of Music and trained in classical music, jazz fusion, and go-go. Last fall I proclaimed him to have “a dance in his touch that is too broad and thoughtful to be confined into a category of Latin jazz.” And that’s true. But it downplays the great subtlety at work in Peña’s playing. In much the same way that we expect a vocalist to know his/her lyrics intimately before they take liberties with them (so they know exactly what those liberties will mean as well), he is intimately familiar with the musical vocabulary of jazz. Even a stock lick gets parsed, reinvented, re-contextualized. It’s jazz as played by a poet. The Federico Gonzalez Peña Emergence Trio (with bassist Romeir Mendez and drummer Corey Fonville) performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $18.
Tuesday, Feb. 9 I am asking for trouble with this comparison, so let me say right up front that Irene Jalenti is not really anything like Nina Simone in terms of technique or artistic conception. But upon hearing her vocal range, which starts deep and gets deeper, it’s hard not to make the connection to Nina. But it’s also not fair to Jalenti to make the comparison, since she’s in search of a much more purebred approach to jazz singing. Italian by birth, she came to Baltimore to attend the Peabody Conservatory and ultimately built a career here as a much-in-demand torch singer. Interestingly, though, Jalenti has not labored to remove her heavy Italian accent from her delivery (as have other Italian expat vocalists, like Roberta Gambarini); instead, she uses it as a device to shape her phrases and reorient the rhythmic accents. Fascinating. Irene Jalenti performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. $20.
Wednesday, Feb. 10 There may be no trumpeter in town more capable than Joe Brotherton of spinning riffs into gold. That is to say, he has a great knack for expanding the smallest byte of musical information into a full, coherent treatise, but one whose genesis is overtly within that small byte he started with. Sometimes that can be so much as a single note repetition that simply becomes a preamble—a lesson that Brotherton seems to have learned from the lesser-known great Fats Navarro. The trumpeter is a long-timer in D.C., and has for over a year now been holding down a weekly U Street gig. And in that capacity he shows another sharp understanding: how to stack your band with great musicians. Brotherton’s quintet includes pianist Andrew Flores, bassist Blake Meister, drummer Dante Pope, and one of the city’s serious up-and-comers, tenor saxophonist Elijah Easton. They perform at 7:30 at Jojo’s, 1518 U St. NW. Free.