Saturday, Jan. 16
Elijah Balbed‘s departure for New York City last year was, let’s face it, inevitable. Fred Ebb was right: If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere, and that goes double if you’re a jazz musician. But Balbed remains a Washingtonian, thank God, and he continues to work here on the regular—and, so it seems, with various projects. On Saturday, his setup is a modified version of his organ quartet: The usual conguero, Rudy Morales, can’t make it (he’s just moved to Texas), but in his absence comes a trumpeter, our own beloved Donvonte McCoy. That’s trumpet and tenor sax fronting organ (Jake Silverman) and drums (Kelton Norris), making the second unconventional organ combo to grace our jazz scene in recent months. The EJB Organ Quartet performs at 6 p.m. at JACS, 2813 12th St. NE. $10.
Sunday, Jan. 17
Last year over Martin Luther King Day weekend, D.C. trombonist Shannon Gunn joined forces with the gang at CapitalBop to create a day-long jazz marathon. They called it the Jazz and Freedom Festival, a benefit for EmpowerDC. It was successful enough—and important enough—that this Sunday we will see its second incarnation. The 2016 Jazz and Freedom Festival this time benefits another worthy cause, Black Lives Matter DMV, who will begin the proceedings with a panel discussion. Then at 5 p.m., the music begins with drummer Savannah Grace Harris and her trio. Then comes saxophonist Fred Foss, trombonist Reginald Cyntje, Shannon Gunn’s Jazz and Freedom Octet, and the Renaissance Trio featuring Nasar Abadey, James King, and Allyn Johnson. (For those of you paying attention, that’s two of the three drummers, the trombonist, the composer, and the pianist who took home Jazzies this year.) Your humble correspondent forbids you to miss it. The 2016 Jazz and Freedom Festival begins at 4 p.m. at Union Arts, 411 New York Ave. NE. $20.
ALSO HAPPENING ON SUNDAY
In the neverending debate over whether the term “jazz” can encompass all of its influences and permutations, Christian aTunde Adjuah may be the one to have it fully figured out. The New Orleanian trumpeter’s concept goes by the name “stretch music.” Pretty self-explanatory, all things considered, but just in case, the idea is that this is a music that can stretch beyond its own imagined conventions and boundaries to absorb whatever components it needs or can use. This is not exactly an unexpected development from Adjuah—aka Christian Scott. If anything, it’s been the assumption he’s worked with since the beginning of his career. (His debut album, Rewind That, came out ten years ago this spring.) But his recent Stretch Music gives a name and a corresponding sound sample to the concept, which only becomes more alive when it’s performed on a bandstand. Christian aTunde Adjuah performs at 8 p.m. at AMP by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave. in North Bethesda. $30-$40.
Wednesday, Jan. 20
If someone was going to defeat three D.C. jazz vocalists (Christie Dashiell, Lena Seikaly, Danielle Wertz), each of them extraordinary talents, it had better be someone so deeply engaged with the craft that she has “jazz” right in her name. Of course that’s a completely unfair way to judge Jazzmeia Horn; the truth is, she will knock your socks off. The 23-year-old Texan has been in New York since she was 18 and a freshman at the New School; you can still hear her youthfulness in her voice. But you also hear a truly gymnastic command of technique and an abiding comfort with the material that allows her to take tremendous, structure-defying liberties with them. Think of a young Betty Carter, if you will, but with even more soul and even less effort showing on the long scat runs. She’s something else, and will only become more so with time. Jazzmeia Horn performs at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free.