Friday, Nov. 13
Back in the day (i.e., the aughts), when Kevin Cordt was the weekly entertainment at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill, the restaurant posted fliers comparing the trumpeter to “the Blue Notes of the ’60s.” I used to chuckle at that. Blue Note Records’ stable in the 1960s ranged from Cannonball Adderley to Freddie Hubbard to Sam Rivers to Cecil Taylor. What did it mean that Cordt compared to that roster? Well, of course I was being too broad. For all the spectrum of music that was available on Blue Note, they had what was regarded as a signature sound—a meeting point between the avant-garde “New Thing” and the bebop tradition that preceded it. And Cordt fits that to a T. He is a progressive, adventurous musician who is also firmly anchored in the jazz tradition, and he deserves to be heard, even if he’s now only triweekly. Tonight’s your chance! Kevin Cordt performs at 8 p.m. at Mr. Henry’s, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Free entry with two-item minimum.
Saturday, Nov. 14
Carl Grubbs is a big, imposing man. When you see him onstage with an alto saxophone, even when his face and bearing are at their most tranquil, he seems to push himself physically forward. That’s a pretty good description of his actual playing, too: It’s got a kind of locomotion that pushes it unstoppably forward. Unquestionably a follower of John Coltrane, as the revered Baltimore musician and educator would be the first to tell you, his sound on the alto is really a combination of Coltrane and Charlie Parker. His free concert this weekend, however, shifts his focus to another great altoist: Johnny Hodges, the man who did more than anyone but Duke Ellington to define the sound of the Ellington Orchestra. Specifically, Grubbs is looking into Hodges’ work on the music of Billy Strayhorn, Ellington’s right-hand man and a genius composer in his own right who would have been 100 years old this month. The Carl Grubbs Ensemble performs at 2 p.m. at the Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place SE. Free.
Monday, Nov. 16
The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra has been having a banner year. They’ve been bringing in a fantastic lineup of special guests to perform with and even lead them—most prominently, perhaps, alto saxophone legend Oliver Lake came in during the D.C. Jazz Festival to lead the BCJO in playing his big band compositions. They’re also doing a good bit of specialty programming on their own, including a Billy Strayhorn spectacular that will take place on Nov. 30 (one day after the 100th anniversary of Stray’s birth). Next week, as it happens, they’ll combine the two, in a performance of Benny Goodman’s staples that features guest clarinetist Oran Etkin. This Monday, however, there is no special lineup or program on their schedule, and that’s precisely why it’s being recommended here. You don’t need to wait for the big galas, good as they are, to enjoy an evening of great, swinging tunes, often the bedrock of the big band repertoire, and just as often in new arrangements by members of the band. Don’t neglect it. The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at (where else?) Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $10.
Tuesday, Nov. 17
Perhaps it’s a tribute to the fantastic, ferocious piano players that have already passed through the Jazz and Cultural Society’s walls in its short life, that it already needs a piano repair. It’s a beautiful instrument, a Baldwin baby grand. And though there are venues in D.C. that will allow their pianos to remain in not-so-great condition, JACS honcho DeAndrey Howard is doing something about his. What better cause, after all, for a fundraiser? It’s appropriate that that fundraiser should be a concert led by a piano player. Chris Grasso, D.C.’s best jazz compatriot, is anchoring a quartet that features recent departure Lyle Link, the extraordinary saxophonist come home to fight for Brookland pianism, along with bassist Herman Burney and drummer Sam Prather. That is a tremendous lineup, and along with the satisfaction of great music, you’ll have new eighty-eights to show for it. The Chris Grasso Quartet performs at 6 p.m. at JACS, 2813 12th St. NE. $10.