Thursday, Oct. 29
Fred Foss is the alto saxophonist, the D.C. grand master. Originally from Corona, Queens—the same neighborhood in which Louis Armstrong lived—Foss grew up playing bebop on the horn, then broadened his palette with gigs behind Lionel Hampton and Ray Charles. His most important mentor, though, is probably Jackie McLean, and Foss carries with him some of Jackie Mac’s tartness of tone. Foss went his own path, though, with his rhythm and space, as well as with the melodic figures that he brings to bear on his alto. (Oh, and his flute, on which Foss has a round, clean sound that’s perhaps even more distinct than his sax sound.) His elder-statesmanship is thrown into relief against his young-blood quartet, too: Foss is joined this evening by pianist Todd Simon, bassist Philip Ambuel, and drummer Allen Jones. They hit at 9 p.m. at Dukem, 1118 U St. NW. Free.
Friday, Oct. 30
It’s hard to overstate the greatness of D.C. legend Willis Conover in the role of jazz ombudsman. He was inarguably one of the most important broadcasters the music has ever known, anchoring a four-hour broadcast weekly on Voice of America radio (Voice of America Jazz Hour). The program created jazz fans (and, incidentally, English speakers) all over the world and was wildly popular at home with short-wavers who picked up the broadcast despite its ban on broadcasting domestically. He was also a major programmer of jazz concerts at festivals—and in Washington, including Kennedy Center presentations as well as Duke Ellington‘s 70th birthday fete at the White House. He is also credited with desegregating D.C.’s jazz club scene. A truly groundbreaking patron of jazz, in short, and Conover’s forthcoming 95th birthday will be celebrated at Westminster Presbyterian Church. On Saturday, the Library of Congress’s Larry Appelbaum will host a discussion of Conover’s legacy; on Friday, Jazz Night at the church, there will be a tribute concert featuring D.C. veterans Paul Carr (saxophone), Victor Dvoskin (bass), and Robert Redd (piano), among others. It begins at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I Sts. SW. $5.
Saturday, Oct. 31
Mark Meadows was Washington City Paper‘s Jazz Artist of the Year (and composer of the year) well before some of his bag of tricks had been revealed; his clever re-imagination of Steely Dan‘s “Reelin’ in the Years,” complete with audience participation, for example. This year, he’s been able to put this one into the spotlight at high-profile gigs like his opening spot for Kamasi Washington at the Howard Theatre, and his headlining concert at the Petworth Jazz Project. And it’s just one neat piece of stage business that he has in his arsenal. Meadows is a great performer, blessed with a beautiful touch on the piano, an ear for gorgeous jazz harmony, and a surprisingly nice tenor singing voice. We’re lucky to have him around these parts. Add Halloween at the Caves to his list of recent excellent gigs—where he may not need to brandish that singing voice, as he’ll have the wondrous sound of Rochelle Rice augmenting him. He performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $20/$25.
Monday, Nov. 2
Dan Tepfer, one of the most cerebral young jazz pianists on the scene, is also one of the most experimental. His friend and sometime collaborator, saxophonist Ben Wendel, says he has “the X-factor” in his playing: “He’ll go these different directions that I [am not] expecting.” It’s a conception that comes from Tepfer’s grounding in the modern classical music innovations of Messaien and Ligeti; from his education at New England Conservatory, one of the top-tier jazz academies in America and one that encourages cross-pollination and smashing of boundaries; and his strong association with saxophonist Lee Konitz, the great exponent of the “Tristano school” (whose proteges also include our own Brad Linde, another friend and sometime collaborator of Tepfer’s). Tepfer consumes all of this, and repackages it in a thoroughly original voice that marks Tepfer as a distinguished artist at the tender age of 32. Dan Tepfer performs a solo piano concert at 7 p.m. at the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I St. NW. $15-$30.