Thursday, Oct. 22
The merger of jazz and bluegrass always seems to be greeted by many (myself included) as a wildly rare and dangerous undertaking. It doesn’t take much digging beneath the surface, though, to see the great overlap between the two. Bluegrass, like jazz, arose from a folk-cum-pop-music form that courted the blues (country and ragtime, respectively); both came about because virtuosos in those popular genres wanted a platform where they could go deeper into the technical nuances of the genre, and mingle freely with the possibilities of other genres as well. These are also the hallmarks of both Christian McBride, the great jazz bassist of his generation, and Edgar Meyer. Enough so that their coming together might, in spite of everything, indeed be a wildly rare and dangerous undertaking. Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer perform together at 8 p.m. at Historic Sixth & I Synagogue, Sixth and I Streets NW. $40.
Friday, Oct. 23
The three or four people who watched Treme will remember that the character of Delmond Lambreaux, a New Orleanian jazz trumpeter, made an acclaimed recording that combined straight-ahead jazz with the music of Mardi Gras Indians. That album was inspired by Indian Blues, a real-life recording made in 1991 by New Orleanian alto saxophonist Donald Harrison. Harrison, one of the “Young Lions” that refurbished the face of jazz in the ’80s, has made a career out of such fusions; his first recording as a (co-)leader was called New York Second Line, and in the mid-’90s introduced a concept called “nouveau swing” that melded traditional swing to rhythms from all genres and cultures. And with his 2012 release Quantum Leap, Harrison began pushing hard into the realm of New Orleans funk. Even in a music that is fusion by its nature, a music that has a whole subgenre called fusion, Harrison is going the distance. He performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th Street NW. $25.
Saturday, Oct. 24
In December 1954, two of the greatest musicians of their (or any) era collaborated on a landmark recording. But Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown featured more greatness than just the vocalist and trumpeter: saxophonist Paul Quinichette, flutist Herbie Mann, and drummer Roy Haynes were among the staff on hand to help Vaughan and Brown sound as good as they did on classic performances of “Lullaby of Birdland,” “Embraceable You,” and “September Song.” Timeless though it is, Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown invites intrepid musicians to re-examine and reinterpret its musical possibilities. Nearly 61 years after its release, the Kennedy Center is doing just that—and in a setting that posits D.C.’s own Christie Dashiell as an heir to Vaughan. Dashiell contemporary trumpeters Russell Gunn and Keyon Harrold, along with bassist Burniss Travis and Kendrick Scott, in investigating Vaughan and Brown’s legacy. “Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown Reimagined” takes place at 8 and 10 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Crossroads Club, 2700 F Street NW. $30.
Sunday, Oct. 25
Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa probably is most noticed for his use of jazz to explore Indian and Pakistani music (especially in his trio, The Indo-Pak Coalition). Mahanthappa is also a deep student of jazz, however, from bebop to the avant-garde, and his development of an advanced harmonic/rhythmic concept has given him a new window on the work of jazz touchstone Charlie Parker. All of Mahanthappa’s musical language(s) went into the construction of his 2015 album Bird Calls, in which the younger altoist composed new tunes based on abstractions of the legendary saxophonist’s music: not just his compositions, but his solos, or fragments of both. One isn’t liable to easily hear “Parker’s Mood” in Mahanthappa’s “Talin is Thinking,” for example, but it’s note-for-note the same tune—just with the spacing reconfigured. That’s the kind of mathematical wizardry that Mahanthappa has injected into classic jazz, and has created a crackerjack quintet to help him. Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $30.