Thursday, Oct. 1
One wonders where the small-statured Antonio Parker keeps all the music he lets out through his alto saxophone. Parker is a jazz machine. He’s got a hardened, just slightly coarse-around-the-edges sound that this writer likes to call “sticky,” because it’s evocative of the sound masking tape makes when you peel it. The music that Parker applies that signature sound to tends to be fairly straight-ahead: hard bop and/or Latin jazz with a deep pocket, lots of standards and originals based on standard changes and blues. But remember, this is jazz: it’s not about what you play, it’s about what you do with it. And if you get Parker going, the ideas just cascade. What seems at first to be a light dose of dissonance between front line and rhythm section will wander into controlled chaos; vamps will evolve into long melodic statements; and Parker, seemingly without thinking about it, will gradually up the intensity so that what started out as an introspective tune will have the whole band pounding away. It’s a style of playing that never gets old, and it’s kept Parker working in the District for more than twenty years. For this gig, he’ll be the old man of the ensemble, leading a quartet of young up-and-comers that includes Sam Prather on keys, Blake Meister on bass, and Ele Rubenstein on drums. They perform at 9 p.m. at Dukem, 1118 U St. NW. Free.
Saturday, Oct. 3
It is simply stupefying that Victor Provost, the steel pannist who is one of the most unique and tremendously talented musicians on the D.C. jazz scene, has never yet to this point headlined at Bohemian Caverns. Sure, he’s crossed the U Street basement stage as a sideman, and in some jam session formats—and actually as the co-leader of Eastern Standard Time with saxophonist Tedd Baker. But this weekend marks his debut as the name at the top of the bill. Provost is leading a quartet with Federico Peña on piano, Zach Brown on bass, and the mighty Carroll Dashiell III on drums. Expect his shimmering rubato to be applied to standards and jazz classics, perhaps some tunes from Provost’s Caribbean heritage (he’s from St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands), and perhaps a few original tunes…although, notably, Provost has been at work this summer on a new album. There’s every reason to expect the material from it to pop up over four weekend sets. He performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $18/23.
Monday, Oct. 5
There are two facets of Greg Boyer‘s music that are inescapable in any discussion. One of them is his raw muscle on the trombone. Hear him play a note, and you’ll find yourself looking for a concussion wave, like a CG movie effect, to follow. The volume is matched only by the overwhelming fullness of tone. The other facet is his résumé. Boyer has worked with George Clinton, Chuck Brown, Stanley Clarke, David Sanborn, and was the musical director for Prince. This is a serious funk/soul CV, but also a tremendous jazz one. (In addition to Clarke and Sanborn, Boyer was a charter member of the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra.) Match that with his power, and you’ve got the basis of the Greg Boyer Peloton, his band that mixes jazz standards with rock/soul/funk ones. Boyer calls it “fried chicken swing.” And just like everything else he does, it will knock your socks off. The Greg Boyer Peloton performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.
Wednesday, Oct. 7
You’ve never heard Thelonious Monk’s Misterioso until you’ve heard it played on the pipa. Okay, that’s a bit of an embellishment, but there really is something transcendent about hearing Min Xiao-Fen interpreting Monk’s music on what is essentially a Chinese lute. (The pipa, incidentally, existed for 1,600 years before the piano did, no minor detail.) Xiao-Fen has taken an instrument with a terrifically long history and legacy, including hundreds of years worth of repertoire, and applied it to the 20th century music of John Cage, John Zorn, and Randy Weston along with Monk. She’s even worked with a trio featuring jazz guitar and bass. But she does retain a solid grounding in the Chinese musical traditions, and this concert presents a contrast: Thelonious Monk versus the music of the Chinese “cultural revolution,” which occurred during Monk’s heyday. The program, suitably, is called “Mao, Monk and Me.” Min Xiao-Fen performs at 7:30 p.m. at The Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. $15/20.