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Thursday, Sept. 24
Heidi Martin, one of the most dynamic and dramatic D.C. vocalists and songwriters, has been paying tribute onstage to Abbey Lincoln (another dynamic and dramatic vocalist and songwriter) for at least a few years. It’s no small undertaking to celebrate an artist with as many dimensions as Lincoln, who was also an actress and a serious activist who folded both of those into her writing and performance. Martin is likewise multifaceted, a writer and poet. The many elements of both women will be realized in this year’s version of Martin’s tribute, called simply “ABBEY!” Martin’s poetry (which has been heard on, for example, Reginald Cyntje’s album Love) is a part of the program; she’ll be performing monologues as well. But don’t expect lush accompaniment for this diverse performance: Martin is advertising it as a one-woman show (though there will apparently be a trio, with pianist James Weidman, bassist Michael Bowie, and drummer Steve Williams). Drama indeed. She performs at 8 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $25.
Friday, Sept. 25
Baltimore is in the house. As noted previously, saxophonist Lionel Lyles is on a quest to become a mover and shaker in D.C.’s jazz scene. He’s a tremendously resourceful musician, a dyed-in-the-wool swinger and melodist who has a full arsenal of original compositions under his belt. We in D.C. don’t have a “made it” threshold, but headlining at Bohemian Caverns is a powerful sign nonetheless, and Lyles is doing that this Friday night with the Lionel Lyles Quintet. It’s a mighty cadre of Baltimorean talent: Theljon Allen on trumpet and flugelhorn, Todd Simon on piano, Eddie Hybryk on bass, and Tyler Leak on drums. Local stalwart saxophonists Herb Scott and Elijah Balbed will appear too. LLQ performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $18/$23.
Saturday, Sept. 26
It is thoroughly unfair that when we talk about big bands in this area, we tend not to talk about the Airmen of Note, the official jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. Military bands have forever been noted for putting the best available musicians on their staffs—why should the military jazz bands be any different? Indeed, the Airmen of Note’s roster includes saxophonists Tedd Baker and Grant Langford, trumpeter Luke Brandon, guitarist Geoffrey Reecer, drummer Dave MacDonald, and vocalist Paige Wroble. Now how about supplementing that 18-piece unit of world-class musicians with a world-class vibraphonist? Stefon Harris, the hippest vibes man on the planet these days, joins the Airmen of Note for a free concert. So if you haven’t seen them, here’s the big chance. The Airmen of Note perform at 8 p.m. at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park, part of the Jazz Heritage Series. Free.
Tuesday, Sept. 29
Yes, jazz jam sessions are becoming increasingly common in the D.C. area—but fusion jam sessions? Those are still pretty close to unheard of. Well, except for the one that brothers Greg and Gary Grainger lead in Bethesda every Tuesday night. Gary Grainger is a bassist who’s best known for his work behind guitarists John Scofield and Carl Filipiak (who tours nationally). The latter is also true of his drum-playing brother Greg, another Filipiak favorite. They’re set to host a plugged-in jazz jam, with keyboardists Vince Evans and Benjie Porecki also slated to appear plus anyone else who wants to get their fusion chops into gear on a weeknight. The name of this event? “The Jam.” It takes place beginning at 6 p.m. at Bethesda Blues and Jazz, 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. $5 or free with an American Federation of Musicians card.