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Thursday, Aug. 27
Some would tell you that jazz fusion died with Miles Davis in 1991. Still, there are some standard-bearers who have kept the music alive and developing in the nearly quarter-century since then. Two of the most important are guitarist Mike Stern and drummer Dennis Chambers. Both have ridiculous pedigrees: Stern played with Blood, Sweat and Tears and Miles, Chambers with P-Funk and John Scofield. Both are regarded as technical virtuosi and are among the most in-demand players in the genre. They have a long history together, as well, meaning they are extremely attuned to the techniques and nuances in each other’s work. They are leading something like an all-star quartet, featuring saxophonist Bob Francesschini and bassist Tom Kennedy; sets are at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $40.
Friday, Aug. 28
And then, of course, there’s that timeless, soulful, deep-in-the-pocket flavor of jazz that D.C. is known for. That’s the specialty of Washington’s core group of jazz veterans, the names you’ve been hearing since at least the ’80s (and usually a good bit longer), guys descended from the golden age of jazz in the nation’s capital. One of those names is Cheyney Thomas. His deep, woody, rock-ribbed bass is a sound you’ve probably heard on the bandstands at Westminster Presbyterian, HR-57, and the other top spots for the city’s hard-bop pillars. Twins is on that list too, of course, and that’s where Thomas is setting up camp for the weekend with his quartet. If your vision of jazz is the down-to-basics soul-and-blues-and-swing one, this is your spot. The Cheney Thomas Quartet performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Sunday, Aug. 30
Tomeka Reid plays the cello, like many in jazz have before her, from Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown to Abdul Wadud and Eric Friedlander. None, however, play it quite like Reid does. She doesn’t wield it as a lighter substitute for the bass; Reid’s current quartet has bassist Jason Roebke playing behind her. Instead, Reid bows her cello in rich, singing melodies that draw from European music (Eastern and Western), the blues, and the African-American experimental tradition. (Reid, who lives in Chicago, is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.) Pizzicato, she tends toward a rhythm-section role, like a rhythm guitar. Interestingly, that puts her rather dead center of her own frontline; in addition to Roebke on bass, the Reid quartet features Mary Halvorson, the greatest guitarist of her generation. And oh, did we mention that Reid is a D.C. native? Go for the adventurous but surprisingly accessible music, stay for the hometown love. The Tomeka Reid Quartet performs at 7 and 8:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW.
Monday, Aug. 31
Last month, the Japanese bandleader and composer Miho Hazama won the very prestigious Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize. It’s richly deserved: Hazama is a supremely gifted composer, and one of her gifts is for making long, complicated melodies sound hook-ridden and simple. Another is for gorgeous, extremely creative ensemble passages, including the best (and certainly most graceful) writing for strings ever placed into a jazz big-band context. She belongs within the elite of contemporary big-band composers, like Maria Schneider, Darcy James Argue, Nathan Parker Smith, Elliott Hughes, and Scott Ninmer. As a matter of fact, Hazama will be placed into context with all of those colleagues this week: She is acting as guest conductor for the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra and will lead them in performances of works by those composers, as well as her own. They perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns. $10.