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Friday, August 7
Anyone who’s seen him play must have known it was coming. Tenor man Elijah Balbed, who we named D.C.’s Best New Jazz Musician in 2010 and Best Tenor Saxophonist in 2013, was always too talented, too ambitious, too relentless in pursuit of his craft to not make The Big Move. Yes, New York calls to 25-year-old Balbed, and while he promises to be back on D.C. bandstands soon and often, he’s more than ready to try his chops in the jazz capital. But first, he bids farewell to the city in which he was raised, his talent honed. The performance will feature musicians who figured on his wonderful new album Lessons From the Streets: guitarist Samir Moulay, pianist Mark Meadows, bassist Romeir Mendez, drummer CV Dashiell, and special guest trumpeter Alex Norris. The hit is at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $18 advance, $23 door.
Saturday, August 8
He’s a free-jazz drummer by most observers’ accounts, but what William Hooker does on the kit often feels tightly structured and well thought out. Don’t misread: Hooker works spontaneously, and in his performances there will be moments when he visibly throws caution to the wind. But the point is that he’s got a deeply logical mind when it comes to rhythm, space, melody, and (perhaps especially) timbre. Even at his most free, there’s a distinct attention to contrast between snare, tom, and cymbals, and between his instrument and those of his onstage cohorts. In this case, those cohorts include some of D.C.’s most exciting sonic experimenters: guitarist Anthony Pirog, bassist Luke Stewart, and, in the second set, cellist Janel Leppin. It will be a fascinating meeting of the minds, but it’ll be the ingenious mind of Hooker that gives it shape. He performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $15.
Sunday, August 9
Last year, CapitalBop’s contribution to the DC Jazz Festival included the Block Party: a three-band outdoor concert of contemporary, progressive jazz. “The music at this show is focused on dancing, and on jazz’s evolving relationship with electronic music,” the group said. It featured a headline performance with D.C. native pianist Marc Cary and his band Rhodes Ahead. It was successful enough that CapitalBop is throwing its second annual Block Party this year, complete with Cary and Rhodes Ahead, plus two other acts (the Moment and Nag Champa) that flirt with dance and electronica. (Cary is the headliner but also assisted in the curation, selecting the Moment himself.) And just in case you missed those points, there’ll also be an outdoor dance floor. The 2nd Annual CapitalBop Block Party begins at 1 p.m. at Logan Fringe Art Space, 1358 Florida Avenue NE. $10.
Wednesday, August 12
Todd Marcus is a bass clarinetist from Baltimore. But he has Egyptian lineage and often draws from the music of Egypt in his work. Now, he’s exploring Egyptian politics with an album-length suite called Blues for Tahrir, performed with an 11-piece ensemble and released on D.C.-based label Hipnotic Records. It’s amazing music, some of the best of the year, and it deserves to be heard far and wide. The ensemble performing in D.C. isn’t quite so robust: It’s a mere nine players, which include area natives Brent Birckhead (flute and alto saxophone), Norris (trumpet), Darius Christian Jones (baritone saxophone), Jeff Reed (bass), Eric Kennedy (drums), and Irene Jalenti (vocals), along with New York stalwarts Greg Tardy (tenor saxophone) and Bruce Barth (piano). The Todd Marcus Orchestra performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $25