Friday, May 15 Surely there’s no doubt at this point that trombonist Reginald Cyntje is one of the area’s most vital jazz composers, musicians, and bandleaders. He fulfills all three of those personae on his recordings. The latest of these is called Spiritual Awakening and features his working band—-Brian Settles on tenor sax, Victor Provost on steel drum, Christie Dashiell on vocals, Herman Burney on bass, and Amin Gumbs on drums. Spiritual Awakening is a unique and ambitious entry in Cyntje’s discography; I don’t want to say too much about it here, as a full review is forthcoming. But it’s well worth your time to explore on CD, and perhaps even more so in live performance, which makes it all the better that they’re performing a CD release concert (minus Provost, and with Mark Meadows sitting in for Johnson) at this week’s Jazz Night in Southwest. It begins at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Fourth and I streets SW. $5.
Saturday, May 16 Despite occasional statements to the contrary (by people who should know better), the list of great jazz composers is long and deep, and for the most part terribly underexamined. There is a very real need for repertory bands that explore the oeuvre of individual writers; how else but through the Makanda Project would we come to understand the richness of Makanda Ken McIntyre? McIntyre, who died three months shy of his 70th birthday in 2001, was one of the most consistent, and consistently underrated, multi-reed players in jazz, along the lines of Eric Dolphy (with whom he actually worked in the early ’60s), and one of maybe five oboists in the music. His work ran the gamut from Cecil Taylor to Nat Adderley, and his own work as a spiritual, often avant-garde explorer. His compositions are only now gaining the foothold they deserve in the music, thanks to the 13-piece Makanda Project, a Boston-based ensemble led by pianist John Kordalewski and featuring trombone soloist Kuumba Frank Lacy, whom we discussed last week. You’ll be astonished at the band, but even more so at its material. The Makanda Project performs at Michigan Park Christian Church, 1600 Taylor St. NE. $30.
Sunday, May 17 Here’s that name again: CapitalBop. Gio Russonello and Luke Stewart‘s nonprofit operation is all but synonymous at this point with jazz advocacy in Washington, D.C. You’ve seen the name at the monthly Jazz Loft shows, at its annual showcase at the DC Jazz Festival, and at its regular “Riffin'” onstage conversations with jazz artists performing at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. This week, CapitalBop adds a new page to its portfolio with a summer outdoor concert series called “Hot 5 at Hill Center.” It kicks off with the trio Corner Store, led by D.C./Baltimore bassist Kris Funn—-a musician who is already great, but seems uniquely destined to become Great (if you follow my meaning). It’s early, it’s outdoors, it’s all ages, and it begins with a 20-minute Q&A that will allow you to get to know this remarkable local jazz artist. Hot 5 at Hill Center begins at 5 p.m. at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Free.