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Friday, April 24
Among the young generation of jazz musicians who were born in D.C. and are now making their way on the New York scene (and there are more than you think), bassist Ben Williams tops the list. He’s a top-call freelancer for dates in Gotham and on national and international tours, and since winning the Thelonious Monk Jazz Bass Competition in 2009, has been making the most of the Concord Jazz record deal that was a part of his prize. This week, in fact, his second album Coming of Age drops, and it shows him reaching a new level of confidence and maturity—-especially as a composer. It’s a thrill to see Williams make a homecoming of sorts for the new record’s release, with not only a top-notch band at his command, but with an opening act by another wonderful D.C. musician, singer Akua Allrich. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. at The Hamilton, 14th and F Streets NW. $20-$25.
Saturday, April 25
The following is a direct quote of Benny Golson, closing a set at Bohemian Caverns in 2013: “What have we done tonight? …We’ve imbibed the lactation of your applause. We’re corpulent! And we’re coming back for more. Why, we might just end up playing ourselves to death in our appreciation of people like yourselves.” This should tell you an awful lot. Eighty-six-year-old Golson loves to talk, for one thing, and he cuts quite the entertaining figure in doing so. He’s a great raconteur. He also earns tidal waves of applause on the bandstand, as is befitting one of jazz’s greatest living composers—-the author of “I Remember Clifford,” “Stable Mates,” and the mighty “Killer Joe.” He is also a tremendously resourceful saxophonist, still finding new things to say and new ways to say them on the tenor after sixty years in the music. Golson, in short, is a living legend. He performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $35.
Monday, April 27
Every April (Jazz Appreciation Month, you’ll recall), three of the large ensembles from local university jazz programs meet for a one-night festival of big-band music, jazz education, and D.C.’s musical legacy. It’s the Calvin Jones Big Band Jazz Festival, 29 years old this year, named in honor of the multi-instrumentalist and educator who directed the University of the District of Columbia’s jazz program for nearly 30 years prior to his death in 2004. Allyn Johnson, Jones’ successor, is one of the bandleaders who will be taking the stage at this year’s festival to direct the UDC ensemble. Also on tap: the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, directed by Fred Irby III, and the University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble, directed by Chris Vadala. In the bands, you’ll find many of the powerful players you see on bandstands around town. Check it out at 8 p.m. at UDC’s Theater of the Arts (Building 46), 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW. $20.
There are an awful lot of 50th anniversaries happening in jazz this year; 1965 was a watershed. But there’s one that is being celebrated rather universally, and that’s the release of John Coltrane‘s A Love Supreme. It goes along with Kind of Blue as one of those genre-defining, essential-to-own albums in the history of the music (funny that both of those must-haves feature Coltrane, isn’t it?), capping off the last year of Trane’s Classic Quartet and reshaping both the saxophonist’s musical trajectory and that of the music itself, as thousands of musicians around the world rushed to pick up the gauntlet that A Love Supreme threw down. One of those musicians was D.C.’s own Andrew White, a saxophonist from well before Coltrane made this particular breakthrough, but focused now on his Trane scholarship (with hundreds of transcriptions of the master to his credit). It’s hard to imagine someone more qualified to perform A Love Supreme. White plays it at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $25.