Thursday, March 19 Perhaps you’ll see Matt Wilson and John Medeski‘s name on a marquee together, and (assuming you know the names) will assume that it’s just going to be quirkiness and humor all night. They do have reputations to that effect—-pianist Medeski is heavy on the quirky, drummer Wilson on the humor, though the twain frequently meet—-but it would be a mistake to slot them so. They both have extremely deep knowledge of jazz and the tradition, and in fact, a lot of what they do together draws itself from the manic energy and creativity of the bebop generation. (Although Wilson, in particular, likes to draw from swing-era devices in his drumming.) It’s not just those two, of course: Wilson’s quartet, with cornetist Kirk Knuffke, saxophonist Jeff Lederer, and bassist Chris Lightcap bringing all of the above as well. And it’s going to be a lot of fun. The Matt Wilson Quartet with John Medeski performs at 8 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE. $22-$28.
Friday, March 20 Talking to Paul Carr about the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival last month, James Carter‘s name came up as one of the headliners. Carr and I hit on exactly the same word to describe him: “Beast.” We’re talking about a man who plays soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone (and, on rare occasions, sopranino and contrabass as well), bass clarinet, flute and bass flute—-and he’s mastered all those instruments. That’s not the only spectrum he’s mastered: Carter will throw swing, bop, post-bop, soul-jazz, avant-garde, fusion, blues, and gospel out with equal facility and equal priority. At 46, he may be the most audacious, voracious, omnivorous saxophonist in jazz; Rahsaan Roland Kirk and David Murray created that banner, and Carter waves it proudly. That’s a beast, all right. He performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $23 advance, $28 door.
Photo: Norman Timonera
Saturday, March 21 One of the annual traditions of this month’s Washington Women in Jazz Festival is the unique combination of multimedia presentation and concert performance put on by Jessica Boykin-Settles. Boykin-Settles is a powerful vocalist, but she also has a history as a jazz educator in that same department. As such, she’s studied the canon of the great jazz singers and brings tremendous knowledge and depth to both the lecture and the performance. This year, she casts an eye on Billie Holiday. It’s a special affair for Lady Day—-easily the most famous and revered singer in the history of the music—-both because she would have been 100 years old next month, and because she grew up in nearby Baltimore, making her a key figure in the DMV family. These are good reasons, as is Settles’ performance, to learn about her life and hear her music. Jessica Boykin-Settles celebrates Billie Holiday at 2 p.m. at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place SE. Free.
Tuesday, March 24 D.C.’s jazz scene is always in flux. As Mr. Henry’s reasserts itself as a a jazz destination, Dahlak, home of the DC Jazz Jam, finds itself forced to seek a new location. But when a place begins to offer jazz anew, it should be noted and celebrated. So, let’s talk about Sotto, the basement bar and smokery brought to you by the folks who also brought you Ghibellina (upstairs). You can get heavily alcoholic cocktails, all kinds of smoked meat (so much sausage that it has its own section on the menu), and, several nights a week, small-group jazz music. Tuesdays belong to trumpeter Joe Herrera, whose many jazz gigs in the city have been covered here before. But to see him in an intimate context like this is something else again. Herrera will be a beast no matter what happens, but he tends to get the best players he can to work with him—-even if he doesn’t always know who they’ll be until the week of his show. Joe Herrera’s jazz duo begins at 7:30 at Sotto, 1610 Fourteenth Street NW. Free.