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Friday, March 6 Where, I can hear you asking, has Akua Allrich been? The marvelous singer, with her hybrid of soul, jazz, and West African music, has been on her first self-financed tour, which culminated in a residency at the Jazz at Lincoln Center outpost in Doha, Qatar. That makes this weekend Allrich’s homecoming. But it’s not just that; she’s also beginning the promotion efforts for her forthcoming third CD, Soul Singer. She has previously said that it contains 95 percent original material, and as such, if you haven’t heard her premiere it before, you’re in for a treat of new music. You’re also in for another treat: All concertgoers will be given a free download of the first single from Soul Singer. It’s a concert of music you can take home with you! Akua Allrich performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $18 advance, $23 door.
Saturday, March 7 Olayimika Cole, who last year burst onto the scene as a songwriter with her album L’ife, immediately proved herself to be gifted—-some guy at City Paper called her “a serious talent…a remarkable new composer” with “a natural way with a melody”—-and ambitious. In fact, it seems her ambition can’t be contained in mere musical performances of her compositions. The Play of L’ife recasts them in the context of theatrical stories and settings, moving from Nigeria to London, Montreal, and D.C. And just look at the participants: singers Kiyem Ade, Adejoke Tugibiyele, George V. Johnson, and Cole; pianist Sam Prather; trumpeter JS Williams, saxophonist Fred Foss, bassist Eliot Seppa, drummer Nasar Abadey, and more. It’s got a plum slot, too, as the closer of the Atlas Intersections Festival. Cole knows how to make a splash. The Play of L’ife begins at 9:30 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Sprenger Theatre, 1333 H Street NE. $20.
Sunday, March 8 The Washington Women in Jazz Festival, a powerhouse built by pianist Amy Bormet—-and strong enough to bring her back every year from her new Los Angeles digs—-is always growing, but this year it’s outdone itself. The festival has taken place in March (International Women’s Month) since its inception, and this year, it takes place every single weekend in March. It’s also always delivered exactly what it promised: the area’s well-known and unsung female talents, with occasional guest stars on a larger scale.
This time it’s gone international, with backing from the Swedish Embassy and an ensemble that goes by the name of RAW Sound Sweden: tenor saxophonists Malin Wättring and Signe Dahlgreen (who doubles on bass clarinet), alto saxophonists Anna Högberg and Biggi Vinkeloe, bassist Elsa Bergman, and drummer Anna Lund. But the D.C. woman aren’t out of the picture: Sunday night, RAW Sound Sweden is on a double bill with what has previously been known as the WWJF All Stars, now billed as Ephemera: Bormet on piano, Sarah Hughes on alto saxophone, Janel Leppin on cello, and Karine Chapdelaine on bass, with special guest Fay Victor on vocals. They’ll offer new tunes and experimental improvisation, capped off with an open jam session. It takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the House of Sweden, 2900 K Street NW. Free.