Saturday, February 7
Dwayne Adell is probably the most astonishing piano prodigy that I have ever encountered in person. He reads not a note, but he learned Handel’s Messiah well enough by ear to arrange it for gospel choir. He bought a Rachmaninoff record, played it by ear with embellishments, and won an international piano contest. And jazz? Forget about it. To see Adell play, to hear his rhythmic conception and the way he ties his melodic lines into elaborate bows, to watch him work from memory, is to gain a new appreciation for the kind of genius that jazz has brought to the world. Like Art Tatum, he doesn’t even need a trio, though he indeed uses bass and drums on most of his once-or-twice-a-year gigs; also like Tatum, Adell relies on a smallish staple of standards and lesser-known jazz tunes for his performing repertoire. And the Tatum comparisons are most apt because an Adell concert is the closest most of us will ever get to the experience of seeing the world’s greatest piano player at work. Dwayne Adell performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $20.
Sunday, February 8
Pianist Mark Meadows is D.C.’s jazz artist of the year and the creator of one of last year’s best albums (Somethin’ Good, now also the name of his band). Jonathan Parker is a busy young saxophonist, composer, arranger, and bandleader who plays monthly at the Wonderland Ballroom, and has a fine album of his own out now. (Look for a review very shortly!) Tim Whalen, another piano player, is a top-call musician whose own trio will soon be releasing its recording of the music of Bud Powell. Is that what these artists have in common, recent or forthcoming albums? Well, that and the fact that they constitute this month’s D.C. Jazz Loft, that CapitalBop spectacular that you all know and love. Give it a go. It begins at 7 p.m. at Union Arts, 411 New York Avenue NE. $15 (suggested donation).
Tuesday, February 10
The ease with which Lenny Robinson wields his drumsticks—-or mallets, or brushes—-belies the incredible hard work he has put into the traps. If the ease throws you off track, you’ll be convinced by the unfailingly crisp sound he makes on the skins and cymbals, a rat-a-tat that has clearly been carefully and thoughtfully developed. It’s not hard to connect Robinson to the sound of Roy Haynes, whom nobody should dispute is the greatest living jazz drummer. Haynes has a distinct and sharp attack of his own, one that earned him the nickname of “Snap-Crackle”: If you’re somehow unsure of what that nickname means, grab a copy of Chick Corea’s 1968 album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs and it won’t take you long to understand. It’ll help you prepare for this week, too, because Robinson is this month’s Artist in Residence at Bohemian Caverns, and he’s using that residency specifically to celebrate and explore the music of Haynes. This week he treads the ground of the Haynes/Corea collaborations, with assistance from pianist Tim Whalen and bassist Tommy Cecil. It takes place at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns. $10.
Wednesday, February 11
When Bethesda Blues and Jazz opened its doors two years ago, it boasted a resident big band, the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Orchestra. Led by local saxophonist and former Airmen of Note leader Pete BarenBregge, the group showed a great deal of promise. But after several months, the orchestra reconstituted itself, then faded from the fledgling club’s calendar. Now, almost two years after its debut, it makes its return, 17 pieces with BarenBregge back at the helm. The orchestra will hereafter appear on Wednesday nights rather than Mondays—-no more crosstown competition with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, leaving you space to get your fill of big band jazz in D.C. between them (and the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra, appearing at Columbia Station on alternate Thursdays, but that’s another story). What will the band sound like with this phoenix-like return? Find out at 7:30 p.m. at Bethesda Blues and Jazz, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. $10.