Thursday, January 29 If you follow D.C. jazz in any capacity, Chris Grasso‘s name is surely an omnipresent one. He’s something of an impresario, the booker of and frequent participant in a long-running weekend jazz series that has spawned several restaurant, bar, and hotel locations. He’s also the go-to piano accompanist for vocalists in this city. All of that, though, can throw his own chops as a bandleader and soloist a bit into the shadows. Tonight’s gig could go a long way toward changing that. Grasso’s setting himself up with an absolute monster of a quartet, featuring Lyle Link on tenor saxophone, Romeir Mendez on bass, and Quincy Phillips on drums. Note that there are no vocalists in tow; however, with the Dukem Jazz tradition of a jam session breaking out in the second set, there’s no reason to think they might not give Grasso a chance to shine in his most popular role. The Chris Grasso Quartet performs at 9 and 10:30 p.m. at Dukem, 1116 U Street NW. Free.
Friday, January 30 Reginald Cyntje had the best D.C. album of 2014 with Elements of Life, but the ambitious trombonist was already moving onto his next project by the time of its release. That project is coming into fruition now as Spiritual Awakening, Cyntje’s fourth album, which will be recorded at the end of February. But in the meantime, Cyntje’s group (tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, steelpannist Victor Provost, pianist Mark Meadows, bassist Herman Burney Jr., drummers Amin Gumbs and Tosin Yoshi Aribisala) wants to take that album to the stage once more for some “seasoning.” Well, for them it may be seasoning, but for us, it’s an early listen to the next episode of Cyntje’s scintillating art. The Reginald Cyntje Group performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $20 advance, $25 door.
Saturday, January 31 If you don’t know the name of Jaki Byard, you should. He was a great jazz pianist—-one who not only internalized all of jazz history, but often referenced all of it within a single solo—-and a tremendous composer. But more than that, Byard (the victim of an unsolved murder in 1999) was one of the great educators and mentors in the jazz universe, with students and protegees that included pianists Fred Hersch and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran—-and, as it happens, flutist Jamie Baum, multi-reedist Adam Kolker, guitarist Jerome Harris, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer George Schuller. These five players make up Yard Byard, a project that Baum started as a means to explore some charts that she inherited from Byard himself. You won’t find a pianist in the band, which makes their plans for the music all the more intriguing. Yard Byard performs at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Gallery, 2700 F Street NW. $26-$32.
Wednesday, February 4 For quite a while, we in D.C. have suffered from a serious Joe Brotherton deficit. At least under his own name; Brotherton is a reliable sideman, a member of the trumpet section of the Thad Wilson Big Band among others, and a burning presence at jam sessions. But the trumpeter with a hyperdrive legato and love of coloring outside the lines hasn’t had a steady bandleading gig inside the city for a minute. Well, he does now—-and on U Street, too! It is a new quartet (for some reason a rare breed…you don’t see a lot of trumpet-plus-rhythm-section ensembles) featuring pianist Andrew Flores, bassist Blake Meister, and drummer Dante Pope, who also does some singing. There will also be a special guest in percussionist Rudy R. Morales. Get down to it, folks, and welcome Joe back to the U Street scene where he belongs. The Joe Brotherton Quartet performs at 7:30 at JoJo, 1518 U Street NW. Free.