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Thursday, January 8
“Kicking off the New Year in Style” is how Dukem Jazz is putting it. Indeed, the venue is kicking it off with as much style as can be concentrated into one vocalist, the superb Jessica Boykin-Settles. Settles has been performing a good deal lately, and that’s great news considering that it wasn’t so long ago when her gigs were few and far between. And whether it’s coincidence or consequence, she’s also getting better and better. Not that her accompanists are hurting her: Pianist Tim Whalen, bassist Eliot Seppa, and Savannah Grace Harris will make anyone sound good. Put them behind someone who’s already stellar in her own right, and each musician makes every other musician shine like candlelight. Oh, and the second set is a jam session. Jessica Boykin-Settles performs at 9 and 10:30 p.m. at Dukem, 1114 U Street NW. Free.
Friday, January 9
Hey, gang! You may have noticed that area pianist/composer/bandleader Mark Meadows got named Artist of the Year in the 2014 Jazzies! Curious about that, are you? Wondering if he’s really all that? Well, he is, and if you’ll head down to Twins on Friday night he’ll no doubt demonstrate it. The band Meadows leads now has the same title as his wonderful 2014 album, Somethin’ Good, though this gig brings in a stripped-down version of that band. It’s essentially a trio (Meadows, bassist Eliot Seppa, and drummer C.V. Dashiell III), along with the all-embracing vocal stylings of Rochelle Rice (who won Best Vocalist in the 2013 Jazzies). I’d expect to hear a bit of Meadows on vocals, too. What you’ll definitely hear, though, is wonderful music. Meadows and Somethin’ Good perform at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $15.
Saturday, January 10
By this time, you surely know to look for the CapitalBop Jazz Loft in the lineups for the second weekend of each month in D.C. But we all should have guessed that the restless ambitions of Giovanni Russonello and Luke Stewart would have them seeking out something new. Hence, this month they aren’t doing a one-night, three-artist Loft; they’re doing a three-night, eight-artist festival called The Preparation. It’s intended as a harbinger of the great year that CB and its host venue Union Arts (which Stewart books) look forward to in the realm of creative music performance. Saturday is the opening of the festival: Dave Ballou, the uproarious and exploratory Baltimore trumpeter, brings his drummerless LEAP ensemble; another Baltimore trumpeter, Jaimie Branch, who cut her teeth in the ever-experimental Chicago music scene; and Mindbreath, an ensemble about which your humble correspondent knows nothing but can’t wait to find out. It begins at 7 p.m. at Union Arts, 411 New York Avenue NE. $10 (or $28 for all three nights).
Sunday, January 11
There are guitarists three times Andrew Latona’s age who are still working toward the kind of speedy, clean agility that this kid already has. Latona has amply developed the nimble technique and expansive vocabulary to express his myriad musical ideas. The clean touch and obvious study of the blues are just gravy. Now, when I say kid, I mean it—-Latona’s 19, fresh out of high school, and his babyface is apparent through his bearded jaw. He’s got some seasoning yet to undergo—-but he’s obviously serious about music, is already doing some intensive gigging, and even leads his own quartet, Counter Culture (with saxophonist Isaiah Barr, bassist Steven Synk, and percussionist Christopher Latona). They’re holding down the bandstand Sunday night, 8 and 10 p.m., at Twins Jazz. $10.