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Thursday, December 11
One of the area’s top trombonists, Shannon Gunn, doesn’t get enough showcase gigs of her own. Most likely, you’ll see her with a big band, either the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra or her own Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes. But with the odd exception—-a Bullettes spin-off here, a Twins late set there—-Gunn’s moments at the lead of a small band are fairly rare in D.C. So you know what makes for a great opportunity to rectify that? The new Thursday night institution known as Dukem Jazz, at the most famous U Street Ethiopian restaurant. Gunn leads a quartet there this week with another too-infrequent musical presence, the fantastic drummer Lydia Lewis; joining them are keyboardist Lianna Gekker and, from New York, bassist Adi Meyerson. And did I mention it’s a no-cover show? They perform at 9 p.m. at Dukem, 1118 U Street NW. Free.
Friday, December 12
Public radio heavyweight Ira Glass has pondered why people pay to go out and see in person what they can stay home and get on the radio for free. Oh, we can talk all day and into the night about the need for in-person connection, or the engagement of that missing sense of sight, or unlocking the mystery of how radio works. All of that is surely valid. But when it comes to NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas, the reason you should go out and see it in person is because live jazz is awesome. Period. It’s especially awesome when it’s got four great piano players, including elder statesman Harold Mabern, New York mainstay Lynne Arriale, up-and-coming adventurer Kris Davis, and D.C.’s own newest import, the great Cyrus Chestnut. And fantastic as they all are separately, if you make the second show they’ll be improvising together in a round robin, which is even better. Don’t wait for it to hit your radio! A Jazz Piano Christmas takes place at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW. $69.
Sunday, December 14
“Have jazz, will travel” would seem to be the banner under which CapitalBop begins marching this week. Its monthly Jazz Loft is firmly established, as is its home base at Union Arts on New York Avenue NE. But the ever-restless Luke Stewart and Giovanni Russonello, the collective brains of CapitalBop, are taking the show on the road, so to speak, plugging into the city’s various underground venues with their new “Traveling Jazz Loft.” On the bill for the inaugural traveling edition are perhaps the top two experimenters on the local jazz scene. Brian Settles, the incredibly versatile tenor saxophonist, has a passion for exploring the space and possibilities that surround his axe; in this instance he’s doing so with the trio of Tomas Fujiwara (drums) and Jerry Gentry (vibraphone). And guitarist Anthony Pirog, who needs no introduction in D.C., has gotten one nationally—-his new album, Palo Colorado Dream, has been a breakthrough in the larger jazz world, and as such he’ll perform with the trio that made that CD (which includes bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Ches Smith). It happens at 7 p.m. at The Fridge, 516 Eighth Street SE. $10 (advance), $15 (door).