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Thursday, Nov. 20
Mark Meadows has taken D.C. by storm in the past couple years. The pianist has long been a presence in his native Baltimore, but his profile in the District grew fast and furiously; not since Elijah Balbed has a musician risen so high and so quickly here. He’s playing gigs right and left, and his album, Somethin’ Good, is one of the best of the year. As I wrote in the summer, “hearing Meadows’ songs is a bit like biting into a ripe piece of fruit: surprising, but delightful, bursts of color and flavor.” What could be better, then, than seeing him perform tracks from that album live? With a stellar quintet that includes saxophonist Tim Green, guitarist John Lee, bassist Eliot Seppa, and drummer Ele Rubenstein, the show would be killing even without such A-grade material. Mark Meadows performs at 9 p.m. at Dukem, 1118 U Street NW. Free.
Saturday, Nov. 22
Rochelle Rice, as you already know, is a magnificent vocalist. Her love for exploring variety in music will be on display at her forthcoming concert. Rice is splitting the bill with classical singer Marlissa Hudson, and featuring both the Invoke String Quartet—-a contemporary string quartet that brandishes bluegrass, folk, and rock chops along with new classical music—-and a jazz trio of pianist Allyn Johnson and the aforementioned Seppa and Rubenstein on bass and drums respectively. Called “The Conversation: Stories of Hope, Heart and Wholeness,” the program chronicles the stories of Rice and Hudson’s lives, in word and song. And, at least on Rice’s end, some of those songs will be new and original. The Conversation takes place at 7 p.m. at All Souls Church, Unitarian, 1500 Harvard Street NW. $20 ($10 for children and students).
Sunday, Nov. 23
Bobby Muncy and Twins Jazz have an understanding. Or so it seems, anyway. Muncy, a composer/saxophonist/adventurer, is at the helm (or shares the helm) of a number of musical projects, and they all seem to use U Street’s upstairs jazz venue as their home base. But this particular gig isn’t an evening of Kung Fu Bastard, or the DC Jazz Composers Collective, or the Radiohead Jazz Project. No, this is an evening of Bobby Muncy, plain and simple, playing his compositions in a quartet setting. That quartet, by the way, includes Pete Muldoon on guitar, Blake Meister on bass, and Larry Ferguson on drums. As good as it gets. The Bobby Muncy Quartet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.
Tuesday, Nov. 25
We’ve got lots of jazz singers in the District of Columbia, but how many vocalese singers do we have? Well, there’s at least one, and his name is George V. Johnson, Jr., November’s Artist in Residence at Bohemian Caverns. Vocalese, for the non-nerds among you, is a form of jazz singing in which the singers put lyrics not just to the written melodies of famous jazz songs, but to the improvisations that appear on famous recordings. Except, of course, when they themselves improvise (usually with scat syllables) over those improvisations. It was invented by Eddie Jefferson, for whom Johnson is something of an heir and to whom he sometimes pays tribute with renditions of Jefferson’s lyrics (though Johnson’s deep, velvety voice is more in line with another vocalese singer, Giacomo Gates). Vocalese practitioners are not a robust commodity in any jazz scene, and the presence of even one makes for a special treat. George V. Johnson performs at 7:30 and 9 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $10.