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We at Setlist try (in fact, we make this a point of honor) to put local music into each installment. But sometimes, there’s a ridiculous amount of music coming to town at once, and we have to make hard choices. In this case, it’s the stuff that is happening this week and only this week, and all of that turns out to be non-local. But all of it, assuredly, is worth your time and attention.
Friday, October 17 There are a handful of arts and/or cultural institutions across the country that have permanent resident jazz ensembles. Think of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, for example, or the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. But of that handful, it may be the SFJAZZ Collective that pulls the neatest trick. Each year for three weeks, SFJAZZ pulls in a membership of eight musicians from the national jazz scene, and they serve as both a community outreach musical organization and as an in-house performance collective. During that three weeks they conceive, rehearse, and perform a 16-song repertoire—-eight tunes by an iconic jazz composer, eight tunes by the ensemble (one per member). By those means, SFJAZZ Collective is able to use institutional funding both to foster new music and to celebrate the staples of the jazz repertoire. And when they’ve finished providing this splendor to San Franciscans, they take it on tour. Now let’s fill in the blanks. This year’s SFJAZZ lineup includes Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Miguel Zenon (alto saxophone), David Sanchez (tenor saxophone), Warren Wolf (vibraphone), Edward Simon (piano), Matt Penman (bass), and Obed Calvaire (drums). The composer on display is the great Joe Henderson. And the venue is the Kennedy Center. SFJAZZ Collective performs at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. in the Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW. $32.
Saturday, October 18 In just the last few years, Christian McBride has gone here, there, and everywhere in his music. Going back a decade, we’ve seen the bassist at the head of a funky electric ensemble, a straightahead acoustic combo, and a 17-piece big band. Three years ago, he created a duo project that partnered him with musicians from Sting to Regina Carter to Eddie Palmieri. But his latest group is that most elementary of jazz ensembles, the piano-bass-drums trio. At 42, McBride finds himself already among the greatest living jazz bassists; he seems ready to accept status as an “elder” as well, rounding out his trio with two young proteges (25-year-old Christian Sands on piano, and 31-year-old Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums). That said, it’s quite an egalitarian combo, intent on giving plenty of space to its tunes and to each of the members’ playing therein. At the same time, though, the trio is not a model of restraint: This is a band that delights in virtuosity, and doesn’t hesitate to put it on display. The Christian McBride Trio performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $28.
Sunday, October 19 He was once known as Dollar Brand. He was a protege of Duke Ellington and a major innovator of jazz in South Africa, creating a scene and sound known as “Cape Jazz.” By the time Cape jazz was flowering in the early ’70s, though, Dollar Brand had become Abdullah Ibrahim, in honor of his Muslim faith. His music draws on the American tradition of jazz and its antecedents, the blues and gospel and various folk forms; it also, though, draws on the folk traditions of Cape Town and environs, particularly the ethnicities therein that are, like African Americans, descended from former slaves. It forms a unique matrix, but a wonderful one. Indeed, it has helped to make Ibrahim one of the world’s grand masters of jazz, a composer of majesty and grace who also has a genuine claim to activism in the realm of South African ethnic identity. No opportunity to hear him should go untaken. Abdullah Ibrahim performs a solo concert at 7 p.m. at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, 4321 Hartwick Road on the University of Maryland campus (i.e., in College Park). $25.