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In town tonight are clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and his ensemble, pianist Marc Cary, rock- and hip-hop-inflected quartet Butcher Brown, legendary drummer Ginger Baker, and saxophonists Braxton Cook and David Sanchez among many, many others. How do you choose?
Here’s one possible solution: Pick one at random and head out to Bohemian Caverns afterward to see how many of the others show up. The DC Jazz Festival hasn’t interfered with the Friday night U Street Jazz Jam, which goes on as scheduled at 11:30 p.m. (and the bouncers will admit you for free beginning at that time, even if Sanchez hasn’t finished his 10:30 set yet). The festival ups the ante for the jam: Word has gotten around to the musicians of the festival that this is the post-gig hangout in D.C. So if you can make it up to U Street and stick around in the late hours, there’s a damn good chance you’re going to hear some of the musicians you had to skip earlier in the evening—-and in a looser, edgier environment, too. They’ll be led, incidentally, by tenor saxophonist Elijah Balbed, pianist Mark Meadows, bassist Zach Brown, and drummer Corey Fonville.
And lest we forget, this also extends to Saturday night, across the street at Dukem. Last week the U Street Jazz Jam stretched to two nights in two venues, and it’s going to stay that way. Starting at 11 p.m., trombonist Reginald Cyntje hosts alongside pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Tarus Mateen, and drummer Lenny Robinson. And since Mateen is coming from an earlier gig at the Fridge, he might bring his own band members, or even the evening’s headliners (Matana Roberts and her COIN COIN sextet). Not to mention Robert Glasper, Gregory Porter, Trombone Shorty, or the various members of the Dizzy Gillespie Afro Cuban Experience, all of whom are playing the festival that night.
Hit the jam sessions, in short, because you never know who might show up.