There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
We’re strictly local this week, folks, and that’s a good thing.
Thursday, April 17
The Young Lions trio became an emblem, the triple faces of D.C.’s jazz renaissance, partly because they could make room for anything in their conception of jazz music. But whatever “anything” entailed, it was bound to be attached to groove. That’s what allowed a Balitmorean drummer by the name of Quincy Phillips to develop his intense cross-rhythmic style. Phillips is a hard-swinging dynamo behind the kit, working the ride cymbal and snare in the dead earnest of a machinist. What really moves, though, is his bass drum: If the greatest of jazz drummers are always melodic, Phillips is downright contrapuntal, his kick becoming a sonic line unto itself under the logic-defying main lines of his sticks. Phillips is also a composer of considerable heft, which makes it exciting that this D.C. Young Lion and member of Roy Hargrove‘s quintet is now trying his hand as a bandleader. With Ben Eunson on guitar fellow YL-er Kris Funn on bass, the Quincy Phillips Trio makes its world debut at 9 p.m. at Dukem Jazz, 1114 – 1118 U Street NW. Free.
Friday, April 18
There are times when I am truly jealous of you, dear reader, and this is one of those times. For I am out of town this Easter weekend, and am leaving just in time to miss vibraphonist/drummer Chuck Redd perform his tribute to Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie. Redd has become one of the central pillars of D.C. jazz, a long-timer who interned under the great Washington guitarist Charlie Byrd and went on to play in the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and to work with Gillespie himself (among others). But better yet, Redd brings with him a special guest, another and even longer-time D.C. vibraphonist: the great Lennie Cuje, born in Germany and passing through the Air Force and the 52nd Street scene in New York before settling into a 50-year career in Washington. Also in the band are trumpeter Tom Williams, pianist Tim Whalen, and bassist James King—-each one of whom is a reason to go to the concert. See why I’m jealous? The Chuck Redd Quartet with Lennie Cuje performs at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Fourth and I Streets SW. $5.
Sunday, April 20
D.C.’s own jazz staple Brad Linde got himself the holy grail last month: His Underwater Ghost trio, featuring guitarist Anthony Pirog and bassist Nathan Kawaller, was reviewed in the New York Times. (“The band is from Washington, where there’s more action than many New Yorkers may know about,” wrote the Times‘ Ben Ratliff, God bless him.) The unusual instrumentation—-Linde plays tenor sax and clarinet along with the guitar and bass—-is drawn directly from the 1950s “cool jazz” trio led by clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre. Giuffre, it must be said, transitioned in the early ’60s from cool to his own idiosyncratic, introspective brand of free jazz, and Underwater Ghost plays tunes from both the cool and free periods in Giuffre’s career. (Linde calls it “post-cool.”) They also perform original material inspired by Giuffre’s musical vision, occasionally aided by special guests—-in the case of this week, that’s pianist Erika Dohi. They perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $12.
Tuesday, April 22
Trombonist Reginald Cyntje has a lot to say. He released his first album, Freedom’s Children: The Celebration, in 2011, and is now releasing his third disc in as many years. The Elements of Life features nine original compositions arising from Cyntje’s most assured artistic position yet. They’re played by a septet that only a cursory glance will tell you has the best of its various instruments: Cyntje, tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, steelpannist Victor Provost, pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Herman Burney, drummer Amin Gumbs, and vocalist Christie Dashiell. For more information on the music itself, you can either wait for the forthcoming City Paper review of Elements of Life, or, you can check out Cyntje and the band’s CD release concert this week. It’s at 8 p.m. at Union Arts, 411 New York Avenue NE. $15.