Thursday, Nov. 7
The salty, melodic sound of Sonny Fortune’s alto sax is one of the hidden pleasures of jazz. It’s also one of the most surprising: Fortune has a tendency to play his themes straight, with little to no embellishment, letting you think you’re in for a smooth ride on the tune. Come the improvisation, he lets fly with wild, jagged shapes and breakneck velocity that leave you with your mouth hanging open, wondering what in the hell just flew in your face. Not bad for a man on the verge of turning 75, but par for the course for a man who worked with McCoy Tyner and Miles Davis at the flowering of his artistic maturity. Imagine, then, the master class his appearance will provide for the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, with whom Fortune will be performing this afternoon. The performance begins at 12:40 p.m. at Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapter on the Howard University Campus. Free.
Saturday, Nov. 9
The excitement around Jason Moran’s appointment as Artistic Advisor for Jazz at the Kennedy Center was because of what his aesthetic as an artist suggested about his aesthetic as a presenter. Moran, a pianist, is more importantly a conceptualist. His work is a roundtable dialogue with the history of jazz, from ragtime and stride to free and fusion, alongside world music and hip-hop. In a given performance, you might hear covers of tunes by Fats Waller or James P. Johnson, the piano warriors of a hundred years ago, or the latest installment in his ultramodern “Gangsterism on…” cycle. But all of it will have a certain intellect to it, even at its bounciest, most danceable pace (and there’s a lot of bouncy, danceable paces in Moran’s music). You might call that “something for everybody.” Jason Moran’s Bandwagon performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s KC Jazz Club, 2700 F St. NW. $26-$30.
Sunday, Nov. 10
Last month, after an incredibly busy September, CapitalBop decided to take a reprieve from its seminal Jazz Loft series. With its return this weekend, the series returns to its roots: a real, honest-to-God loft space. The D.C. Jazz Loft’s is at Union Arts, the former warehouse space on New York Avenue NE; DC Jazz Festival attendees may have attended CapitalBop’s Peter Brotzmann concert there. The headliner for the Loft’s debut there includes one of the scene’s mightiest elders. Fred Foss, a saxophonist and flutist who interned with Lionel Hampton and Jackie McLean, he currently tours with South African jazz greats Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim. But he’s been living and playing in D.C. since the early ’80s. He performs with a trio at the event’s close; also on the bill are the excellent pianist Mark Meadows, and Third Wheel, an experimental trio of guitarist Anthony Pirog, cellist Janel Leppin, and saxophonist Brad Linde. And, says CapitalBop honcho Giovanni Russonello, the new location will let them revive the recently dormant jam sessions at the end of the night. The D.C. Jazz Loft begins at Union Arts DC, 411 New York Ave. NE. $15 (suggested donation).
Wednesday, Nov. 13
The name Sean Jones is one that should be heard and repeated far more than it actually is. Once a star trumpeter in Gerald Wilson‘s venerable big band and lead trumpet in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, 35-year-old Jones has classical chops; a bright, burnished sound from the Clifford Brown school of trumpet; a bottomless well of melodic ideas (especially as a composer); and a warehouse full of soul. He also has enough cache to have released five albums under his own name. Still, Jones probably should (and certainly could) be counted among the royalty of jazz horn players, yet he seems content to keep a relatively low profile on the scene and just bust his ass as a working musician and teacher, and artistic director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. Give him a chance on the bandstand, though, and he’ll spin your head around. Sean Jones performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.