It is with no sadness at all that we bid farewell to one of the cruelest months for D.C. jazz that I can remember—one that took two more casualties with it on the way out. R.I.P., Dick Morgan and Frank Wess.
Friday, Nov. 1 When he was in town three years ago, I said “it is an objective, indisputable, unbiased fact that Curtis Fuller is the world’s greatest living jazz trombonist.” It wasn’t hyperbole then, and it isn’t now. Fuller wasn’t the man who brought trombone into the modern jazz world—-that distinction was J.J. Johnson‘s, one of Fuller’s most profound influences. What Fuller did was drench the instrument’s sound in soulful blues, both in his own projects and important side gigs with John Coltrane, Art Blakey, and Art Farmer and Benny Golson. Though there have been occasional forays into experimental territory (notably with Wayne Shorter), Fuller for the most part has stayed that hard-swinging, bluesy course that we now recognize as down-and-dirty classic jazz. That doesn’t mean he’s not still exploring new avenues, though, and Fuller’s latest is an interesting one: his Brasstet, which matches his trombone with a trumpet (Don Sickler) and flugelhorn (Bobby Shew). Three brasses and a rhythm section makes for a wondrous sound. The Curtis Fuller Brasstet performs at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s KC Jazz Club, 2700 F St. NW. $26-$30.
Saturday, Nov. 2 It’s been a big year for Eddie Palmieri, who started off receiving the NEA Jazz Master Fellowship, America’s highest honor for jazz musicians, and last month he received the Latin Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. It’s hard to argue with those honors for the man who changed how salsa music is played in the United States, shifting the focus from trumpets to trombones. Ironically, it was a trumpeter, Brian Lynch, who helped guide Palmieri into the jazz world in the 1980s. Palmieri made the music his own, though; he’s hailed as one of the greatest pianists in the genre and, with Lynch, produced one its the finest recordings, 2006’s Simpatico. It takes an extraordinary talent to master genres with such facility, and nobody could confuse Palmieri with being anything other than an extraordinary talent. Eddie Palmieri and his Latin Jazz Septet perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Bethesda Blues and Jazz, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. $45.
Photo: Julio César Velandria, used under a Creative Commons license
Sunday, Nov. 3 Robert Glasper, one of the world’s greatest young jazz pianists, took the music world by storm last year when he released his album Black Radio. It was a unified field theory of jazz, funk, hip-hop, R&B, and soul, featuring a barrage of guest stars like Erykah Badu, Yasiin Bey, and Lalah Hathaway, and covers of Nirvana, Sade, David Bowie, and John Coltrane songs. And then it won Best R&B Album at the Grammys this year, defeating stalwarts like R. Kelly and Anthony Hamilton and virtually guaranteeing a new life for this holistic approach to jazz. It’s only natural that Glasper would return with Black Radio 2, this time adding Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg, and Hamilton, along with Hathaway and many, many others. The guest stars won’t be on hand, but Glasper’s brilliant band, the Robert Glasper Experiment (bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Mark Colenburg, and saxophonist Casey Benjamin), will be. The Robert Glasper Experiment performs at 7:30 p.m. at The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $49.50.
Photo: Janette Beckman