Thursday, Sept. 26
Much of the D.C. jazz scene gave over the summer to celebrating tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, the music’s greatest living composer and, arguably, bandleader. (Shorter turned 80 in August.) Fitting, then, that the capstone should be an appearance by the man himself, barely a week after receiving an in-person tribute at this year’s Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. This time he’s the headliner as well as the guest of honor. It’s a low-level affair, of course: Shorter and his acclaimed quartet—pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade—are fronting the NSO Pops, with guest conductor (and jazz big-band leader) Vince Mendoza, and performing a program that features his National Symphony Orchestra–commissioned composition “Gaia.” Oh, and a special appearance by some young musician named Esperanza Spalding. You know, nothing spectacular. The Wayne Shorter Quartet performs with Esperanza Spalding at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F St. NW. $20–$85.
Friday, Sept. 27
Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt ended his longtime, highly praised acoustic jazz quintet in January. Like many before him, he was hearing something more plugged-in. The new band released its (again highly praised) CD Water and Earth in March, performing it at Bohemian Caverns that same month—-all of the material composed by Pelt, save Stanley Clarke‘s “Butterfly Dreams,” and all but two songs brand new. At the end of September Pelt’s electric quintet will have just finished recording its second album—-again, nearly all new, and all written by Pelt—-and it’ll be ready to give us a sneak preview of its new, Pelt-penned tunes, once again from the storied U Street bandstand. Call it a sneak preview. The Jeremy Pelt Quintet performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th Street NW. $25.
Sunday, Sept. 29
I lived for five years in Southwest D.C., and next to my apartment sat the 100-plus-year-old Friendship Baptist Church—-boarded up, fenced in, empty. (The congregation had moved a few blocks away to a new building.) It was a relic of the old, pre-“Urban Renewal” Southwest, left behind and seemingly forgotten. Today, however, that beautiful old church has become a vibrant community arts space—-and the three-and-a-half-week G40 Art Summit is currently in residence there. So, too, is CapitalBop, whose place as the city’s most exciting, cutting-edge jazz presenter is now assured; they are presenting a show there over three Sundays. This week’s is a
double bill featuring the penetrating D.C. saxophonist Lyle Link and his quartet, along with Kneebody, the high-octane, genre-busting, relentlessly experimental quintet of young musicians whose buzz just keeps getting louder. (It’s just gotten them their first major-label release, The Line.) The gig takes place at 4 p.m. at the old Friendship Baptist Church, 1st and H streets SW. $10.
Monday, Sept. 30
Hey, you. Yes, you. You haven’t been to see the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra in a long time, have you? It’s a bit too easy to take the ensemble for granted, appearing as it does every Monday night at the Caverns and in other venues with increasing frequency. But it is always a more-than-worthy endeavor. A protean one, too, with some shifts in personnel lately and an ever-expanding book. Every time I drop in on a Monday night, I hear tunes I’ve never encountered before, and the familiar ones are performed with unfamiliar arrangements. This week, it was a spectacular rendition of Sonny Stitt‘s “The Eternal Triangle”; the arrangement included a stock bebop lick, inventively split between the trumpet and trombone sections, and solo features for all 17 members of the band. The sound of a big band is already a wonderful thing, and when you’ve got one with incredible soloists and a knack for creative presentations, work on not taking it for granted. The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra performs every Monday night at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns (duh). $10.