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Friday, July 5
One of the great gifts of Dick Smith, the founder and organizer of Jazz Night at Westminster Presbyterian Church, is succinct descriptions for the shows he books. This week, for instance, is a sextet performance billed simply as “Two Generations of the Blues.” Really, what can I or anyone else add to that five-word tag that will make it any clearer? The elders of the group include alto saxophonist Fred Foss, pianist Wade Beach, and bassist Herman Burney. The youngers are tenor saxophonist Elijah Balbed, trumpeter Luke Brandon, and drummer Ele Rubenstein. The only other thing you need to know is what you already know: That it’s at Westminster’s jazz night, meaning it’ll bring a great crowd and a hell of a lot of fun. The Two Generations of the Blues sextet performs at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I streets SW. $5.
Saturday, July 6
Often a staple of the DC Jazz Festival, alto saxophonist Antonio Hart misses the deadline by just a couple weeks here. It wasn’t that long ago when I was complaining that Hart doesn’t have a big enough reputation to cover his abilities. That’s still true, mind you, but the Baltimorean’s influence is rising; he’s recently been kicked upstairs to a full professor of jazz studies at Queens College, CUNY. No small potatoes—-there will now be generations of great saxophonists who will say, “Antonio Hart was my teacher.” But let’s not forget his beautiful sax playing, as hard and flexible as the reed in his horn. His musical mind is the same, constantly taking in new influences and ideas but incorporating them into what is nonetheless a fully formed core style. Consider his deepening inroads into Afro-Cuban rhythms, in the most traditional, unadorned sense. It’s a worthy path for a member of the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, the namesake of the man who saw jazz as a one-world idiom; Hart’s on his way there too. He performs at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $18.
Tuesday, July 8
Jazz drummers are becoming a major export for Washington D.C. Kush Abadey and Lenny Robinson are tearing it up in New York, Nate Jolley flirts with L.A., and Howard alum/Young Lions member Quincy Phillips tours the world with trumpeter Roy Hargrove. So, knowing that we’re providing real goods to the wider music world, let’s take a moment in praise of those musicians who’ve stood their ground in D.C. Musicians like Tony Martucci, a quarter-century veteran of jazz in our fair city. He’s done plenty of session and touring work, mind you, especially with the great Mose Allison, but ultimately Martucci’s spent that time finding and occupying his own important niche in local jazz. He’s a prime exponent of what his fellow D.C. drummer Andrew Hare calls “The Melodic Drummer,” making him a favorite sideman; in this case, though, he leads a quartet of his own. Tony Martucci performs at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave NW. $18.