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For proof that the DC Jazz Festival is rapidly and thoroughly diversifying, look no further than the presence of guitarist Kenny Wessel on the bill. How many past renditions of the festival have included a onetime member of Ornette Coleman‘s revolutionary Prime Time ensemble?
But then, the fest has always been interested in a one-world approach to jazz. Prime Time has that in spades, if in a bit more radical a form than we’re used to; Wessel has it too, in a bit more approachable a context. His new album Weights and Measures places his crisp, dark sound in a variety of contexts, some murkier than others, but always with a grasp of meaty hooks and smart, glorious charts for his band. In all cases, though, Wessel lets his formidable flair for world, and particularly Indian, musical elements shine through, particularly in the raga-like movements and chanting rhythmic bases. And there’s a connection to the D.C. jazz tradition as well, with a native bassist, Curtis Ostle, working in Wessel’s versatile quartet along side alto/baritone saxophonist Lisa Parrott and drummer Russ Meissner. That kind of mixture is really what the DCJF is all about.
The Kenny Wessel Quartet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $18.
One of the great all-star sessions in jazz history took place in September 1962. Bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach joined pianist/composer/deity Duke Ellington in the studio for a supergroup recording of Ellington compositions old (“Caravan,” “Solitude”) and and new (“Fleurette Africain,” “Money Jungle”). The astonishing record, which found then-63-year-old Ellington dabbling in the possibilities of the nascent avant-garde, was released to universal acclaim in February 1963 as Money Jungle.
Fast forward 50 years, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington has assembled yet another all-star trio (with Gerald Clayton on piano and Christian McBride on bass) to re-examine and reinterpret the material from the Money Jungle session. The tribute, titled Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue, was released in February and like its predecessor has garnered heaps of praise, showing that Ellington’s work remains vital a half-century later and that Carrington has eyes on the music’s past, present, and future. She is a more than worthy addition, then, to a festival whose life began as a direct tribute to Duke Ellington.
Terri Lyne Carrington performs at 8:30 p.m. at The Hamilton, 14th and F Sts. NW. $25-$35.
Photo: Tracy Love