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Kids, you thought last week’s Setlist was stacked with great D.C. jazz musicians? Not even. Check this out.
Friday, Jan. 11
Antonio Parker sounds like he’s playing the blues at every turn, be it a standard or his own melodic, hard-swinging tunes. That’s only to speak of the rawness and vocal quality that he brings to the alto saxophone, however; Parker may be the most joyful musician to grace D.C. bandstands, pure ebullience escaping his horn. He’s one of the best we have in the District (he’s actually a Philadelphia native, but has been swinging in D.C. for going on two decades now). Don’t believe me? Check out Steppin’ Out: Live at HR-57, his 2012 double-disc release that tied for last year’s best D.C. jazz recording. Better yet, go see him live at HR-57, and pick up the disc while you’re there. Antonio Parker performs with his quartet at 9 p.m. at HR-57, 1007 H St. NE. $15.
Sunday, Jan. 13
It’s a New Year, sure, but it’s also a new month, and we all know what that means: a new CapitalBop Jazz Loft. The city’s premiere jazz advocates are always looking for a new showcase, and this one is a doozy, with three horn players in the spotlight. First is the new-in-town but already scintillating clarinetist Dr. Joseph Howell (read more about him below). Second on the bill is John Williams, now going by J.S., a New York native with a bright, warm trumpet sound and feverish bebop chops that also delve deeply into rock and funk stylistics. Then in the top slot is the mighty tenor saxophone swagger of Tedd Baker, the first-chair saxman for the Airmen of Note and a bottomless well of musical energy—-he can probably cut any saxophonist in town, and hold his own with any saxophonist, period. The Jazz Loft takes place at 7 p.m. at Chez Billy, 3815 Georgia Ave. NW. $15 (suggested donation).
Tuesday, Jan. 15
It may not have been prudent, just a couple weeks after Newtown, to give Lenny Robinson the nickname “Machine Gun Lenny.” But it was accurate. Try this: arrive early to a jazz gig, any jazz gig, on which Robinson is the drummer. Catch him tuning and warming up. You’ll be treated to an abstract but thrilling set of high-speed, impossibly technically precise rat-a-tats, rolls, and flourishes. And remember, that’s just the warm-up. Better still to hear them in the context of a tune, where Robinson employs that technique in fills, as supporting work for soloists, and in his own dazzling solos. Hence, Setlist is sticking with “Machine Gun Lenny,” whether it catches on or not. Robinson continues his monthlong residency at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15.
Wednesday, Jan. 16
Clarinetist Dr. Joseph Howell, another musician serving out a residency in Washington this month, is quite intriguing. The “Dr.” in his name refers to his Doctorate of Musical Arts from New England Conservatory—-one of the most prestigious jazz academies in the nation, and possibly the single most open-minded and eclectic. As such Howell is schooled in multiple musical disciplines; he also performs multiple instruments, including sax, flute, drums, even viola. His main instrumental focus, however, is clarinet, and his main musical focus is classically infused jazz—-the latter encompassing Dixieland, swing, modern, and even a smattering of the avant-garde. His monthlong residency at Twins serves as something of an introduction to the scene for Howell: He has recently relocated to the D.C. area, and is ready to show us all what he’s got with the help of an exceptional area quintet (tenor saxophonist
Tedd Baker Elijah Balbed, pianist Todd Simon Mark Meadows, bassist Blake Meister Joe Bussey, drummer Ele Rubenstein). Dr. Joseph Howell performs at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.