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One of the saddest things about the death of legendary pianist Dave Brubeck at 91 is the timing: He died yesterday and today he would have turned 92. This edition of Setlist is dedicated to him; if it seems unrelated to D.C. jazz, rest assured that he’s on the minds of an awful lot of local musicians today.
Friday, Dec. 7 Setlist can’t say much more about Christie Dashiell than has already been said over the past year or so. The young Howard graduate is a North Carolina native and one of a family of musical siblings that have done wonderful jazz things ’round these parts. She was already a well-known commodity in the clubs before she appeared on NBC’s The Sing Off last fall as part of Howard a capella group Afro-Blue. You’ll know all of this if you’ve spent any time reading this column, and perhaps you also know how respected she is among her fellow musicians in town. Maybe there’s no better word on the matter than one of Dashiell’s former teachers: “She kicked my butt,” Jessica Boykin-Settles, a singer and former instructor at Howard, told me. “She’s got so much talent it was hard to keep up.” Thanks to the good folks at the Kennedy Center and their Discovery Artist program, you can hear for yourself. Christie Dashiell performs at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s KC Jazz Club, 2700 F St. NW. $16.
Saturday, Dec. 8 Tim Warfield is a sharp dude, a jazz musician from the “never go onstage looking anything less than your best” school. Fortunately for all of us, the Central Pennsylvania native’s saxophone playing is just as sharp as his expensive suits. Best of all, he’s got a head full of melodic ideas, which spill forth from the horn at such a clip you can’t help but wonder where they all came from. For years, Warfield has played an annual Christmas concert at Bohemian Caverns with several special guests and regularly hints at dropping a recording of all these holiday favorites. Well, this year, the concert is back and the album is finally here—-Tim Warfield’s Jazzy Christmas, featuring a few of those former guests (pianist Cyrus Chestnut, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, and singer Joanna Pascale). 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $20.
Sunday, Dec. 9 There’s a reason that the brothers Marsalis don’t recognize postmodern, “outside” music as jazz. In their hometown of New Orleans, modern (i.e., bop-based) jazz is the outside. Yes, it thrives, but in the city where Preservation Hall and the second line still rule the roost, bop is a counterculture movement. And in New Orleans, the figurehead for that movement is Ellis Marsalis, the piano-playing patriarch of jazz’s most famous family. Marsalis is a master—-literally, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master—-as thoroughly in command of his old eighty-eight as a general of his army. But his mastery extends beyond the keyboard and into the fundamentals of the music; he’s been a teacher and mentor to players of all instruments from horns to vocals. He also leads a quartet with saxophonist Derek Douget, bassist Jason Stewart, and youngest son Jason on the drums. The man possesses as extensive a knowledge of and feel for jazz as anyone alive; no wonder his kids see no reason to transcend that. Ellis Marsalis performs at 7:30 p.m. at The Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $26-$30.
Wednesday, Dec. 12 If you watch Hollywood movies of all stripes, you’ll notice they use a cartoonish set of sound effects for, say, bullets firing and/or ricocheting. I’m talking about a string of plinks, boings and bangs, clinks and clanks, even rubbery squeals that can sound over-the-top and even absurd. These same effects sound completely different when it comes from the electric guitar strings of Mary Halvorson. Halvorson is a protege of Anthony Braxton who burst onto the scene as probably the most original guitarist of her generation. Her single-note lines are barbed, tangled, and wild, elastic in their shifts from oddly placed melody to surreal noise effects. There’s nothing like it on Earth—-even in Hollywood. The Mary Halvorson Quintet performs at 8 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $25.