We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Friday, Nov. 30
What’s now just another Subway franchise at 2517 Pennsylvania Avenue NW used to be something special. One Step Down was the jazz club in D.C. for a long time—-the headquarters for the local scene and a favorite stop for touring musicians until it closed in 2000. (Thanks, real-estate boom!) All these years later, One Step Down is far from forgotten; it lingers in the memories of musicians and audiences alike. Enough so that some of its veteran musicians are gathering at Westminster Presbyterian Church—-in a sense the new One Step Down—-to commemorate it. Trumpeter Thad Wilson, saxophonist Marshall Keys, pianist Bob Butta, bassist Steve Novosel, and drummer Howard Chichester round out the lineup. 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian, 4th and I streets NW. $5.
Saturday, Dec. 1
Considering that Stan Getz‘s Jazz Samba, the breakthrough bossa-nova recording, was made in D.C., there’s an alarming shortage of good bossa nova here. That’s what gives such high value to the quartet Véronneau, the husband-and-wife team of acoustic guitarist Ken Avis and vocalist Lynn Véronneau. They actually bring in quite a bit of exotica, including Gypsy swing and other world-jazz aesthetics (Lynn sings in Spanish and French as well as English and Portuguese); their only real criterion for the music is that it be “song-based.” Nevertheless, bossa remains their specialty, and for good reason: They have a beautiful feel for it, especially in their rhythmic instincts. (Their new album, in fact, is The Jazz Samba Project.) Véronneau performs at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Sunday, Dec. 2
Why, it was just a few weeks ago that Chuchito Valdés was last in town, and we called him “the latest in a long line of great Havana-born pianists.” Now comes the previous link in that chain, Chuchito’s father Chucho Valdés. He has, of course, the same bona fides as his son in the lineage of Cuban jazz, but to a greater magnitude: Chucho is the founder of Irakere, perhaps the most important jazz big band ever to come out of Cuba. But it’s unfair to compare that against his individual accomplishment, which includes 80-plus records under his own name and a lifetime worth of plaudits and influence. He is currently working on an as-yet-untitled album for release next year, and is offering a rare and exciting chance to hear tunes from it in advance. The Chucho Valdés Quintet performs at 7 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle in Manassas. $30-$46.
Wednesday, Dec. 5
Strathmore’s artists in residence for the 2012-13 season includes three young D.C. jazz artists. It also features, as one of its mentors for those artists, drummer Nasar Abadey, a longtime D.C. musician who, on his own, plays spiritual, modal jazz that he calls “Multi-D.” But Abadey is also a top-call freelancer. Both of those sides to his music, an all-around skill set and a distinct vision, make Abadey a wise choice for a mentor. Expect to see that full portrait of him in the concert at which he’ll introduce two of the three artists in residence: vocalist Integriti Reeves and drummer Isabelle De Leon, each of whom will perform one song with Abadey’s SUPERNOVA quartet (featuring Joe Ford on saxophone, Allyn Johnson on piano, and James King on bass). Abadey will also premiere a new composition. 7:30 p.m. at The Mansion at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane in Bethesda. $15.
Photo: Marshelle Hailstock