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Hey, wanna forget about the election? Here’s some jazz.
Friday, Nov. 9
Setlist doesn’t give nearly the hosannas that it should to Latin jazz. It’s not the hugest of musical trends on our scene, mind you, but it’s a healthy, exciting form overall, and when its practitioners come to down we should pay more attention. Particularly when it’s a regular visitor to D.C., such as Chuchito Valdés. The pianist is the latest in a long line of great Havana-born pianists, his father being Chucho and his grandfather Bebo Valdés (the granddaddy, metaphorically speaking, of all Cuban jazz piano). Chuchito learned their lessons well and truly, wrapping up a few hundred years of Cuban musical tradition into one gleaming, intoxicatingly rhythmic package. It’s always a joy to have him back in town. Chuchito Valdes performs at 9 p.m. at HR-57, 1007 H St. NE. $25.
Saturday, Nov. 10
Chick Corea is a piano player and composer known for his musical organization and endless fascination with textures. Gary Burton is one of the vibraphone’s greatest innovators, and a lover of sumptuous melody. Who knew they were looking for each other? The collaboration between these two greats stretches back 40 years, and has continued, unabated, ever since. What’s astonishing, though, is that after all that time improvising together, they seem incapable of running out of ideas or energy. (Their release from this September, Hot House, was on this author’s shortlist for the best albums of 2012.) These two are among the best in the business—-Corea is an NEA jazz master, and Burton will be one any day now—-and together they’re something else again. Chick Corea and Gary Burton perform at 8 p.m. at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. $67.50.
Sunday, Nov. 11
William Parker has been perhaps the bassist in New York’s free-jazz underground since the ’70s, and has done damn near everything one can do in that context (and quite a bit outside of it). One doesn’t often associate him with film-score work, however. Well, one should. About five years ago, Parker wrote and began performing The Alphaville Suite, a new, original score for the 1965 sci-fi noir film Alphaville, by the legendary director Jean Luc Godard. It was a daunting task for Parker: He was filling in for the film’s original composer, icon Paul Misraki, and injecting a bleak dystopian film with work on which Parker wanted to “…swing from the stars and write poems from the sky.” Still, it’s been acclaimed as a great success, and has been performed and recorded—-but never played on a U.S. bandstand. That changes on Sunday. The William Parker Double Quartet performs at 8 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $25 (students $15).
Photo: Frank Schindelbeck
Tuesday, Nov. 13
“I don’t like repeating myself,” says trumpeter Dave Douglas on his own musical eclecticism, “and I don’t like repeating anybody else.” Even so—-and even with his lengthy history of playing Balkan music, electronica, brass bands, and string bands, among others—-few could have predicted Douglas’ latest move. His new CD release, Be Still, is a collection of traditional Protestant hymns, the core of which were the tunes his mother requested he play at her memorial service last year. It’s a striking, beautiful set of music that shows a deep affection for and influence by the American gospel tradition and even some Appalachian heritage. He even enlists a folksinger, Aoife O’Donovan, to sing several of the tunes. Jazz elements are never far from the mix, however, with the strong band Douglas fronts: saxophonist Jon Irabagon, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda Oh, and drummer Rudy Royston. (The last, especially is one of the powerhouses of his generation.) It’s an unusual world for Douglas to enter, but one that’s full of grace. The Dave Douglas Quintet with Aoife O’Donovan performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW.