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The doldrums are upon us, ladies and gentlemen. Congress and the Supreme Court are in recess, and the many, many people who make a living off those institutions in some form or another have little reason to hang out. Jazz has a slowdown, too—-but not a death. It’s a great time to check out some of our best local talent, who continue to play regular gigs and sometimes special events.
Saturday, Aug. 16
Miles Davis‘ trumpet, it’s often said, sounded like “a dry martini.” If that’s the case, then DeAndrey Howard‘s sounds like a dirty martini. It’s got the hesitant lyricism, the dark tone, and the airy, slightly haunted edge of Miles. But Howard’s a bit more of a gymnast: There are pops, tumbles, and cartwheels sprinkled into his horn’s stately demeanor, and just the vaguest hint of a growl lurking underneath. The sophistication of a martini, in other words, but with a little bit more of a party to it. Howard, a longtime D.C. jazz player, was the once and future jewel of the bandstand at U-Topia restaurant—-he packed the place twice a week, not just with appreciative patrons but with musicians hoping to sit in. For the moment, he plays the same role at Zula, a little Ethiopian restaurant right off U Street NW. 11 p.m. at 1933 9th St. NW. Free.
Friday, Aug. 17
This year’s Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition will focus on the drums. That iteration has a nice association in these parts, too, since one of our own is a past winner of the drum competition. Harold Summey Jr., who grew up in Newport News, Va., came to D.C. in the ’80s to attend Howard University and ended up working in two of our city’s fine military bands: the U.S. Navy Band, and the Air Force’s Airmen of Note (with whom he still plays). Then in ’92 came the Monk, and Summey’s bona fides became unquestionable. Not that they were ever questioned: Summey is a brilliantly swinging drummer with a precise, crisp attack, and a gift for ingenious fills. And like any great musician, he plays with the best of his peers, challenging himself with the side-by-side work of saxophonist Charlie Young, pianist Allyn Johnson, and bassist James King. The Summey Summit takes place at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. at Twins, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Monday, Aug. 20
There are lots of great regular gigs in D.C., but none so reliably great as the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. It’s probably why they pack the house every week. What’s not to see and re-see in a fantastic cross-section of District talent? It’s led by two of our finest young horn players, baritone saxophonist Brad Linde and trumpeter Joe Herrera, but stacked with great musicians of all stripes and generations, many of whom bring in arrangements for the band and most of whom get their own features on the bandstand. A good big band, though, is always more than the sum of its parts. In the case of the BCJO, what you get is a deep, rich vein of the greatest parts of the jazz repertoire, complete with colorful arrangements and textures…and more than a few surprises in the set. The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $10.