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Jazz in Washington just won’t be the same without Rodney Richardson. D.C. born and bred, he has been the scene’s first-call guitarist for, well, all of recent memory. That will come as no surprise, considering the frequency and variety of settings in which he’s appeared on District bandstands. And his sound! It’s a woody, smoky marvel—-clear but darkly undertoned, with an attack that floats between crystalline precision and foggy slurs, lending his phrases a certain mystery. But then those phrases provide their own mystery, wending their way around the written tunes before exploding in a shower of melody and mood.
But at 32, Richardson’s lifelong tenure in the District is coming to an end. He and his newlywed wife Leah (another jazzhead-about-town, in that she worked at Blues Alley) are headed off to Chicago. Nobody can begrudge the guitarist an opportunity to join one of the richest, most exciting jazz scenes in the world…but we can mourn the loss.
And before we do that, we can see him off in style. Tonight at the Atlas, Richardson gives his farewell address, a concert featuring his much-loved and -gigged organ trio (Todd Simon on keys, Larry Ferguson on drums) along his recent collaborator, the magnificent vocalist Lena Seikaly. They hit together at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE. $25.