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Thursday, May 17
Perhaps the best quote ever given on the “recipe” for jazz came from legendary saxophonist Dexter Gordon. “Jazz is an octopus,” he said. “It takes what it can use.” That’s the attitude that you hear in the music going all the way back to the New Orleans “second line” that forms jazz’s foundation: Among others, ragtime, marches, and Latin flavors all went into the magic those musicians were working. These days, Yamomanem, led by tubaist Monty Montgomery, plays that same second line music but takes what they can use: electric guitars, funky beats, modern Latin and Caribbean grooves, and even a little bit of the swing rhythms that supplanted early jazz’s two-steps and cakewalks. Montgomery calls it, quite presciently, ” the second line beats of the street.” That’ll do, jazz octopus. That’ll do. Yamomanem performs at 10 p.m. at Haydee’s Restaurant, 3102 Mt. Pleasant Street NW. Free with one-drink minimum.
Friday, May 18
Some time ago, another local jazz type and I were discussing our favorite drummers. He said Lewis Nash, I said Jeff Watts, and we debated a bit. But I stopped the conversation short to note, “We should really qualify this whole thing and say “our favorite drummers aside from Roy.” He agreed. How could he not? Roy Haynes, 87 years old, is a man of the bebop era—-the last remaining survivor of the various Charlie Parker Quintets, in fact—-who helped to revolutionize how the kit was heard in jazz music. He quickly joined the small cluster of musicians who always sound contemporary, no matter what style he plays in. (It helps that he was sometimes ultra-modern, becoming an irreplaceable member of the “New Thing” movement of the ’60s.) Today, just to drive that point home, he works with a much younger ensemble (saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, pianist Martin Bejerano, and bassist David Wong) in the “Fountain of Youth” band. It’s not as easy to tell who brings the “youth” as you might think. They perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $40.
Sunday, May 20 Saturday, May 19
You have to see avant-garde soloist Travis LaPlante play to truly appreciate him. Not to take away from his album, Heart Protector, which is as mind-spinning as it is intense—-but to hear it, you might not always believe that he’s playing a tenor saxophone. It can sound like electronic effects, like alien instruments, like running your finger on the edge of a glass, and sometimes like heavy machinery, close-miked. And yet it’s prone to sudden bursts of slow, gorgeous melody that build and build into magnificence that then itself builds back into the strangeness in which it began. When you watch him, however, you see the way he moves with his instrument: he shakes his head side-to-side, bucks up and down with the varying rhythms of his metallic drones, and sways the sax back and forth and in curlicues as though chasing a fly. The music is slow, slower than a crawl at times, but intensely emotional, and profoundly affecting. Travis LaPlante plays solo saxophone, with sets by Peter Evans, OO Duo, and the Morris, Sebastian & Zook Ensemble, at 7 p.m. at Back Alley Theatre, Colorado Avenue and Kennedy streets NW. $10