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Thursday, April 19
In 2000, the pianist Brad Mehldau recorded a jazz meditation of Radiohead‘s anthemic “Paranoid Android” and opened up the floodgates to jazz interpretations of Radiohead. A dozen years later, that trend isn’t going anywhere: It’s permeated the international jazz scene, trickled down into educational curricula, and become an important project of D.C. saxophonist and bandleader Bobby Muncy. A creative dynamo who’s also one third of the D.C. Jazz Composer’s Collective, Muncy has for a while been exploring the possibilities of the British band’s catalogue, enlisting an astonishing cohort of like-minded adventurers: Joe Herrera (trumpet), Anthony Pirog (guitar), Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis (piano), Mark Foster (bass), and Andrew Hare (drums). It’s called, fittingly, the Radiohead Jazz Project—-and Muncy is kicking their bookings up a notch. No time like the present to see what they’re doing, though. The Radiohead Jazz Project performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.
Friday, April 20
Long before the festival circuit that the business end of jazz has rebuilt itself around, there was the Newport Jazz Festival—-the first annual American jazz festival, which began in 1954 and was a major pilgrimage event for jazz fans. There were no shortage of monumental moments there in the early years; Duke Ellington‘s 1956 performance, for one, will live on as long as people are listening to recorded music. But the 1958 festival was something else again. The all-star game of all-star games, it featured timeless titans like Louis Armstrong, Willie “The Lion” Smith, and Lester Young; then-current stars like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, and Horace Silver, and even some tangential musicians who were taking innovative, un-jazzy directions, like Chuck Berry and Ray Charles. The brilliant affair was captured on film: What rock fans got with the 1970 Woodstock documentary, jazz fans got ten years earlier with Jazz on a Summer’s Day. It remains one of the most arresting visual documents of jazz ever created, chock full of fascinating and wonderful performances (the set by singer Anita O’Day, once seen, is never to be forgotten). In this instance, there’ll be a fine scholar on hand—-the Library of Congress’ Larry Appelbaum—-to talk about it afterwards. The film shows at 7 p.m. at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Free.
Sunday, April 22
The people in violinist Jason Kao Hwang‘s EDGE quartet are awfully noisy. Taylor Ho Bynum fires off pugilistic squeals on his cornet. Bassist Ken Filiano buzzes the bow across his strings like bees out of a kicked hive. Andrew Drury shifts back and forth across the trap kit with echoey thuds, sniper shots, and abrupt cymbal crashes. As for Hwang, he has an unusual ability to always keep his playing melodic—-even if it can sometimes sound like a warped record, or a shaky young student violinist. But Hwang knows exactly what he’s doing, and so do the rest of them. Beneath their cacaophony and catch-as-catch-can harmonies is a band who knows as much about syncopation and interplay as any working ensemble today, and despite its avant-garde veneer (as well as those of western and Chinese classical music) is solidly rooted in jazz tradition. Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge performs at 7 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15.
Photo: Krzysztof Penarski