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It hardly needs saying that Washington’s jazz community is still mourning the loss last weekend of Jimmy “Junebug” Jackson. The much-loved drummer, singer, raconteur, and goofball is being mourned and celebrated all over town, but in particular at the HR-57 jam sessions he so often led. Last night’s and tonight’s jams are both being dedicated to his memory, with more tributes certainly coming soon. This, as it should be, is the primary jazz action in the District for the moment.
And yet, the music goes on, as it must. If there’s one life lesson ‘Bug taught with every day of his life, it was to live, love, and embrace the music fully. So, kids, let’s do it.
Thursday, February 2 Cricket Fusion was born about four years ago from a taste for music with two things: spontaneous group improvisation and groove. It was for that artistic ideal that trumpeter Joe Brotherton organized what was then a trio, as conversant in funk, fusion, and hip-hop as in jazz. One that could, with equal ease, play standards, write originals, or take off on in-the-moment, free-form runs. Before long, the Cricket Fusion Trio had grown into the Cricket Fusion Quartet, and today is simply Cricket Fusion. Even their written music is essentially a launchpad into free-form directions, with an incredibly tight rhythmic core and unceasingly original ideas coming out from all sides. Need one word? Try “fiery.” Cricket Fusion’s current incarnation includes Brotherton, tenor saxophonist Elijah Balbed, alto saxophonist Herbert Scott, bassist Blake Meister, and drummer Terence Arnett. They perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Photo: Carlyle V. Smith
Friday, February 3 Here’s a question you don’t hear often. What do you get when you cross Banghra (the dance-pop music of Punjabi culture), brass-band music, and jazz? There’s really only one answer to this one: You get Red Baraat. The brainchild of drummer/percussionist Sunny Jain, Red Baraat calls itself “dhol ‘n’ brass” — the dhol being the two-headed Indian drum that Jain plays, while six of his bandmates—-Mike Bomwell, Alex Hamlin, Sonny Singh, MiWi La Lupa, Ernest Stuart, and John Altieri—-brandish some sort of brass instrument or another. (There are two other members, drummer Tomas Fujiwara and percussionist Rohin Khemani.) If nothing else, the sound is fiercely original. You’ll likely hear some cousin of D.C.’s own go-go rhythm (and occasionally the sound of go-go outright) in their lively, hard-hitting party music; you certainly will hear dance rhythms that won’t let you escape. Red Baraat performs at 7 p.m. at U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. $15.
Saturday, February 4 Was a time, long about 1950 or so, when Charlie Parker was the king of the alto saxophone. But he had a pretty strong rival for that title, and that was Lee Konitz. Konitz, just like everybody else of his generation, studied Parker carefully, soaking up his concepts and innovations; what Konitz did, though, that very few people of the time could, was use those elements to fashion a sound that was his and his alone—-among the first to follow Mingus’ constant exortation, “Stop copying Bird.” Among Konitz’s greatest admirers? Charlie Parker, who loved hearing something original on the horn he’d revolutionized. Sixty years later, Konitz is still one of the most distinctive of the alto’s practitioners, and, unquestionably, the greatest living one. And as it turns out, one of his proteges is one of our fair city’s most visible jazz musician: saxophonist Brad Linde. The two will perform together, along with another frequent collaborator, up-and-coming pianist Dan Tepfer, and one of the great one-two punches of D.C. rhythm, bassist Tom Baldwin and drummer Tony Martucci. It goes down at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $25.