It’s the last weekend of August, that difficult month when Congress is in recess and the jazz scene is correspondingly scaled back to essential personnel. In September, though, it all comes roaring back, and this September in particular will be fierce. With that in mind, the Gods of August and/or jazz seem to have put together a splendid double dose of jazz for that last weekend, as if to ramp up to the fall season.
Friday, August 26 There are two things I don’t get enough opportunities to discuss in Jazz Setlist: Columbia Heights and jazz funk. Actually, in this case, while the Columbia Heights part is beyond question, it might be too limiting to use the term “jazz funk” for what Herb Spice and Cinnamonstix do. But then “soul-gogo-hiphop-urban-jazz-funk” is a bit unwieldy. Spice (surname Scott), an alto saxophonist, is young but nonetheless conscious of jazz’s roots as sexy, party-time music, and he doesn’t see why it can’t be that again. His Cinnamonstix ensemble re-establishes jazz’s compatibility with more contemporary and popular forms of music for fun and dancing. He’s not alone, as a generation of musicians raised on funk and hip-hop are taking the field, but he is unique in the peculiarly thrilling way he presents it. Better yet, his performance this weekend is augmented in the way the gods intended: with barbecue and beer. And it’s all thanks to the ever-more-resourceful gang at Capital Bop, fast becoming the kings of local jazz presentation. Herb Spice and Cinnamonstix performs at 8 p.m. at Acre 121, 1400 Irving St. NW (the former Commonwealth Gastropub). Free.
I first heard Duane Eubanks on the Jason Lindner Big Band‘s album Live at Jazz Gallery, my pick for the best album of 2007. On that album’s astonishing piece “Suheir,” trumpeter Eubanks and saxophonist Jay Collins trade fours in a jaw-dropping improvisational duel. The ear is immediately drawn to Eubanks, whose horn has a ragged, just-outside-the-lines blare that reels you in as effortlessly and powerfully as an expert angler brings in a minnow. Eubanks, the younger brother of trombonist Robin and guitarist/former Tonight Show bandleader Kevin, is blessed with a sweet, clear tone and chops that would do Freddie Hubbard proud, which he shows when he’s in the lead of his own ensembles; that special blare in his trumpet, though, he carries with him in every gig, every context, every phrase major or minor. It’s a distinctive signature that leaves no doubt that Eubanks, at the tender age of 29, is on his way to a singular career as a great jazz trumpeter. The Duane Eubanks Quintet performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $20.