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Thursday, July 28 The more you listen to Terence Blanchard, the better he gets. The trumpeter/composer from New Orleans contains multitudes: shining bop phrases, burning progressivism, convulsive soul, smoky romance. It’s tailor-made for Blanchard’s runaway career as a film composer, one of the busiest and most prominent of the current era. (Seriously—-check out his IMDb page.) Less remarked upon, but just as important, is Blanchard’s history of mentoring and cultivating brilliant younger musicians who launch formidable artistic careers of their own. Part of this is Blanchard’s directorship of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, of course, but that shouldn’t leave out his work as a bandleader: Over the years, he’s shaped the work of Antonio Hart, Edward Simon, Bruce Barth, Eric Harland, Robert Glasper, Aaron Parks, Lionel Loueke, and Derrick Hodge. He’s leading another quintet of future stars these days—-but you’ll have to go to the show to find out their names. Blanchard and his quintet perform at 8 and 10 p.n. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $37.75
(Photo: Jenny Bagert.)
Saturday, July 30 Setlist has devoted virtual column inches to just about every regularly appearing jazz act in the District of Columbia—-except, to this point, one. One night a month, usually the last Saturday, pianist Bill Washburn brings out his straightahead hard bop combo, Rhythminic Accents, to perform at HR-57 (where Washburn serves as co-director). The core of the band includes Washburn, bassist Ismail James West, and drummer Joe Henderson (no, not that Joe Henderson). But they also tend to bring in guest horn players; saxophonists Brian Horton and Antonio Parker are frequent sitters-in. In many ways, Rhythminic Accents present hard bop at its most classic and essential, the music most people instantly think of at the drop of the word “jazz.” But look for flashes of difference; Washburn has a tendency to tweak his piano chords into odd harmonic territory, and the whole band exudes a love for the “funky” soul-jazz style of the mid- and late ’60s. Killer stuff. Rhythminic Accents perform at 9 p.m. at HR-57, 816 H St. NE. $15.
(Photo: Flickr user Monfresh)
Wednesday, August 3 In a faraway land called Chicago, where post-rock and avant-garde jazz both find one of their richest bounties, there’s a man named Ken Vandermark with legions in both camps. Vandermark himself (who plays various saxophones and clarinets) plays mainly avant jazz, with the streaks of other genres that distinguishes Chicago jazz; but in the process he became the preferred jazzman of the Thrill Jockey Records crowd, and has appeared with those musicians as well as with the major free-jazz figures of Chicago, New York, and Europe. It’s safe to say that Vandermark likes to experiment with various sounds and ensembles. One of those, it turns out, is a duo configuration with drummer and percussionist Tim Daisy, also from Chicago. Onstage together, their sound is surprising: surprisingly large, for one, surprisingly swinging for another. And isn’t surprise exactly what makes improvised music worthwhile? Vandermark and Daisy perform at 8 and 10 p.m.at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.