Let’s go out on a limb and say that Victor Provost is one of the best things about the D.C. jazz scene. Not that there are a lot of direct comparisons to make: How many jazz steelpan players are there anywhere, let alone in the District (where there’s only one)? Without doubt, however, Provost will impress you with his ferocious bebop chops and speed, both accented with the spices of the Caribbean.
If you hadn’t guessed by his instrument of choice, Provost is a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and brings the rhythms of his homeland to his music. What mostly comes through, though, is Provost’s knockout conception of melody, with incredibly rich phrases unfurling from every new moment of his improvisations. It’s made Provost an in-demand player outside of D.C., too: he’s a frequent performer at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy (one of the foremost festivals in the world), and a regular at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. In other words, he’s a musician who belongs at the DC Jazz Festival, and lots of others too.
Provost plays with his Synthesis Quartet (pianist Noble Jolley, bassist Herman Burney, and drummer Amin Gumbs) tonight at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free.