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If, by chance, you’re not going to the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival this weekend,
well that’s just crazy talk there’s plenty of other great music to keep you on your toes:
Thursday, May 19
Some observers will tell you they can’t understand why the younger generation isn’t chomping at the bit to completely ditch the “straightahead, traditional” sounds they grew up with (and that in many cases their parents grew up with). This writer, however, thinks it’ll be a sad day when upstart young kids lose interest in hard swing rhythms and lyrical, bluesy melodies. That’s why Stan Killian sounds a hopeful note for jazz’s future. The 32-year-old from outside San Antonio is a proud banner-carrier of the “Texas tenor” tradition, although in his case it’s more about the bravura of that tradition and less about the sound itself. Killian is more precisely of the Dexter Gordon sound that carried through in Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter. Killian’s debut album, Unified, is the stuff of the 1960s Blue Note factory: hard bop that’s branching out into bossa nova, the New Thing, and groundbreaking harmonic language. It’s great stuff that brings the past into the present, like any good jazz does, and Killian is celebrating the release with a concert in D.C. that includes Washington expats Benito Gonzalez (piano) and Corcoran Holt (bass). They hit at 8 p.m. at Twins, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Photo: Kat Kojic
Friday, May 20
That’s right. Another spring, another performance by badass bassist Ron Carter and his badass trio. And really, is there much left to say about the world’s greatest living jazz bassist, the single most recorded jazz musician in history, the pulse behind the second great Miles Davis Quintet of the 1960s? Isn’t that all you need to know about him? So here’s a word or two about the ridiculously good musicians that join him in his Golden Striker Trio. For starters—-and with apologies to the much-hyped and -imitated Brad Mehldau—- Mulgrew Miller is the jazz pianist of the past 30 years, and anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. One of the neo-traditionalists who arrived in the ’80s, Miller has roots deep in the feverish swing and pointillist chords of the bebop generation, but he doesn’t stay there; instead, he stretches out as far as the eighty-eights will let him, often into soundscape wonderlands that avant-garde stalwarts only dream of. The great guitarist Russell Malone, on the other hand, is much more firmly anchored to the bebop and soul-jazz world. But you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone working today with a finer mastery of that world; despite Malone’s clear tone (with a thick “wood” sound from his guitar), he has all the stinging hooks and biting chords of the purest blues, and the groove of the most raucous R&B. Put these three together onstage and what have you got? No reason to stay home. Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $40.
Sunday, May 22
If there’s an award for D.C. Jazz Thing of the Year—-and let’s get cracking on that if there isn’t—-then the Sunday Jazz Lounge is an obvious early contender. Hence it’s gotten much virtual ink around these parts. But if you’re just tuning in, the weekly performance is headlined by the Joe Herrera/Rodney Richardson Quartet, in which Herrera’s warm but steel-toned trumpet and Richardson’s spicy, chiming guitar are backed by the thumping midtone of bassist Erick Harper and the crushingest (a description of his sound as much as it is a superlative) drummer in town, Dave McDonald. The group plays a unique and thrillingly contemporary postbop jazz, originals as well as songs you may not have heard by composers you certainly have heard. They also bring in a soloist every week to open things up; this time it’s tenor saxophonist Matt Rippetoe, a D.C.er-gone-New-York who might have inherited the late Johnny Griffin’s mantle as fastest saxophonist on Earth—-and has an exciting ability to hide well constructed but challenging melodies within those runs. The Sunday Jazz Lounge begins at 8:30 p.m. at Bloombars, 3222 11th St. NW. $10 (requested donation.)
Photo: Allie Carroll.