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Setlist is in a quandary this week, D.C. You see, an emerging saxophone talent by the name of Benny Sharoni is performing Tuesday night (Nov. 2) with his quartet at Blues Alley, 8 and 10 p.m. He plays lilting mainstream jazz with a big, full, open sax tone that deserves your ears. But on the other hand, we’re talking about Election Night. In Washington, D.C. Is anyone in this town going out to the jazz clubs that night? No. They’re at their boss’ campaign headquarters in the home district, or at parties on K Street, watching the returns come in. (And, if you’re a Democrat, drowning your sorrows and updating your resume.) However, if you are one of the five people in this town who claims to be “nonpolitical,” consider this the official endorsement of Sharoni. Go see him.
Thursday, Oct. 28 Kenny Garrett has come a long way, baby. Over 30 years ago the alto saxophonist appeared on the national scene, having worked with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (post-Duke incarnation), Mel Lewis, and Art Blakey by the time he went out on his own in 1984—and then joined Miles Davis‘ band in 1986, where he really made his name. Now, in 2010, Garrett is established as an omnivore of jazz, happily devouring bop, modal, fusion, and free jazz (sometimes all in one tune). Still, he takes the time to look back, as on his most recent recording, Sketches of MD, a reflection on Miles Davis and Garrett’s time with him. Davis’ instincts for hiring future stars was unerring in Garrett, now a major figure himself; see him perform not for the Davis connection, but for the Garrett one. Garrett performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $30. Friday, October 29 At 82, pianist Freddie Redd is beginning to receive the veneration that comes with venerability. Certainly he’s getting it from a group of musicians here in town; Redd has always been a musician’s musician, but there’s a particularly strong devotion from saxophonist Brad Linde and drummer Tony Martucci, who have played with him on a number of occasions and expressed tremendous honor in doing so. Redd, who left the recording side of the industry 20 years ago, had already made his mark on records by hard bop legends Lou Donaldson, Art Blakey, and Tina Brooks, in addition to work on his own—most prominently, his brilliant soundtrack to the 1961 film The Connection. In other words, jazz fans may not know who he is, but the musicians do— and that’s important. The brilliant local tenor player Brian Settles will join Redd, Linde and Martucci (with bassist TBA) at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Wednesday, November 3 There’s another cabal of local musicians to watch. They’re the ones busily devoting themselves to writing and performing their own original material. There’s not a specific sound to what they’re writing, mind you—each is doing his own thing—but their common goal—creating great new work—and a sense of community binds them together both as composers and players, each helping to showcase each other’s compositions on the bandstand. To wit, on Wednesday nights at U-Topia you’ll find four of those composers, led by saxophonist Bobby Muncy, making their original music together. Muncy will be joined by pianist Gene D’Andrea, bassist Kevin Pace, and drummer Andrew Hare for a night of exciting stuff you’ve never heard before. Don’t miss it. The Bobby Muncy Quartet performs from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at U-Topia, 1418 U St. NW. Free.