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Friday, Oct. 22 Hard bop drumming was ultimately shaped by three players: Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, and Louis Hayes. Hayes, the last survivor of the triumvirate, is also the least known – perhaps because he tends to worry about supporting his bands instead of taking big solos. But believe it or not, that’s what makes Hayes one of the greats: Imagine what the skill it takes just to keep up with Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, or Oscar Peterson! Then, once you’ve got that concept in mind, superimpose it onto a band that Hayes leads. His drums are a bit more prominent at the head of his Jazz Communicators (a revival of the name he used for his all-stars 1970s combo), adding force to an already-potent brew of straightahead jazz with the hot sounds of saxophonist Abraham Burton and bassist Santi Debriano. Oh, and the pianist sitting in with them happens to be Larry Willis, one of the great stylistic chameleons. They do it at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $30.
Saturday, Oct. 23 Among the most fun formats for a jazz concert is the “dueling pianos” setup: two keyboardists facing each other as they run through the tunes together — sometimes in tandem, sometimes in competition. It’s always a treat to see, especially when you’ve got two players of formidable talent: each makes the other better. But sometimes you got something truly special…as when the brilliant jazz pianist Geri Allen and R&B singer/pianist Patrice Rushen square off on two Steinway grands. Both players have tremendous grace and power, if very different styles —- call Rushen “straight,” and Allen “angular” —- that will be an interesting program of musical tension. Ah, but then there’s the wild card: drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, who accompanies the pianists. Carrington isn’t a wild player by any means, but she’s equally conversant in both Allen’s off-kilter jazz and Rushen’s solid soul, among other things. She will undoubtedly be the personality of the music, but there’s no telling which way it’ll go. Allen, Rushen, and Carrington perform at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW. $30. (Geri Allen photo: Shona Valeska)
Sunday, Oct. 24 He’s an unapologetic subversive, both at the piano and in the press, which is why Matthew Shipp has so often been grouped with pianistic revolutionaries Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor—an accurate, if somewhat narrow, comparison. Truthfully, Shipp’s playing encompasses the history of jazz piano. Hidden in his labyrinthine performances are tendrils of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, and other innovators of the eighty-eights. Even a passing listen will tell you that he’s smart; close attention reveals that he’s exponentially smarter. (So do his outspoken and sometimes outrageous statements to reporters—-which, whether you agree with them or not, get him a hell of a lot of promotion—-but that’s neither here nor there.)
Wednesday, Oct. 27 There’s no shortage of musicians from all over the world who are looking to weave their own traditional musics into jazz. You’ve probably heard many of them, and maybe even some who have done so with Chinese music. But you’ve probably not heard any like Le Zhang. The young Shanghai native fuses not only Chinese folk songs but Beijing opera with thoroughly postmodern jazz, some of it tranquil and lyrical, some slow-rolling and heavy as a moving barge, and some with the punkish edge of a John Zorn. She also crafts her own tunes, clever jazz composition set against lyrics inspired by Chinese and Buddhist verse. It’s beautiful, mesmerizing, and completely original —- a thrilling combination. Le Zhang performs at 8 and 10 PM at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.