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Friday, Sept. 3 Kenny Rittenhouse‘s trumpet sound is a thing to behold. He’s got the hurt romance, the vulnerability, of Miles Davis‘ tone, but he spins them into the long virtuoso phrases of a Freddie Hubbard. Those are two very different stylists whose common ground can be summed up as “Kenny Rittenhouse”; however, even if you don’t know Davis and Hubbard (and you should), this should tell you everything you need to know—-namely, that Rittenhouse has a gorgeous and smart trumpet style. That’s what it takes to become a featured player with Army Blues, the jazz ensemble of the celebrated U.S. Army Band. He’s also an outstanding composer, as evidenced on his fascinating 2007 CD The Francis Suite (Kaela), and when not working with the Army Band Rittenhouse generally leads his quartet in the D.C. clubs. This time, though, he’s got a full-blown sextet: trombonist Reginald Cyntje, saxophonist Lyle Link, pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Zach Pride, and drummer Jay Jefferson. The performance is this week’s edition of Jazz Night in Southwest, at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I streets SW. $5.
Saturday, Sept. 4 Googling her name brings you maps of East Africa and stupid questions about the president’s birth certificate. But the second entry, which believe it or not is easy to overlook in all that morass, will teach you all about the Italian-Brazilian vocalist known as Kenia—-Kenia Acioly, in full. Also a self-taught guitarist and pianist of extraordinary ability, Kenia has a laid-back stage presence and delivery style. The music caresses you, washes over you, tranquilizes you before you have a chance to notice her flawless rhythms, both jazz and bossa, and incredibly precise articulation. Maybe that’s just as well; the technicals are the details, not the point. The point is self-evident. Kenia performs at 8:30 and 10:30 at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh St. NW. $20. Tuesday, Sept. 7 It’s no secret that jazz is highly regarded and fairly popular in Europe, and that the continent has been busy incorporating its own art- and folk-musical traditions into the jazz matrix. (Cf. most of the ECM Records catalogue.) And, if they were ranking countries by their jazziness, Italy would be sky-high on that list, with a recording and concert industry all its own, a tremendous following, and a gifted and abundant lineage of musicians like Enrico Rava, Aldo Romano, and Stefano Bollani, as well as newcomers like Francesco Cafiso. Among the youngest of Italy’s jazz players is 16-year-old Gianluca Pellerito. The high-school-age drummer is already surprisingly accomplished; he has studied at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and the Conservatorio di Perugia, performed at prestigious festivals including Umbria Jazz, made recordings, and headlined concerts on his own. He’ll be headlining another one at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free.
Wednesday, Sept. 8 The shadow of John Coltrane is probably the longest of the past 50 years in jazz, and Azar Lawrence has long been under it. How could that be helped? He was the first tenor saxophonist that piano great and Coltrane cohort McCoy Tyner hired after his boss passed away in 1967, and worked with Tyner in the same school of modal jazz. Lawrence also doubles on soprano, as Trane did, and has a pronounced influence from the venerated St. John on both. But Lawrence deserves better: he’s labored hard to develop his own sound (and he has, more lyrical and languorous than Trane’s), as well as his own path featuring hefty helpings of Latin and African musics. The fact that he adheres to the spiritualism of Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, and makes tribute recordings to both, doesn’t diminish that idiosyncrasy – it just anchors it. And that’s why he is a formidable musical presence of his own —- and why it’s an astonishing opportunity to hear him performing with two equally formidable presences, the brilliant trumpeter Nicholas Payton and sterling postbop drummer Billy Hart. They performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $35.