I believe this column owes a retraction. I said last month that July was “the slowest month for jazz in D.C.” That was before August, that period of (yet more) stifling heat and congressional recess. Ick. So while our fair city is emptied of the folks who work on and around the Hill, look an even sparser calendar of events.
On the other hand…
Thursday, August 5
We can safely call the Cole family a musical dynasty, right? You know about Nat and his daughter Natalie, of course, but you should also know about Nat’s younger brothers Eddie, Ike, and—-the last survivor—-Freddy Cole. Freddy, while also a pianist and vocalist, has never been content to be simply Nat’s younger brother. He has staked out a reputation of his own as an extremely busy and prolific touring musician, a fine interpreter of standards (mostly love songs) and a singer with a gruff overtone in his voice. He does, however, share one distinct family trait: elegance. Cole’s longtime quartet with guitarist Randy Napoleon, bassist Elias Bailey, and drummer Curtis Boyrd is all gentility and finesse….but not, despite its veneer, simplicity. These cats have formidable skills on their instruments, and as soon as you let your guard down they’ll show them off with gusto. The Freddy Cole Quartet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.
Sunday, August 8
Trombonist Chris Washburne is both a world-class player of Latin jazz, and a world-class authority on the subject. He’s got a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, teaches at Columbia University (where he also leads the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program), and in the meantime occupies himself with the highly popular Latin ensemble See You on the Other Side, which plays weekly in New York. Those facets of Washburne’s work now combine in a presentation sponsored by the Smithsonian’s fledgling National Museum of African-American History. The museum plans to feature an exhibit on Harlem’s Apollo Theater and its influence on American culture; no look at the Apollo is complete, though, without acknowledgment of the “Spanish Harlem” Latin traditions that helped it flourish. Hence we have a program called “Latin Jazz and the Apollo Theater,” in which Washburne joins drummer Candido Camero—-who also happens to be part of the Apollo’s house band—-for an evening of the first realm of jazz fusion. They perform at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free.
Tuesday, August 10
I’ve never been good with numbers, but when musician and scholar Gunther Schuller coined the term “third stream,” he was describing exactly the modus operandi of the D.C. band that calls itself The Fourth Stream. Perhaps it’s just a smart name, though not as smart as the music the group plays. The Fourth Stream plays a world jazz with a strong Asian influence (primarily India and the Middle East), but also no small amount of funk, rock, and hip-hop baked in. Snatches of all of these elements are recognizable in the mix, but the mix itself is something quite original and compelling. The drummer, incidentally, is Sriram Gopal, whom you may know as the other guy who covers D.C. jazz; he and bassist Matt Grason are joined in this gig by guitarist Rob Coltun and flutist/keyboardist Geoff Rohrbach, making things all the more interesting. The Fourth Stream performs at 9 p.m. at Bossa, 2463 18th St. NW. Free.