Alas! Originally scheduled this weekend was what promised to be one of the coolest concerts in memory: the legendary Benny Golson, tenor saxophonist and composer extraordinaire, in the bustling-yet-intimate atmosphere of Bohemian Caverns. Benny canceled. A bummer, since he was by far the biggest show of the week. But we can take heart in the new chance to catch up on our steadily richer local scene.
Thursday, May 6 One of the great mysteries of our time and place is how the Young Lions manage to always sound as fresh and adrenaline-pumping as they did at the first encounter. The Lions are a trio consisting of pianist Allyn Johnson—-D.C.’s answer to Oscar Peterson—-bassist Kris Fun, and drummer Quincy Phillips. Any of the three has a vitality that’s nearly off the scale; together they could wake the dead, with music that veers from the hardest of hard bop to funky fusion and even to hip-hop inflections. Think of it as a master class in hip. The Young Lions perform at 9:30 p.m. at Cafe Nema, 1334 U St. NW. Free. (But buy something at the bar, huh?)
Friday, May 7 Ask around about the pillars of jazz in D.C., and the name Paul Carr will come up more times than you can count. Carr, a tenor saxophonist, is also an educator and mentor (and now curator of the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival) who’s given a boost to dozens of players passing through the District over the years, back to the days of the now-defunct One Step Down. And he shows no sign of stopping, hence his appearance this week at Westminster Presbyterian’s celebrated Jazz Night with a whole pack of DC.. pillars. Carr’s quintet includes husband-and-wife drummer and vocalist Harold and Leslie Summey, bassist Michael Bowie, and, yes, pianist Allyn Johnson. See what’s in a name like Paul Carr’s at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I Streets SW. $5.
Monday, April 10 And then there’s Buck Hill, without whom no discussion of D.C. stalwarts and/or tenor saxophonists would be complete. Born in Washington in 1927, Hill was by the 1940s a player of fearsome reputation all over the country…but one who decided to stay off the touring circuit and live and work in his hometown. He became the lead saxophonist at the famous Howard Theatre and a go-to sax player for bands touring through D.C., both as a sideman and a foil (Hill’s duels with Sonny Stitt are the stuff of legend). Yet he never gave up his day job with the Post Office, leading to his lifelong nickname, “The Wailin’ Mailman.” He wails once more with a quartet at 7 p.m. at Vicino’s Ristorante, 959 Sligo Ave. in Silver Spring. Free.