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March 4 Jazz fusion is alive and kicking in the person of Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans. Actually, Vloeimans is a relentlessly experimental musician by any standard, but he devotes special attention to a gleaming electric sound—-as on his newest CD, Heavensabove!—-that can rock hard or space out with equal ease. Vloiemans’ band on the disc is a quartet; however, his current tour is with a trio, Figimundi, featuring piano (Harmen Fraanje) and guitar (Anton Goudsmit). That in itself promises a different aspect of Vloeimans’ music. The trio performs at 9 and 11 P.M. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
March 5 There’s no stopping Thad Wilson. After a dozen years on the scene, the trumpeter keeps busy with regular quartet appearances at HR-57, teaching at GW, and a new project creating new scores for classic films (with a new one premiering next week). In the midst of all that, Wilson also makes occasional gigs around town playing standards; such is the case this weekend, with two sets at Bohemian Caverns. Wilson leads a quartet of some of D.C.’s finest, steadiest jazz musicians: pianist Hope Udobi, bassist Michael Bowie, and drummer Kermit Walker. Call it a trip through the basics with a deft and charismatic musician. The music is at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15.
March 6 Like Wilson, the great local tunesmiths Saltman Knowles—-that’s bassist Mark Saltman, pianist William Knowles, and singer Lori Williams-Chisholm, among others—-are mainstays of HR-57. Indeed, in reviewing their new CD Yesterday’s Man a few weeks ago, I all but promised there’d be a CD release concert there soon. Well, here it is, right down to the tagline that the band will be celebrating the release of Yesterday’s Man. It’s a great excuse for a gig, and a great place for one; the intimacy of the staging should concentrate the richness of the melodies so that each will feel as though they’re aimed directly at you. The concert is from 9 P.M. to 1 A.M. at HR-57, 1610 14th St. NW. $12.
March 8 Despite Art Blakey’s admonition that “jazz doesn’t have a damn thing to do with Africa,” musicians everywhere have never stopped trying to establish the link. Americans like Kahil El’Zabar usually think of African music in terms of traditional percussion and tribal rhythms; guitarist Lionel Loueke, who’s from Benin, fuses his jazz with melodic West African pop. That approach only further confounds the “authenticity” debate, but its primary effect is to generate music of startling beauty. The approach of Loueke’s trio (featuring bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth) is melodic and intense, but gentle; it also builds a bridge between the disparate African and American legacies that even the most hardened cynic will delight in. That’s surely why Loueke is fast becoming a major force in the jazz world, and one you can’t miss. His trio performs at 8 and 10 PM at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Av. NW. $25.