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Twenty-five-year-old Chinese-Australian bassist Linda Oh knows more about tension and release on her instrument than do many bassists twice her age—-an ability that brought her as far as the semifinals in last fall’s Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. But as her recent debut album Entry demonstrates, she’s also an extremely talented and original composer, with alluring pieces like “Numero Uno,” “Fourth Limb,” and “A Year From Now” to her name. The promise of her writing has gotten the attention of the composers organization ASCAP, which is including Oh in its “Songwriters: The Next Generation” showcase at the Kennedy Center this week. Oh appears on a double bill with country-folk songstress Devon Sproule, where she will discuss and perform her songs. The performance is at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free.
Jazz is often a family affair. Witness the brothers Heath and Jones, the Marsalis clan, and the Browns—-Omrao Brown, co-owner and talent wrangler for D.C.’s own Bohemian Caverns, and his father, Leonard Brown, a saxophonist and professor of music at Northeastern University in Boston. The elder Brown is a frequent visitor to his son’s club, luckily for us; he’s an impassioned, energetic player in the Coltrane tradition, but with his own slightly gruff sound, particularly when he gets to wailing on his soprano sax. (He also plays tenor.) Better yet, his quartet Joyful Noise features some of D.C.’s finest: piano wizard Allyn Johnson, bassist James King, and drummer Nasar Abadey. That’s an ensemble of musicians with a profound grasp of jazz’s spiritual side, and they’ll no doubt bring an air of meditation to their two sets at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
You’ll hear a lot of cynicism from jazz fans about saxophonist David Sanborn. He has no business calling himself a jazz musician, they’ll say, and his slick, watered-down commercialism in the ’70s and ’80s proved he knows nothing about the real stuff. Those people are wrong. Sanborn knows the jazz repertoire and, in particular, is a living, breathing, and blowing catalog of soul-jazz artists, songs, and sounds; fellow musicians like Christian McBride have known it for years, even if the rest of us haven’t caught on. In recent years, however, Sanborn has winnowed his music down to his roots in the sounds of Hank Crawford and Lou Donaldson, with a bit of James Brown thrown in for good measure. And don’t count out organ titan Joey DeFrancesco, who performs with Sanborn on his new album Only Everything and is sharing the stage with him on his current tour. You don’t have to like the pop-jazz stuff to appreciate their real soul, even if you’re one of the cynics. Sanborn and DeFrancesco perform at 7:30 at The Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. in Alexandria. $35.
We’ve discussed Eric Lewis, aka ELEW, in this space before. It’s hard to avoid his huge frame, equally huge hair, and intense facial expressions (think Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange) as he performs torrential versions of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Evanescence (Rockjazz, he calls it) on the piano at HR-57. He’ll be performing there again next weekend; this week, however, he’ll be working in a very different context. The pianist is conducting a master class with three young piano players from the Levine School of Music; the class is open to the public, and after the workshop is complete, ELEW will first take questions from the audience and give a brief performance. “Not a full concert,” says Levine’s Regan Ford, “But a taste.” But it’s free. That’s at THEARC recital hall, 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE.