You’ve probably met that guy—-the one who tells you he loves Brazilian music, and busts out the only songs he actually knows: “The Girl from Ipanema,” “Corcovado,” and a couple of Caetano Veloso numbers. Great tunes, all, but not terribly representative of the huge and deeply rich body of music from Brazil. A single ensemble can’t even cover the whole spectrum of Brazilian jazz—-but damned if Aqui Oh doesn’t try. Aqui Oh is the brainchild of Matt Dievendorf, a guitarist and teacher at D.C.’s Levine School of Music, who formed the quintet as an avenue to explore all aspects of Brazilian jazz and manages to touch on everything from samba to Música Popular Brazil (MPB) with the help of pianist Amy K. Bormet, bassist Karine Chapdelaine, drummer Chuck Navyac, and percussionist Marc Levine. They tackle part of the immense Brazilian canon at 7:30 p.m. at Levine’s Jane Lang Recital Hall, 2801 Upton St. NW. $15.
It was 75 years ago this month that Ella Fitzgerald won the amateur night contest at the Apollo Theater, jump-starting her career at not-quite-18 years old. From there she evolved into the First Lady of American Song, arguably the most technically gifted and unarguably the most joyful vocalist that jazz has ever seen—-and thus the Kennedy Center celebrates her in style. Ella! is a tribute to the legendary singer featuring a lineup of KenCen’s favorites: vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Janis Siegel, and Al Jarreau, all singing Fitzgerald’s hits and some obscurities with the help of the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and pianist Cyrus Chestnut, with Antonio Hart directing them on arrangements by George Duke (wow, KenCen even has all-stars working behind the scenes). No doubt Billy Taylor will put in an appearance, as well. That’s at 7 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F St. $20-$45.
The Prana Trio, interestingly enough, has only two core members: percussionist Brian Adler and singer Sunny Kim. If that’s not confusing enough, Kim is unable to perform on the current tour. Instead Melissa Stylianou will join Adler and his accompanists, guitarist Robert Lanzetti and bassist Nathan Goheen, in the group (billed here as Prana Trio +1), whose conceit is that its music is based on and around poetry. To clarify: Adler, Kim, and their collaborators create music based on the cadence, meter, and meaning of poems from the Asian traditions (including the work of the 13th-century poet and mystic Rumi). The results are labyrinthine and often difficult melodies that nonetheless beautifully translate the word paintings into sound. The Prana Trio + 1 performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
The lovely young D.C. vocalist Lena Seikaly is gaining a national reputation. Little wonder: Her full-bodied voice has power and confidence far beyond her 24 years, and her litheness and control is incredible. Well on her way to a major singing career, Seikaly is also a composer in her own right, and her second concert this month at Strathmore Arts Center (where Seikaly is the artist-in-residence for the 2009-10 season) will showcase many of her original works. It will also feature Maryland-based saxophonist Chris Vidala alongside Seikaly’s regular trio—-pianist Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis, bassist Tom Baldwin, and drummer Dominic Smith). The performance is at Strathmore Mansion, 10701 Rockville Pike in Rockville. $12.