The encroaching holiday makes it a short week, and—-unless your tolerance for Christmas music is extraordinarily high—-a slim one. But there are still some winners in the bunch, even among the carolers.
Dec. 18 Put simply, Dianne Reeves is a virtuoso singer. She has mastered the standard repertoire, ekes surprising depth out of the silliest pop songs, and continues to stun audiences with the nuance she finds in both. That’s why any concert by Reeves, even a Christmas concert, is an event to be celebrated. The spotlight is on the songs from Reeves’ 2004 disc Christmas Time Is Here, and true to form Reeves reshapes those chestnuts in her own mold. Among her formidable skills is her standing as perhaps the world’s greatest living scat singer, which renews the promise of songs you learned to hate long, long ago. Reeves performs at 7:30 pm at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW. $45-50. Dec. 19 Baritone saxophonist Brad Linde is establishing himself as a busy and eclectic bandleader. His 10-member Brad Linde Ensemble (BLE) has spent much of the year commemorating two major anniversaries in the jazz repertory: Miles Davis’ 1949 Birth of the Cool sessions (BLE recorded their arrangements), and Thelonious Monk‘s 1959 large-ensemble concert at Town Hall in New York. The latter, also done by a 10-piece orchestra, was the first document of Monk’s oblong, idiosyncratic compositions with such heavy, lush arrangements. Fifty years later, those arrangements are still a bold, difficult program, and Linde’s performances are ambitious as hell. The BLE performs at 8 pm at Harmony Hall Regional Center, 10701 Livingston Road in Fort Washington. $25. UPDATE: The show has been rescheduled.
Dec. 23 Dick Morgan is something of a journeyman, although he is a leader; he’s flown under the radar for years and left a bevy of strong performances in his wake. The straight-ahead pianist has great versatility: He can shift from heavy touch to light, speedy runs to spare chording, depending on the needs of the performance. But he’s always an extraordinary craftsman, sometimes deceptively so. Better yet, he’s surrounded by an extraordinary quartet: drummer Bertell Knox; bassist David Einhorn; and especially guitarist Steve Abshire, whose interplay with Morgan is worthy of a concert all by itself. Morgan performs (yes, Christmas songs) at 8 and 10 pm at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $22, plus surcharge and minimum.