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Brass bands are hot at the moment: The New Orleans second-line configurations are back, but more experimental-minded musicians are also tackling the possibilities. That formula is the latest version of the ever-changing Reggie Nicholson Concept. Nicholson, an improvisational drummer and vibraphonist who belongs to Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), has made four recordings, each a completely different approach. His latest, Surreal Feel, is credited to Nicholson’s “Brass Concept,” featuring a tuba (Joseph Daley), french horn (Vincent Chancey), trombone (Curtis Fowlkes), and trumpet (Eddie Allen). This lineup plays at 8:00 pm at Contradiction Dance in Takoma Park. $15.
An unstoppable force, Benito Gonzalez is a pianist of tremendous versatility. He’s played with everyone from Christian McBride and Roy Hargrove to Pharaoh Sanders and Hamiet Bluiett, and everyone in between. And, lest his eclecticism overshadow his abilities, Gonzalez was the 2005 winner of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. But he remains a staple of the D.C. jazz scene—as likely to be found in the jazz clubs’ seats as on their bandstands (though when his peers see him in the former, they usually invite him to the latter). Friday and Saturday nights find him at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW, with his trio and Azar Lawrence, a great spiritual-jazz saxophonist from Los Angeles. $20.
Somi calls her music “New African Soul”; in reality, it stands at the confluence of neo-soul, jazz, and traditional musics of West and South Africa. The sound has heady, soulful leanings, but surprisingly strong folk roots. It’s smooth, beautiful, and melodic, but has an edge nonetheless, with biting harmonies and challenging rhythm that make it as fun to listen to as it is mellow. Not purely jazz? Perhaps not, but Somi is pedigreed enough to appear at Bohemian Caverns, the District’s most venerable jazz club, on Sunday night for two sets (7:00 and 9:00). $20.