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1905 Restaurant sometimes gets labeled a speakeasy for its obscure location (the dimly lit second floor of a barely marked rowhouse at 1905 9th Street NW) and its absinthe-featuring drink menu. Like the classic speakeasies, it also regularly features some of the most interesting jazz on the local scene. The Cricket Fusion Quartet, led by trumpeter Joe Brotherton —- with saxophonist Elijah Balbed, bassist Olvier Albertini, and drummer Jeff Franca —- plays collectively improvised jazz on Thursday nights at 10 pm. It’s as moody as the eatery’s atmosphere and often quite melodic…but it may spontaneously thrust into directions nervy and unexpected.
To gauge Kenny Barron’s value as a pianist in the jazz world, one need only look at his discography: As of the end of 2008, it included some 511 recording sessions. Forty-three of those records were made under Barron’s leadership, while the others include jazz masters of all stripes and generations from Dizzy Gillespie to Dave Holland. Barron, then, has firmly established his own voice on the piano (complex yet lyrical), and also a sweeping flexibility that lets him flourish in a variety of styles. Barron plays with his trio Friday night at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. $30.
Don’t let the name throw you: Digital Primitives don’t play any electronic instruments whatsoever. Instead, leader Cooper-Moore builds his own musicmakers —- twangers, mouthbows, diddley-bows —- as well as playing piano and flute and singing. He teams in DP with percussionist Chad Taylor and Israeli saxophonist and clarinetist Assif Tsahar for an eccentric but inescapably catchy avant garde music that contains elements of funk, jazz, blues, and folk music from the Middle East, Africa, and America. It’s unique and fascinating, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing in your seat, even without electronic beats. Digital Primitives play Sunday at Contradiction Dance in Takoma Park. $15.