In 1999, the D.C.-raised Village Voice critic Greg Tate put together Burnt Sugar, a band that melds Miles Davis-style electric jazz with funk, improvised avant-garde sounds, and hip-hop. Tate, who also co-founded the Black Rock Coalition, has ambitiously led his group through out-there yet funky adaptations of Steely Dan, Stravinsky, and James Brown. Now Tate’s biting off even more: Together with his expanded Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber, he’s teamed up with go-go and jazz pianist Marc Cary, the D.C.-raised poet Thomas Sayers Ellis, go-go vocalist Donnell Floyd, and percussionists Go-Go Mickey and Kenny “Kwick” Gross to form “The Upper Anacostia ~ Lower Gold Coast Symphonic.” Count on their concert, called “Drums Along the Potomac: A Global Go-Go Fantasia,” to bust loose with a challenging blend of polyrhythms, melodic vocals, and bleating horns.
May 20 at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. A discussion with former WPFW programming director Bobby Hill follows. Free. kennedy-center.org.