Jazz Setlist, March 13-19: Vajazzled
Thursday, March 13
Myra Melford is arresting. The often experimental composer and piano player has worked with (and at the head of) a variety of ensembles. But her most recent release, last year's Life Carries Me This Way, highlighted Melford's solo work for the first time. She has a beautiful way with constructing melody lines, and perhaps an even more beautiful way with abstracting those lines and warping them into seemingly jumbled (but carefully intersecting) clusters. Better still, she has an implacable sense of blues and swing, utilizing both genres in her music in ways that are both unpredictable and embedded in tradition. It makes Melford's playing different at every turn, and thereby really damn interesting. Just watch and see, kids. Myra Melford performs a solo concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. $25.
Friday, March 14
We watched drummer Kush Abadey grow up and come into his own. The son of Nasar Abadey, the reigning godfather of D.C. jazz drums, Kush was gigging around town under his own name while still in high school, and continued doing so when home from his studies at Berklee College of Music. (During that time he also added work under another Washingtonian, trumpeter Wallace Roney, of whose band he is still a member.) He graduated three years ago and now lives in Brooklyn, a full-time musician with a strong career developing. And once again he returns to D.C. to lead a fantastic quartet. That includes alto saxophonist Braxton Cook (another young DC musician now living in New York), pianist Allyn Johnson, and bassist Zach Brown. Watching Abadey develop into a splendid jazz musician remains a thrill, but the real thrill comes from seeing him back on his home turf. The Kush Abadey Quartet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $17.
Saturday, March 15
The 15th sees the kickoff of what has quickly become a beloved and essential part of the D.C. jazz scene: The Washington Women in Jazz Festival, an event so consistently good that we might have to forgive founder Amy K. Bormet for relocating to Los Angeles last year. And this year's kickoff is a sort of kickoff of its own. Integriti Reeves, the extremely talented vocalist and Washington City Paper favorite, is taking her career to a new level with the release of her debut EP. That recording will be the focus of her Saturday night appearance at Bohemian Caverns, and a hell of a way to opening of the WWJF. She performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at the Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $20.
Wednesday, March 19
Speaking of the WWJF, it often groups together some of its most frequent local performers in loose "all star" conflagrations. And it often joins them with jazz musicians who have national profiles, like drummer Allison Miller. But imagine the possibilities when you merge a group of D.C. all-stars with a group of national all-stars! That's the experiment the festival is attempting at Union Arts. Bormet (a pianist as well as the festival's head honcho), bassist Karine Chapdelaine, and alto saxophonist Sarah Hughes (back in D.C. on a visit from New England Conservatory) represent the Washington contingent. They are joined by Miller, Chicago trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and Mary Halvorson, quite likely the most exciting jazz guitarist in the world today. Bormet views this as the WWJF keynote for the year, the artistic pinnacle; she's been writing copious music for the occasion, and with this cast of musical adventures there's buckets of promise to be had. The concert takes place at 8 p.m. at Union Arts, 411 New York Ave. NE. $20.