Jazz Setlist, Feb. 18-24: Festival and Smorgasbord
UPDATE 12:28 PM: The 2/24 Roberto Fonseca show at Lisner Auditorium has been canceled.
This, folks, is a spectacular week for live jazz in the D.C. area. Many of the best local musicians are appearing at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in Rockville, which runs through the weekend (look for a full preview tomorrow). Elsewhere, though, there are so many great gigs happening that we in some cases have to recommend two in a night.
Few events celebrate themselves to the extent that the Monterey Jazz Festival does. The world's longest-running jazz fest not only releases a CD of its proceedings every year (and maintains a healthy archive of previous performances for release), it puts together a compact version of its annual performance schedule and sends it across the country under the label "Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour." Narcissism, perhaps, but who can complain when it means a stage shared by piano legend Kenny Barron, violinist Regina Carter, Grammy-winning vocalist Kurt Elling, guitar kingpin Russell Malone, bassist and composer Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and acclaimed drummer Johnathan Blake? If that's what Monterey's self-love breeds, let it fly. The performance is at 8 PM at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda. $28-62.
On the other hand... The wonderful Jazz Nights in Southwest are rarely a letdown, either, and in this case the Westminster Presbyterian Church at 4th and I Streets SW plays host to a group of DC's best: pianist Janelle Gill, saxophonist Whit Williams, vocalist Akua Allrich, bassist Eric Wheeler, and drummer John Lamkin. $5, plus a little extra for a catered dinner.
Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon and pianist Aaron Parks are two of the most exciting young musicians on the scene. Zenon is the recipient of a recent MacArthur "Genius" grant for his music, which explores the intersection of jazz and the traditions of his native Puerto Rico. Parks cut his teeth in the Terence Blanchard Sextet, then received tremendous acclaim on his own with the 2008 release of Invisible Cinema, a rock- and techno-influenced CD of jazz piano for an imaginary motion picture soundtrack. Zenon's quartet and Parks' trio play on a double bill, together forming a kaleidoscopic look at the cutting edge of jazz in the early 21st century, at the Historic Sixth & I Synagogue. $30.
On the other hand...
Chico Hamilton's place in jazz history was already assured nearly 60 years ago, when he became the drummer for the famous Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker Quartet. But that wasn't enough for Hamilton. He first led an idiosyncratic quintet (featuring guitar, flute, cello, and bass) in L.A.'s West Coast jazz scene, the beginning of a long line of progressive and unusual ensembles of varying sizes with Hamilton at the helm. (Not to mention his vast resumé as a composer, arranger, and film scorer.) The latest is his Euphoria Quintet — saxophonist/flutist Evan Schwam, guitarist Nick Demopoulos, bassist Paul Ramsey, and percussionist Jeremy Carlstedt, with Hamilton himself on drums and vocals — who worked together on the glorious recent Twelve Tones of Love. They'll play selections from it at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th Street NW. $25.
Just turned 41, saxophonist Joshua Redman was much younger when he established himself as a genuine jazz great. An adventurer (though not really a groundbreaker) who's nonetheless built his credentials in the straightahead world with a huge and heavy sound, it's probably best to simply call Redman a virtuoso who goes wherever his muse takes him—be it into standards, the free jazz that his father (Dewey) helped to innovate, or hardcore fusion. But his current touring trio, which features bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, nods to the harmonically unrestrained trio records of Sonny Rollins (an important influence) in the '60s, and with one of the surest and most intoxicating sense of melody you've ever heard. For proof, check out the Redman Trio at 7 p.m. at the Dekelboum Concert Hall at University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, on the UMUC campus in College Park. $42.
One of the least-sung musicians in Latin jazz is Roberto Fonseca, a Cuban pianist who was once the house player for the legendary Buena Vista Social Club. As a leader, Fonseca is a smart and sensitive composer and player, and his band is sympathetic to both facets of his personality — in particular, the subtle clarinetist Javier Zalba. Fonseca's wonderful sixth album Akokan was released this week, a showcase of Fonseca's always fresh and soft-edged lyricism that will no doubt also be on display at Lisner Auditorium, where Fonseca plays with his quartet as part of George Washington University's 10th annual Flamenco Festival at 8 PM at GW's Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H Street NW. $20.