Jazz Setlist, March 26-31: Freddie Redd, Butch Warren, and Mike Stern
A bit late this week, but let's get into it.
He 's managed to be both unsung and a legend. But Freddie Redd is one of the heroes of the hard-bop sound that's dominated mainstream jazz for half a century. He played on Lou Donaldson and Tina Brooks records (along with his own classic sessions, such as Shades of Redd) when they were still jukebox favorites, and continued to busily define and refine the music for decades. Now in his 80s, Redd hasn't recorded a note since 1990, but works steadily and brilliantly. That includes a two-night stand of 9 and 11 p.m. sets at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW, where he'll be working with an energetic quartet featuring local musicians: saxophonist Brad Linde, bassist Tom Baldwin, and drummer Tony Martucci—and playing selections from his score to the 1961 film The Connection. $15.
It's absurd that Setlist has made it this far without ever mentioning Butch Warren. Once the house bassist for Blue Note Records, Warren is an extraordinary icon and bass virtuoso for the ages, and he's right here in the District playing three nights a week at Adams Morgan's Columbia Station. That said, Warren has a history of psychological battles, and they've taken their toll; some patrons of his straight-up bebop band the Butch Warren Experience sometimes report that Warren is far superior to his bandmates, while others say that he's clearly in over his head with the other musicians. The real answer is that it all depends on the night you're there—but any night is worth the risk. The Butch Warren Experience performs at 8:30 p.m. at Columbia Station, 2325 18th St. NW. Free.
Conventional wisdom is that jazz fusion died a quick death in the '70s, but it's still alive thanks to people like Mike Stern. Stern, who made his name as the guitarist for Miles Davis' postretirement 1980s band, is a six-string innovator whose delay-drenched sound is instantly recognizable in any context, but his milieu has remained the extension of fusion ideas into the contemporary musical universe. His new album, Big Neighborhood, joins him with some of the freshest-sounding musicians working today, including Esperanza Spalding and Cindy Blackman, along with fusion stalwarts Randy Brecker and Medeski Martin & Wood. Similarly, he's touring with a spectacular quartet of in-demand musicians: saxophonist Bob Malach, bassist Tom Kenendy, and drummer Dave Weckl. They perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $35.