Jazz Setlist, June 17-23: Nordic Jazz, Nasar Abadey, and More
Thursday, June 17
Festival season continues. They don't call it a festival, but Nordic Jazz Week is a small one in all but name, this year featuring three nights of music by bands from Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway, sponsored by those nations' embassies. (A great set of photos from last year's concerts is here.) Tonight is the jewel of Nordic Jazz Week: a performance held on the rooftop of the spectacular House of Sweden in Georgetown, complete with snacks and a cash bar. Oh, and three artists: a trio led by straight-ahead Icelandic guitarist Bjorn Thoroddsen, the much noisier and more omnivorous guitar band Samuel Hällkvist Center, and the simply strange bass and recorder player Eivind Opsvik. A good time to be had for Europhiles, jazzheads, and guitar buffs alike. The Rooftop Evening begins at 6 p.m. at the House of Sweden, 2900 K St. NW. $25.
Friday, June 18
The Carter-Barron Amphitheatre in Rock Creek Park seems to be gaining traction as a jazz venue. This weekend, it's booked for some of the area's finest musicians. At the top of the bill is Frederic Yonnet, the extraordinary French harmonica player who blends funk, soul groove, and jazz on his instrument—alongside Toots Thielemans, the first truly original jazz harmonicist. Also playing, however, is Supernova, the band led by drummer, composer, and educator Nasar Abadey. Abadey is the godfather of percussionists in DC, in terms of his tenure here and his ability; he works with a post-Coltrane spiritual jazz sound. He's also a mystic and a thinker who calls his music "Multi-D" to signify that it is both multidimensional and multidirectional. You'll understand when you hear it. Yonnet and Abadey perform at 7:30 pm at the Carter-Barron Amphitheatre, 16th Street and Colorado Avenue NW. Free, with tickets (distributed at the Carter-Barron box office on the day of performance).
Sunday, June 20
Has any jazz musician coined a phrase that's been as quoted, co-opted, distorted, paraphrased, and/or parodied as much as Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised?" Well, yes, actually: The Louis Armstrong phrasebook is hand-in-glove with the American vernacular. But Scott-Heron's 1971 song title has become the foundation for a certain kind of conversation: the merger of politics and media in the last half-century. That innovation has become so big that it obscures the others that Scott-Heron has achieved: He was a proto-hip-hopper, and one of the most active artists in bringing militant politics into the "new thing" jazz of the '60s and '70s, as well as demonstrating the rhythmic possibilities of spoken-word poetry in a jazz context. After some trouble in the early 2000s related to drug possession, Scott-Heron is still working, as conscientious and sharp as ever, and has just released I'm New Here, his first album in 16 years. He's also still making headlines, having recently announced in spectacular fashion (from the stage) that he was canceling a concert in Tel Aviv and won't play in Israel again "until everyone is welcome there." Agree or not, his chutzpah is undeniable, and it will be on full display at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $35.