Jazz Setlist, Sept. 9-15: Yet Another Festival Weekend
Friday, Sept. 10
"Brûlée has never called itself a jazz group," the quartet says in its mailings, "But the strong jazz influences in our music are unmistakable." No kidding. Two of the four members, bassist Andrew Brown and drummer Lex O'Brien have both worked as professional jazz musicians (especially O'Brien, a startlingly accomplished drummer and composer who also leads his own combo), and guitarist Louis Matza is a student of jazz history, and especially of jazz guitar. Singer Aura Kanegis has the pipes for jazz vocals, but her background tends more towards folk and roots-rock, as seen in her previous outfits Cravin' Dogs and the U-Liners. (She's also got some funk chops, and was part of the all-female funk band Zeala.) Put together they are a unique and clever cross that could be called "singer-songwriter jazz." The band will appear for three sets from 8 p.m. to midnight at Columbia Station, 2325 18th St. NW. Free.
Saturday, Sept. 11
On a map of jazz festivals, the Rosslyn Jazz Festival has historically been a tiny speck. The one-day free event tends to gather a few regional artists from DC and Baltimore and mix them with a national headliner—generally a traditionalist—for a dependable but small-scale afternoon of music. This year, however, is the festival’s 20th anniversary, and to commemorate it they’re doing something very different. The top-line act is still a (very good) straight-ahead artist, critically acclaimed vocalist Tierney Sutton. But there’s much more to the lineup, beginning with the zesty, enthusiastic, and edgier-than-you-think Afro-Bop Alliance, a Latin jazz septet whose danceable rhythms sneak the heavy stuff right past. Jason Moran is quite simply the most talked about (and lauded) pianist of his generation, with a fascination for melding jazz with the postmodern and a tendency to blur the separations between eras in the music’s history. The Bad Plus, a progressive jazz piano trio from the Midwest, have made waves with their quirky and avant-garde cover tunes (from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”), but whose captivating new album Never Stop features only their complex and angular original compositions. Call it “Rosslyn Gets Hip.” The Rosslyn Jazz Festival takes place at 1:00 p.m. at Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway, Rosslyn. Free.
Monday, Sept. 13
Bassist Charnett Moffett joined Wynton Marsalis’ first band when he was 19, went on to work with Ornette Coleman (as had Charles, his drummer father), and has since played every style within and without that spectrum. " I’ve always had an open mind," Moffett told City Paper last year, "and I’ve tried to incorporate many different styles into the expression of a creative idea in the moment." But he does it on his own terms, impossible to predict save for bass solos that are intricate and original beyond imagination. Moffett is among the most diverse and idiosyncratic musicians in the world these days, one who sees it as his purpose to use expanding technology to capture the expanding possibilities of humanity and creativity. That will make for an extraordinary performance when he performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.
Wednesday, Sept. 15
Lenny Robinson is, like a surprising number of D.C.'s jazz musicians, a veteran of the U.S. Army Band. He's also worked with Stanley Turrentine, Dewey Redman, Jaco Pastorius, among others, but those of us in the District know him simply as a gregarious but steady and disciplined drummer and bandeader. By and large he works the straight-ahead angle with his regular trio, featuring local power players Brian Settles on tenor saxophone and Tarus Mateen on bass. They used to be known simply as the Lenny Robinson Trio, but they've got a new moniker: Mad Curious, no doubt in deference to the unknown territory on the fringe that they tend to explore in their music. But all you really need to know is that three of the best musicians in DC are working together at 8 and 10 PM at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.