Jazz Setlist, Feb. 3-9: The Sounding of
Damnation, D.C.! The Christian Scott performance at Wolf Trap tonight has been canceled! This was going to be the week's big pick! With a big, glorious photograph of Scott playing trumpet to accompany! Oh, sure, there's plenty of other good stuff for the week, but still.
Thursday, Feb. 3
As jazz piano develops in increasingly abstract and specialized directions, it's becoming increasingly rare to find young, high-quality players who channel the spirit of, say, Bud Powell. Fortunately, Washington has one such player in Hope Udobi. He's a fresh-faced and hardworking musician who's got a tantalizing, deceptively light touch that has its fingertips in gospel and blues as well as the bebop heft you'll hear out front. He's excellent, and getting better—and he's landing more and more great gigs around town and elsewhere. (He was in Philadelphia last night, as a matter of fact.) Catch him here while you still can. The Hope Udobi Quartet with alto saxophonist Braxton Cook, bassist Stephen Synk, and drummer Warren Crudup III, performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.
Friday, Feb. 4
Since Cafe Nema closed in October, The Young Lions' performances have been few and far between. It's a crying shame; the piano trio is one of the city's essential jazz ensembles, arguably the one that kick-started the U Street renaissance. Kris Funn is one of the best purveyors of the bass' current D.C. boom; Quincy Phillips is a skittery but unquestionably fine and eclectic drummer; and Allyn Johnson is the District's stand-in for Oscar Peterson. The band does aggressive, straight-ahead jazz, but also goes in exciting directions with funk, hip-hop, and avant-garde. They do it at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15.
Saturday, Feb. 5
In between his faculty work at GW and his (ever more) occasional gigs with his quartet or big band, Thad Wilson has refocused his musical work on film score projects. For several months now, that's meant a commission by the Smithsonian Institution to write musical accompaniment for the 1925 silent film Body and Soul. It's an important piece of cinematic history, made by Oscar Micheaux—usually hailed as the first African American cinematic auteur—and starring Paul Robeson—universally hailed as the most important African American actor (stage or screen) of the era. Though Wilson is not unique in rescoring the film (trombonist Wycliffe Gordon has done so, as well), a Smithsonian commission is by definition an important project...and it receives its world premiere this weekend, courtesy of the once-again-reborn Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra, in this incarnation featuring (among others) trumpeter Joe Brotherton, pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Michael Bowie, and drummer Lenny Robinson the screening and performance is at 3 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery's McEvoy Auditorium, 8th and F streets NW. Free.
Wednesday, Feb. 9
The term "Young Lions" was originally applied to the cadre of early 20-somethings who conquered the jazz world in the early '80s: Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Kenny Garrett, Mulgrew Miller. Oh—and Benny Green, who debuted in 1983 as pianist for the Betty Carter band, one of the major training grounds of the era. Green, who made his debut as a bandleader at age 25 in 1988, never quite became the big jazz star that he seemed so confidently poised to become in those days; he did, however, become a reliable and often dynamite pianist with serious hard-bop chops, and an adroit leader who gave breaks to some other jazz stars like Christian McBride and Russell Malone. Stylistically, he's a faithful follower of hard bop's most danceable and soul-minded players, like Bobby Timmons and Gene Harris, and could keep up with them at their best. A tremendous and reliable talent. Green plays at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.