Jazz Setlist, April 28-May 4: Potpourri
Friday, April 29
A regular visitor to D.C., Chuchito Valdés is the scion of a great musical dynasty. He was born in Havana in 1966 to the great Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdés, who is the son of Bebo Valdés—the founding father of Cuban jazz piano. His father and grandfather were Chuchito's first teachers; he was also a member of hs dad's celebrated band Irakere, and even led it for two years. It's brought him a mastery of his country's musical styles old and new, from cha-cha and danzon all the way up to the present. He plays it all with a jubilant flash: His hands and arms fly in huge gestures over the keyboard, his fingers moving like lightning bolts, especially on the high end. This is his first time at his usual host venue, HR-57, since it moved across town; see him, then, in a new environment. Chuchito Valdes performs at 9 p.m. at HR-57, 816 H St. NE. $20.
Photo: Brian Callahan.
Saturday, April 30
This will be a surprise to nobody who's been paying attention: At this moment, Vijay Iyer is the probably America's biggest jazz pianist. He has a decidedly avant-garde tack, having served apprenticeships with progressive visionaries like Steve Coleman and Wadada Leo Smith, and has made a major artistic pursuit of blending it with the music of his Indian heritage. It's something he's undertaken with several projects, and Tirtha is one of the most interesting: a trio featuring Iyer, guitarist/vocalist Prasanna, and tabla player Nitin Mitta. This winter, they finally released their first (self-titled) recording, just another in a long and ever-growing list of extraordinary and exciting records from Iyer and his many musical guises. But don't think that will make his live performance predictable. The Vijay Iyer Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. $30.
Tuesday, May 2
Wow. Julian Lage could happily fit in on the stage of the best folk music venues in the country as easily as he does on the jazz bandstand. Certainly that's the case on the acoustic guitarist's new Gladwell CD; everything from his picking style to his phrases to his compositions speaks of the kind of earthy, autumnal music we associate with "the people"—save for the stunning virtuosity. Tellingly, though, while his band contains a cellist and hand drums, it also includes an upright bass and tenor saxophone along with Lage's acoustic, a beautiful and unusual combination that's ripe for the possibilities of improvisation, complex harmony, and the blues. Surprisingly, it's also a great combo to put on the intimate-yet-upscale bandstand at Blues Alley. Lage performs there (1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW) at 8 and 10 p.m.. $20.