DC Jazz Festival, Night 8: Antonio Hart
It's not that Antonio Hart is an unknown commodity in the jazz world: He gained prestige playing with Art Blakey and Roy Hargrove before launching his own career. It's that he's not as known as he ought to be. Hart, an alto saxophonist with a sound both hardened and pliant, is a virtuoso in the bebop-based realm he explored with Blakey and Hargrove (as well as his onetime mentors Jimmy Heath and Donald Byrd). But that's the beginning of his story, not the end. Hart is a restless soul who refuses to get bogged down in one style: Fifteen years ago, when he felt so bogged, Hart broke from the music for four years, searching for a new muse to re-engage him. When he returned, his music—while still well within the mainstream—had taken on new influences from Cuba and Africa, a milieu he continues to trailblaze today. But he's not resting there, either; Hart is also a member of several ensembles led by Dave Holland, one of the best progressive bandleaders of the current era, as well as of the Jimmy Heath and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Bands. He's making leaps in several directions at once, and as such is easily one of the most vital players working. He should be a star, and you should go see him. Antonio Hart performs with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $20.