Jazz Setlist, March 1-7: Collectivity
Thursday, March 1
Last year, a close-knit group of three jazz musicians with a passion for writing original music came together in an official capacity. They formed the D.C. Jazz Composers Collectve, a nonprofit organization designed to promote new and original music as well educate aspiring composers and the jazz-listening public. Bassist Kevin Pace, pianist Gene D'Andrea, and saxophonist Bobby Muncy are all accomplished, imaginative, and eclectic composers (primarily in the postbop vein), but also sensitive musicians with experience, chemistry, and sympathetic ears for each other's work—which can be heard on their recently completed, self-titled CD featuring two compositions by each member of the collective and strong support from their favorite drummer, melodist Andrew Hare (whose blog is a fascinating look at the jazz drummer's art). That same lineup of musicians performs tonight in the DCJCC's first concertsince their nonprofit incorporation, in three sets of—you guessed it—all original music. The show starts at 5 p.m. at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW. $12.
Friday, March 2
In a genre where the tenor saxophone reigns as king, it's always refreshing to hear a gifted and skillful alto saxophonist ready to swing the joint to the ground. DC's actually got no shortage of alto players with those powers...but that doesn't make Marshall Keys any less of a joy to hear. Keys, a District native who's been working the scene for over 25 years, plays with the with the stone-hard muscle you might associate with the tenor sax, but with the alto's characteristic upper-range cream. That's the basics; along with it comes a metric ton of riffage, melody as sharp as a blade, and a thrusting sense of swing that he applies in a largely bop- and blues-based setting. The music that comes out of it is electric and infectious—before you know it you'll find yourself shouting with approval. Marshall Keys and his band (including drummer Mark Prince) perform at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th Street NW. $18.
Sunday, March 3
Bill Charlap is a native New Yorker; Renee Rosnes hails from Saskatchewan, Canada. Both are immediately recognizable names to jazz lovers; they're two of the world's greatest young practitioners of the jazz piano tradition, who just happen to be married to each other. They tied the knot at Jazz at Lincoln Center five years ago, but it wasn't until 2010 that they did a duet recording together. Double Portrait was one of the best recordings of that year (and perhaps most overlooked; granted, it placed in the 2010 JazzTimes poll, in which this writer participated, but deserved more scrutiny nonetheless) an affair of delightful swing and intoxicating melody. It's almost two years later, but at last the chance has come to see Charlap and Rosnes perform together, just them and two grand pianos. They perform at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center's Family Theater, 2700 F Street NW. $30.
Sunday, March 4
March brings with it a tradition for Blues Alley. The famous Georgetown jazz club presents a monthlong series of guitarists, who perform all colors of jazz from the traditional to the futuristic. It has for many years included fusioneer Mike Ster—and this year it begins with him. Stern, made his name with Miles Davis in his more-pop/rock-than-jazz 1980s incarnation, is a six-string innovator whose delay-drenched sound is instantly recognizable in any context. And context matters, because Stern has found himself playing in a wild variety of them. He's worked with Esperanza Spalding Ray Levier, Randy Brecker, and Medeski Martin & Wood. His most fruitful and prolific collaborator, however, is almost certainly the drummer Dave Weckl, another performer with roots deep in jazz fusion. Indeed, Weckl shares top billing with Stern at this Blues Alley performance, where they're joined by the brilliant bassist John Patitucci and saxophonist Bob Franceschini. Stern and Weckl perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $40.