Jazz Setlist, March 15-21: Wailin’ Women
Thursday, March 15
You'll hear a lot of talk in just about all music criticism about innovation and innovators. But it's not often you hear discussion of an innovator who actually developed a new way to play an instrument. In the 1980s, guitarist Stanley Jordan developed the two-handed "touch" or "tap" technique, which allows him to play melody and chords simultaneously on his axe; it also, despite its wide imitation by guitarists, allowed Jordan to develop a singular voice on his instrument, one that's allowed him a major career extending jazz fusion as well as mainstream guitar jazz in new directions for the 21st century. He's a prime fit for the Guitar Month festivities at Blues Alley, where he plays in a solo set at 8 and 10 p.m. 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, $27.50.
Photo: Flickr user chascar.
Sunday, March 18
It's funny that D.C.'s Transparent Productions has a name that tells you to expect no surprises, because the jazz and experimental-music programming they devote themselves to is packed with them. Even fans of the avant-garde, with its frequently atonal structure and unusual instruments, might be taken unawares by the artists Transparent brings in. Case in point: Japanese pianist Eri Yamamoto, whose work isn't "noisy" at all. It combines stately tone, delicate lyricism, and an accommodating sense of rhythm (sometimes it swings, sometimes it stands firm, sometimes there's even some funk) with an orchestral rush of color and texture. It's not so say it's not challenging stuff, which it most certainly is; Yamamoto embroiders her sound with knotty harmonies and the clackety internal cadences of Thelonious Monk, among others. But it's nonetheless inviting, promising that while her music will take some parsing, it will offer your ears a wonderful time while they do it. Eri Yamamoto and her trio perform at 7 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15.
Wednesday, March 21
There is no "sophomore slump" for Amy K. Bormet's ambitious local showcase, the Washington Women in Jazz Festival. Its inaugural last year was a small but stunning affair, bursting with excellent female musicians with chops to spare and a great deal to say. This year they'll be saying it on a larger scale, with eight venues in two cities. The festival opens on Wednesday with a performance that demonstrates its scope. The ensemble is billed as the WWJF All Stars, which includes among its ranks saxophonists , trombonist Melissa Gardner, Sarah Hughes and Leigh Pilzer, pianist Amy K. Bormet, and bassist Karine Chapdelaine. As for the drummer, well, that would be the special guest and headliner for the evening: Allison Miller, a D.C. native who's now working in New York city as a session player, side woman, and postbop jazz bandleader in her own right—in which guise she's a fast-rising star and the recipient of mountains of critical acclaim. It's an exciting combination with a great deal of D.C. flavor. Miller and the WWJF All-Stars perform at 8 p.m. at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $20.