Arts Desk

Jazz Setlist, April 5-11: The Buck Stops Here

Buck Hill

Friday, April 6
For last week's Best of D.C. issue, I named Buck Hill, the octogenarian tenor saxophonist known as the District's "Wailin' Mailman," the city's "Best Elder Statesman." I wrote, "Hill no longer conquers jam sessions; he’s only an occasional stage presence these days...though he’s lost none of the mighty swing and cocksure, paint-peeling tone from his heyday." And just because Hill doesn't often fight the wars doesn't mean he doesn't have a seat in the winner's circle. In fact, he's reached an age and living-legend status that guarantees him a spotlight gig just about anytime he wants one in this town. He also has the respect of jazz artists that will happily line up to play with him on those gigs. In this case, that includes some of the city's established longtime favorites: trumpeter Thad Wilson, pianist John Ozment, bassist Cheyney Thomas, and drummer Keith Killgo. That's an all-star quintet, with a big bright one shining in the front. The Buck Hill Quintet performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $18.

Sunday, April 8
Jazz LoftCapitalBop is clearly on a bit of a tear at the moment. Last week the site collaborated with New York promoters Search & Restore to present an ambitious double-city double bill; this week they're back on the D.C. tip—their excellent Jazz Loft series—but with a splendid lineup. Allen Jones is an 18-year-old drummer who's only starting to leave an imprint on the District. His highest-profile performance thus far was at the inaugural Jazz Loft in 2010, when he was only 16 and switching off with Nate Jolley on the evening-closing jam session. This time, Jones returns as a bandleader in his own right. Joining him are the relentless writers/players known as the D.C. Jazz Composers Collective, whom you've no doubt read about in Setlist many times before. Topping the bill is Lyle Link, a tenor saxophonist who stands just below Buck Hill in the esteem with which he's held around here, and possibly the most visceral jazz musician in D.C. The Loft starts at 7 p.m. at The Dunes, 1402 Meridian Place NW. $10 suggested donation.

Tuesday, April 10
Chano DominguezThat Spanish pianist Chano Dominguez's new album (Flamenco Sketches) mostly comprises covers of the Miles Davis uber-classic Kind of Blue is no surprise. The Miles track that titles Dominguez's album was the first infection of jazz by flamenco music, and Dominguez is a lover of its pianist and co-writer Bill Evans. What is a complete surprise, and utterly fascinating to boot, is how Dominguez completely—completely—reimagines those tunes, to the point where it seems folly to discuss it in terms of the Miles album. Chano Dominguez is his own man, a flamenco-trained pianist with equally powerful jazz chops and a love of combining the two in highly inividual ways. And he's never sounded better doing it. Chano Dominguez performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $35.

Wednesday, April 11
Steve LehmanSteve Lehman is arguably the most compelling alto saxophonist to come along in a generation. He plays snaky, quickly shifting lines as sinuous and mesmerizing as a belly dancer; they're the primary building blocks in his head-spinning compositions, which make exenstive use of contemporary classical and theoretical techniques and many of the principles of avant-garde, creative music. When he plays cover tunes, he yanks them inside out as you would an errant windsock: On his rendition of "Moment's Notice," for example, you'll eventually pick up the Coltrane licks, if you listen long and closely enough, but Lehman has by and large taken the piece to another dimension. He's an aggressively, determinedly original musician whose music will leave you reeling like a beaten prizefighter—only a lot more fun. Don't miss it. The Steve Lehman Trio performs at 8 p.m. at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $25.

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