Jazz Setlist, April 26-May 2: Something Different
The DC Jazz Composer's Collective—saxophonist Bobby Muncy, bassist Kevin Pace, and pianist Gene D'Andrea—have already played two gigs since their official incorporation as an educational nonprofit. But while those performances have highlighted the collective's own original compositions, they haven't focused on the DCJCC's overall goal of promoting a whole city's worth of jazz composers. Washington does, indeed, have a formidable stable of writers whose work gets unfortunately short shrift. But that's what inspired the DCJCC's creation in the first place, and they're putting their money where their mouth is. This week's performance is a CD release party for their dynamite self-titled recording, but only the first set is dedicated to their own work (i.e., the tunes from the album). The second gives a forum to three of the city's other major and adventurous composers: Anthony Pirog, Lyle Link, and Amy K. Bormet. For those in search of the District's songwriting talent, this is the event of 2012 so far. The DC Jazz Composer's Collective performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Friday, April 27
Nobody with ears would question the relationship between jazz and tap dance; both are the product of intricate rhythms and fierce improvisation. But there may be no better demonstration of that relationship than the pairing of pianist McCoy Tyner and tap virtuoso Savion Glover, now working together for nearly six years. Tyner, the pianist in the classic John Coltrane Quartet of the 1960s, is known for his harmonic innovations and vamping lyricism—all that’s missing is the groove, which arrives in the form of Glover’s sensitive ear and uncanny ability to layer syncopation upon syncopation using only his feet. That’s not all that Glover adds, however; his dance moves bring with them a profound sense of melodic phrasing. In that sense he and Tyner are counterpoints, each accompanying and being accompanied by the other in a dizzying combination. The McCoy Tyner Trio and Savion Glover perform at 8 p.m. at The Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $45.
Saturday, April 28
Philadelphian pianist Orrin Evans is a powerful musician. A mainstreamer by orientation, he nonetheless can make straight-ahead postbop sound like a violent thunderstorm. It just happens to be a thunderstorm that's as fluent in its language as a poet, and as knowledgeable of its instrument as Stradivari. He's also a stellar bandleader, be it his edge-skirting Captain Black Big Band (which released perhaps the best large-ensemble album of last year), his intimate and smart trio, or his more frequent vehicle, his quartet. Evans chooses musicians with skill and great chemistry, the kind who seem to telegraph their every musical mood to each other wordlessly. (In this case, saxophonist Tim Warfield, bassist Dezron Douglas, and drummer Byron Landham.) But more importantly, he forms bands that carefully tweak the corners of their tunes so they break out of the traditional jazz framework. Rhythmic tension is an important facet of this, but a lot of it also comes from Evans himself, offsetting those rhythms with mannered conservatory stylings here, pulling a riff into just-this-side-of-dissonance there. It's a zesty approach, one that keeps the music accessible and unpredictable. The Orrin Evans Quartet performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $20.
Wednesday, May 2
You'll often hear the young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire dsicussed in terms of his "concept." That's because that concept is so unique—Akinmusire is a startlingly original player of his horn. It's a complicated approach with several points to it, rather than a single overarching principle; I did my best last spring in describing "[L]ong introductions, odd rhythms and structures, florid titles...clear, open, and deceptively languid [tone], with just enough of a pinched cry to pierce listeners’ defenses." But better men have used better phrases: This writer, upon first hearing Akinmusire play in 2009, remembered Louis Armstrong's comment on first hearing Bix Beiderbecke: "Those pretty notes went right through me." They've gone through a lot of people, as can be attested to the astonishing acclaim that greeted his 2011 album When the Heart Emerges Glistening. The saem core quintet that made that record with Akinmusire joins him onstage at 8 p.m. the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $25.