Jazz Setlist, July 12-18
Friday, July 13
David Murray was a revolutionary in the 1970s New York loft scene. In fact, some writers actually date the Oakland native's arrival in the Big Apple in 1975 as the high watermark of the Loft era, and the Village Voice named Murray its "jazz musician of the decade" in 1980. In the time since he's explored many, many aspects of jazz, often far removed from the avant-garde experimentalism in which he made his name. (Last year, for example, he produced a project that featured a Cuban jazz ensemble interpreting the music of Nat "King" Cole.) But with his Black Music Infinity Quartet, Murray reaches back to the Loft jazz world for a renewed inspiration. It's hard to know what this means in a 21st century musical context, but one thing is for sure: Using his '70s musical history as a touchstone equates to a firm promise of great jazz with one foot steeped in tradition, one foot in Tomorrowland. The David Murray Black Music Infinity Quartet performs at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th Street NW. $25.
Saturday, June 14
If you followed Arts Desk's coverage last fall of NBC's The Sing-Off, you know that Howard University's Afro-Blue made quite an impression, on the show and on me. They killed, all the way to the Final Four, and their elimination elicited such howls of rage from the audience that producers brought them back to encore for the show's finale. Well, the success was enough that the lineup of a capella singers has stuck together, now calling themselves Afro-Blue Vocal Band to avoid confusion with the still extant Howard ensemble, and they've been doing a pretty hefty bit of touring around the country to adoring audiences. But once again they return to the city of their birth, co-headlining an evening of a capella music on an international scale—they share the bill with an Italian vocal ensemble, Cluster, and the openers, The Glue, are Swiss. This'll be interesting. Afro-Blue Vocal Band performs at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda. $18-38.
Monday, July 16
Born in the Soviet Union in 1960, Igor Butman grew up alongside a resurgence of jazz in his country. After the war, jazz went underground and went by other names: It was "bourgeois music," not to be trusted and certainly not encouraged. But Butman got to witness a resurgence of jazz, with American musicians doing goodwill tours behind the Iron Curtain and prewar favorites developing new bands and becoming teachers. Butman began his musical explorations hearing the music on Voice of America, but then was able to learn his saxophone at the feet of Russian masters, developing a full, round tone with a tight grip on the blues and a feel that can shift from wistful melancholy to ebullient swing. It's put him at the top of his class, in the sense that he's the most popular jazz musician in Russia (though he lived in the U.S. for the last few years of the Soviet regime)—the Wynton Marsalis of the Federation. And true to form, he leads both small ensembles and full-scale big bands, the latter (the Igor Butman Orchestra) being his vehicle of choice Monday night. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $22.50.
Wednesday, July 18
Surely, when they formed out of New Orleans' many local musicians in 1982, the Rebirth Brass Band had no clue that 30 years later they'd be international stars. But the horrors of Hurricane Katrina necessitated a new breed of ambassadors for the embattled Crescent City, and Rebirth's hard-driving blend of classic Big Easy brass tradition with funk, soul, rhythm & blues, and hip-hop catapulted them from Tremé and French Quarter sidewalks to the hottest stages of every part of the world. In recent years, the brass band has seen a tremendous renaissance, with a wave of performers coming out of New Orleans itself and new bands forming in lots of other places—D.C. included. But except in their hometown, where it's been happening for over a century, the trend is following the model of the Rebirth Brass Band. 7:30 p.m. at The Hamilton, 14th and F streets NW. $33.