Jazz Setlist, Aug. 30-Sept. 5: Go Down, Mose
Thursday, Aug. 30
"Mose Allison," I wrote about a year ago, "is exactly the kind of guy the Pixies would write one of their most joyful songs about ... Onstage, he’s clearly delighted to once again sit behind the keys, and every note sounds with grace and aplomb as he finds new ways to attack 75-year-old Sonny Boy Williamson blues and his own originals." If anything, that's even more true today than it was then; Allison ages like a fine wine. And at 84—older than those Sonny Boy Williamson songs—the jazz world has acknowledged it. Allison is one of the 2013 class for the NEA Jazz Masters, the highest honor our nation awards to jazz musicians, recognized for his nonpareil songwriting; it's the rare stuff that we can say will last long after the composer is gone. His many fans and proteges will see to it, and if you can get down to see him, you will, too. Mose Allison performs at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25.
Friday, Aug. 31
Antonio Parker is a bluesman. Not to say that he sticks to straight, classic 12-bar blues—although they're certainly a big part of his repertoire—but the alto saxophonist works their emotional rawness and slippery phrasing into evrything he plays, be it a standard or his own melodic, hard-swinging tunes. It's also present in his very tone, a hard, muscular thing that's nonetheless an inviting and often joyful presence on the bandstand. It speaks to his upbringing in Philadelphia, one of the richest source cities for the jazz tradition, but also to his refinement at Howard University's renowned jazz program that has likewise shaped a number of the District's (and the country's) finest musical voices. The latter, combined with his 15 years or so in our town, has weaved him into the ever-thickening fabric of D.C. jazz—hopefully for good. Antonio Parker performs with his quartet at 9 p.m. at HR-57, 1007 H St. NE. $15.
Sunday, Sept. 2
From Roy Clark to Ian MacKaye, the District has never had a shortage of well-known guitar players in its ranks. It has been rare, though, to find a D.C. guitarist with the rich originality of Anthony Pirog. Basing his playing on a pliant, crystalline tone that’s immediately recognizable as his own, Pirog mods and re-molds that tone into any shape he needs in a given moment. He’s half of the experimental folk duo Janel and Anthony, but also the axe man for the indie-rock outfit The Bang, and has spearheaded contemporary classical performances in the area too. Pirog’s schooling, though, is in jazz—but even there he runs the gamut from straight-ahead to fusion to free. Hence, even when fronting a trio at a jazz club, one can’t be quite sure which Anthony Pirog will take the stage. That it’ll be intriguing, though, is a guarantee. The Anthony Pirog Trio performs at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $10.