Jazz Setlist, September 13-19: Vive Gypsy Jazz!
Thursday, Sept. 13
The "Hot Club" trend is one that this writer hopes never goes away: Gypsy jazz is too good to fade out. A bit of context might help here: Around 1933 or so, somewhere in France, a Parisian violin virtuoso named Stephane Grappelli met a Belgian-born Romani guitarist named Django Reinhardt. Discovering their mutual love of American jazz, they began jamming together in a quintet at home and backstage at clubs and theaters before they found sponsorship by a jazz appreciation society called The Hot Club of France. The Quintet of the Hot Club of France was so original and so influential that it's bred imitators ever since, though most especially in the past 15 years or so in the United States, where seemingly every jazz town has introduced its own "Hot Club." And yes, D.C. has one. Acoustic guitarist Stephan Caucheteux leads the Hot Club of DC, which also features a second guitarist (Craig Bumgarner), a violinist (Benjamin Brooks), and a bassist (Rick Netherton) playing standards, Reinhardt originals, and the traditional songs of France. This ensemble is exactly why Hot Clubs need to endure. The Hot Club of DC performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Friday, Sept. 14
Pharoah Sanders has recently become a regular visitor to D.C., by way of performances at Bohemian Caverns (this year from Sept. 13-15). Each visit, though, seems to trump the last. Sanders is the man who took John Coltrane’s innovations on the tenor saxophone and compounded them into a multilayered, extremely dense sound that lets him play two notes at once—and then make those notes jump to higher ones. It’s a raw, jarring sound—if perhaps more melodic and less avant-garde than it first seems—but one that cuts to the bone and is impossible to turn away from. His every appearance is a vital one. Pharoah Sanders performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $40.
He's so continuously present, and so full of fresh ideas, that it's easy to forget just how long Joe Lovano has been at it. In fact, the tenor saxophonist is closing in on 40 years as a force to reckoned with in jazz. One of those rare players who's as comfortable in the avant-garde as in straight bebop, Lovano is a veteran of both Woody Herman's 1970s big band (in which he made some of that era's most classic traditional recordings) and of drummer Paul Motian's 1980s free trio (in which he made some of that era's edgiest), plus a gigantic variety of his own projects where he acts as composer, bandleader, mentor, and all around beacon of hip. But none of it, arguably, reaches the heights of hip that his Us Five quintet does. Featuring two drummers and bass star Esperanza Spalding in addition to Lovano and pianist James Weidman, the band is a breathless explorer of fiery new territory, especially in the realm of rhythm—though with Lovano at the helm, there's never much distance from great melody, too. Joe Lovano's Us Five performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $37.75.
Photo of Joe Lovano: Ed Newman
Photo of Pharoah Sanders: Dmitry Scherbie