Jazz Setlist, Oct. 4-10: Undebatable
Friday, Oct. 5
To just listen to Heidi Martin's voice, free of context, you might not suspect she was a jazz singer. She's got the heart-on-her-sleeve emotional delivery of a folkie, or perhaps a '70s singer-songwriter. At the same time, the instrument itself is dyed-in-the-wool soul. Indeed, Martin can and does tackle those musical styles with ease; it's her skillful ability to maneuver complex harmonies, and second-to-none rhythmic sense, that keeps her in the jazz vocal camp. Martin is an extraordinary performer: She's able to communicate profound intimacy between artist and audience even in the most crowded rooms in town, and to express an arena's worth of strong emotions in the process. Makes it a shame that Setlist has never covered her before. On this outing, Martin pays tribute to a similarly versatile and expressive vocalist, the late, great Abbey Lincoln, with a crack local rhythm section that includes pianist George Burton, bassist Kris Funn, and drummer Kush Abadey. Heidi Martin performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Saturday, Oct. 6
Maybe it's the instrument's correlation with the black church in America, but the presence of the organ in jazz almost always translates into instant soul. That doesn't mean there's a universal sound to the jazz organ, though—even the omnipresent Hammond B-3, though. In fact, there are few jazz keyboardists across the board who are quite as distinct as Dr. Lonnie Smith, who's perhaps the Jimi Hendrix of the organ. He practices the same brewing on his instrument that Hendrix and his fans often call "voodoo"—the amalgam of blues, gospel, rock, psychedelia, funk, and exotic but unlocatable darkness. Indeed, there's a strange sort of creeping dread in the undertones of the Doc's music, one that unfurls into wild, near-manic breaks. His current trio, which includes guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jamire Williams, help push the Doc into new musical frontiers. Dr. Lonnie Smith performs at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center's KC Jazz Club, 2700 F Street NW. $26.
Sunday, Oct. 7
The guitar has really flowered in jazz since the 1990s; never before have there been so many practitioners with such admirable facility on the instrument. It's because of that prevalence (in jazz and American music overall), perhaps, that those players with something original to say on the instrument stand in especially stark relief. Which is why, if you know anything at all about the avant-garde in 21st-century jazz, you already know the name Joe Morris. The electric guitarist can and does attack the chord changes as solidly and sure-footedly as any player; when let loose on them, though, he becomes a different animal. The notes leap, trip, spin, and just plain percolate off the strings, with a fall-where-they-may feel but always a cunning design underneath. It makes Morris a fascinating player even left to his own devices—but all the more when he brings up other great musicians who can challenge him, like bassist William Parker and alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi, who perform with him this week. 7 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15.