Jazz Setlist, Oct. 18-24: Grammatically Coherent
Thursday, Oct. 18
What does a jazz writer do with a trio that refers to themselves gleefully as "a grammatically incoherent jazz bastardization"? That's a jazz-crit buzz phrase all by itself, if not a terribly revealing one. Here's the first description that comes to my head: Thiefs is a band that finds a way to make "noisy" and "meditative" work together. Drummer/vocalist Guillermo E. Brown, saxophonist Christophe Panzani, and bassist Keith Witty favor droning, repetitive grooves a la electronic dance music—and sometimes it IS electronic dance music; they move freely between acoustic and electronic instrumentation. Sometimes they're mellow, sometimes they're harsh. The same goes for the compositions and improvisation, though they do share as a common thread their inclinations for atmospherics (a mix of African-American aesthetic and European application). Yeah, I guess that's a grammatically incoherent jazz bastardization...and it's pretty cool. Thiefs performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road NW. $12.50.
Friday, Oct. 19
Paul Carr, who's been covered here many times before, occupies a particular niche in the D.C. jazz scene. He's an accomplished tenor saxophonist, a soulful composer, and a favorite bandleader who's released a number of recordings (including his latest, this summer's Standard Domain). He's an important educator and mentor, with a number of figures local and national pointing to Carr as a major influence in their careers; he's the founder and director of the Jazz Academy of Music and the Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. He is also, under his own power and by consensus, Washington's guardian of the traditional current of jazz—or "real jazz," as he prefers to call it—a philosophy he shares with his good friend Branford Marsalis. You can argue the intellectual point with him, but you can't argue with the way he expresses it on the horn: A powerful, soulful sound with a mighty swing and deep knowledge of the masters. It's better still when grouped with extraordinary local players like the trumpeter Tom Williams, pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Herman Burney, and drummer Harold Summey, who stir up a glorious groove alongside him. This writer isn't fond of jazz-as-ideology...but if the end product sounds like Carr's music, let it fly. The Paul Carr Quintet performs at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I streets NW. $5.
Saturday, Oct. 20
Last week's D.C. Jazz Loft featured a pop-up vintage clothing boutique. This week, the gang at CapitalBop are taking the alternate approach: They're going to a vintage clothing boutique with a pop-up jazz club. Three artists will take to the "bandstand," so to speak, at Meeps in Adams Morgan. But CapitalBop always likes to present something a little different (beyond just its venue choice), and in this case they're working with three soloists. Two saxophonists, baritone Jonah Parzen-Johnson, tenor Brian Settles, and experimental guitarist Anthony Pirog will each perform, unaccompanied, a set of solo improvised music. Appropriately, they're calling the show "The Art of the Soloist." And it will be followed by an Afterparty at Art All Night (915 F St. NW). Oh, and let it also be known that holding a ticket to the show gets you a 15 percent discount on all Meeps merchandise. The Art of the Soloist takes place at 10 p.m. at Meeps, 2104 18th St. NW. $10.
Sunday, Oct. 21
Certain artists embody certain facets of avant-garde jazz; Don Byron embodies it as a catch-all term. The restless clarinetist (and sometimes saxophonist) has run klezmer, free improvisation, hip-hop, soul, and gospel—among others—through a jazz context, always standing on the experimental edge of the idiom in question. Latin music, however, is a standing interest within that clutter of sounds, and Byron’s latest exploration is of the Mexican tradition called Banda. As always, he takes it in new directions: Banda is characterized by its large horn section and vocals; Byron navigates the style with a quartet and no vocalist. His Banda music has been little heard and completely unrecorded thus far, so where he’ll take it is open to speculation—though he's sure to make it all his own. The Don Byron Quartet performs at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15 advance, $20 door.