Jazz Setlist, November 15-21: Sax and Guitar
Thursday, Nov. 15
This year, there was no shortage of jazz recordings that generated buzz both inside and outside of the jazz community. But I placed at the top of my list the fairly straightforward and not tremendously hyped Angelic Warrior, the new album by alto saxophonist Tia Fuller. She, too, is doing pretty well outside the jazz world—she's Beyonce's saxophonist and musical director. There are traces of R&B that snake their way into her postbop jazz stylings, but its real mark on Fuller's music is the energy and rhythmic presence, as well as a novel approach to instrumentation: Angelic Warrior features, along with Fuller's regular bassist, John Pattitucci wielding his electric bass like a guitar. Fuller herself, in addition to visionary gifts as a bandleader and composer, has a vision on her instrument; traces of Kenny Garrett, the era's alto guru, can readily be heard in her work, but there's a creamy density and a sheen that can't be attributed to anyone but Fuller. The Tia Fuller Quartet performs at 7:30 p.m. at The Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. $35.
Photo: Michael Hoefner
Friday, Nov. 16
D.C. guitarist Jerry Gordon passed away this summer. He was a favorite guitarist of jazz audiences and musicians alike, the go-to guy for getting that Wes Montgomery style of thumb-picked single-note runs. So local musicians are gathering in celebration and memory of Gordon, his life, and his music. The remembrance is taking place at what may be the nerve center of D.C. jazz: Jazz Night at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Two local guitar stalwarts, Paul Wingo and Rick Whitehead, are joined by trumpeter Thad Wilson and the rhythm section of bassist Emory Diggs and drummer Johnny Jones, along with some surprise special guests, in giving Jerry Gordon the proper send-off to the ancestors. 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I streets SW. $5.
Photo: Elvert Barnes
Sunday, Nov. 18
In recent years, jazz musicians have increasingly embraced the possibilities found in the world of indie rock—not merely the business model, which has long been a necessity for jazz, but the actual style. Indie rock has long had an "anything goes" element of experimentation, and since the '90s it has happily embraced the aesthetics on offer in jazz, particularly the harmonic and textural palettes. Jazz has done the same, and guitarist David Ullman offers a pungent example. His own playing moves facilely from rock 'n' roll snarl to cool jazz chord colorings, and the quintet he leads on his new album Falling does the same. Drummer Vinnie Sperrazza does so with the most flexibility, the light chatter of jazz cymbal work giving way without fuss to heavy rock propulsion, but that's not to take away from the melodic versatility of vibraphonist Chris Dingman, saxophonist Karel Ruzicka Jr., and bassist Gary Wang. Melody, in fact, is a strength of the entire band—it's good music, pure and simple, and if they float with grace between rock and jazz in the process, perhaps that's just window dressing. The David Ullmann Quintet performs at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Tuesday, Nov. 20
Listening to Lyle Link play, one might think he's holding not a tenor saxophone but a sword. That's the only explanation for Link's ability to cut through you with every note he plays—and it's a cut right through the gut. Link is one of our city's best horn players, his deep sound having a gruff, grunting edge that makes it both unmistakable and unforgettable. He's not only a fine addition to Bohemian Caverns' growing list of Artists in Residence, but one that makes you genuinely wonder what took the Caverns so long to bring him in. The fact that he brings with him the stellar quartet of Allyn Johnson (piano), Kris Funn (bass), and Lenny Robinson (drums) only makes his residence that much more important. Lyle Link performs at 7 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15.