Jazz Setlist, March 29-April 3: It Might As Well Be Spring, Goddammit
Friday, March 29
There aren't a whole lot of vibraphonists on the D.C. jazz scene, but the most prominent of those few is a real wizard. Chuck Redd is also a drummer, and in that capacity has mentored many of the young musicians in the District. It's a much greater treat, though, to see him pick up the mallets—Redd prefers two-mallet work to four—and attack the vibes. It's an instrument that serves as both a melodic and percussive one, and where most players tend to favor one of those aspects over the other, Redd has found a (remarkably steady) happy medium between them. The program for this performance, though, is definitely inclined toward melody. He's working tunes from classic cinema, great movie music from all eras of Hollywood. Chuck Redd performs at 11 a.m. at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda. $15.
Saturday, March 30
In a town full of excellent bass players, Kent Miller is not one of flashiest. He's not even a terribly frequent soloist; I've seen the St. Louis native play sideman gigs where he didn't take a solo all night, even in tunes where every other member of the band took one. Miller's mastery takes a far more important path. First, he holds the beat, a dying art in many corners of contemporary jazz—he doesn't play around the beat, he doesn't subvert it, he doesn't leave it to the drummer, he gets right to the center of it with low, hearty thumps. Just as importantly, Miller adds dimension to the music. A jazz band without a good bass line is like an object that casts no shadow, and Miller lays out that shadow as effectively as perhaps any D.C. bassist this side of the late Keter Betts. When he does solo, though, strap yourself in for something glorious. (Even so, keep your ear on that beat: Miller will never fail it.) Kent Miller leads his own quartet at 9 p.m. at HR-57—which, in its current location at 1007 H St. NE, is better than it's ever been. $15.
Sunday, March 31
It was only about six weeks ago that Bill Cole performed here with Luke Stewart. Here's what I said at the time:
"Bill Cole is an unconventional reed player; he's always on the lookout for new sounds and textures....Cole, best known as the leader of the Untempered Ensemble, is probably the only jazz musician of renown who specializes in reed instruments from everywhere but the Western world. That includes the sona, shehnai, atenteben, nadaswaram, and the didgeridoo; he also has an interest in instruments with more than one reed, making him a multimultireedist."
All of that still applies, of course. Setlist wouldn't normally include a pick for someone so recently after a previous performance...but this time, instead of a duet with Stewart, Cole is in the fundamentally different format of his own (aforementioned) Untempered Ensemble. Whether you saw the previous show or not, you really should see this one. Here, Cole's menagerie of sounds from half a world away mingle with the tuba of Joseph Daley, saxophone of Ras Moshe, bass of Shayna Dulberger, percussion of Atticus Shadrack Cole, and vocals of Althea SullyCole. (the latter two are Cole's children.) It's a globe-spanning, glorious-noise-making, context-exploding formula and just about as good as it gets. Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble performs at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $20.