Jazz Setlist, November 14-20: The Action’s in Bethesda
Friday, Nov. 15
You'd think the name of Omar Sosa's Afri-Lectric Sextet would tell you most of what you need to know about the band and its music, but the truth is that they defy easy categorization. The three-man front line comprises musicians from Germany (trumpeter Joo Kraus), Cuba (saxophonist Leandro Saint-Hill), and the United States (saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum), with Cuban-born pianist Sosa in the rhythm section with Mozambican bassist Childo Tomas and American drummer Marque Gilmore. The music actually is a constantly fluctuating blend of all these traditions: European atmospherics, African and Afro-Caribbean rhythms and melodic patterns, and the harmonic complexities of American jazz... and, yes, a good deal of electrified sound that can sometimes reflect the tradition of jazz fusion, but at other times veers into parts unknown (and even some soundscapes that verge on New Age). In the end, though, the vision that is entirely and exclusively Omar Sosa's ties it all together. The Omar Sosa Afri-Lectric Sextet performs at 8 p.m. at Bethesda Blues and Jazz, 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. $25.
Saturday, Nov. 16
Among the many jazz musicians in D.C. not covered enough in the media (including—perhaps especially—in this space), Jeff Antoniuk may be the busiest and most accomplished. He leads an omnivorous quartet called The Jazz Update with some of the area's best players, and also works with the MARS 4-Tet, among others. He runs the jazz choir Capital City Voices. And he's a prolific educator, directing the Jazz Band Masterclass and Maryland Summer Jazz Workshop, as well as inDepth Jazz Clinics. Under the latter aegis, Antoniuk is workshopping musicians on the album Maiden Voyage, the 1965 recording by the legendary Herbie Hancock. As part of the workshop he and a crack team of D.C. musicians (Kenny Rittenhouse, Allyn Johnson, Mike Pope, Todd Harrison) are performing the entire album onstage. Friday and Saturday, 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $20.
Monday, Nov. 18
Dave Douglas is turning 50 years old this year (already has, in fact), and in celebrating it he's on a very specific touring itinerary. Douglas is performing in each of the 50 states, a quest to see some of the parts of the country that he doesn't usually get to experience on a jazz tour, and to offer his fiercely idiosyncratic music to people who don't get to see much independent jazz. Now, you may not have heard, but D.C. is not a state. Nor is it a place that's terribly sheltered from the jazz world, offbeat or on. But what kind of schmuck would split hairs in such a way to exclude themselves from a momentous tour? Douglas leads a splendid new quintet (Jon Irabagon on saxophone, Matt Mitchell on piano, Linda Oh on bass, Rudy Royston on drums) and the material—mostly Douglas originals—is always strong. The Dave Douglas Quintet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $35.
Wednesday, Nov. 20
The hook for singer Rene Marie—quasi-local, in that she lives in Fredericksburg, Va.—has tended to be her marvelous storytelling abilities as a songwriter. Her 2013 recording I Wanna Be Evil, though, doesn't include her own songs. The album is her tribute to the impossibly sultry jazz vocalist Eartha Kitt, apparently the first such tribute since Kitt's 2008 death. The real surprise of the album isn't Rene Marie's ability to channel Kitt, which is impressive, but the fact that it simply reinforces her storytelling. She makes the songs her own, with the compelling arcs that her own songs have, along with the ever-present influences of blues, soul, and jazz that are Rene Marie's stock in trade. The album was just released this week, and this performance, as it happens, is its live premiere in the United States, so don't sleep. Rene Marie performs at 8 p.m. at Bethesda Blues and Jazz. $25.