Jazz Setlist, January 23-29: Two Nights in the Caves
Friday, Jan. 24
A year ago this week, the jazz world lost a vastly underappreciated giant. Lawrence "Butch" Morris played trumpet and cornet, but his major contribution to the music was, believe it or not, as a conductor. More precisely, it was as the architect of "conduction." Morris formulated an approach to the leadership of an improvising ensemble unlike any other: a sort of sign language for the hearing (or at least one that generates hearing), comprising hand gestures and baton signals. Morris would let the musicians develop, through improvisation, motives and ideas until he found the ones he wanted to work with, then he'd use his quiet vocabulary to shape meaningful, crafted pieces of music out of spontaneous creation. The Library of Congress, whose Jazz Film series is often the smartest jazz programming in the District, honors Morris with a screening of the 2010 documentary about him, Black February. 8 p.m. at the LOC's Mary Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free.
Saturday, Jan. 25
You may know him as Christian aTunde Adjuah, or as Christian Scott. In either case, he's a fiery, impassioned young trumpeter from New Orleans. "Impassioned" is the word; there's temptation to call him "moody," "melancholy," or even "angry," based on the often intense politics that color his music. But all of those descriptions are completely at odds with the genial, often hilariously funny personality that appears onstage. Indeed, Christian once told the single funniest story (about his twin brother and another native New Orleanian musician) that I have ever heard on a bandstand. It provides an easy in, though, for music that does often resemble those adjectives, combined with a beautiful trumpet tone and meandering, twisting compositions. Christian aTunde Adjuah performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $30.
Photo: Delphine Diallo
Sunday, Jan. 26
When the stately Romanian pianist met the piercing American violist, jazz ensued. Dark, aggressive jazz. Lucian Ban is stately in his piano touch, but surprisingly blues laden for an Eastern European whose previous release was a study of a classical composer from his homeland. Mat Maneri has an enormously penetrating sound on the viola, using the otherworldly microtones that have become synonymous with his name (Maneri being the son of a microtonal innovator, saxophonist Joe Maneri). It's not a combination that would strike one as likely, but it's one with a unique kind of chemistry—even if the music is what we would call "goth" if it were in a rock context. Which is to say that it's bleak, sometimes deathly slow, and frequently disturbing. It's also more compelling than it sounds, or even than you think. It's music that haunts you well after you believe you've forgotten it. Lucian Ban and Mat Maneri perform at 7 and 8:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns. $15.
Wednesday, Jan. 29
If you don't already know about Christie Dashiell, you're simply not paying attention to the Washington D.C. jazz scene. Dashiell is a young North Carolina native who attended Howard University as an undergraduate, becoming an esteemed member of Howard's a capella jazz ensemble Afro Blue. She served as one of the group's leads, in fact, when they contested NBC's The Sing Off in 2011. By that time, though, Dashiell was already a graduate student at Manhattan School of Music, from which she received her Masters of Music last summer. And what did she do with that degree? She returned to the District of Columbia, where Dashiell has been busy taking the jazz community by storm. She's an extraordinary talent (as everyone who's ever encountered her, especially musicians, will tell you), and the good people at Strathmore are as aware of it as anyone: She's one of this season's artists in residence, under which auspices she's performing this concert. Christie Dashiell performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda. $17.