Jazz Setlist, May 2-7: Not Your Usual Venues
Saturday, May 3
Look, everyone knows about the Funk Parade at this point, right? It's a daylong outdoor fair and festival on U Street that's assumed such proportion that, frankly, the titular parade seems to be one of the smallest parts. And while, yes, funk is the dominant motif of the day, there'll be plenty of musical contributions from funk's cousins rock, hip-hop, go-go, and jazz. In fact, the parade itself (beginning at 5 p.m. at the corner of U and Vermont) features Yamomanem, the city's ambassador of second-line rhythm that starts with traditional New Orleans jazz and brings in modern possibilities and, increasingly, D.C. sensibilities. In advance of the parade, you can wander down U to the M.A. Winter Building (1436 U Street NW) and see CapitalBop's jazz showcase at noon, featuring drummer Quincy Phillips's trio and trumpeter Donvonte McCoy's group. Then, following the parade at 7:30 p.m., drummer Tony Martucci leads his quintet at Twins Jazz (1344 U Street NW). Get ye, therefore, your funk on—but don't forget to swing. The Funk Parade festival takes place beginning at noon, all over U Street NW. Free.
Sunday, May 4
There are no singers in the Nels Cline Singers. So those of you getting excited about seeing Wilco's guitarist backing a choir can cancel your plans. What you have instead is guitarist Cline, bassist Trevor Dunn, and drummer/percussionist Cyro Baptista—all of whom have sterling avant-garde jazz credentials—playing freeform improvisational music (and each doubling on some form of electronics or effects in the process). "Freeform" doesn't mean it's all atonal mush, though; the Singers lean toward conventional harmony and serious beats, whether rock or jazz or just uncategorizable "groove." (And okay, yes, you might get some wordless vocal chanting here and there—certainly that's the case on their new CD, Macroscope—but we're not counting that as singers, okay? No singers.) Admittedly, this matrix can give them a little (very little) bit of a jam-band vibe, but the overriding sense is of a bunch of musical misfits doing some onstage, jazz-oriented experiments. It's good stuff, folks. The Nels Cline Singers perform at 7:30 p.m. at The Hamilton, 14th and F Streets NW. $20.
Tuesday, May 6
Here's what I said about Rochelle Rice in last year's Jazzies, in which she was the year's "Best Vocalist" winner: "Rice can, and does, sing anything and in just about any context. Moreover, that artistic generosity is matched with an unwavering grace and dignity in her performances; in its quiet way, it's dazzling." Five months later, Rice keeps finding ways to bear out these claims even more. So when she holds a concert in D.C., it should be your priority. Especially when there's cake, as is promised at Rice's birthday show and jam session. The extraordinary singer will be accompanied by pianist Sam Prather, drummer Dante Pope, and cake in a performance that promises to be full of surprises. And did I mention there'll be cake? Rochelle Rice performs at 7 p.m. at Sankofa, 2714 Georgia Ave NW. Free.