Jazz Setlist, May 15-21: Trumpet Sandwich
Thursday, May 15
Thad Wilson's gigs are suddenly not as rare as they used to be. The trumpeter and bandleader is fresh off his April residency at Bohemian Caverns, where his music was often incredibly hip, and in between those weekly sessions he managed a gig or two at Twins Jazz and Westminster Presbyterian. Still rare, though, is his big band, which has become an occasional project that often brings in ringers from New York to fill out its sections. (Is that a bad thing? It is not.) So it is a joyous thing to see him putting the band together for what will soon be a biweekly Thursday night gig at the unfairly neglected Columbia Station in Adams Morgan. The place is a bar, first and foremost, so they're not big on heavy cover charges (read: it's cheap!); still, the atmosphere is of a vintage club, so you'd be forgiven for thinking it was 1947. The Thad Wilson Big Band plays at 8:30 p.m. at Columbia Station, 2325 Eighteenth Street NW. $5.
Photo: Daniel Cima
Friday, May 16
In the annals of jazz vibraphone, Roy Ayers gets passed over fairly often—probably because he crossed over so profoundly from the 1960s acoustic jazz in which he started, into the post-fusion, late '70s commercial juggernaut, which itself frequently crossed over into disco. Ayers never quite went all the way into the smooth jazz universe, but his music (and its success) helped pave the way into that universe. The truth is, though, that Ayers had a penchant for irresistible, hypnotic grooves and intoxicating hooks—intoxicating almost in spite of themselves, because they were often challenging and weird. (Seriously, try to sing "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" to yourself.) These things helped make Ayers a bottomless reservoir of hip hop sampling, and a musician whose sound is still captivating forty years after his peak. He deserves more love from jazz people. Roy Ayers performs at 8 p.m. at the Howard Theatre, 620 T Street NW. $36.50.
Tuesday, May 20
When you watch Donvonte McCoy onstage, you might get the impression that he's completely relaxed, playing without a second thought. His demeanor, outwardly, is as chill as it gets, thoroughly laid-back and with a sound as dark and hazy as smoke. But don't let it deceive you, kids. The trumpeter has a sharp, careful mind that's always at work, and what you're hearing aren't laid-back notes but supremely thoughtful ones. That's why McCoy is one of the city's hands-down-best trumpeters, in high demand and gathering a high crowd to hear him play. (Check out his weekend gigs at Eighteenth Street Lounge for all the proof you'll ever need of that last.) Good enough, in fact, that he's earned another go-round as the artist in residence at Bohemian Caverns this month, and you have got to go hear him. Donvonte McCoy performs at 7:30 and 9 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $10.