Mexican Food and the Other Jazz Church: Jazz Setlist, Aug. 21-27
Thursday, August 21
The partyin'-est, beat-heaviest, most flat-out fun jazz ensemble of any kind in Washington D.C. has got to be Yamomanem. Leader and sousaphonist Monty Montgomery (who you may also know as the front man for Black Masala) has his roots, both personal and artistic, in New Orleans. But his branches extend a long way from the Crescent City. He has never simply played the two-beat street march that is associated with the second line, and as time goes on he mixes more and more of the District's street rhythm—I speak, of course, of go-go—into the band's music. There are trap drums and hand drums in the mix, along with trumpet, trombone, a sax or two, and guitar. Montgomery holds down the bottom with his wraparound horn, and contributes vocals where necessary: A particularly fun example comes on the band's 2012 CD, Yamomanem, in a spirited take of the '20s classic "Cake Walking Babies From Home." So what can make a traditional jazz band that also incorporates funk and go-go into its sound better still? Mexican food. Yamomanem performs at 9 p.m. at Haydees, 3102 Mount Pleasant Street NW. Free.
Friday, August 22
Most musicians are lucky to get a bona fide comeback in their late career. Ramsey Lewis has had two—just in the last five years. Around 2009-10 his music saw a rebirth, with the man himself as its classically oriented but gospel-steeped composer. But with funk, hip-hop, and R&B gaining increasing currency in the jazz rubric, Lewis' electric contributions are getting a second life, too. Lewis' new album, Ramsey: Taking Another Look, drops in on his 40-year-old fusion classic Sun Goddess with contemporary reworkings that are still irradiated by his beautiful, soul-up-to-the-gills playing. And that's not to take away from the contributions of his Electric Band: guitarist Henry Johnson, keyboardist Mike Logan, bassist Joshua Ramos, and drummer Charles Heath. Lewis has been around, mind you; he was one of the last jazz artists to have a major pop hit. But it's now, at 79, that he's finally becoming a legend. The Ramsey Lewis Electric Band performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $60.
Saturday, August 23
You all know, at this point, about Jazz Night at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest. But you may be less familiar with the other jazz church, at the other end of town. That would be Jazz@Wesley, a monthly Saturday night event at Wesley United Methodist Church in Chevy Chase. Like Westminster, it's cheap: $5-$10 for adults, and kids get in free. And this week, it hosts one of the best artists in D.C., who's just made one of the best albums of the year. Mark Meadows, a piano player, composer, and sometimes singer, is performing music from his release Somethin' Good. Hearing Meadows' songs is a bit like biting into a ripe piece of fruit: surprising, but delightful, bursts of color and flavor. All the more so when he has a crack band with him like saxophonist Elijah Balbed, bassist Romeir Mendez, and drummer Aaron Seeber. They play at 6:30 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 5312 Connecticut Avenue NW. $10.