On the Lawn in Petworth: Jazz Setlist, August 28-September 3
Thursday, August 28
If Mel Torme's singing voice was velvet, then Tim Green's saxophone tone is satin. But his improvisations are reinforced steel: There is graceful architecture and unswerving assurance in his solos, enough so that if you aren't paying careful attention when he's onstage, you might just assume that they're part of the written tune. The Baltimorean is a frequent visitor to D.C., but he's got no small amount of cache in New York and around the country, either—an increasingly frequent circumstance among our hometown jazz players, but Green is special nonetheless. Put him on a bandstand with members of an expert rhythm section, like bassist Romeir Mendez and drummer Billy Williams, and watch him fly. The Tim Green Trio performs at 9 p.m. at Dukem, 1114 U Street NW. Free.
Friday, August 29
When it rains, it pours. Reginald Cyntje released his first album, Freedom's Children: The Celebration, in the fall of 2011, and released two more in the next two and a half years. The trombonist has a lot of music to get out, in other words, and the well hasn't yet run dry. He's written yet another suite of songs, perhaps his most complex and unusual yet, and has been working them out with his regular collaborators in the Reginald Cyntje Group. This weekend, that group (saxophonist Brian Settles, steelpan player Victor Provost, vocalist Christie Dashiell, bassist Herman Burney, drummer Amin Gumbs, and pianist Tim Whalen sitting in for Allyn Johnson) will premiere the nine new compositions that Cyntje calls Spiritual Awakening. What will they do with these remarkable, idiosyncratic tunes? It remains to be seen, but it's exciting to ponder. They perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $25.
Saturday, August 30
This year's season of the Petworth Jazz Project has breezed by quickly—too quickly for Setlist to give it the attention it deserves. The PJP is a summer outdoor concert series that's been going since 2011: One Saturday each month, jazz comes to the lawn at the Petworth Recreation Center for an evening of free music in a comfortable residential neighborhood. This year, the organizers are very specifically including opening acts that appeal to children; enter the Singing Lizard, aka Liz DeRoche, who has nothing to do with jazz but everything to do with making pop songs for the kids that are catchy without being cloying. They're actually good, in other words. And she's just the warm-up act for alto saxophonist Braxton Cook, a young D.C. native who was already turning heads with his gigs at Twins and the HR-57 jam sessions in high school and college. He's now in New York, touring with rising trumpet star Christian Atunde Adjuah among others; he'll kill it out in Petworth. The concert begins at 5:30 p.m. at Petworth Recreation Center, Eighth and Taylor Streets NW. Free.
Tuesday, September 2
The Polish jazz guitarist Rafal Sarnecki casts a wide net. It's possible to hear minimalist classical, Latin dance, and folk—both American and Eastern European—in his music. Its foundation, however, is one of sturdy, smart, thoroughly contemporary jazz. Sarnecki is a composer, with a skillful touch at dramatic tension and pacing within his involved but highly melodic tunes; on record (his new one, Cat's Dream, just came out this week), they're laden with dense arrangements, but the underpinning is a light touch of single-note guitar lines that vibe like a piano. (Indeed, Sarnecki often doubles the guitar lines with piano.) He's got a considerable reserve of potential that he's just beginning to tap. The Rafal Sarnecki Quintet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street NW. $15.