Thanks for sticking around through that long intermission! We are back, this time under a new aegis (oh, you noticed!), but alive and kicking.
For those of you just joining us, hello! This is Jazz Setlist, an online column of weekly D.C. jazz picks that for eight years—from October 2009 to last month—lived on Washington City Paper‘s website. WCP wasn’t able to continue with it, and Washingtonian has graciously adopted it.
And here we go!
Thursday, November 9
If you’re anything like me, the very presence of the instruments on Arco Belo’s bandstand—violin, viola, cello, bass, accordion, piano, percussion—will throw you for a loop at first. It’s such a completely left-field combination of instruments for an ensemble in a jazz club (cello and accordion?) that you might not even consider for a second that these are the instruments associated with the Argentinean tango. Then they start to play, and it hits you. Can’t help it; it’s got all the grace and flow and romance of the tango, but with an unexpected additive: swing. That’s the province of bassist Ethan Foote and percussionist Lucas Ashby, with the glorious frontline provided by Aaron Malone on violin, Nicholas Black on viola, cellist Carol Anne Bosco rounding out the de facto string quartet, and Simone Baron on accordion and piano. Tango jazz, chamber jazz, world music…in their hands it’s all the same. Arco Belo performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U Street, Northwest. $10.
Saturday, November 11
If you had to locate the Dave Kline Band on a musical map, you would find the border between roots-rock and gypsy jazz, and place them somewhere along it. Of course in the process, you might also have to draw a new map, because most of the ones in print aren’t aware that there is such a border. In fact there are a whole lot of previously unknown borders that the quartet led by electric-violinist Kline crosses back and forth. And that eclecticism is thrown into relief by the stalwart Brazilian vocal jazz that Veronneau performs. Not that the wonderful lead singer Lynn Veronneau sings only Jobim standards, or for that matter only in Portuguese, but she holds tight to the acoustic flavor and samba/bossa rhythmic matrix even in her own English- or French-language originals, or in the occasional Beatles tune they throw into their sets. Her position on the map is as solid as Kline’s is static. The Dave Kline Band and Veronneau perform at 8 p.m. at AMP by Strathmore. $18-$28.
Sunday, November 12
Anyone who’s seen Brian Blade playing drums with, for example, Wayne Shorter surely knows what a valuable natural resource he is. A powerhouse virtuoso with a skittery ride cymbal, Blade can back up his chops with great intelligence and sensitivity. Witness his own band, the Fellowship. They’re about melody, atmosphere, and warmth, not battery. But even they have never been quite so subtle and soft-hued as is their current album, Body and Shadow. Not only does Blade lay out much of the time, but his bandmates—pianist Jon Cowherd, saxophonists Myron Walden (who also plays clarinet) and Melvin Butler, guitarist Dave Devine, and bassist Chris Thomas—go in a completely new direction. To their melodics, add drone harmonies and delicate textures. They’ve never sounded so, well, indie-rock, despite putting formidable improvisation in the mix. It’s subtle, as mentioned, but also beautiful and endlessly intriguing. Brian Blade and the Fellowship perform at 7:30 p.m. at Bethesda Blues & Jazz, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. $35.
Tuesday, November 14
Satoko Fujii, a Tokyo-based pianist and composer, is—how best to say this?—insanely prolific. In the last 15 years, I’ve been able to find one year where she released a mere three albums; extend that another ten years and add everything up, and she’s put out around ninety. They have an astonishing ability to never repeat, too; she has worked in solo, duo, trio, quartet, right on up to big band. (She even maintains separate big bands in Tokyo and New York!) And each project has a thoroughly different concept, from explorations of Japanese folk traditions to surprisingly lush orchestral pieces. They do all tend to slant toward the avant-garde, with Fujii’s idiosyncratic melodic and harmonic concepts at play. But the (usually) quartet Gato Libre is in a league all its own. Why? Because in this band, Fujii eschews the usual piano and transfers her unique ideas to the accordion. The least one can say about it is that it’s fascinating. Gato Libre—in trio form—performs at 7:00 at Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street, Northwest. $20.