Part of the goal of this column is to inform you, dear readers, of what jazz music and which jazz musicians are in the city this month, focusing on a handful of performances specifically. However, there is also a subtle point of telling you where the music is happening. I hope you get the chance to pick up the print edition of this month’s magazine, for which I wrote a primer on some of the focal points of where the music happens in D.C. these days. Check it out, and be sure to check out these five – at times very different – shows this month.
11.15, 11.22 + 11.30
Dave Kline Blues Alley Residency
Violinist Dave Kline is one of those musicians that has been around long enough and traveled the world wide enough, that he seems like he’s played a little bit of everything. His shows can range from blistering fast gypsy jazz to French chanson and ’60s blues rock. He’ll have the chance to show off that full range with a series of three shows at Blues Alley, including a special pair of shows with Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia on the harmonica. $30+. Sets at 7 + 9 p.m. Blues Alley: 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; bluesalley.com // @bluesalleydc
Guitarist John Lee wears a few different hats in the D.C. jazz scene. He can be called upon to provide mellow, warm accompaniment to singers and more tame bandleaders or let loose in displays of electric pyrotechnics that should give any six-string slinger a run for their money (his work with Kris Funn’s group CornerStore showcases some of that best). He grew up idolizing Yes and the Grateful Dead and cut his teeth with international performers like Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista. Lee says his original music is like “a meditative journey.” $30+. 7:30 p.m. Mr. Henry’s: 601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC; mrhenrysdc.com // @mr.henrys.dc
Alex Hamburger Quartet
Alex Hamburger grew up in D.C., playing with friends and bandleaders in the mid-2010s. After some time away, the flautist, vocalist and composer returned to the District last year. Her music can feel chilling at times, but that’s because there’s a lot of weight to what she puts into it. Her 2021 debut quartet album “And She Spoke” pays homage to the women that pioneered space for other women, especially Black women, in the arts. She’s a serious artist on the rise. $5+. 6:30 p.m. Wesley Campus, National United Methodist Church: 5312 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; nationalchurch.org/jazz
If you know D.C. music history, you hopefully know what respect and influence Fugazi holds to this very day. The rhythm section of that seminal post-hardcore, Dischord punk band – bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty – wanted to play regularly together again and do something a little different, so they recruited another D.C. local, guitarist Anthony Pirog, to form a new group. Pirog is a warlock on the six-string, capable of furious shredding or conjuring ambient soundscapes (and much more in-between). The Messthetics music often oscillates between those two reference points, as well as the punk jazz of Sonny Sharrock and ’80s dub records. $25+. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Blues Alley: 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; bluesalley.com // @bluesalleydc
Along with Mary Halvorson, Julian Lage is one of the main faces of contemporary jazz guitar. His own records — he’s released a pair of fantastic albums with the storied Blue Note label the last two years — tend toward a neoclassicism in that world: warm, reverberating tones; an emphasis on melody and staccato playing; jaunty, strolling tunes. But he’s also built up quite the resume playing with some of the pillars of the avant-garde jazz world and with legends of the mainstream like vibraphonist Gary Burton. Whether an aficionado or the newly baptized, Lage’s shows are a treat for all. $26+. 8 p.m. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: 600 I St. NW, DC; sixthandi.org // @sixthandi
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