This month, we celebrate jazz legends, head to jazz festivals and listen to some innovative jazz at beloved D.C. locations.
I need to begin this column by paying homage to Wayne Shorter, a saxophonist and composer without peer in jazz, who passed away March 2 at the age of 89. If you have never listened to him, his work – particularly his albums on the Blue Note label in the mid-60s – are some of the most rewarding listens in jazz canon. Tributes formal and informal will likely abound this month across D.C. as he was universally admired.
In the meantime, here are five “shows” you should not miss this month.
3.06 – 03.27
Washington Women in Jazz Festival
The annual Washington Women in Jazz Festival, organized and curated by pianist and bandleader Amy K. Bormet, is a month-long showcase of the best female-identifying and non-binary musicians and bandleaders in the Beltway area. The centerpiece is Bormet’s residency at Blues Alley every Monday with a rotating cast of some of her most imaginative peers, but the whole month of shows and events is not to miss. $10+. Various times, venues and addresses across D.C.; washingtonwomeninjazz.com // @wwjazzfest
Vocalist Alison Crockett is a sterling example of the way jazz musicians have evolved as certain members of the community embraced the work of parallel artists like Chaka Khan, Common and D’Angelo in the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts. She can swing an Ella Fitzgerald like the best of them but also sink into some velvet-voiced, grooving fusion. She celebrates the release of her new album “Echoes of an Era Redux,” her re-imagining of a Khan album that featured myriad jazz legends like Chick Corea, Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard. $30+. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Blues Alley: 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; bluesalley.com // @bluesalleydc
Akua Allrich is one of D.C.’s great vocal gifts. She draws strongly on the legacies of African singers like Miriam Makeba and jazz giants like Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln to give her music an always socially-charged, spiritually exhilarated feel. Whether performing one of their songs, her own, or another standard, the sound of her and her band The Tribe is always energizing. Here she performs her annual tribute to Makeba and Simone. $25+. 8 p.m. Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE, DC; atlasarts.org // @atlaspacdc
¡FIASCO! / Janel Leppin
Jazz-punk – or is it punk-jazz – band ¡FIASCO! plays fierce, sometimes ferocious, music that channels the jazz spirit of improvisation with a sonic palette reminiscent of groups like Radiohead, Fugazi and Priests. The D.C.-based quartet’s music can be as relaxing as a meditation soundscape and as twisting and intense as a hardcore rave. Opening is the supremely gifted cellist Janel Leppin, whose gorgeous soundscapes are like watercolors come to life. $15+. 7 p.m. Rhizome DC: 6950 Maple St. NW, DC; rhizomedc.org // @rhizome_dc
Immanuel Wilkins Quartet
If you want exposure to the cutting edge of experimentation and the new vanguard of the tradition, Immanuel Wilkins is your guy. The saxophonist and composer is a protégé of pianist Jason Moran and a student of Black American Music, having played with figures like Solange Knowles before his career took off. Here, he plays more familiar, contemporary-but-still-traditional jazz with a group of regular collaborators, including D.C.’s Kweku Sumbry on drums. Free, registration required. 8 p.m. Arena Stage: 1101 6th St. SW, DC; arenastage.org // @arenastage
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