Jazz In Baltimore

by Michael J. West

Tuesday, November 5

Bassist Ian Rashkin is one of the most versatile, and not incidentally one of the busiest, musicians in Baltimore. He seems both able and liable to play anything, from punk to jazz to classical to music for films and dance companies. But Rashkin first got his jazz feet wet in the oft-overlooked musical hub of Minneapolis in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, and his partner in crime there was the pianist Todd Harper, a similarly eclectic and adventurous soul. Nearly 30 years after Rashkin left Minnesota, Harper and Rashkin are together again for a performance that also features two of the area’s most exciting and omnivorous talents: Sarah Hughes, the alto saxophonist whose purpose seems to be to never duplicate the same musical expedition, and Eric Kennedy, the drummer who has played with everyone, on everything, and chews all of it to bits. The program will feature some of the core duo’s older pieces together, some new pieces, and almost certainly some turns so unexpected that even the artists can’t prepare for them. The Todd Harper-Ian Rashkin Quartet performs at 8 p.m. at An die Musik, 409 North Charles Street. $10-$15

Thursday, November 7

There’s a certain snappiness in Harry Appelman’s piano playing. It’s not a term that goes naturally with the piano, perhaps, but remember that the piano is a percussion instrument at bottom. Appelman doesn’t necessarily play it like a drum as so many pianists do; he is a melodist. Still, when he gets behind the keys, there’s a certain crisp movement in his fingers, as if he’s just a little bit impatient to get some swing happening and can’t quite wait for the full rhythm section to come in. It’s even the case on ballads (one favorite is his version of “Time on My Hands,” from his 2016 album Freehand), although the feeling there is less of snapitude and more one that each note is precious and only so much of it can be used in the space allotted. The point is that Appelman’s time and touch are quite calibrated, certainly poised, and inspire a kind of giddy movement in their listener. Which should be you. The Harry Appelman Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. at UMBC’s Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall, 1000 Hilltop Circle. $5-$15

Saturday, November 9

You might have seen multi-reedist Seth Kibel in a variety of musical settings around the DC-Baltimore area, indeed around the entire Mid Atlantic. Kibel is a klezmer specialist who leads an ensemble called the Kleztet in exploring the rich heritage of the traditional improvised, bouncing music of the Jewish diaspora in Eastern Europe. He is also, as you might expect of a woodwind player, a high-caliber jazz musician, working in classic swing as well as mainstream modern jazz. (Kibel also writes and performs music for children, something that will more than likely feature more prominently in this column in the future.) At his best, though, Kibel does both things at once. Sometimes his concertizing embraces a set of both jazz and klezmer songs, stuff from the repertoire as well as his own compositions. As luck (or his own gifts) would have it, he’s able to find other musicians who are equally conversant in both styles, as in his trio with pianist Sean Lane and bassist Bob Abbott. The whole family can enjoy it, and it doesn’t cost a dime. Seth Kibel performs at 3 p.m. at the Enoch Pratt Library’s Light Street Branch, 1251 Light Street. Free

Sunday, November 10

Sultry, smart, subtle Sutton. Yes, we here at Jazz in Baltimore are full of alliteration when it comes to telling you about Tierney Sutton, one of the most popular jazz vocalists working the scene today. (You may know that an awful lot of musicians look to the academic world for a stable income. Sutton is the opposite, having recently left a position at Indiana University because it interfered with her performing schedule.) There’s a great deal to say about the startling technique Sutton has at her disposal. For just one jaw-dropping example, on her new album Screen Play, she approaches “If I Only Had a Brain” with a soft sort of growl, then on the bridge crawls with great suspense toward that phrase “And then I’d sit and think some more.” Creeping up on the final word, she then holds it—“morrrrrrrre”—for nearly seven bars. Wow. Enabling Sutton on such treks is the great Tierney Sutton Band, a 25-year-long collaboration with pianist Christian Jacob, twin bassists Kevin Axt and Trey Henry, and drummer Ray Brinker. Sutton is the front woman, but the band proudly bills itself as a collective and accordingly seems to share a brain. They share it with you, too, at 5 and 7 p.m. at Keystone Korner, 1350 Lancaster Street. $20-$30

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a freelance writer, editor, and jazz journalist who has been covering the Washington, D.C. jazz scene since 2009. He spends most days either hunkered down in the clubs or in his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.

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