Jazz In Baltimore

by Michael J. West 

Wednesday, October 30

The title of Nate Hook’s 2016 album is Progressive Overload: That’s a message that is hard to misinterpret. True to its promise, the tenor saxophonist’s album features an edgy progressive jazz mien, with rock and electronica tinting its every corner. You might not think at first blush that this was a dude who spent a lot of time on the standards repertoire. But of course, Hook is still a jazz musician, and like most jazz musicians, he finds it fruitful to return to the well and regain inspiration from the tap. Thus we have Hook’s Standards Quartet, a band that (like the album) is exactly what it says it is. On the other hand, nothing about that name says how they will address the standards, and in fact their attack is gloriously open and free. It’s also different all the time—not because it’s jazz (though that does more than its fair share to differentiate things), but because Hook uses different personnel. This time out it’s the crackerjack assemblage of vibraphonist Chris Barrick, bassist Jeff Reed, and drummer Gusten Rudolph. The Nate Hook Standards Quartet performs at 8 and 9:30 p.m. at An die Musik, 409 North Charles Street. $10-$18

Friday, November 1

It’s probably Kenny Garrett’s dark sound that makes him so compelling. It starts in his tone, which has a definite menace and worried cast that is remarkably rare for an alto saxophone sound (especially one as big as Garrett’s). But the darkness also extends to his harmonic approach, which adds gravitas to even the “lighter” notes that he plays. Note that this doesn’t use the word “style”—because Garrett works in so many of those. The guy came up through the work of two very different trumpeters—Woody Shaw, who was a straightahead (mostly) player with a frighteningly harmonic-daredevil prowess and approach, and Miles Davis, in the latter’s second electric period that embraced contemporary R&B and pop. Garrett isn’t usually thought of as having a pop-friendly sound, of course. He is a blues-certified player, if anyone is. (He also came up through Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.) But the tartness, the dark cast, the sheer breadth of his music has made him one of the most distinctive and influential saxophonists going, probably the most influential of his generation. You want to hear that, don’t you? Of course you do. Kenny Garrett performs at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at Keystone Korner, 1350 Lancaster Street. $30-$45

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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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