by Michael J. West
Tuesday, April 23
I think we can safely accuse Andrew White of having plenty of personality. Indeed, personality often seems to have exploded all over him. He wears garishly colored and patterned clothes and Coke bottle glasses; mugs like a madman onstage or on camera; and, should you ever get the chance to hear it, has a truly hilarious outgoing answering machine message. Beneath all that, though, White has a very deep, even scholarly, knowledge of jazz (including hundreds of John Coltrane transcriptions) and a very long history of performing it in D.C. (since he was a college student at Howard in the early 1960s). His sound has as much personality as his persona does: a slate-hard, often coarse tone that fearlessly ventures in and out of the changes and a brusquely unique time feel. He’s taken any cues from Trane, and plays a great deal of his repertoire, but don’t let that fool you: Andrew White is Andrew White. He performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW. $25.
Wednesday, April 24
Colin Chambers is not an ostentatious piano player. Neither is he a subtle piano player, however. He has the ineluctable knack for giving the keys exactly the touch and tone that is required at any moment in the performance, neither more nor less. It may sound like I am describing plain old basic competence, but it is in fact quite a rare phenomenon. It’s a question of smarts, of familiarity with the material and the language, of taste. Taste, indeed, might well be the kernel of what I’m getting at here. Chambers belongs in company with Red Garland, Tommy Flanagan, or Eric Reed: players with extraordinarily clean concepts and tight but inventive harmonies who do what needs to be done, say what they have to say, and get back to the service of the song. (He does the same on electric piano, incidentally, when he works with Donvonte’ McCoy’s quintet—it just has a little more funk in it there.) Colin Chambers performs at 7:00 p.m. at Sotto, 1610 Fourteenth Street NW (downstairs). Free.
Thursday, April 25
The sultry sound of vocalist Changamiré (pronounced Chang-ga-MEER-ay) is one of the District’s unfortunately well kept secrets. That is to say, she’s a marvelous singer with a ginger, but detailed approach to a song, and some of the most beautiful articulation you’ve ever heard. And you haven’t heard her enough, because nobody does—her performances in the area are tragically few and far between. What a fine opportunity we have, then! Dupont Underground, the (literally) underground arts space that was D.C.’s central streetcar station in days of yore, has appointed Changamiré as its “jazz ambassador.” Among other, advocacy-related duties, this post provides her with a concert venue that she is accordingly making use of with her longtime sextet (featuring, along with herself, trumpeter Donvonte’ McCoy, trombonist Lincoln Ross, pianist Clifton Brockington, bassist B.T. Richardson, and drummer Steve Walker). Jazz musicians are always looking for new venues; well, this one’s a doozy. Changamiré performs at 7:30 p.m. at Dupont Underground, 19 Dupont Circle NW. $25-$28.
Saturday, April 27
It takes a certain amount of irreverence to put The Desertion Trio into a jazz picks column. Then again, The Desertion Trio are about nothing if not irreverence. Nick Millevoi, the band’s guitarist and leader, is a proud associate of John Zorn and his Tzadik label, meaning that he giddily mishmashes rock, metal, film music, contemporary classical, and free jazz. The same is also true of his bandmates, experimental bassist Johnny DeBlase (who a few years ago made a cacophonous but truly scorching recording with jazz trumpeter Joe Moffett) and drummer Kevin Shea (a member of the band Mostly Other People Do the Killing, one of the most jubilantly irreverent outfits in the jazz world). If that’s too irreverent for you…well, you’re probably not much into avant-garde jazz to begin with. But you can also go there for the other two acts on the bill: DC guitarist Anthony Pirog, another irreverent experimenter but one with great currency in jazz circles, and free-jazz drummer Nate Scheible in a duet with Cleveland saxophonist Alex Henry. They perform beginning at 8 p.m. at Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street NW. $10.
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.