5.9-5.11: Blue Note’s diamond anniversary, D.C. Jazz Loft, Azar Lawrence & more

The Kennedy Center has pulled out just about every stop imaginable for its “Blue Note at 75” festival, which celebrates the famous record label and culminates this weekend. If you missed the chance to buy tickets for the now-sold-out major concert on Sunday, you can still make it to the free programming at Millennium Stage each night, or to the other ticketed concerts featuring artists on the current Blue Note roster: the Terence Blanchard Group on Friday night, and the Robert Glasper Experiment on Saturday.

Plus, not having a ticket on Sunday frees you up to come hang at CapitalBop’s D.C. Jazz Loft, where three of the District’s most energizing acts will be performing in intimate, bare-bones formats: Akua Allrich in duo with Kris Funn, Allyn Johnson playing solo piano, and Charles Woods playing free-form saxophone with the lone accompaniment of a drummer. You can also find our full listings at CapitalBop’s D.C. jazz calendar. All our favorite shows below have a label. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, MAY 9

cb picks:

  • D.C. All-Star Band (Blue Note at 75), Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 6 p.m.
  • Terence Blanchard Group, Kennedy Center, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m.
  • Azar Lawrence Quintet, Blues Alley, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m.
  • Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.
  • U St. Jazz Jam, Dukem, 11 p.m.

D.C. All-Star Band Celebrates Blue Note (Blue Note at 75), Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 6 p.m. | District-based musicians from different musical circles come together here to play music recorded on Blue Note Records, in a band directed by the tenor and soprano saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed. They will be paying special tribute to the legendary house bassist for Blue Note, Butch Warren, a D.C. native. Joining Balbed is the alto saxophonist and flutist Lyle Link, the trumpeter Kenny Rittenhouse, the trombonist Raynel Frazier, the pianist Tim Whalen, the bassist Eliot Seppa and the drummer Dave McDonald. The event is part of the Kennedy Center’s “Blue Note at 75” celebration. Free. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Michael Thomas Quintet, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | Tenaciously swinging and lyrically playful, the trumpeter Michael Thomas tends toward the Jazz Messengers’ strain of uncompromising hard-bop. His searing tone and dipping-and-diving improvisations have a lot in common with the work of Lee Morgan, among the most famous Messengers. He performs at this week’s edition of Westminster Presbyterian’s Jazz Night with his regular quintet: Zach Graddy on tenor saxophone, Darius Scott on piano, Kent Miller on bass and Frank Williams on drums. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website

Charles Rahmat Woods Duo, Firelake Grill, 7 p.m. | The saxophonist Charles Woods plays in both free and straight-ahead jazz styles, but for his regular gig leading a low-key duo at Firelake Grill, he keeps things within the traditional, swinging realm. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Firelake Grill website

Karen Gray Trio, Sala Thai (Bethesda), 7 p.m. | Commanding vocalist Karen Gray sings laid-back renditions of jazz standards in a drumless trio. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Yamomanem, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | The Yamomanem Jazz Band plays a faithful take on New Orleans jazz, conjuring the days of King Oliver and early Louis Armstrong with its lush brass section. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Jacqui Simmons & Friends, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | Jacqui Simmons sings jazz standards with a heartfelt and elegant presentation. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Terence Blanchard Group, Kennedy Center, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. | The distinguished trumpeter and composer Terrence Blanchard leads his all-star band to kick off a weekend of major Kennedy Center shows celebrating Blue Note Records’ 75th anniversary. Blanchard is known for both his jazz playing and his extensive film soundtrack work, having scored almost all of Spike Lee’s catalog and earning Grammys along the way. His most recent recording, Magnetic, features compositions from all his band members, and pairs young players with giants like Ron Carter. Over the past decade Blanchard has been known in the jazz community as an elder and a torch-carrier, gearing young musicians up to lead their own great bands. Joining him in the quintet are Lionel Loueke on guitar (a veteran of Blanchard’s band, billed here as a special guest), the young bassist Joshua Crumbly, the saxophonist Brice Winston, the pianist Fabian Almazan and the drummer Kendrick Scott. Two separate sets at 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. Tickets $38, no minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Azar Lawrence Quintet, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | After John Coltrane’s death, his former pianist McCoy Tyner looked to Azar Lawrence, drafting the young tenor saxophonist as a sideman in his own band. Over the years, Lawrence has also performed with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw. In his immolated, searing and tearing saxophone attack, he does show a strong influence of Coltrane, but also a will toward something personal. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $37.75 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Marty Nau & Steve Williams, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | A fine alto saxophonist, Marty Nau often sounds a good deal like his idol: bebop legend Phil Woods. But he’s also comfortable playing in an even more historic, swing era-oriented style. Joining him will be the saxophonist Steve Williams, a member of the Navy Commodores Band. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $16 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Chuck Redd, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m. | Chuck Redd, a deft and lyrical vibraphonist, performs here with a combo featuring talented area musicians. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Loews website

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | New Orleans-bred trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah leads his masterful band of improvisers. His compositions feature rigid harmonic structures over a variety of solid grooves. Joining him is the young saxophone talent Braxton Cook, the soulful pianist Lawrence Fields, the in-demand bassist Kris Funn, and the rising star drummer Corey Fonville. (Fonville and Funn live in D.C.; Cook is a District native now based in New York City.) Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $25 cover online, $30 at the door, no minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Antonio Parker, HR-57, 9 p.m. | The alto saxophonist Antonio Parker’s playing is doggedly swinging, soulful and colored by a bright, aggressive tone. He casually sprinkles neo-soul and R&B influences into his otherwise straight-ahead bop, and his improvisation shows a redolence of Kenny Garrett. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 profile

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 9 p.m. | The stalwart D.C. piano player Peter Edelman every Friday night leads a rotating cast of musicians that often outgrows the title “trio.” No cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | Arguably the city’s best jazz trumpeter, Donvonte McCoy plays every Friday and Saturday at the hip 18th St. Lounge. He likes to mix in some funk as well during the lounge gig, and he’s liable to inflect a touch of Chuck Brown-esque groove into his combo’s treatment of classic bop tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. After all, the setting is that of a dance club, not a jazz joint – no tables and chairs or hushed applause after every solo. Cover varies ($5-10), no minimum. View event on calendar | 18th St. Lounge profile

U St. Jazz Jam, Dukem, 11 p.m. | The U Street Jazz Jam, which began at Ulah Bistro last year and quickly became the weekend’s most happening area hang, is now at Dukem. The session offers a spark-plug atmosphere, and attracts cameos from some of the city’s top improvisers. A rotation of bands handles house duties every week. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Ulah website

SATURDAY, MAY 10

cb picks:

  • Derrick Hodge (Blue Note at 75), Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 6 p.m.
  • Robert Glasper Experiment (Blue Note at 75), Kennedy Center Crossroads Club, 8 p.m.
  • Azar Lawrence Quintet, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Jam Session with Peter Edelman, Columbia Station, 4 p.m. | Pianist Peter Edelman, a constant presence on the D.C. jazz scene for years now, leads an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Listening Party with Jason Moran and Terence Blanchard, Kennedy Center, 4 p.m. | As part of the Kennedy Center’s “Blue Note at 75” celebration, the trumpeter Terence Blanchard and the pianist Jason Moran (also the institution’s artistic advisor for jazz) host a listening party. They’ll play and discuss recordings from the catalog of the legendary Blue Note Records label, to whose roster they both belong. Free. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Derrick Hodge, Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 6 p.m. | The bassist and composer Derrick Hodge presents his band as part of the Kennedy Center’s “Blue Note at 75” celebration. Hodge recently made his Blue Note debut with the album Live Today; the title track features the rapper Common flowing over Hodge’s brilliant hip-hop arrangement, where shifting grooves meet colorful harmonies. Hodge has a special talent for arranging, and currently serves as musical director for the R&B singer Maxwell. His playing can be simply soulful or it can stretch out into the far reaches of harmonic exploration. Free [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Mark Mosley Trio, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | Baltimore guitarist Mark Mosley plays a slick hand as a smooth jazz guitarist, but he can also hunker down on serious bop. He performs laid-back straight-ahead here with his trio. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Triple Double Jazz Band, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | Consisting of Joey Whitney on tenor sax, Ed Gallagher on guitar, Alan Pachter on bass and Tom Reed on drums, the Triple Double Jazz Band plays straightforward, straight-ahead versions of jazz standards. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Robert Glasper Experiment, Kennedy Center Crossroads Club, 6 p.m. | In celebration of Blue Note Records’ 75th anniversary, Robert Glasper leads his band, the Experiment, which recently released Black Radio 2, its second full album on Blue Note. You could call this the epitome of a technically skilled jam band, playing everything from Roy Ayers to Nirvana. Glasper arranges popular songs in a groove context, with a few vamping sections. Now add in Derrick Hodge’s wide harmonic language and deep tone on the bass, Casey Benjamin’s splintering sax solos and soulful vocoder work, and the timeless grooves of the drummer Mark Columburg — you’re left with a live show that hits you from every angle. The event is part of the Kennedy Center’s “Blue Note at 75” celebration. Two separate sets. Tickets $38 No minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Marty Nau & Steve Williams, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | A fine alto saxophonist, Marty Nau often sounds a good deal like his idol: bebop legend Phil Woods. But he’s also comfortable playing in an even more historic, swing era-oriented style. Joining him will be the saxophonist Steve Williams, a member of the Navy Commodores Band. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $16 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Azar Lawrence Quintet, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | After John Coltrane’s death, his former pianist McCoy Tyner looked to Azar Lawrence, drafting the young tenor saxophonist as a sideman in his own band. Over the years, Lawrence has also performed with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw. In his immolated, searing and tearing saxophone attack, he does show a strong influence of Coltrane, but also a will toward something personal. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $37.75 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Julian Hipkins, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m. | Julian Hipkins sings with a swinging flair and jaunty, deep voice that recalls Jimmy Rushing. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Loews website

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | New Orleans-bred trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah leads his masterful band of improvisers. His compositions feature rigid harmonic structures over a variety of solid grooves. Joining him is the young saxophone talent Braxton Cook, the soulful pianist Lawrence Fields, the in-demand bassist Kris Funn, and the rising star drummer Corey Fonville. (Fonville and Funn live in D.C.; Cook is a District native now based in New York City.) Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $25 cover online, $30 at the door, no minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Cubano Groove, HR-57, 9 p.m. | No description available. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 profile

Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | Arguably the city’s best jazz trumpeter, Donvonte McCoy plays every Friday and Saturday at the hip 18th St. Lounge. He likes to mix in some funk as well during the lounge gig, and he’s liable to inflect a touch of Chuck Brown-esque groove into his combo’s treatment of classic bop tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. After all, the setting is that of a dance club, not a jazz joint – no tables and chairs or hushed applause after every solo. Cover varies ($5-10), no minimum. View event on calendar | 18th St. Lounge profile

SUNDAY, MAY 11

cb picks:

  • Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band (Blue Note at 75), Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 6 p.m.
  • Blue Note at 75: The Concert, Kennedy Center Crossroads Club, 8 p.m.
  • Mark Taylor, Bohemian Caverns, 7 p.m.
  • D.C. Jazz Loft, Union Arts, 7 p.m.

Gospel Brunch, The Hamilton, 10 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. | Every Sunday morning, the Hamilton presents two sets of rafters-raising gospel, along with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Two separate shows at 10 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. $25 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | The Hamilton website

George Oakley Group, Redwood Restaurant, 11 a.m. | George Oakley invests all the reeds he plays – saxophone, clarinet and flute – with a whispering coolness. In this weekly brunch gig, he performs with a laid-back trio featuring Scott Giambusso on bass and Nick Lipkowski on guitar. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Redwood website

Harlem Gospel Choir, Howard Theatre, 12 p.m. | The talented Harlem Gospel Choir, which has been active since 1986, performs a Sunday brunch show every week at the Howard Theatre. Either an all-you-can-eat buffet or an a la carte menu are available. Doors open at noon, and the music starts at 1:30 p.m. Tickets vary ($35 for all-you-can-eat or $20 for admission and a la carte options in advance, $45 or $30 at the door). View event on calendar | Howard website

Todd Simon, Kellari Taverna, 12 p.m. | The sturdy and swinging pianist Todd Simon performs every Sunday in a duo setting; his accompanists vary from bass to guitar to saxophone, depending on the week. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Kellari Taverna website

Nguyen Nguyen, Ulah Bistro, 12 p.m. | Nguyen Nguyen plays jazz piano and sings in a scruffy, boyish tone. At Ulah Bistro’s weekly brunch, he mixes jaunty covers of jazz standards with his own compositions, and his combo stays at a background level. No cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Ulah Bistro

Mama Likes Jazz, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | This Mother’s Day, straight-ahead jazz celebration features the flutist Daniel Pardo. Full meals will available. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $12 cover, $10 minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Jam Session with Peter Edelman, Columbia Station, 4 p.m. | Pianist Peter Edelman, a constant presence on the D.C. jazz scene for years now, leads an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band (Blue Note at 75), Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 6 p.m. | The drummer and composer Brian Blade has played with Joshua Redman, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. He’s a longtime member of the Wayne Shorter Quartet. With his Fellowship Band, Blade heaps a lot of that together: Warm and grainy sounds pile onto each other, and accrue to a vanishing point. He connects music that begs for mercy (country western; insular folk) with questing self-discovery vehicles that pull the personal up next to the sublime (post-Coltrane jazz; southern gospel). And when you see him live, watch the man work: He seems to surprise himself with every syncopation, and radiates delight. Free. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

Potomac Jazz Project, Laporta’s, 6:30 p.m. | The Potomac Jazz Project is a quartet that takes on modern and classic jazz tunes (and even some pop covers) with a showmanly flair, as well as skill. It’s led by bassist Stan Hamrick, and its rotating lineup often features some of D.C.’s best musicians. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Laporta’s website

D.C. Jazz Jam, Dahlak, 6:30 p.m. | The D.C. Jazz Jam presents a friendly, relaxed environment where professionals and amateurs can play together. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Dahlak profile

Blue Note at 75: The Concert (Blue Note at 75), Kennedy Center, 7 p.m. | Maybe to you jazz signifies a personal, contrarian fortitude; an aversion to infiltration; a fleeting victory of the individual over institutions. In that case you may feel a little wary when a brand becomes part of the music’s identity. But there’s no escaping Blue Note Records, a wisely curated and generously operated organization that has been synonymous with excellence in jazz since the mid-20th century. The label has marked its 75th anniversary with a week of concerts at the Kennedy Center, and the celebration culminates here—with a concert and gala featuring some of the most accomplished names on its roster, past and present. The all-star show will include performances by the vocalists Norah Jones and Dianne Reeves, the tenor saxophonists Joe Lovano and Wayne Shorter (the latter appearing with his top-grade quartet), the pianists McCoy Tyner and Jason Moran, the organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, the vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, and the alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson. Sold out. View event on calendar | Kennedy Center website

D.C. Jazz Loft, Union Arts, 7 p.m. | At the D.C. Jazz Loft this Sunday, we’re giving three of D.C.’s best acts the opportunity to perform in intimate situations that they particularly love, but rarely get to explore. Akua Allrich and Kris Funn will present a rare vocals-bass duet, building on their years of collaboration in a liberating format. Allyn Johnson, one of the District’s most stupendous and soulful virtuosos, will play a set of solo piano, on our new — but very old — upright piano. And the saxophonist Charles Rahmat Woods, who regularly performs straight-ahead jazz at venues like Firelake Grill, will bring his avant-garde duo for a set of music in the vein of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. $15 suggested donation, no minimum. View event on calendar | D.C. Jazz Loft website

Victor Dvoskin Duo, Tabard Inn, 7 p.m. | The bassist Victor Dvoskin leads a straight-ahead jazz duo every Sunday evening at the Tabard Inn restaurant. No cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Tabard Inn website

Mike Flaherty’s Dixieland Jazz Direct, Zoo Bar Café, 7:30 p.m.| This combo specializes in traditional New Orleans-style jazz. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Zoo Bar website

Mark Taylor, Bohemian Caverns, 7 & 9 p.m. | The french horn player Mark Taylor has performed with the likes of Henry Threadgill and Muhal Richard Abrams. Here he assumes a different role: that of bandleader, composer and sometime pianist. He appears with a top-flight cast of improvising musicians whose work flows across the boundaries of jazz’s avant-garde: Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Darius Jones on alto saxophone, Ken Filiano on bass and Michael T.A. Thompson on drums. The show is part of Transparent Productions’ “Sundays at 7 at the Caverns” series. $15 cover in advance, $20 at the door, no minimum. View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Jazz Mosaic, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | No description available. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $12 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Vanessa Renee Williams, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Vanessa Renee Williams is a gospel vocalist who sings with a full helping of soul. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $25 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 8:30 p.m. | The stalwart D.C. piano player Peter Edelman every Sunday night leads a rotating cast of musicians that often outgrows the title “trio.” no cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

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Giovanni Russonello

About Giovanni Russonello

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Giovanni is the founder of CapitalBop, and a music critic for the New York Times. He previously served as a contributor to the Washington Post, the FADER, JazzTimes, NPR Music and others, and hosted “On the Margin,” a books show on WPFW-FM. As head of CapitalBop, he has covered the D.C. jazz scene since 2010. (He is no longer directly involved in the presenting of CapitalBop's concerts.) He graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in history, with a focus on African-American history. Reach Giovanni at [email protected] Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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