It would be nice if compelling events kept a respectable distance from each other. That is not, alas, how life works.
Two concerts, on Tuesday and Wednesday night, spotlight some of the best musicians in Richmond. First up, at the Camel, is the first performance of Doug Richards’ new big band. As the original architect of the VCU jazz studies program, once hailed by preeminent critic Martin Williams as the heir to legendary composer/arranger Gil Evans - Richards gets to hand-pick the players up to handling his brilliant but challenging scores.
Recently retired from teaching, now working with percussionist Brian Jones, the performance potentially opens a new stage in his writing/performing career. The night starts with Jones’ own trio, the rhythm section of the big band, featuring bassist Randall Pharr and local hero/Ryan Adams/k.d. lang pianist Daniel Clarke on keyboards.
On Wednesday night, Rex Richardson appears in a free concert at VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art. Richardson is one of the school’s marquee talents, a phenomenally virtuosic trumpeter whose teaching is balanced with a whirlwind of global travel, often playing concertos composed to take advantage of his unique gifts. Sponsored by Carlos Chaffin and In Your Ear Studios, it’s a great chance to experience the pristine sound and stadium seating of the ICA’s performing space. There are significant personnel overlaps with the Tuesday performance- Jones, saxophonist J.C. Kuhl, and the ubiquitous Pharr. But there is also a chance to see Spacebomb composer/string arranger Trey Pollard return to his roots as a kick-ass jazz guitarist.
The Brian Jones Trio and Doug Richard Orchestra play The Camel at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb 5. Tickets are $10 in advance/$12 day of show. Rex Richardson plays the ICA at 7 PM on Wednesday, Feb. 6. There is a reception preceding the concert starting at 6 p.m. Admission is free and can be reserved at the ICA website.