Arts & Events » Arts and Culture

Jazz: The highlights and hidden gems.

The Pat Metheny Group sweeps into the sonically challenging Landmark Theater March 22. With the Carpenter Center closed for renovation, and the Modlin Center (the show's promoter) too small to handle the anticipated crowd, the Landmark was the best option.

On April 12 the Modlin Center will host a joint performance by John Scofield's and Brad Mehldau's trios, two of the best on the scene. (Attracting just one would have been a coup.) The program opens with individual trio sets and culminates in a joint sextet lineup.

Perhaps the most unusual event of the season is a set of May 5-6 performances by legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck at St. Edwards Catholic Church in Chesterfield County. The program will include both quartet performances and the presentation of a large-scale religious work featuring symphonic instrumentation and an 80-voice choir.

Locally, Fusion, a new club on 12th Street in Shockoe Slip, joins Bogart's Back Room and Upper East Side Jazz Lounge as a venue primarily focused on improvised music from the rich assortment of area players. Regular jazz/Latin performances can also be found at the Commercial Taphouse, Tropical Soul, Emilio's, Richbrau and a host of other locations.

Perhaps the hottest, mostly undiscovered, jazz venue is the Sunday brunch at Jumpin' J's Java at 23rd and Jefferson. A caffeine-powered jewel set on the gentrification frontier in Church Hill, the eclectic coffeehouse provides unique ambience, good music and a brilliantly improvisational menu.

Among the best-kept area musical secrets are the VCU student and faculty recitals and visiting artist master classes. Finding out about them takes some effort (they are listed on the VCU Web site but not heavily publicized). These performances are often informative, frequently first-class and always free. — Peter McElhinney

Peter McElhinney's musical career was cut tragically short by a deep aversion to practicing. Forced into a career as an IT executive and business consultant, he channels his thwarted artistic impulses into writing. He has covered jazz and other music for Style Weekly for the past six years.

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