The jazz scene is focused outward this year, with several key local musicians on the road with Matthew E. White and the Mountain Goats. The tour-opening concert at the National on Oct. 9 promises to be one of the seminal events of the season. This won't stop the monthly concerts of No BS Brass Band at the Camel (and frequent appearances elsewhere), where substitute players in this brass-rich town can step in to fill the gaps.
It's still possible to catch four nights of jazz every week. The RVA Big Band continues Monday nights at Balliceaux, competing with Todd Herrington's weekly jazz-funk fest at Mekong's RVA Appreciation Night, which includes $5 premium draft beer. D.J. Williams Projekt still rules Tuesdays at Café Diem, now followed by Projekt trumpeter Mark Ingraham's Beast Wellington on Wednesday. VCU trumpet phenomenon Victor Haskins has taken over the Beast's long-running Wednesday gig at Bogart's in the Fan. On Thursday Jason Jenkins plays the elegant downtown La Parisienne Bistro.
VCU's acting music department chairman and former Regina Carter sideman Darryl Harper presents his jazz and classical crossover faculty recital Sunday, Sept. 23, at 4 p.m. On the next night, Sept. 24, the school's collaboration with the South African University of KwaZulu-Natal is celebrated with two free student performances at the Camel. It pays to pay attention to VCU's event schedule, which features some of the best musical values in the local market.
Two very different shards of the jazz tradition will be showcased at the Virginia Folk Festival Oct. 12-14. Trombonist Fred Wesley's funk ensemble celebrates the precision of the late, great James Brown. Michael White explores New Orleans Dixieland tradition with an approach emphasizing reinvigoration over re-enactment.
Glenn Wilson, a renowned baritone saxophonist whose Jazzmaniacs band was an institution at the original Bogart's Back Room in the '90s, returns to Richmond with a show at the Camel on Sept. 25. His group, featuring former bandmates drummer Tony Martucci and bassist Jimmy Masters, as well as trumpeter John D'Earth and pianist John Toomey, will record a live album during the next three evenings at Havana Nights in Virginia Beach.
If a road trip isn't out of the question, there's no shortage of temptations a couple of hours away. Recent VCU guest artist Fred Hersch (Sept. 24) as well as trumpeters Roy Hargrove (Oct. 9) and Dave Douglas (Nov. 13) play Blues Alley in Washington. Bassist Marc Johnson and Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias (Oct. 3) and innovative jazz and hip-hop pianist Robert Glasper (Oct. 11) play the Birchmere in Alexandria.