Stuff to do: Richmond’s big free week

Free concerts this week by VCU Jazz Ensembles, Richmond Jazz Society, Peni Candra Rini and more.

There may not have been as big a week for Richmond music since COVID started. There is at least one thing every night, sometimes two. All are free.

Starting tonight: Tuesday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m., the Virginia Commonwealth University Jazz Ensembles, led by program director Taylor Barnett, will host guest saxophonist Tony Malaby at the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts at Harrison and Grove Streets. Malaby, a veteran of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra and Paul Motian’s Electric Band, along with other group and solo projects- was called by The New York Times “one of the best saxophonists of his generation.” The hall is a great venue to know about and the performances are most often free – just like this one.

This Wednesday, April 5 from 6 to 8 p.m., is the weekly Richmond Jazz Society session at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This week it is jazz/pop duo Debra and Pat Lawler supported by bassist Michael Hawkins and drummer Todd Woodson. For the more active and activist, Nuestro America (“Our America”) has planned a Climate Justice for Puerto Rico event that starts with a 6:30 p.m. march from the Eco Corridor, past the enslaved person graveyard, ending with a Bomba session at the International Center Commons. This event focuses on the environmental hazards created by the waste from a disused coal-fired plan, abandoned in place by its large U.S. corporate owners. Bomba is a joyous, energetic island drum-and-dance form that has long been associated with community issues, big and small, in Puerto Rico.

On Thursday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. again at VCU’s Singleton Center, will be one of a series of chances to see visiting Fulbright Scholar Peni Candra Rini, an amazing vocal talent, as she cohosts a traditional Javanese “sindhen.” In this setting, she will perform with a Gamelan ensemble – a matched set of handcrafted, tuned percussion instruments. Her local college residency is one of those lightning flash mini-eras in RVA. During her time here, she has taken side trips to Carnegie Hall to appear with the Kronos Quartet and to Paris to sing in a genre-bending show that show that combined silent film, classical orchestra, and Javanese gamelan. Admission is free.

Finally on Friday, April 7, begins Gallery5’s two weekend 18th birthday celebration with popular local bands No BS! Brass, the Prabir Trio, and Sweet Potatoes (see our article “A Fond Farewell”). All the First Friday fun starts at 5 p.m. and admission is free.


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