Thursday Nights at Miller’s

John D’earth is a local jazz trumpeter and UVa professor. He plays at 11pm every Thursday night at Miller’s on the downtown mall in Charlottesville, usually with a quintet including tenor saxophone, electric piano, upright bass and drums. The quintet plays beautiful, truly innovative originals and inspired interpretations of standards. Staples of the Charlottesville music. The great thing about watching musicians who play together every week is that you can feel the ways in which they interact as one unit, how they feed off of contributions from the other members and how that feeds into their own statements. Drummer Devonne hears pianist Butch play a certain pattern or two-bar phrase and grabs on to it; together they roll out a rhythmic carpet for John, or exploratory tenor saxman J.C. Kuhl (sometimes replaced by local powerhouse Charles Owens) to float over. These guys exhibit tremendous range, bouncing between somber, earnest ballads to unrestrained, avant-garde arrangements at the drop of a hat. D’earth’s piercing trumpet lines slice through the shroud of $2 bourbon drinks and chili-cheese nachos, finding you in your high or low places. This is a collection of some of the finest musicians in Virginia playing some of the most beautiful music ever written. Their timing and intuition are supremely next-level, and they play this music at Miller’s which is probably the most authentic dive bar in Charlottesville. If you’re up late on the Mall, drop by to hear this must-see quintet. Did we mention it’s free?

Favorite tunes: “Sarah’s Bracelet” (D’earth original) and “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” (by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II).