Horace Tapscott, the little-heard West Coast pianist who made such an impression in solo concert with Cecil Taylor last year, brings his quartet to D.C. Space on Saturday. He's also heard on "Live at Lobero, Vol. II" (Nimbus 1258) with bassist Roberto Miranda and percussionist Starship in three excellent workouts that range from the elegantly metaphysical ("St. Michael") to the earthy ("Close to Freedom").
Kentucky's first family of bluegrass, The McLain Family Band, invests its gospel singing with pure familial joy and empathy that make you forget the dark side of both gospel and bluegrass championed by the Monroes. "Sunday Singing" (Country Life CLR14) is a mixed offering that includes sprightly straightahead grass ("I'm Working on a Building") and softer folk tunes ("Garden Hymn"), all done with great pizzazz (and much switching of instruments). They're at the Barns of Wolf Trap on Friday.
For "Cold on the Shoulder" (Rounder 0183), guitarist Tony Rice has chosen to highlight writers as diverse as Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Randy Newman, Jerry Reed and Rodney Crowell, investing their songs with a new-grass sensibility that doesn't deny the words and leaves rooom for the super acoustic guitar picking one expects from him. Rice has plenty of good company on record; when he's at the Birchmere on Friday and Saturday, he'll be joined by another top-rated picker, Dan Crary.