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9

FRIDAY

Mainstream-jazz pianist James Williams suffers from an indistinct name. But whereas a cagey manager might have suggested a switch to something flashier such as, say, Jimmy Williwaw—with an added tag line such as, “He’s a cold wind blowing through the 88s!”—Williams instead has relied solely on his talent to get him noticed. A teacher at Berklee in the early ’70s, he caught the ear of visiting musicians Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, and Clark Terry. But his career was anointed with Art Blakey’s considerable sweat when the drummer picked Williams as pianist for the 1977 to 1981 edition of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Since then, Williams has cut about an album a year for various indie and foreign labels, such as the recent Awesome and Classic Encounters, making quiet ripples in the jazz ocean. He coulda made waves, though, as Jimmy Williwaw. Williams performs at 9:30 p.m. at Twins Lounge, 5516 Colorado Ave. NW. $16. (202) 882-2523. (Christopher Porter)