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W E D N E S D A Y

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Keyboardist/composer/cheese wiz Bob James is the leading exponent of that genre known as “jazzy.” You know, those smooth, sensual sounds that make you pucker your lips, raise an eyebrow, and declare to the babe you’re wooing, “I too think the The Love Boat was the most romantic show on TV.” Imagine my surprise when the man responsible for the theme from Taxi released the thoroughly respectable, and enjoyable, Straight Ahead. Not since Explosions, his 1965 free-jazz record for ESP (yes, it’s true) has James recorded in a trio setting, and bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade provide immeasurably sympathetic support for James’ lyrical piano stylings. What James lacks in the groove department (he very nearly defunks Horace Silver’s uncontrollably sexy “The Jody Grind”), he makes up for in melodic invention. Much to my own amazement, I give this album a double Isaac. At 8 & 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Rear Wisconsin Ave. NW. $31.75. (202) 337-4141. (Christopher Porter)