There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The number of women allowed access to the boys club that is jazz is so minute that only Mary Lou Williams immediately comes to mind as having had a lasting impact. It’s not that women haven’t contributed to the form, but their male colleagues have historically relegated them to the somewhat ornamental role of singer. Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias doesn’t shy away from glamour, as booklet photos highlighting her windblown hair and gold pantsuit prove, but she firmly backs beauty with talent. Solos and Duets highlights Elias’ propulsively rhythmic technique, which contrasts smooth runs across the keys with tersely punctuated attacks. Elias tackles invigorating solo versions of standards like “Autumn Leaves” and “All the Things You Are,” interspersing them with duets with Herbie Hancock. The duo drains all cocktail-lounge ease from “The Way You Look Tonight,” interpreting the normally relaxed tune as a claustrophobic, breathless romp. The four-part Elias/Hancock original “Messages” closes the record with a variety of moods: In Part 1, Hancock plucks and damps his notes directly on the strings, while Elias’ melody flows through the keyboard’s middle and upper registers; Part 2’s frenetic duel of tension and release spills over into Part 3, before the suite finds peace in Part 4’s calming resolution. Elias performs at 8 and 10 p.m. Jan. 10 at Blues Alley, 1073 Rear Wisconsin Ave. NW. $16. (202) 337-4141.