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Thursday, May 10
In the seven-year history of The Jazzies, only one person has ever unseated Allyn Johnson (although last year was a tie) in the category of Best Pianist. That person is a fellow named Noble Jolley. “He favors short notes,” I wrote in 2013, “played in a way that are immediately recognizable as his own, and deploys them in deeply moving fashion.” Pianists are in a real sense poets. Johnson writes epics, the gilded flourishes and linguistic pyrotechnics of a Milton. Jolley, by contrast, is more of an Emily Dickinson: short notes, lean lines, careful rhythms, use of spaces and pauses that are as heavy with meaning as the softly glowing tones that bind them. Does he ever let loose and play long, busy lines? You bet—well, long, anyway. There’s always a sense of deliberation, of architecture, and, by the way, of blues and soul. Noble Jolley performs at 8 p.m. at Sotto, 1610 14th St. NW. Free.
Friday, May 11
You’ve all heard it said before, especially to, and of, people in show business: Never forget where you came from. Warren Wolf came from Baltimore, and, while he is now an international recording and performing artist with high-profile gigs all over the world, festival headlines, a spot in the prestigious SFJAZZ Collective lineup, and albums to his name on which he leads the likes of Christian McBride, Brad Mehldau, and Jeff “Tain” Watts (all at the same time!), he still lives there with his wife and children. What’s more, he still plays as often as he can in the Baltimore/Washington area. It’s his home—and a gig is a gig, right? Wolf’s version of remembering where he came from has the perhaps particular form of hitting the much-beloved Jazz Night at Westminster at least once a year, usually with wonderful local musicians supporting him. Here, they include pianist Janelle Gill, bassist Herman Burney, Jr., and bassist Lenny Robinson, with an assist from the lovely vocals of Imani Grace Cooper. They begin at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St. SW. $5.
Saturday, May 12
Aldo Lopez-Gavilan is a classically trained pianist and recitalist; he also plays jazz, and puts his formal schooling to work in establishing melodic and metronomic precision in what he does. Jorge Luis Pacheco also has precision—but there’s an electricity in his playing (almost literal, since his touch uncannily suggests the bell-like tones of a Fender Rhodes) and a logic-defying velocity in his runs. Perhaps they are compatible in some ways, but their sounds oppose each other in others. Which, of course, is exactly what one wants in a jazz piano duo: both relation and contrast. These two, however, aren’t merely putting on a duo. They’re putting on a piano marathon, which will ebb and flow with Lopez-Gavilan and Pacheco sometimes performing solo, sometimes performing together, over the course of 90 minutes to two hours. Come in expecting the unexpected. Aldo Lopez-Gavilan and Jorge Luis Pacheco will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater (part of the Artes de Cuba Festival), 2700 F St. NW. $19-$39.
Wednesday, May 16
Most of the time you see longtime D.C. jazz man Thad Wilson performing these days, it’s at the head of his big band (sometimes known as the Twins Jazz Orchestra), where he spends at least as much time conducting (and even singing) as he does playing the trumpet. It’s always nice to see him in a context where he can put his beautiful horn sound front and center. That’s what happens when he leads a small group, his quartet or quintet. His pear tones have an edge not of harshness, but of harmonic restlessness that recalls the sound of Freddie Hubbard at his most pungent. Wilson himself is fairly restless, and often stretches into some careening experiments on the bandstand—but given the venue herein, he’ll most likely keep things fairly straight ahead. Thad Wilson performs from 6 to 9 p.m. at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th St. NE. $10.