Friday, May 4
“Introducing Marty Nau,” says the billing at Westminster Presbyterian this week. Well, no offense intended, but if you’re just now being introduced to Marty Nau, where the hell have you been? Nau is not some young newcomer making his first splash on the D.C. jazz scene. The alto sax veteran has been working here for decades—a member of the US Navy Commodores, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, and the Tim Whalen Septet. He also held a weekly Tuesday night residency at Twins for a year or so, and still plays there regularly. Nau claims the great alto man Phil Woods as his mentor, but to hear him play the alto is to hear someone who’s listened to a great deal of Charlie Parker, absorbed the limits of modern jazz saxphone’s sine qua non along with those of Woods, and brought them to the service of his own formidable musical matrix. If somehow you really haven’t been introduced to him before, it’s always a good time. The Marty Nau Quartet performs at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 401 I St. NW. $5.
Saturday, May 5
What used to be a glorious three-night Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, one of the late Dr. Billy Taylor’s prides and joys in his days as artistic adviser for jazz at the Kennedy Center, first became simply the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival—less emphasis on the women therein. Then it became simply one evening of music billed as “Celebrate Mary Lou Williams.” Not great—but it is stacked with great musicians. Anat Cohen, the Israeli-born clarinetist who swings like a madwoman, performs with her Tentet. Brazilian singer Eliane Elias is also on hand with her ensemble. Elias, in fact, is topping the bill. But for Setlist’s money, the big name celebrating Mary Lou Williams this year is Amina Claudine Myers—the gospel-soaked, AACM-subscribing experimentalist who, with her piano, organ, and compositional pen, is among the truest of heirs to what the great Mary Lou Williams created for jazz. “Celebrate Mary Lou Williams” begins at 7 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $40-$50.
Sunday, May 6
The bulk, large bell size, and playing technique of the trombone virtually guarantee that it’s a powerhouse instrument, especially in jazz. In the hands of one Nick Finzer, it’s punchy even by its own standards. Finzer is big on short notes, alternating between staccato and legato in the style of a fencer throwing combination moves. He throws long notes as well, but in a reserved, sparsely distributed fashion that makes them sound special and feel earned once he brings them in. Based in New York, Finzer is originally from upstate, and counts Wycliffe Gordon and Steve Turre, probably the two most widely known and acclaimed trombonists in present-day jazz, as his mentors. It shows. Incidentally, Finzer is also playing as a member of Anat Cohen’s Tentet the previous night. Go check him out on his own as a bonus. Nick Finzer performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Twins, 1344 U St. NW. $10.
Monday, May 7
There’s an opulence to Victor Gould’s piano playing. His luminous, pearly tones have a fullness and roundness that seem preternatural, and his lines have rococo flourishes built them in a way that becomes crucial to the design, not peripheral to them. The lavishness of his sound shouldn’t distract you, however, from his rhythmic ingenuity. The complexity of the bass lines Gould plays is certainly a hint at that ingenuity; so is the use of space, as carefully planned and articulated as his chords and single-note phrases, in his right hand lines. Gould, in fact, is one of the most profound masters of musical space this side of Ahmad Jamal. His debut album, 2016’s Clockwork, features a sharply swinging, nonetheless rhythmically reimagined take on Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti” that should be required hearing. Also required hearing: What Gould will do when presenting himself in an unaccompanied solo-piano context. He performs at 7 p.m. at the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I St. NW. $15-$30.