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Friday, May 5
On December 14, 2012, Jimmy Greene’s world was shattered. His six-year-old daughter, Ana, was one of the 20 children shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School at Newtown, Connecticut. The tenor saxophonist is still picking up the pieces. And recently, he’s actually gotten an assist from Ana’s friends. Greene’s 2014 album Beautiful Life was a tribute to his daughter, as emotional and moving and even inspirational as one would imagine from a high-caliber jazz artist. But as the little girls who heard it pointed out that Ana didn’t like sad music. She liked to dance. Hence Flowers, Greene’s new recording, pursues grooves—but not at the expense of the emotion that Ana and her loss have inspired in her father. It’s a powerful listening experience, both on record and in concert. Jimmy Greene performs at 8:00 p.m. (with an opening performance by the Eric Byrd Trio) at The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. $15-$34.75.
Saturday, May 6
Her high, strong, woody voice seems to have swing built into it. Her soft, pathos-laden approach to a ballad is moving and powerful. She was one of D.C.’s representatives a few years ago at the Thelonious Monk Vocals Competition. But now Danielle Wertz is leaving us, as so many talented artists must—off to start a new life in San Francisco. Yet Wertz, a native of Falls Church (who graduated just recently from the University of Miami’s acclaimed Frost School of Music) can’t tear herself away from our fair city without a final farewell weekend. It wraps tonight, in a performance that features Los Angeles-based pianist (and fellow Frost alum) Jake Shapiro. Danielle Wertz performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Sunday, May 7
It’s often said that great jazz singers try to make their vocal instrument emulate a horn. W. Allen Taylor’s resembles a tenor saxophone. Now, you probably know that while the tenor is the second lowest in the popular saxophone family, it’s actually the second highest male voice type. (No, castrato doesn’t count.) Taylor’s voice is, indeed, fairly high by male singing standards (and incidentally, he has great taste in the standards he sings). But he has a remarkably supple ability with it, a sophisticated sense of harmony, and a canny turns to make detours into the bottom of its register—much like a smart tenor saxophonist would. As it happens, you can put this analysis to the test when Taylor performs alongside a smart tenor saxophonist—Lionel Lyles, along with pianist Hope Udobi, bassist James King, and drummer Tyler Leak—at 6 p.m. at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, 2813 12th St. NE. $5.
Monday, May 8
When I go to a solo piano performance, there’s a certain expectation that soft ballads will take precedence. There’s no rhythmic accompaniment to push him into greater force, and it’s a chance for the pianist’s natural lyricism and gentleness to take center stage. Now, Fernando Otero does indeed play these kinds of soft songs, with all the delicacy of light creeping through a window blind at sunset. But the real excitement is in his fast songs. Otero, you see, is an Argentinian, one whose fountainhead is that country’s tango tradition. And when he combines his tango training with jazz’s swing, harmonic complexity, and improvisation, what you hear is a veritable carnival of rhythm. You know that overlap of beats that you hear from hammers at a construction site? Yeah. That kind of thing… but on a piano. Fernando Otero performs solo piano at 7 p.m. at the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I St. NW. $15-$30.