Friday, Nov. 11
There is at least one major jazz pianist who, when describing the pantheon of great post-bebop piano players, calls them “McCoy Tyner and everybody else.” Such is the legacy of Tyner, who was the pianist in the classic John Coltrane Quartet and very nearly achieved for his instrument what Coltrane did for his. Certainly Tyner transposed the “sheets of sound” approach to the keys, unleashing torrents of notes that (underneath the intensity) shape themselves into stunning melodies. But what Tyner could do that his bandleader could not, was play block chords. And those have as distinctive a sound at his touch as any pianist you can think of: a deep bass, which mixes with the wide harmonies on his right hand to create a peculiar kind of clang that many pianists have imitated, but none others have mastered. He’s an astonishing artist. McCoy Tyner performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $60.
Saturday, Nov. 12
There is a small contingent of jazz people (whatever their connection to the music) who would argue that Wayne Shorter is not the greatest and most important living composer in jazz. Their arguments are unconvincing, because this is not an arguable proposition. The man who wrote (for starters) “Footprints,” “Oriental Folk Song,” “House of Jade,” “Infant Eyes,” “Ponta de Areia,” and “Endangered Species” has few equals in his ability to craft memorable melody that also bears a unique and complex harmonic language. And so when he’s announced as performing a brand-new extended length composition, you drop everything and go. Especially when he’s performing it with what may be the best quartet of the past twenty years: pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade. They’ll be presenting “The Unfolding,” a piece co-commissioned by the Kennedy Center and “inspired by recent reinterpretations of the Big Bang theory that describe the expansion of the universe as an ‘unfolding’ of matter in the time and space continuum.” Right up Shorter’s alley, which means he’ll be in fine form. Wayne Shorter performs at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $25-$69.