Friday, March 4 Bud Powell established the piano trio as the essential vehicle for his instrument. Tim Whalen paid tribute to Powell in a quintet setting last year on his Oblivion: The Music of Bud Powell. But Whalen mostly prefers to work in a septet setting, as he does regularly in town and at Twins in particular. As such he works with some of the best players around, including Joe Herrera on trumpet, Tedd Baker on tenor sax, Antonio Luis Orta on alto, Reginald Cyntje on trombone, Zack Pride on bass, and Lenny Robinson on drums. Whalen mostly prefers to work with his own writing. He is a composer and arranger as well as a piano player—and he’s written some new work to be performed this weekend. The Tim Whalen Septet performs at 9 and 11 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $15.
Saturday, March 5 If you know Roger Miller, you probably know him as a country singer-songwriter who had some big—and highly melodic—crossover pop hits in the ’60s. (And you didn’t have to be there to know his stuff: “King of the Road” has been used in God-knows-how-many movies and commercials.) If you’re an aficionado, you also know that he had a sideline as a humorist, though you might have gleaned that from some of his hit songs like “England Swings” and “Do Wacka Do.” What you might not know is that he was a talented improviser; it showed in his approach to humor, and was often the basis of the songs he wrote. Those elements make for some fun intersections…which makes them ideal for exploration at the Atlas’s annual Intersections festival. Brad Linde, now the Atlas’s jazz artist-in-residence, takes up the challenge this weekend with a new project called Roger Over and OUT! He (on tenor sax and electric piano) and a quintet (guitarists Aaron Quinn and Anthony Pirog, bassist Nathan Kawaller, and drummer Deric Dickens) re-envision Miller’s music and artistry in the context of free jazz. Cool, huh? Roger Over and OUT! begins at 9:30 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $15.
Monday, March 7 It might be fair to say that the jazz piano club has been re-born—in New York, anyway—thanks to Spike Willner. He is the owner and proprietor of Mezzrow, an establishment in Greenwich Village (as well as the same neighborhood’s beloved Small’s), which has quickly become an important showroom for pianists and whomever they want to bring aboard with them in a small-group setting. Appropriate, too, because Willner is a pianist himself, a veteran of some of the “ghost” big bands and of trumpeter Maynard Ferguson‘s ensemble. Willner has a unique approach to the eighty-eights, somehow as stately and formal a player as can be while simultaneously as bouncy and swinging a player as can be. Not your run-of-the-mill blend of techniques, but a hell of a good one. Spike Willner performs at 7 p.m. at the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I St. NW. $15-$30.
Wednesday, March 9
You may not have heard of Cassandra Allen yet. You will. The alumna of Howard University and Berklee College of Music can actually sing anything, and sing it with classical articulation and operatic pathos. That includes classical and opera music, of course, but also Latin, Brazilian, and Mediterranean traditional music. But it’s when she turns to jazz that Allen really seems to come alive. She injects her repertoire with the classic spices of jazz vocal lineage—Ella, Billie, Sarah, Dinah. But then she belies all the traditional aspects of her formal training and throws contemporary touches, especially those taken from soul and R&B, bodily into the mix. Allen is, in short, a future star…a fact that Strathmore has apparently recognized, since they’ve made her their artist-in-residence this month. The first of her AIR performances (with accompaniment by pianist Allyn Johnson, guitarist Pete Muldoon, bassist Eliot Seppa, and drummer Dante Pope) begins Wednesday. Cassandra Allen performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda. $17.