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Thursday, Nov. 5 Thad Wilson leading a 14-piece big band! Sound familiar? Well, it is, somewhat. The Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra once held down the Monday night slot now owned by the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, and has in more recent times been doing a bimonthly stand at Columbia Station in Adams Morgan. But things are changing just a little bit; Wilson will continue to perform on alternate Thursdays at Columbia Station, but that’s getting changed to a nine-piece that will take a more experimental turn. The other Thursdays of the month, he will be on U Street, leading the reconfigured and renamed Twins Jazz Orchestra—-a project that’s been rumored for a few years now. It’s got a little bit wider a focus than you may have seen in Wilson’s bands before: “Everybody seems a little more keen on concepts,” he says. “So we explore a few different ones. And everybody writes in this band, too!” Everybody includes saxophonists Robert Landham, Elijah Easton, and Brian Settles; trombonist Reginald Cyntje; pianist Andrew Flores; bassist Philip Ambuel; and drummer Allen Jones, among others. Welcome to the big band fold, TJO! They play at 8 and 9:30 p.m. at Twins Jazz, 1344 U St. NW. $5.
Saturday, Nov. 7 Steven Bernstein, who plays trumpet and slide trumpet, has gone every which way in his musical history, from the punk-jazz of the Lounge Lizards to the Downtown avant-garde of Sex Mob to the virtually undefinable Spanish Fly. But in each project he evinces a love of early, pre-war, “hot” jazz styles. (C’mon, slide trumpet? Where else you gonna find that?) It’s most apparent in his Millennial Territory Orchestra, but the New Orleans-meets-Caribbean-meets-jump-blues band Butler, Bernstein & the Hot 9 is something else. Bernstein’s name may have more currency, but note that he’s not top of the bill here: That belongs to Henry Butler, a blind pianist and singer with magnificent charisma and a great, classic sense of jazz rhythm. Artistry is matched with good old fun on their album from last year, Viper’s Drag. They play at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $30.
Sunday, Nov. 8 Mary Halvorson is in our fair city for the third time in as many months. But you’ll have to trust me on this: no, you haven’t seen or heard enough of her. Indeed, you might not have heard anything yet. In Secret Keeper, the guitarist’s duo with bassist Stephan Crump, Halvorson may have met her match in the domain of astonishingly creative string players. Crump is perhaps best known as the bass player in pianist Vijay Iyer‘s trio, putting him in the most visible of cerebral, cutting-edge jazz ensembles. Interestingly, however, he and Halvorson (who, if you haven’t seen or heard enough of, you nonetheless need no further introduction) are bound to slip in some lyrical, even folksy rhythms and phrasing that make use of their studies in classical, jazz, and rock. Wherever it goes, it’s weird and unique and intoxicating. There’s an idiosyncratic chemistry between the two and it’s really something special. Secret Keeper performs at 7 and 8:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $15-$20.