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Friday, May 10 With his handsome, piercing countenance, J.D. Allen looks like he’d play a silky-smooth tenor sax. He doesn’t. One of the most highly regarded young tenor players working today, Allen ties his sound up in tangled harmonic knots—-and paradoxically razor-slashes through those knots even as he ties them. You oftentimes have to listen very carefully to find the rich pockets of melody scattered here and there within. He’s worked in more textured contexts as a sideman (including in Jeremy Pelt‘s just-dissolved quintet, and in Jaimeo Brown‘s Transcendence ensemble), but in his leadership role Allen has tended towards the stripped-down sax trio (horn, bass, and drums); his new CD Grace, however, finds him using a piano: equally knotty, and forming one of the most intriguing ensembles of the year. J.D. Allen performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th Street NW. $20 advance, $25 door.
Saturday, May 11 The singer Luciana Souza has a rhythmic sense unlike anyone else. Even among Brazilian musicians, who come up through a unique rhythmic tradition, Souza is astounding. She turns the language itself into a percussion instrument. At her instigation, the sensuous cadences of Brazilian Portuguese hit sharp accents, push up and down musical slopes, and evoke the feeling of a galloping horse. It’s a wonderful sound, and it’s never better than when Souza is abetted by the great Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, another player who at his best acts as much as a rhythm instrument as a melodic/chordal delivery. Their chemistry makes them a formidable duo—-and completely without need of anything beyond a duo. Luciana Souza and Romero Lubambo perform at 8 p.m. at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE. $30.
Sunday, May 12 It’s Mother’s Day! Hey, you know what your mom would really like—-you know, as a token of appreciation for all she’s done for you over the years? She’d really like for you to take her to a live sampler of the D.C. jazz scene. Why, then, what good fortune that CapitalBop’s May edition of the Jazz Loft is scheduled on Mother’s Day. The headliner this month is the universal favorite Elijah Jamal Balbed (who himself has an awesome mom, by the way). He’s leading a new project, the East Coast Collective, meant to forge stronger connections among the various jazz scenes in the mid-Atlantic. Another longtime favorite, Antonio Parker, the endlessly soulful alto sax player (now making the transition to tenor), brings his trio to the Loft. And, to open up, one of the most promising young trumpeter-composers in the area, Griff Kaz, leading his 7 Septet. Mom will be so happy. The D.C. Jazz Loft takes place at 8 p.m. at Chez Billy, 3815 Georgia Avenue NW. $15 (suggested donation).