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Friday, Aug. 3
Jazz at U-Topia, indeed U-Topia itself, is on hold. The popular U Street NW eatery has rich food and a great bar, as well as just enough room in its bay window for a jazz band to set up, making for one of the best stealth music venues in town. It had its own scene with its own set of regular artists, and could also function as a sort of laboratory for local artists to workshop. But earlier this year the restaurant closed for yearlong renovations, scattering its regular players across town. That’s why one of its weekly band-owners, Brazilian-jazz pianist Wayne Wilentz, has put together a U-Topia reunion of sorts to tide over both musicians and followers for a while. He is joined by his working trio (bassist David Jernigan, drummer Jim West), along with two other of the restaurant’s acts, singer Cheryl Jones and saxophone wunderkind Lyle Link. 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4th and I streets SW. $5.
Saturday, Aug. 4
It’s been far too long since we talked about Saltman Knowles, the maestros of melody in D.C. jazz. Bassist Mark Saltman and pianist William Knowles are both alums of the Howard jazz program, both composers, and both concerned with the hummable, singable melodies that they feel are too often ignored in favor of rhythmic experiments and advanced harmonics. Catchiness, they’ll tell you, is a lost art form worthy of saving. It’s a worthy endeavor, and they’re doing a hell of a job with it: As I write this, I’m bouncing back and forth between three different Saltman Knowles tunes in my head. Credit for that, though, must also go to the band’s preferred singer, Lori Williams, whose clear, pliant voice possesses an uncanny ability to give shape to even songs as solidly crafted as Saltman Knowles’. 9 p.m. at HR-57, 1017 H St. NE. $15.
Tuesday, Aug. 7
There is simply no way to talk about the music of Greg Boyer without talking about his power. The trombonist has had to cultivate those chops, veteran as he is of Prince, George Clinton, and Chuck Brown‘s bands: Those are strong, charismatic leaders where one has to play with raw brute force just for the sake of being noticed at all. Boyer, then, is a tremendous player with a huge, loud, high-octane sound (that just happens to bring a fluid virtuosity alongside it)…but, on the other hand, he would probably have developed that kind of style nevertheless, considered the outsize personality he has to match it. He’s a flamboyant fellow, flashily dressed and fast-talking so you know he’s in the room before you turn to look. Can you imagine how much fun it is to see a guy like this onstage? Well, you don’t have to imagine. Greg Boyer performs at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $20.