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There remains a stubborn controversy in jazz about the influence of European music—its extremes best exemplified by writers like Stanley Crouch (who thinks the European tradition is anathema to jazz) and Stuart Nicholson (who thinks the creative spirit of jazz has abandoned America for Europe). But the simple fact is that jazz is indeed thriving in Europe, through this or that filter, and almost nobody in America really knows enough about it to form an educated opinion on any part of the Crouch/Nicholson spectrum. That’s especially ridiculous when you consider the abundance of great European jazz musicians who have come to the U.S. to build careers…like French pianist Jean-Michel Pilc and bassist Francois Moutin. These are players whose classical and folk groundings are crystalline within their music (Pilc especially), but who continually find new ways to blend those groundings not only with the deepest veins of America and jazz, but with rock, world, avant-garde, and even splashes of hip-hop. Working in a trio with Philadelphian drummer Ari Hoenig, they create an intoxicating matrix of searingly creative, unique jazz—delivered with a soft edge that’s almost uncomfortable in its intimacy. This is especially true on their long collective improvisations, which move with seemingly one mind rarely end up anywhere near where they start, but brush as close to you as a lover’s whisper. If it’s slightly unsettling, it’s also devilishly bold and smart music that suggests Europe and America have a lot more to say and do with each other. Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig perform at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $25. (Michael J. West)
Tonight’s cuddliest option is Still Corners—-who make bookish, Mazzy Star-ish dream pop. The equally cuddly local openers are Olivia Mancini (she once wrote a song about her book shelf!) and Meredith Bragg (whose new album, Nest, is a total pleasure). 9 p.m. at DC9. $12.
And a solid local hip-hop lineup at Martin’s Lounge: Pro’Verb, backed by the Sound of the City Band, headlines, with guest performances from RAtheMC and singer Reesa Renee. 9 p.m. $10.+
NPR’s Steve Inskeep will sign and discuss Instant City, his account of Pakistan’s fastest-growing commercial center, Karachi. Madhulika Sikka, executive producer of Morning Edition, will join the conversation. 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose. Free.