Friday, March 11 As performance venues go, the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE is clearly one of the coolest in town. Aside from its retro-hip look (which is enough to guarantee it some cred), it’s got a dance studio on the premises and theater space for hosting concerts, plays, dance recitals, and hi-def screenings of opera and ballet from around the world. Recently, it’s also become host to some excellent jazz. Drummer Nasar Abadey premiered his newly recorded Diamond in the Rough there in 2009, and a number of the Library of Congress’ jazz concerts have taken place there as well. Currently, the Atlas is the home of “Intersections 2011,” a festival of all sorts of arts—-performing, visual, and literary. In its nod to the improvisational wing of the arts, the festival includes a Friday night jam session, with the stellar local trio of Brad Linde, primarily a saxophonist but on this night tackling the Rhodes electric piano; the terrific Regan Brough on bass; and the sparkling Tony Martucci on drums. It’s in the Kogod Lobby at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Free.
Saturday, March 12 Much like Ron Carter (who, incidentally, will be in town next month), Robert Glasper will always get a plug from me when he’s in town. The favorite hip-hop keyboardist is one of the most impressive jazz talents of his generation. Hearing his gymnastic piano style is like riding a rocketship through jazz harmonies; when he switches to electric keyboards he breaks new ground in rhythm, as well as melodic and harmonic washes that feel like dark, dreamy impressionistic murals of sound. Though he never abandons his lyricism, which is frequently playful even in its stateliest presentations, Glasper’s an experimenter, an explorer, and a fearless one. Hence, every appearance is different from the last, and promises some newly discovered musical dimension that will transform how you hear him. That’s why he gets mentioned in this column every time he plays, and why you should by God go hear him every time he plays too. Glasper and his band perform at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW. $22.
Sunday, March 13 D.C. trumpter Donvonte McCoy has a sensibility not unlike Glasper’s, in the sense that he is an experimenter who grabs hold of whatever sound or texture he can use. But he’s got the heart of a traditionalist, and expresses it with a fluid, bouncy legato line, blinding speed in the Dizzy Gillespie/Jon Faddis lineage, and hearty quicksilver tone on his horn. The alumnus of the New School and of Howard University (where he played with both the Jazztet and HUJE) is one of the best musicians in Washington, and has long deserved much more attention from the Jazz Setlist. If you haven’t seen McCoy already (either as a sideman or in his primary guises as jam-session leader at HR-57 and quintet leader on Friday nights at Eighteenth Street Lounge), here’s a rare chance to hear his music unadorned, bare and intimate. McCoy is the featured soloist opening this week’s Sunday Jazz Lounge, the program at Twins Jazz on Sunday nights. Come for McCoy’s solo trumpet, stay for the Joe Herrera-Rodney Richardson quintet that will play two sets afterward. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Twins, 1344 U St. NW. $5.