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Antonio Parker is a smallish-built fellow, with dapper dress and a huge smile. His looks may leave you unprepared for his sound on the saxophone: 100 percent pure brawn. So much muscle is flexed in any one of his solos that his astonishing harmonic sense—trumpeter Kenny Rittenhouse notes how he “devours the changes”—can almost be overlooked. Not quite, though—the jazz repertoire is such easy prey in Parker’s hands that one can genuinely see the devouring happen on the bandstand. The Antonio Parker Quartet performs 9:00 pm at HR-57, 1610 14th Street NW. $12.
Though the Thad Wilson Big Band is shut down for now, Wilson remains a steadily working trumpet player in small groups. His Elevator to the Gallows performances, in which he and his band perform the Miles Davis score to the 1957 Louis Malle film noir, has proven so compelling that its third repeat performance is occurring this week. Wilson counts Miles as his first major influence on the trumpet, and his ability to emulate the great innovator is uncanny. His band, likewise, is comprised of brilliant accompanists; in particular, bassist Michael Bowie captures the fierce skill and dominance that Pierre Michelot brought to Davis on the original score. The bad news is that Elijah Jamal Balbed is unable to join the band this week—but the good news is that that means Wilson gets to play all his parts. The Thad Wilson Quartet performs 9:00 pm at HR-57. $12.
The A&R men at Prestige condemned Sonny Rollins to a perpetual nickname in 1956, when they titled his seventh album Saxophone Colossus. But if Rollins is tired of the moniker, he has only himself to blame for earning it over and over again for half a century. At 79, Rollins hasn’t lost any of his boundless energy or capacity for invention on the horn. Even hoary old standards become new again at his command, and his own compositions—often little more than glorified riffs—continue to yield new ground for his hefty rhythmic attack and muscular harmonies. At your first concert or your 50th, the sheer force of his musical will is simply astonishing. When they measure Rollins up for the final tally of great jazz saxophonists, even “colossus” may turn out to be an understatement. Rollins performs at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, 2700 F Street. NW. $35-$78.