5.16-5.18: Kris Bowers eyes the throne, Roy Ayers at the Howard & more

Kris Bowers, winner of the 2012 Thelonious International Jazz Piano Competition, brings his shimmering, electric-ephemera sound to Bohemian Caverns on Friday and Saturday for his first weekend run in D.C. as a leader. A producer on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne, Bowers is known in hip-hop and pop circles, as well as jazz; he’s seen as one of the new jazz generation’s creative scions. Another powerful young player is also headlining on U Street this weekend: the herculean drummer Billy Williams is at Twins on Friday and Saturday.

A few elders are also coming through: The trumpet virtuoso and former Irakere member Arturo Sandoval plays all three nights at Blues Alley this weekend, and Roy Ayers — self-proclaimed “King of Neo-Soul” — is at the Howard Theatre on Friday. You can also find our full listings at CapitalBop’s D.C. jazz calendar. All our favorite shows below have a label. Happy hunting!

FRIDAY, MAY 9

cb picks:

  • Arturo Sandoval, Blues Alley, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m.
  • Roy Ayers, Howard Theatre, 8 p.m.
  • Billy Williams, Twins Jazz, 8 p.m.
  • Cyrus Chestnut, Montpelier Arts Center, 8 p.m.
  • Kris Bowers, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.
  • U St. Jazz Jam, Dukem, 11 p.m.

Lavenia Nesmith, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6 p.m. | The singer Lavenia Nesmith, who has portrayed Mahalia Jackson in one-woman shows, performs here with the type of all-star local cast we’ve come to expect from Westminster Presbyterian’s weekly Jazz Night. This concert is an album release special that features a string quartet. Nesmith brings her gospel-influenced style to bear alongside Eric Byrd, Alphonso Young, Bhagwan Khalsa Paul Carr, Lyle Link, James King, Kenny Rittenhouse, Marcia McIntyre, Michelle Ruiz, Leslie Delanie, and Elize Cuffy. $5 cover for adults, no cover for attendees under 16, no minimum. View event on calendar | Westminster Presbyterian Church website

Charles Rahmat Woods Duo, Firelake Grill, 7 p.m. | The saxophonist Charles Woods plays in both free and straight-ahead jazz styles, but for his regular gig leading a low-key duo at Firelake Grill, he keeps things within the traditional, swinging realm. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Firelake Grill website

Karen Gray Trio, Sala Thai (Bethesda), 7 p.m. | Commanding vocalist Karen Gray sings laid-back renditions of jazz standards in a drumless trio. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Yamomanem, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | The Yamomanem Jazz Band plays a faithful take on New Orleans jazz, conjuring the days of King Oliver and early Louis Armstrong with its lush brass section. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Jacqui Simmons & Friends, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | Jacqui Simmons sings jazz standards with a heartfelt and elegant presentation. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Arturo Sandoval, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Arturo Sandoval, a spirited and technically stunning trumpet player, played for a while in the 1970s with the legendary Afro-Cuban ensemble Irakere and moved on to a preeminent solo career. Renowned for his velocity and precision in the upper register, he also treats ballads with well-timed tenderness. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $45 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Cyrus Chestnut, Montpelier Arts Center, 10:30 p.m. | Cyrus Chestnut is a piano player who’s got it all down pat: the stride piano of the ’20s and ’30s, the bebop acrobatics of Bud Powell’s generation and the heady groove of modern jazz. The Baltimore-born star laces it all with the doubled octaves and blue-tinted licks of gospel, and boundless exuberance is his default setting. Tickets $30. View event on calendar | Montpelier Arts Center Website

Billy Williams, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | The drummer Billy Williams, Jr. plays with a commanding drive that pushes the listener, and an open ear to his bandmates. For this gig he is enjoying a little time off from his rigorous touring schedule with the vibraphonist Warren Wolf. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $16 cover, $10 minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Lori Williams, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m. | The smooth-voiced singer Lori Williams is a regular member of the local jazz group Saltman-Knowles. Here she steps out, singing standards at the fore of her own combo. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Loews website

Roy Ayers, Howard Theatre, 8 p.m. | The vocalist and vibraphonist Roy Ayers – beloved by acid-jazz fans, hip-hop heads and disco lovers alike – touts the title “King of Neo-Soul Music.” Early in his career, work as an experimental jazz musician found him partnering with greats like Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Hubert Laws. Nowadays, Ayers typically sings sultry ballads over programmed drums and synthesizers; he’s experienced a vindicating reappraisal as the greater jazz community associates itself with the hip-hop lineage. Tickets $32.50 in advance, $36.50 day of the show, $10 minimum for those at tables. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Howard Theatre website

Kris Bowers, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | The pianist and composer Kris Bowers just released his colorful debut album, entitled Heroes and Misfits. A graduate of the Juilliard school, he has won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, performed and recorded with Kanye West and Q-Tip, and become one the most sought-after sidemen on the New York scene. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $20 cover online, $25 at the door, no minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 9 p.m. | The stalwart D.C. piano player Peter Edelman every Friday night leads a rotating cast of musicians that often outgrows the title “trio.” No cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | Arguably the city’s best jazz trumpeter, Donvonte McCoy plays every Friday and Saturday at the hip 18th St. Lounge. He likes to mix in some funk as well during the lounge gig, and he’s liable to inflect a touch of Chuck Brown-esque groove into his combo’s treatment of classic bop tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. After all, the setting is that of a dance club, not a jazz joint – no tables and chairs or hushed applause after every solo. Cover varies ($5-10), no minimum. View event on calendar | 18th St. Lounge profile

U St. Jazz Jam, Dukem, 11 p.m. | The U Street Jazz Jam, which began at Ulah Bistro last year and quickly became the weekend’s most happening area hang, is now at Dukem. The session offers a spark-plug atmosphere, and attracts cameos from some of the city’s top improvisers. A rotation of bands handles house duties every week. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Ulah website

SATURDAY, MAY 10

cb picks:

  • Arturo Sandoval, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Billy Williams Jr., Twins Jazz 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Kris Bowers, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Donvonte McCoy, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m.

Jam Session with Peter Edelman, Columbia Station, 4 p.m. | Pianist Peter Edelman, a constant presence on the D.C. jazz scene for years now, leads an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

Mark Mosley Trio, Sala Thai (U St.), 7 p.m. | Baltimore guitarist Mark Mosley plays a slick hand as a smooth jazz guitarist, but he can also hunker down on serious bop. He performs laid-back straight-ahead here with his trio. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Triple Double Jazz Band, Sala Thai (Petworth), 7 p.m. | Consisting of Joey Whitney on tenor sax, Ed Gallagher on guitar, Alan Pachter on bass and Tom Reed on drums, the Triple Double Jazz Band plays straightforward, straight-ahead versions of jazz standards. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Sala Thai website

Billy Williams, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Drummer Billy Williams Jr plays with a commanding drive that pushes the listener and an open ear for other bandmates. He gets to take a little time off his rigorous touring with Warren Wolf, Just Kauflin and more to present you with his own band. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $16 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Arturo Sandoval, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Arturo Sandoval, a spirited and technically stunning trumpet player, played for a while in the 1970s with the legendary Afro-Cuban ensemble Irakere and moved on to a preeminent solo career. Renowned for his velocity and precision in the upper register, he also treats ballads with well-timed tenderness. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $45 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Akua Allrich, Loews Madison Hotel, 8 p.m. | Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba are two strong influences that bubble up in Allrich’s Afrobeat- and jazz-infused music. The Howard University graduate, who composes many of her own tunes, is a searingly effervescent singer, with a sort of earthbound optimism that she passes along. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Loews website

Kris Bowers, Bohemian Caverns, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. | The pianist and composer Kris Bowers just released his colorful debut album, entitled Heroes and Misfits. A graduate of the Juilliard school, he has won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, performed and recorded with Kanye West and Q-Tip, and become one the most sought-after sidemen on the New York scene. Two separate sets at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m. $20 cover online, $25 at the door, no minimum. [words by Allen Jones] View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profileeid=cTcwYTA3dGU0a2FqZ2JkMnVsZGJhOXFicXNfMjAxNDA1MTFUMDAzMDAwWiBjYXBpdGFsYm9wQG0&ctz=America/New_York” target=”_blank”>View event on calendar | Bohemian Caverns profile

Alfredo Mojica Quartet, HR-57, 9 p.m. | Alfredo Mojica, who sang for years with the group Sin Miedo, unites salsa, jazz and Latin American balladry. $15 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | HR-57 profile

Donvonte McCoy Quintet, 18th St. Lounge, 10:30 p.m. | Arguably the city’s best jazz trumpeter, Donvonte McCoy plays every Friday and Saturday at the hip 18th St. Lounge. He likes to mix in some funk as well during the lounge gig, and he’s liable to inflect a touch of Chuck Brown-esque groove into his combo’s treatment of classic bop tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. After all, the setting is that of a dance club, not a jazz joint – no tables and chairs or hushed applause after every solo. Cover varies ($5-10), no minimum. View event on calendar | 18th St. Lounge profile

SUNDAY, MAY 18

cb picks:

  • Arturo Sandoval, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m.
  • Herb Spice & Cinnamonstix, Twins Jazz, 8 p.m.

Gospel Brunch, The Hamilton, 10 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. | Every Sunday morning, the Hamilton presents two sets of rafters-raising gospel, along with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Two separate shows at 10 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. $25 cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | The Hamilton website

George Oakley Group, Redwood Restaurant, 11 a.m. | George Oakley invests all the reeds he plays – saxophone, clarinet and flute – with a whispering coolness. In this weekly brunch gig, he performs with a laid-back trio featuring Scott Giambusso on bass and Nick Lipkowski on guitar. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Redwood website

Harlem Gospel Choir, Howard Theatre, 12 p.m. | The talented Harlem Gospel Choir, which has been active since 1986, performs a Sunday brunch show every week at the Howard Theatre. Either an all-you-can-eat buffet or an a la carte menu are available. Doors open at noon, and the music starts at 1:30 p.m. Tickets vary ($35 for all-you-can-eat or $20 for admission and a la carte options in advance, $45 or $30 at the door). View event on calendar | Howard website

Todd Simon, Kellari Taverna, 12 p.m. | The sturdy and swinging pianist Todd Simon performs every Sunday in a duo setting; his accompanists vary from bass to guitar to saxophone, depending on the week. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Kellari Taverna website

Nguyen Nguyen, Ulah Bistro, 12 p.m. | Nguyen Nguyen plays jazz piano and sings in a scruffy, boyish tone. At Ulah Bistro’s weekly brunch, he mixes jaunty covers of jazz standards with his own compositions, and his combo stays at a background level. No cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Ulah Bistro

Jam Session with Peter Edelman, Columbia Station, 4 p.m. | Pianist Peter Edelman, a constant presence on the D.C. jazz scene for years now, leads an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

DC Jazz Singers Jam, Black Fox Lounge, 5 p.m. | The DC Jazz Singers Jam is a new endeavor, organized by the local show presenter and jam session enthusiast Jeff Stacey and hosted by the pianist Mark Meadows. In the Black Fox Lounge’s basement performance area, it offers singers an early-evening opportunity to commune and compete. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Black Fox Lounge profile

Potomac Jazz Project, Laporta’s, 6:30 p.m. | The Potomac Jazz Project is a quartet that takes on modern and classic jazz tunes (and even some pop covers) with a showmanly flair, as well as skill. It’s led by bassist Stan Hamrick, and its rotating lineup often features some of D.C.’s best musicians. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Laporta’s website

D.C. Jazz Jam, Dahlak, 6:30 p.m. | The D.C. Jazz Jam presents a friendly, relaxed environment where professionals and amateurs can play together. No cover, no minimum. View event on calendar | Dahlak profile

Victor Dvoskin Duo, Tabard Inn, 7 p.m. | The bassist Victor Dvoskin leads a straight-ahead jazz duo every Sunday evening at the Tabard Inn restaurant. No cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Tabard Inn website

Mike Flaherty’s Dixieland Jazz Direct, Zoo Bar Café, 7:30 p.m.| This combo specializes in traditional New Orleans-style jazz. No cover, 1-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Zoo Bar website

Herb Spice & Cinnamon Stix, Twins Jazz, 8 & 10 p.m. | Herb Scott is a young, soulful powerhouse of an alto saxophonist. As a bandleader, he sometimes veers into smooth jazz, but when working within the straight-ahead realm his fleetness and power are undeniable. Here he’s joined by a band of strong young D.C. jazz practitioners. Two separate sets at 8 & 10 p.m. $10 cover, $10 minimum. View event on calendar | Twins Jazz profile

Arturo Sandoval, Blues Alley, 8 & 10 p.m. | Arturo Sandoval, a spirited and technically stunning trumpet player, played for a while in the 1970s with the legendary Afro-Cuban ensemble Irakere and moved on to a preeminent solo career. Renowned for his velocity and precision in the upper register, he also treats ballads with well-timed tenderness. Two separate sets at 8 and 10 p.m. $45 cover, $2.50 surcharge, $12 minimum. View event on calendar | Blues Alley profile

Peter Edelman Trio, Columbia Station, 8:30 p.m. | The stalwart D.C. piano player Peter Edelman every Sunday night leads a rotating cast of musicians that often outgrows the title “trio.” no cover, one-drink minimum. View event on calendar | Columbia Station profile

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Giovanni Russonello

About Giovanni Russonello

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Giovanni is the founder of CapitalBop, and a music critic for the New York Times. He previously served as a contributor to the Washington Post, the FADER, JazzTimes, NPR Music and others, and hosted “On the Margin,” a books show on WPFW-FM. As head of CapitalBop, he has covered the D.C. jazz scene since 2010. (He is no longer directly involved in the presenting of CapitalBop's concerts.) He graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in history, with a focus on African-American history. Reach Giovanni at [email protected] Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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