"I decided that I was playing music that had been written by composers that had been dead for 200 years," says pianist Lucy Galliher, who grew up in Northwest Washington and earlier this year returned after a decade in San Francisco, "and I wanted to express myself, I wanted to play my music."

It was in her mid-teens, after studying piano for 10 years, that this switch from Beethoven and Prokofiev to jazz improvisation took place. In a sense, it was a full-circle, for she cites as her original inspiration, at age 4, her father's stride style piano playing at home. Galliher, who names Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk as two major influences, will be at d.c. space Wednesday with Keith Killgo at drums and David Jernigan on bass. Her program will include jazz standards, Latin tunes, funk and some of her own compositions.

"The main way that I've learned how to play," says Galliher, who majored in piano at Oberlin and Boston's Berklee College of Music, "is by studying with people and by playing, just learning my dues by playing." Her experience includes work with rock groups, big bands, jazz combos and her own octet, and professional associations with saxophone player John Handy, trumpeter Dr. Eddie Henderson and vocalist Jon Hendricks. Galliher can be heard regularly Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Maxime's in Georgetown Park Mall.