Critic's Choice for the week of August 18-24 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

JAZZ LEGENDS

What can you say about Ron Carter? The jazz bassist's technique is beyond reproach, and he's responsible for some of the most fluid and funky low-end riffs in music history. He's played on something like 2,500 albums in his long and storied career, recording with heavy hitters such as Miles Davis, Milt Jackson, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, McCoy Tyner, and Wes Montgomery. You'll also find him slapping his four-stringed magic stick on A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory and Roberta Flack's First Take, which speaks to his status as an ancestor of hip-hop and a grandpappy of soul. These days, he's still playing out with his latest band, an eponymous quartet (pianist Stephen Scott, drummer Peyton Crossley, and percussionist Steve Kroon) opening up a four-night run at Yoshi's Thursday night. Tickets are $5-$24. 510-238-9200 or Yoshis.com (Eric K. Arnold)

REGGAE LEGENDS

Even before he starred in 1972's rude boy classic The Harder They Come, Jimmy Cliff had earned his place in music history. As a teenage sensation and pioneer of ska, rocksteady, and reggae, he'd already scored hits like "Miss Jamaica" and "Wonderful World, Beautiful People." But his endearing portrayal of ghetto celebrity Ivanhoe Martin -- not to mention his inspired contributions to the movie's soundtrack -- put him over the top, and he became the first international superstar in the reggae field, preceding the ascension of one Robert Nesta Marley by several years. In the thirty-plus years since then, Cliff has continued to put out decent-to-very-good albums, and earned a reputation as one of the most dynamic showstoppers ever to come out of Jamaica. So go see him tonight at SF's Independent (along with Soul Majestic and DJ Tony Moses). If you're real lucky, he'll perform his crucial version of "Wild World," which kicks ass on both Cat Stevens' folksy original and Maxi Priest's overblown cover. 9 p.m., $30. 1-866-468-3399 or Ticketweb.com (E.K.A.)

BIG BAND LADIES

Some of the Bay Area's finest jazz musicians get together all too rarely to play as the acclaimed Montclair Women's Big Band. This time it's Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on the group's home turf -- the Montclair Women's Cultural Arts Club (1650 Mountain Blvd. in Oakland) -- for a swinging afternoon of big-band standards and fresh arrangements, topped by inspired soloing. Such hot players as trombonist Sarah Cline and trumpeter Christy Dana would easily eclipse their male counterparts, were it not for the continued sexism in jazz; luckily for us, the Montclair band exists, directed with swinging aplomb by trumpeter Ellen Seeling. The group carries on in the spirit of such great '30s and '40s all-women big bands as the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and to top it off, Linda Tillery and Pamela Rose join in as guest vocalists; both are featured on the band's upcoming CD. $25-$28. 510-339-1832. (Larry Kelp)

ROOTS REGGAE

In the past two years, singer-songmaker Tchiya Amet and her Lighthouse Band have built a buzz with their appealing blend of reggae, Native American, Afro-Cuban, and rock via constant touring. Like the group's recent release, Black Turtle Island, the live sets showcase sonic versatility, Amet's powerful vocals, and an uplifting message of unity, peace, and sisterhood. Friday at Ashkenaz in Berkeley. $13, 9:30 p.m. 510-525-5051 or Ashkenaz.com (j. poet)

JAZZ

Saxophonist Anton Schwartz has been hailed by the jazz media as a "young lion" -- surely the death of any artist. But the Bay Area horn-blower remains humble despite the praise; onstage, he engages his audience in conversational banter that makes you feel at home. His quartet stays mainly within the mainstream, never getting too Ornette or too Kenny G. Catch him at Jupiter for free Saturday night. 8 p.m. 510-843-8277. (Michael Gowan)

SINGER SONGWRITER

In the past two years, Alexi Murdoch's self-produced indie EP Four Songs has moved forty thousand units through CD Baby and Amazon, in addition to sneaking onto both commercial and PBS radio, with KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic an early supporter. He's also had his song "Orange Sky" played on the WB angstfest Dawson's Creek, and with his good looks, solid guitar chops, and Nick-Drake-meets-Donovan sincerity, he makes babes swoon and lovers of serious melancholy salivate. He brings his low-key charm to SF's Cafe du Nord Thursday night. $12, 9 p.m. 415-861-5016 or CafeduNord.com (j.p.)

HANK

SF's 12 Galaxies is quickly proving to be one of the best -- and most left-of-center -- live venues in the Bay Area, and Sunday night's show is no exception. Wayne "The Train" Hancock's woozy mix of Texas blues, rockabilly, and Western swing makes for one humdinger of a show: The guy channels Hank Williams Sr. better than Williams' own grandson! So get your dancin' boots out and come shake a leg. $10, 9 p.m. 415-970-9777 or 12Galaxies.com (Sarah Bardeen)

GHETTO FILES

Amp Fiddler's debut album, Waltz of a Ghetto Fly, established the former P-Funk/George Clinton keyboardist as a hydraulic pumper in his own right -- a nuclear canine for the new millennium, if you will. His first Bay Area appearance as a headliner and bandleader came a couple of months ago at Cafe du Nord, where the sheer magnitude (not to mention majesty) of songs like "I Believe in You" and "Superficial" proved this fly guy's buzz was well-deserved (even if he showed up a little late). Only thing was, du Nord's puny-ass sound system, which is fine for folk music, couldn't freak the funk properly. Luckily for you, there are second chances in life. Mr. Fiddler upgrades to the classy-as-champagne Bimbo's 365 Club Saturday for his second SF show in three months; we can only hope their speakers can keep up. $15, 9 p.m. 415-474-0365 or Bimbos365.com. (E.K.A.)

GARAGE SALE

It's good deed time, soldiers, and all you gotta do is hit up an Alameda garage sale. Power-punk stalwarts the Angry Amputees are battling a medical emergency: Bassist John "Dalty" Dalton, an actual quad amputee, needs open-heart surgery. Estimating the resulting bills to clear $400,000, the Amputees, along with fellow Bay Area band the Mojo Apostles, have organized a garage sale Saturday and Sunday at 2228 Clinton Ave. in Alameda, running 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and encompassing "everything from clothes to water fountains," as the organizers put it. There's also a PayPal site set up at TheAmputees.com if you're online and feeling generous. (Rob Harvilla)

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