Critic's Choice for the week of November 3-9, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

JAZZ COMEBACKS AND FAREWELLS

It's been eleven long months since we last heard from Jazz in Flight, the venerable Oakland-based not-for-profit organization whose roots date all the way back to the Loft Jazz era of the mid-'70s. Officially founded in 1987, JiF is probably best known for its annual Eddie Moore Jazz Festival and the now-defunct monthly concert series at Yoshi's. The organization has helped to put the area's contribution to jazz in the proper perspective, but has also been at the forefront of developing young musicians with its Children in Flight educational programs. The group's return to active duty on the cutting edge of contemporary jazz arrives this weekend at the Oakland Metro with two concerts: Friday's show features a collaboration between Bay Area pianist Geoffrey Keezer and NYC electronic music composer David Last, while Saturday's performance bids a fond farewell to alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi, who is moving to Europe, but not before he and his quintet burn down the house one last time. Two shows nightly, 8 and 10 p.m. $10-$15. 510-763-1146 or JazzinFlight.org (Eric K. Arnold)

SELF-DESTRUCTIVE ROCK

Yes indeed, those wacky Texas art-rockers in ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead have a habit of trashing their equipment onstage, tossing pieces of the drum kit into the crowd, etc. Yes, that's a bit contrived. But the cathartic, poetic, violently beautiful tunes that result deserve respect all the same. The dudes'll show up at SF's Great American Music Hall Monday night to break shit and debut tracks from the upcoming disc Worlds Apart, which has "mainstream breakthrough" scrawled all over it. $16, 9 p.m. MusicHallSF.com (Rob Harvilla)

BLUES PRODIGIES

They must know how to teach at Stanford, 'cause student David Jacobs-Strain is progressing at a frightening pace. The young blues guitar wiz has developed into a better songwriter, relying less on fretboard wizardry. On his third album, Ocean or a Teardrop, he shows that he still has a lot of Jonny Lang in him, but influences from more progressive bluesmen like Otis Taylor are seeping in. He'll show off his education at the Freight & Salvage Saturday night. $16.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761 or TheFreight.org (Michael Gowan)

NATIVE BENEFITS

Not all Native American tribes have casinos, and despite the perception that many of these indigenous folks are swimming in Cache Creek, the reality is that it's hard for the original peoples of the West just to get basic services many of us take for granted, like quality health care facilities. Enter Strong Medicine, the fourth annual benefit concert for the Seven Directions Health Care Facility project scheduled to open in Oakland's Fruitvale district in 2005. Headlining the show Saturday at the Paramount Theatre will be Taj Mahal, one of the greatest keepers of the musical and oral folk traditions still walking the planet. Mahal is nominally a bluesman, but his roots extend to the Caribbean and Americana genres, and he also has been known to try his hand at slack-key guitar, Hawaiian style. Additional performers will be announced; call 510-535-4469 or e-mail shannony@nativehealth.org for more info. (E.K.A.)

CLASSICAL

Four Seasons Concerts pulls out all the stops in Oakland's Calvin Simmons Theater Saturday night by pairing two of their favorite pianists, Leon Bates and Jeanne Stark-Iochmans. In addition to Bates playing Beethoven's Sonata No. 18 in E Flat Major and Stark-Iochmans delivering potentially ravishing accounts of six pieces by Debussy, the two will join percussionists Ward Spangler and Tyler Mack for Bartók's rarely heard Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. $25-$35, 7:30 p.m. 510-601-7919. (Jason Victor Serinus)

LATIN POETS

Celebrating Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, the Latin American band Quijerema performs Friday night at La Peña Cultural Center. The concert features Latin folk-jazz music from Quijerema's new CD, Tinta Verde (Green Ink), that was used in the new documentary Pablo Neruda Presente! Portions of the film will be screened, along with a recitation of Neruda's poems. And then the music: Chilean singer-instrumentalist Quique Cruz (known for his work with such stars as Sting and Jackson Browne) leads Quijerema with bassist Jeremy Allen and Venezuela's María Fernanda Acuña on percussion, joined on Friday by violinist Morgan Fichter, pianist Jose Alejandro Sabre, and saxophonist David Barrows. $10-$15, 8:30 p.m. 510-849-2568 or www.lapena.org (Larry Kelp)

LATIN CONGAS

This Sunday at the Calvin Simmons Theater in Oakland, the Conga Kings make their Bay Area debut. Carlos "Patato" Valdes and Candido Camero are old-school conga drummers from Havana, now in their eighties, who followed the legendary Chano Pozo in Latin jazz after his untimely death in a Harlem bar in 1948. Their recording and performance output as sidemen with Dizzy Gillespie, Erroll Garner, Herbie Mann, and Tony Bennett as well as their skill as bandleaders is phenomenal. Joining them is Giovanni Hidalgo, the heir apparent to their crown. Opening is the excellent bomba y plena Puerto Rican ensemble Plena Libre. 7 p.m. 415-776-1999. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

GOSPEL FROM DA MOTHERLAND

Kimball's East isn't generally known as a hot spot for worldbeat, but its current "African Sounds" series might just change that perception. Since debuting last spring, the series has presented an engaging lineup of emerging and established African musicians, and this Thursday's show is no exception. The Vukani Mawethu Choir, which was founded eighteen years ago in South Africa at the height of the anti-apartheid movement, will be celebrating its new CD, Ukuthela, Zulu for "peace." Also appearing are E.W. Wainwright and the African Roots of Jazz, Thilivhali Tshivhase and Lutsinga, Freedom Song Network, and the Palm Wine Boys. Be sure to check out the merch booth, which has a limited number of ballots from the historic 1994 election that ushered in Nelson Mandela. 510-658-2555 (E.K.A.)

SHAKESPEAREAN BALLET

When it comes to classic dance, you can't get much closer to the source than Russia's Bolshoi Ballet and Orchestra. Both fill Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall for most of the week. Though tonight's gala costs a bundle, Thursday features a radical staging of Prokofiev's classic Romeo and Juliet, updated by Declan Donnellan and Radu Poklitaru. Friday through Sunday bring Yuri Grigorivich's re-creation of Marius Petipa's classic Raymonda. $48-$110; Thurs. and Fri. 8 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m. 510-642-9988. (J.V.S.)

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