Critics' Choices for the week of September 12 

We recommend Christian Scott, AIR, the elusive MF Doom, and 4 Cellos, plus Sax and Drums and rock 'n' roll: Built to Spill and Tommy Guerrero.

If 3 Were 5

Unusual instrumental combinations are the norm in the realm of improvised and experimental music, but Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core stands out with its lineup of one saxophonist and two drummers. The trio's music is often orchestral in scope, with stellar improvisations spinning off from colorfully imaginative compositions. With Rova Saxophone Quartet founder Ochs on saxophones alongside drummers Scott Amendola and Don Robinson, the trio celebrates the release of its CD Up from Under (recorded during a 2004 Europe tour), with a night at Oakland's 21 Grand, where the trio is joined by Japanese musicians Satoko Fujii (synthesizer) and Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), in a warm-up for this quintet's November return to Europe. Thursday, September 13. 8:00 p.m., $10. 21Grand.org — Larry Kelp

Cellos Go Wild

If it's music with soul you're seeking, look no farther than 4 Cellos, a special concert featuring four first-rank cellists — Joan Jeanrenaud, William Skeen, Joanna Blendulf, and Theresa Wong performing music by Marin Marais, Thomas Lupot, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Telemann, Philip Glass, Steven Mackey, Alex Kelly, Theresa Wong, and, of course, ex-Kronos Quartet cellist Jeanrenaud. Friday, September 14 and Saturday 15 at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda. 8:00 p.m., $20. Rhythmix.org — Jason Victor Serinus

Indie Rock

Stalwarts

Pavement may been considered by many as the standard-bearer for guitar-driven indie rock in the '90s, but during the former's time in the sun, Doug Martsch's Built to Spill created its own oft-overlooked niche dating back to the band's 1993 debut. Martsch has been the constant throughout. With the band's latest, last year's most excellent You in Reverse, the Neil Young comparisons have continued unabated, thanks to the Idaho native's reedy voice and penchant for epic-sounding riffs. That said, the band still manages to stun and impress in all manners ranging from the galloping, eight-minute-plus opener "Goin' Against Your Mind" to the melodically rocking "Conventional Wisdom" complete with a sweeping, James Gang-like bridge in the middle of the song. Saturday, September 15 at the Independent in SF. 9 p.m., $20. TheIndependentSF.comDave Gil de Rubio

Bone-Crunching

Rock?

From punk-rock soundtracks at competitions to the classical fluidity of a clean street run or the hip-hop resilience of a half-pipe ride, skateboarding can't help but be intimate with music. Nor can San Francisco-born skateboard legend Tommy Guerrero, who in 1985 became an original member of the revered Bones Brigade team and last year issued his fourth solo album, From the Soil to the Soul, on hometown label Quannum. Instead of embracing the high-energy punk of his youth, Guerrero has honed his knack for laid-back instrumental compositions: experimental rock ditties with traces of funk and hip-hop that call for relaxation on a summer afternoon. He performs Saturday night at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco, with support from Galaxia Records acts Ray Barbee Meets the Mattson 2, Gojogo, Mumlers, and Photographic. 8 p.m., $10. VictoriaTheatre.orgNate Seltenrich

Oozy Trumpet

Known for the way he glides around a melody rather than playing it straight out, New Orleans-born trumpeter Christian Scott treats his horn as though it were a different instrument entirely. In the trumpet world, his closest analogue might be a post-bopper like Bobby Bradford, though critics have likened his oozy style to that of various saxophone players (including his uncle Donald Harrison). Indeed, few trumpeters could get that breathy, whispery tone without the aid of a plunger head or mute. Resolutely unorthodox, the 22-year-old jazz musician composes in a style that's inspired both by his forebears in bebop and by his contemporaries in R&B. To that end, he's one of the few players who could listen to a Top 40 slow jam and find a lick or idea worth revisiting in a jazz context. He might retool the melody or add a few extra beats, but the groove' is still there. Christian Scott performs at Yoshi's on Tuesday, September 18 and Wednesday 19 to promote his album, Rewind That. 8 p.m. ($16) and 10 p.m. ($10). Yoshis.comRachel Swan

Doom's Day?

The MF Doom saga continues. In the last episode, our masked, schizophrenic MC earned the type of boos normally reserved for a supervillain, lip-synching (some say) his way through a fifteen-minute performance to the disappointment of a legion of underwhelmed fans. The next night's show was canceled, and the Doomster followed that up by no-showing at Rock the Bells that weekend. So will the real Doom show up on Tuesday's rescheduled date at the Independent (all August 16 tickets honored)? If so, expect to hear the metal-faced one display dynamic lyrical alliteration, slightly slurred punchlines, a bugged-out sense of humor, and songs spanning the Doom catalogue from Operation Doomsday to Madvillain to Vaudeville Villain to MM ... Food. 9 p.m., $28. TheIndependentSF.com — Eric K. Arnold

French

Soundscapes

Air, the French duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benot Dunckel, plays free-form psychedelic compositions with a hint of dance music and French chanson in the mix. In person they tend to emphasize their improvisational side using vintage electronic instruments. Opener Sondre Lerche and his band play a muscular brand of rock, heavily influenced by the British new wave of the '70s and the Brazilian tropicalia movement of the '60s. It's one of the more unique pop sounds around. Wednesday, September 19 at Bimbo's in SF. 8:00 p.m., $15. 415-474-0365 or Bimbos365Club.com — j. poet

See Also

Dengue Fever at Rasputin in Berkeley (Friday, page 19); Gordon Chambers at Maxwell's Lounge (Wednesday, page 21).

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