Jazzing the Alien 

Take them to your jazz leaders

WED 3/9

If aliens landed in your backyard and said, "Give us one good reason not to annihilate your civilization," you could take them to Zellerbach Hall tonight for Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette, and save the world in a couple of hours. This, you could explain by way of introduction, is the exemplar of the human jazz trio. The music would speak for itself. The trio's plan for the evening is only to show up and play. "Oh, we might do standards," Jarrett says. "Or not. It's not set." They'll have to see how everyone, including the audience, feels. Which isn't to say they haven't prepared. Jarrett, Peacock, and DeJohnette -- piano, bass, and drums respectively -- have played together for more than two decades, never leaving a nuance unarticulated and always managing discovery and delight. "Somehow we are equally able to adapt," Jarrett says. "Even if it's totally screwed up, we find something that we are able to do. If things are falling apart we all know it. But if it's happening for one of us, it's happening for all of us."

It usually happens. Whether modulating elaborately and beyond expectations, locking into an addictively euphoric vamp, or noodling sprays of sixteenth notes with the light touch and decorous good sense of a champion floral arranger, Jarrett is a commanding improviser. His discipline makes him as at home in Handel suites as he is in Rodgers and Hart standards or his own compositions; Peacock and DeJohnette keep him at home onstage. "They don't have an attitude," Jarrett says. "Jack can deal with any situation. Gary isn't the kind of bass player who says, 'This is boring.'" Thus, civilization should be safe with them. "Once you've committed yourself to the risk of being creative," Jarrett says, "nothing else suffices. It's like having serious fun."

Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft Way at Telegraph Ave., Berkeley. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets: $36-$80, Info: CalPerfs.Berkeley.edu, 510-642-9988. – Jonathan Kiefer

3/10- 3/15

Bombs to Blooms

Lit Happens

Patty Hearst has called her the SLA's resident explosive expert, but now Wendy Yoshimura is a painter and the guest of honor, along with photographer Don Melandry, at a celebration marking the arrival of spring gardening books at Mrs. Dalloway's (Thurs., 6 p.m.). ... Pick a winner at the Bookies, a charity dinner/awards show at the Lafayette Park Hotel benefiting the Contra Costa Library's literacy program, headlined by M. Allen Cunningham, author of The Green Age of Asher Witherow. Tickets are $50 at Orinda Books (Thurs., 6 p.m.). ... Emcee, poetry slam master, and English teacher Becky Dekeuster offers a strategic slam cram session at the San Ramon Library (Thurs., 7 p.m.). ... Warriors and hard rain flavor the works of Commonwealth Prize-winning Vikram Chandra, named one of India's leading novelists by the New Yorker. The author of Love & Longing in Bombay reads in 315 Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley (Fri., 3 p.m.). ... There's more to a conflagration than sirens and smoke. Oakland's Zac Unger shines new light on those red trucks in his memoir Working Fire, from which he reads at A Great Good Place for Books (Fri., 7 p.m.). ... They're sassy but smart. Veteran African-American cartoonist Morrie Turner, creator of Wee Pals and Soul Corner, celebrates his new book for kids, Soul Sistahs, at the Oakland Public Library's main branch (Sat., 2 p.m.). ... Identity is the issue in Janet Stickmon's Crushing Soft Rubies, in which the Richmond high-school teacher describes her search for both her African and Filipino roots. Meet her at Eastwind Books (Sun., 4 p.m.). ... She'd never thought much about racquets before her hot flashes began, but Alice Wilson-Fried was determined not to let "the change of life" get her down -- so she learned to serve. The author of Menopause, Sisterhood, and Tennis talks about winning her life back at El Cerrito Library (Tues., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

FRI 3/11

Foxy Fuzzboxing

Portland, OR ... a dreary place where you bike home from work, lock yourself in your bedroom or basement, and work on your indie cred with naught but a four-track, a squeaky voice, a busted harpsichord, and a pair of blunt hair-cutting scissors, right? Wrong. At least not if you're the High Violets , whose pinky-purple shoegaze clouds are cut with just enough pop-rock lightning to get them heard on not one but three MTV reality shows. They headline in the real real world this Friday night, sharing the Stork Club stage with SF peers Astral and Foxtail Somersault (our pick for the week's most evocative imagery). The former is a trio that takes its ethereal fuzz to a darker place than the Violets, and the latter's a new concern with a spacey demeanor and a possible Sonic Youth fetish. Get there early -- they may surprise. The Stork's at 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, and it's a 21-and-up venue. $5 cover. 510-444-6174. -- Stefanie Kalem

3/9-4/2

Maybe the Last

But not the least

Other regions have art festivals, and some may even have events dedicated to showcasing the artistic prowess of their junior residents. But where else but the East Bay -- specifically, Berkeley -- can you enjoy a monthlong celebration of kiddie visual art, music recitals, plays, poetry, and more? The Berkeley Art Center (1275 Walnut St.), in conjunction with Berkeley schools, Art IS Education, parents, local businesses, artists, and volunteers, has been making the Berkeley Youth Arts Festival happen for thirteen years now. Unfortunately, even this most progressive of burgs is vulnerable to depressed economics and wack-ass priorities; funding for the center's been cut, and this fest may be the last. So check out the opening reception, with the Singing Third Graders from Emerson, a drama presentation by Willard students, and poetry by the students of John Oliver Simon on Wed. from 5-7 p.m.; the visual art show open till April 2; a flute concert by grades K-5 Saturday from 2-4 p.m.; or participate in weekend workshops covering screenprinting, monotype, building musical instruments, photography, shadow puppets, clay, or papier-mâché, each one led by professional artists. For further info, visit BerkeleyArtCenter.org or call 510-540-0343. – Stefanie Kalem

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