Lisa Engelken, Caravan.
Jazz singer Lisa Engelken's album, which dropped last year, is terrific. A true polyglot, she sings the Vinicius de Moraes tune "Canto de Ossanha" in Portuguese, scats on opener "We'll Be Together Again," slips into a high-pitched, moony, Blossom Dearie-ish soprano on "Caravan" (which features darkly inventive harmonies from pianist Adam Shulman), and nods to Joni Mitchell. Très fantastique. (Little Angel Records)
At the Jazzschool (2087 Addison St., Berkeley) on Saturday, June 11. 8 p.m., $15.
Inventive themes and scrass lyrics are to be expected, given that this five-piece honky-tonk band records in an Oakland studio called "Dirty Old Basement." That said, it's always refreshing to hear an up-tempo dance tune called "Funeral Home Blues," or a love ballad that begins with a humorously salacious lyric (I climb inside her/I smell her perfume), sung over lilting slide guitar. (self-released)
At Thee Parkside (1600 17th St., San Francisco) on Sunday, May 29. 4 p.m., free.
Messy Marv, Goon Vitamins.
It probably doesn't bode well for Messy Marv that the best song on his new compilation has a beat cribbed from Dev and The Cataracs. And the reason it's good is a verse by guest rapper The Jacka, whose distinctive, half-sung drawl blends seamlessly with the rubber-band bass. Called "G Shit," it uses prescription meds in creative ways. Newbie Roach Gigz makes a sassy cameo on "City Slicka Remix." (SMC Recordings)
Christopher Ferreira, The Piano Pieces.
It's not always possible to access an artist's personality via an album of solo piano compositions. But Christopher Ferreira's new effort speaks volumes — perhaps because of the pregnant pauses or the edgy gloom of his harmonies, or the intentional murkiness of his chords. All dissonance must have been intentional, given that Piano Pieces was about ten years in the making. (self-released)
Seven Days - January 16, 3:41 PM
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Culture Spy - January 11, 9:55 AM