Critic's Choice for the week of April 9-15, 2003 

A meaty country act, a jazz-drum master, a celebration of legends, and seductive heroes.

COUNTRY

Red Meat plays hardcore country music without any concessions or apologies to the current crop of alt.country or roots rockers. The band members' solid songwriting and exuberant musicality won them an SF Weekly Wammie as best roots band and produced a top five single in France with "Texas Texas," one of the band's signature songs. Friday at The Ivy Room in Albany. 510-524-9220. (j.poet)

JAZZ

Elvin Jones wrote the book on modern jazz drumming during his years with John Coltrane's seminal quartet, and his power and subtlety are still evident forty years later. The current edition of the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine includes Delfeayo Marsalis on trombone, pianist Anthony Wonsey, bassist Gerald Cannon, and tenor sax man Mark Shim. Tuesday through Sunday at Yoshi's. 510-238-9200 (J.P.)

Blending supreme technique with palpable emotion, bass virtuoso Christian McBride picks up where jazz legends like Ron Carter and Charles Mingus left off. Utilizing both acoustic and electric textures, McBride places the bass -- arguably the most important instrument in jazz music, yet also the easiest to overlook -- front and center, making a strong case for the validity of the low-end theory. On his new album, Vertical Vision, McBride and his band prove that contemporary jazz is anything but boring. From the rockish, jaunty "Technicolor Nightmare" to the Latin-tinged "Lejos de Usted" to a funked-up cover of Joe Zawinul's "Boogie Woogie Waltz," one gets the feeling there is no rhythm McBride and Co. cannot master. He drops by Yoshi's for a three-day, six-performance run starting Friday night. (Eric K. Arnold)

JAZZ AND BLUES

Celebrate a Legend is an organization led by producer Melanie Williams that honors unsung figures in jazz and blues. For many years she focused her energy on the East Coast, but now living in the Bay Area she launches a series this Friday and Saturday at the Woodfin Suites. With the assistance of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, she and coproducer Robert Carmack will honor Jimmy McGriff, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Sonny Rhodes, Little Milton, Eddie Bo, Lady Bo, Earl Watkins, Queen Ida, and many others. 5800 Shellmound St., Emeryville. 510-253-8098. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

ROCK

The Future Bible Heroes are one of the many groups led by the ever-prolific Stephin Merritt, hailed by many critics as the Cole Porter of Gen X. Merritt's gorgeously seductive melodies, finely crafted lyrics, and wildly inventive arrangements mark him as one of today's most original pop tunesmiths. The group also features the seductive vocals of Claudia Gonson and the multi-instrumental prowess of Chris Ewen. Friday at Bimbo's in SF. 415-474-0365. (J.P.)

DANCEHALL

Since the early '90s, Buju Banton's name has been synonymous with quality dancehall. The self-described Voice of Jamaica's gruff baritone and rapid-fire cadences have stoked many a blazing dubplate, and since becoming a full-fledged dreadlocked Rasta a few years back, Buju has led the contemporary roots revivalist movement and helped keep reggae's vibrations positive. Over the years, he has added mellow, emotionally-poignant songs such as "Til I'm Laid to Rest," "Untold Stories," and "Hills and Valleys" to his repertoire, yet he still can bust out a club banger like "Paid Not Played" -- the jump-off track from his new album Friends for Life. He makes a rare Bay Area appearance at the Avalon Ballroom on Saturday -- be prepared to put your lighters in the air. (E.A.)

BLUEGRASS

Peter Rowan (known for his singing with Bill Monroe, Old & in the Way, and his own Free Mexican Air Force) reunites the Rowan Brothers with his wonderfully harmonizing siblings Chris and Lorin in a free concert Saturday at 2 p.m. at El Cerrito's Down Home Music store, picking and singing bluegrass, songs from their new Rowan Brothers CD, and wild hillbilly songs from their theatrical tribute to Maddox Brothers and Rose. 510-525-2129. (Larry Kelp)

CLASSICAL

Four Seasons Concerts, the fine Bay Area concert series responsible for the discovery of Ewa Podles and other superb artists, presents a free concert of Haydn's The Last Seven Words of Christ on the Cross on Saturday night in Oakland's Calvin Simmons Theatre. Featuring pianist Jean-Stark Iochmans and narrator Raye Richardson, the concert honors the series' founder, the late W. Hazaiah Williams. 510-451-0775. (Jason Serinus)

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