Critic's Choice for the week of December 10-16, 2003 

Our writers recommend some musical nights out.


Let us stop for a moment to consider the flügelhorn. It toils not, neither does it spin. Yet in the hands (and lungs) of a jazz master like Dmitri Matheny, the flügelhorn's true funk disposition is revealed -- one that trumpet, saxophone, or trombone cannot hope to match, strain though they might. Matheny will be joined by vocalist Kim Nalley, guitarist Brad Buethe, bassist Ruth Davies, and drummer Deszon Claiborne for what's being called a Winterfest at Berkeley's Jazzschool this Saturday. The program will include standards, originals, and seasonal classics to bring joy to your world. 510-845-5373 or (Eric K. Arnold)


Tower of Power erupted out of the East Bay with its unique blend of funk, jazz, rock, and soul in the late '60s, cutting its debut East Bay Grease for Bill Graham's San Francisco label in 1970. Now, 33 years later, with their original rhythm section back in the fold, TOP is still laying down a groove deep enough to swallow a city. Former TOP bass player and Balco founder Victor Conte Jr. is not expected to join the group. Saturday at the Fillmore in SF. 415-346-6000. (j. poet)


Venezuelan vocalist Maria Marquez released a stunning self-produced album this year titled Princesa de la Naturaleza ("Nature's Princess"), showcasing a voice seasoned by her Caracas upbringing and the influences of American jazz vocalists. Marquez' exposure to jazz came as a child when she saw Duke Ellington at the National Theater. Today she is considered one of the leading vocalists in Latin jazz. Join Maria this Saturday at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley with special guests Diamora Diaz (cuatro) and Rowan Jimenez (percussion) for an East Bay CD release party. 510-849-2568. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


Last year, at the Havana Jazz Festival, I had the opportunity to see Gonzalo Rubalcaba play solo piano at a tribute for Cuban jazz piano great Frank Emilio Flynn. He was beyond category, displaying exquisite technique and an unbridled freedom as he abstracted harmonies and improvised gripping melodic tales. He was just a kid when he was propelled to big-time fame playing with bassist Charlie Haden. But this year he turned forty, and now he's the leading jazz pianist of his generation. Rubalcaba performs Thursday through Sunday night at Yoshi's in Oakland with his trio. 510-238-9200. (J.C.V.)


The final Yoshi's concert by the Jazz in Flight volunteer group presents New York jazz saxophonist Arthur Blythe and his all-star quartet: the always-amazing tuba player Bob Stewart, bassist Cecil Brooks III, and drummer Gust Tsilis. It's also the final concert in this year's Eddie Moore Jazz Festival series, a fund-raiser for JIF's Children in Flight program of music in the Oakland schools. One of the '80s' standout players, Blythe blazed a trail with an instantly recognizable alto sax tone and a surprising approach to new and traditional material, both on his own and in Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition. That spirit continues on his newest CD, Exhale. 510-238-9200. (Larry Kelp)


The Tallis Scholars, London's most justifiably lauded a cappella Renaissance vocal ensemble, make one of their much-anticipated pilgrimages to Berkeley's First Congregational Church Wednesday night. The smooth-voiced group of ten, celebrating its thirtieth year, performs Allegri's exalted Miserere plus music by Palestrina and Monte. A free Sightlines lecture precedes the music by an hour. 510-642-9988. (Jason Victor Serinus)


The Palm Wine Boys play the lilting, danceable brand of West African folk music known as "palm wine," an irresistible rhythm that was probably one of the forebears of Trinidad's calypso. Guitarist and songwriter Richard Linley leaned the style from S.E. Rogie -- one of the genre's great innovators -- but the band adds its own blend of Zulu jive, Congolese soukous, and American folk and blues to the mix. Thursday at La Peña in Berkeley. 510-849-2568. (j.p.)


550 Barneveld is smack-dab in the center of the industrial section of Ess Eff, which makes it a perfect spot for all-night raves. But why should ravers and house-heads have all the fun? On that note, the regular, slamtastic throwdown Hip Hop 101 invades the massive warehouse space Friday night with two Godzilla-status acts. Dwele's contemporary R&B stylings are moistening panties even as you read this; he's so smooth, you can drop the "neo" from neo-soul when describing his debut album, Subject. Slum Village, meanwhile, first emerged in the late '90s as the ruling class of the next school of hip-hop with Fantastic Part 2, and proved it could hold its own even without producer J-Dilla with 2002's monsta radio and club hit "Tainted." As always at these types of shindigs, there's a bunch of DJs spinning reggae, hip-hop, breaks and soul, including your boy Chuy Gomez, your best friend Sake 1, your homie Jah Yzer, and your big brother Mindmotion. Best of all, online early birds can grab cheap tickets -- only $12 -- at or, which is where you'll go for directions or more info as well. (E.K.A.)


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