Critic's Choice for the week of January 21-27, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

'70s Soul Revues

Didn't they blow your mind? Those '70s soul groups, that is. Well, now you can make your heart go pitter-patter all over again Saturday night when the Original '70s Soul Jam hits Oakland's Paramount Theatre. We betcha by golly wow you'll swoon for headliners the Stylistics, and a jukebox's worth of solid backing bands. If you don't know them by now, you'll never ever know them: the Delfonics, Harold Melvin's Blue Notes, and the Chi-Lites. Have you seen them? If so, see them again, plus master of ceremonies Jimmy "J.J." Walker, who promises to make it a "dy-no-mite" evening. 510-465-6400. (Eric K. Arnold)

Piano Jazz

Piano great McCoy Tyner returns to Yoshi's for his tenth annual two-week residency, leading two different groups. On Tuesday, January 27, he kicks things off with a trio including young bass virtuoso Christian McBride and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, a master of odd time signatures and rhythmic complexity. Next week Tyner fronts a stellar group featuring sax masters Pharoah Sanders and Ravi Coltrane, bassist Charnett Moffett, and Eric Harland on drums. The whole shebang runs through February 8. 510-238-9200. (j. poet)

Guitar Jazz

Berkeley electric guitarist Will Bernard has blazed a path of melodically inspired improvisation and tightly focused arrangements, honed during his various gigs -- from his role in Peter Apfelbaum's Hieroglyphics Ensemble to recording with Indian classical singer Shweta Jhaveri. He also plays in Odile Lavault's Parisian cafe ensemble Baguette Quartette, and last month reunited with guitar band T.J. Kirk (Charlie Hunter, John Schott, Scott Amendola). On Monday at Yoshi's, Bernard features his instrumental jazz-R&B-rock quartet Motherbug, which he views as building on such fellow Bay Area bands as Santana, Sly & the Family Stone, and Tower of Power. 510-238-9200. (Larry Kelp)

Guitar Folk

Guitar maverick Brian Gore has presented some of the world's most prominent acoustic guitar players, such as Ralph Towner and Martin Taylor, at his International Guitar Nights. Saturday at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, he rolls in his 2004 season with Algerian finger stylist Pierre Bensusan and Brazilian virtuoso Guinga (making his US debut). Along with Andrew York and "guitar poet" Gore performing, it's guitar artistry at its best. 510-548-1761. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

Scary Folk

Marilyn Manson's lyrics sucked into the Carter Family's backwoods-folk vortex? Perhaps that's overstating the Handsome Family's aesthetic, but not by much. This husband-and-wife team -- he writes the music, she writes the words -- specializes in macabre tunes full of corpses and raging fires and scary-ass forests and romantic images of the apocalypse. Toe-tapping, this. The Family's new Singing Bones is great, the band plays Saturday and Sunday at Bottom of the Hill, and fantastic singer-songwriter Richard Buckner is along for the ride. Hustle on down, but get ready to shiver. 415-621-4455. (Rob Harvilla)

Supervillain MCs

Whether you know him as '90s hip-hop icon Zeb Love X (of KMD fame), contemporary indie hip-hop supervillain Viktor Vaughn, monster flick maven King Geedorah, or the mask-wearing MF Doom, there's no denying this is one MC who's not only a microphone master, but a master of monikers as well. He has more aliases than Jennifer Garner and Mike Myers put together, and he rhymes better than either of them to boot. On tour just for the hell of it (well, actually to promote the new Best of KMD record), the metal-faced motherfuckin' Doomster makes a stop Thursday at the DNA Lounge, setting off '04 in suitable comic book fashion, along with MC Chu, Secluded Journalists, DJs Spair & Platurn, Joe Quixx, and the Specialist. That's right, true believers -- it's clobberin' time! 415-626-1409. (E.K.A.)


The 21 members of De Rompe y Raja are dedicated to preserving and promoting the Afro-Peruvian traditions and culture introduced to this country by the singing of Susana Baca. The troupe includes choreographer and percussionist Lalo Izquierdo -- a founder member of Peru Negro -- as well as composer and percussionist Pedro Rosales and guitarist Jose Soto. Friday at Ashkenaz in Berkeley. 510-525-5054 (j.p.)


Mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter graces everything from G.F. Handel to Elvis Costello with vocal beauty and interpretive insight. Finally, after all these years, she makes her Cal Performances recital debut Friday night in Zellerbach Hall, singing music by Peterson-Berger, Stenhammar, Chaminade, Berlioz, Mahler, Korngold, and Weill. Judging from her forthcoming disc of Swedish songs, Watercolours, the artist's intensity and brilliance will make for a rare evening. 510-642-9988. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Underground MCs

Fuck going to big hip-hop shows with overrated, undertalented acts who bring their entire posse onstage to recite their verses because they've had too much Hennessy. The underground sound is where it's at, and you can be down with the up-and-coming hotness Friday night at La Peña, when the Collective Soul-sponsored event Microphone Mayhem takes place. This MC battle and live showcase will clue you in on what's really going on, so be there or be forced to listen to KMEL until your brain turns to mush. 510-849-2568. (E.K.A.)


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