Critic's Choice for the week of March 17-23, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

REGGAE

In Jamaican parlance, the term "supa" (derived from "superstar") doesn't necessarily mean an artist who has sold more records than there are fish in the sea. It refers more to a ghetto superstar: someone who has earned the respect of the artistic community and the people, both back a yard and inna de dancehall. And while Yami Bolo might be better known to American audiences as the man Mad Lion sampled on the hook of "Take It Easy," there's no doubt that Bolo -- a former teen sensation who continues to actively record and tour to this day -- is a bona fide supa. He'll be flashing his dreadlocks and promoting his special brand of roots rockin' dancehall Wednesday night at Studio Z in San Francisco. A can't-miss show for reggae fans. $10-$12. Info: SoulShakedown.com or 415-252-7666. (Eric K. Arnold)

SINGER-SONGWRITER

Janis Ian became an overnight sensation when Leonard Bernstein touted her celebration of interracial love, "Society's Child," on national TV in 1966. The multi-Grammy winner and platinum-selling artist came out and returned to her singer-songwriter roots in the early '90s with a string of lyrically complex and musically adventurous albums, including Billie's Bones, her latest for John Prine's Oh Boy label. Saturday at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. It starts at 8 p.m., but be forewarned: It's sold out. Info: TheFreight.org or 510-548-1761. (j. poet)

CLASSICAL

Bernard Labadie, the much-praised founder of Quebec's Les Violons du Roy, journeys south this week to direct Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in his specialty, French music. Saturday and Sunday in Berkeley's First Congregational Church (and Friday, March 26 at the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church), Labadie conducts the Music of the Sun King, including compositions by Michel de Lalande, Jean Leclair, and Jean-Féry Rebel. $29-$60, 8 p.m. (Saturday) and 7:30 p.m. (Sunday). Info: Philharmonia.org or 415-392-4400. (Jason Victor Bellecci-Serinus)

PIANO JAZZ

Ahmad Jamal's sparse, intellectual approach to improvisation greatly influenced the young Miles Davis, and he's one of the few jazz pianists to cross over into popular consciousness without dumbing down his music. Jamal's 1958 album But Not for Me was on the charts for two years and went gold, but his enduring reputation is based on his vibrant live gigs. Wednesday through Sunday at Yoshi's in Jack London Square, Oakland. 510-238-9200. Shows 8 and 10 p.m. except for Sunday (7 and 9 p.m.), $10-$22. (j.p.)

WORLD

Possessing one of the most gorgeously rich and inspiring voices in any music form, Chilean-born, Berkeley-based singer Lichi Fuentes has often put her greatest asset in a support role while working with ensembles from Grupo Raiz and Conjunto Cespedes or directing the La Peña Community Chorus. On Friday she's the first artist in the new "Live at La Peña" series, and while her latest CD, Quien Soy, just hit the stores, this show is being recorded for a live album. The concert also honors International Women's Month with Fuentes singing songs by and about women, her voice and guitar surrounded by some of her favorite musicians: percussionist Michaelle Goerlitz, saxophonist-flutist Donna Viscuso, saxophonist Klaudia Promessi, guitarist Hugo Wainzinger, bassist Saul Sierra, and Andean multi-instrumentalist Hector Zapana. $12-$14, 8 p.m. 510-849-2568. (Larry Kelp)

GOOD CAUSES

Ladies Night In, a special benefit for the AIDS Project of the East Bay, holds two not-to-be-missed shows Tuesday at Yoshi's. The evening features the vocal talents of Sunshine Becker and Destani Wolf of SoVoSo, Zoe Ellis and her frequent partner Caitlin Cornwell, plus the Cedricke Dennis Group and special guest Faye Carol. These women have backed everyone from Bobby McFerrin and John Santos to Phil Lesh. $25, 8 and 10 p.m. 510-238-9200. (J.V.B-S)

JAZZ ANNIVERSARIES

Fifty years ago George Wein started a festival at Newport Beach, Rhode Island, that sparked the idea of outdoor jazz summits. To celebrate the anniversary, Wein has dispatched a cadre of Newport Jazz Festival crusaders like Cedar Walton (piano), Lew Tabackin (reeds), Ken Peplowski (clarinet), and Howard Alden (guitar) for the Newport Jazz Festival Fiftieth Anniversary Tour, which makes a stop this Friday at Zellerbach Hall on the UCB campus, along with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and cabaret singer Lea DeLaria. $22-$46, 8 p.m. 510-642-9988. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

LATIN JAZZ

In late January, the International Association of Jazz Educators convened its annual conference in NYC. A highlight for Latin Jazz fans was a Down Beat magazine blindfold test with Cuban saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera -- one of the pieces presented to him was "Songo Non Troppo" by John Santos and the Machete Ensemble. He gave props overall to the group, but was especially complimentary of the arrangement by John Calloway. It was well-deserved kudos to the talent of the SF-born flutist and educator -- this Sunday Calloway performs at the Jazzschool in Berkeley with his group Diaspora. $10-$15, 4:30 p.m. 510-845-5373. (J.C.V.)

RAW ROBOT FISH ROCK

Posies fans, be warned: Bassist Arthur "Rick" Roberts' new outfit, Sushirobo, isn't run on Big Star sunshine like his old one. The Seattle quartet (for whom Roberts plays guitar and sings) draws more from the experimental digital of the late '70s, drawing on Wire and the pop output of Brian Eno to make hooky, slyly sexy sounds that resemble a less manic Fire Show or Clinic. Sushirobo plays the Hemlock on Sunday with PINE*am. $6, 10 p.m. 415-923-0923. (Stefanie Kalem)

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