Critic's Choice for the week of May 21-27, 2003 

"Bad" jazz, aerodynamic hip-hop, dark pop, and starry folk, among other things.

JAZZ

The Bad Plus is the jazz buzz band of the year. The acoustic piano, bass, and drum trio plays jazz with the brashness of rock stars, and is known for deconstructing rock classics from Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to Sabbath's "Iron Man." Plus, the band can bop with the best of them. See 'em Friday at the Herbst Theater in SF with Jason Moran as part of the SFJAZZ Spring series. 415-776-1999. (Michael Gowan)

HIP-HOP

If you've seen the recent documentary The Freshest Kids or the reissued Style Wars, you've probably been amazed by the aerodynamic, gravity-defying dance moves of breaking -- also known as breakdancing to non-underground folks. Well, here's your chance to see an authentic B-boy/B-girl battle live, when 2 on 2 returns to Ashkenaz Sunday evening. Some of the freshest, flyest breakers in the Bay Area will be throwing down aerials, spins, freezes, and pop-locks, with a $200 prize at stake. Scheduled performers include crews Sisterz of the Underground, Hounddog Truckers, and Siren's Echo, with DJ Riddm and DJ Thatgirl on the one and twos. 510-525-5054. (Eric K. Arnold)

CLASSICAL

The Crowden School , Berkeley's unique classical music school for the young, offers hope for the future of classical performance with its twentieth annual spring concert. Tonight in Berkeley's First Congregational Church, fourth- through eighth-graders perform string orchestra and choral music by Handel, Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Suk, and Reich, plus works by student composers Preben Antonsen and Matthew Cmiel. 510-559-6910. (Jason Victor Serinus)

MOPE-ROCK

If Interpol's current status as the Most Relentlessly Hyped and Relentlessly Defensive Band in the World hasn't exhausted your taste for gloomy New Yorkers, by all means give Calla a whirl. The band's latest, Televise, is an eerie, shifty-eyed piece of goth pop currently pushing all the right hipster buttons, with a noisy and aggressive ugliness that will make Cure fans roll their eyes heavenward and sigh with quiet desperation. That's a compliment. Saturday at Bottom of the Hill with the Pleased. 415-621-4455. (Rob Harvilla)

GOOD CAUSES

Berkeley Community Theater has hosted everyone from Dylan to Hendrix to Springsteen to Metallica (joined by the San Francisco Symphony). On Saturday, it returns to its original mission, as the East Bay community of musicians comes together in a benefit for the besieged Berkeley Schools Music Program. Performers include Linda Tillery & the Cultural Heritage Choir, Khalil Shaheed's Big Belly Blues Band, the vibrant Berkeley High Afro-Haitian Dance Troupe, and other special guests. 510-644-6244. (Larry Kelp)

WORLD JAZZ

Russell Gunn named his group Ethnomusicology, but the academic title is purposely ironic, because this nine-piece band routinely tears the roof off the sucker with a forward-looking blend of Cuban, African, and Brazilian music, peppered with the rhythms of hip-hop and Washington. DC's go-go beat. Tuesday and Wednesday at Yoshi's in Jack London Square. 510-238-9200. (j. poet)

REGULAR JAZZ

Violinist Mark O'Connor cut a bluegrass fiddle album at fourteen and has gone on to play on over five hundred classical, country, bluegrass, and jazz projects. His current band, the Hot Swing Trio -- featuring John Burr on bass and Frank Vignola on guitar -- pays homage to the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli without ever descending into slavish imitation. See it Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. There's also a kids' matinee at 3 p.m. 415-776.1999. (j.p.)

MULTICULTURAL PARTYING

"Mass Affirmation of Peace" is the theme for the 2003 San Francisco Carnaval . One of the city's largest events, the annual street festival and parade transforms the Mission District into a splendor of color and culture, starting Friday and stretching on into Sunday. Celebrating the fest's 25th anniversary, Latin rock kingpins Malo, with guitarist Jorge Santana, headline Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on the 21st Street stage. Sunday's parade is highlighted by the amazing Ilê Aiyê , the renowned drum-and-dance troupe from Bahia, Brazil. Kickoff parties abound, including a Friday night East Bay celebration with Dandara & Karana, Pandeiros do Brasil, and the Carnaval King and Queen at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. www.carnavalsf.com. 415-920-0125. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

MORE CARNIVAL

In the Caribbean, Carnival is celebrated in March. But here in the East Bay, Memorial Day weekend is when the often-outlandish, incredibly festive proceedings happen. The Cuica y Clave Spectacular at Geoffrey's Inner Circle Saturday promises some of the most fun to be had north of the Tropic of Cancer. Carnival 2003 King Antonio Narajo and Queen Iya Silva will be in the house to bless the proceedings, held on two floors. Jesus Diaz y Su QBA band will be playing live, with dance performances by the Aquarela Brasilian Dance Ensemble and Alseny Soumah , a West African dance instructor at the Alice Arts center. There will also be DJs spinning soca and classic R&B, plus a Lil' Havana room hosted by SalsaCrazy. 510-839-4301 (English) or 510-917-7777 (Español). (E.A.)

INSTRUMENTAL ROCK

The distinguished gentlemen of Continental play ideal bill-paying music: quiet, thoughtful instrumental guitar lullabies perfect for both sadly reflecting on the money you're losing and happily recalling the great stuff you bought with it. Mogwai fans will freak out over four-letter words, the SF band's latest, which packs vast acres of melancholy into the smallest, quietest boxes imaginable. Saturday at Edinburgh Castle in SF with the Rum Diary and the Ebb and Flow . 415-885-4074. (R.H.)

CAJUN/ZYDECO

"Everybody's dancing/All night long/Somebody's dancing/To my song," Geno Delafose sings on the title track of his new album, whose fifteen tunes offer a joyous, uptempo celebration of zydeco music. Powered by accordion riffs, catchy choruses, and rub-board rhythms, Delafose's French Rockin' Boogie band shows why French-Cajun music has thrilled audiences for decades. Delafose may be young, but his pedigree is impeccable: the son of late zydeco legend John Delafose, Geno cut his teeth as the drummer in his dad's band, the French Playboys, before fronting his own outfit. He brings his infectious sound to the Eagles Hall in Alameda Friday night. 415-285-6285. (E.A.)

CELTIC

Looking for family fun during Memorial Day weekend? How about Aurora of the Northern Harp , part of the Chabot Space & Science Center's Music Under the Stars series? Acclaimed Celtic harpist Aryeh Frankfurter , accompanied by a string ensemble, will be playing beautiful, traditional, and melodic folk tunes from Ireland and Scandinavia, while the cosmos twinkles, shines, and swirls under the planetarium dome. Feel free to bring the little ones; children under three are admitted free. 510-336-7373. (E.A.)

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