Critic's Choice for the week of November 22-28, 2006 

Master/slavery, organ flexing, and a big brass ball.

Littlest Big Band Ever

Although the nationwide swing revival of the late '90s faded almost as quickly as it surfaced, the Bay Area remains a hotbed of hot swing music, with hundreds of cats and chicks cutting a rug every chance they get. Stompy Jones may be the Bay's best small swing band, with a sizzling sound that balances tunes from the catalogue of greats like Louis Jordan and Joe Liggins with its own snappy originals. The sextet's members have racked up hundreds of years of experience between them, and when they hit the bandstand they make every note count. Interesting bit of trivia: Vocalist "Pops" Walsh played bass in Lou Reed's Rock 'n' Roll Animal band. Friday, November 24 at Berkeley's Ashkenaz. 9:30 p.m., $13/$11 students. (j. poet)

Flex Your Organ

Paul Jacobs, 29, head of the organ department at Juilliard, is an evangelist of sorts, tirelessly touring the country with the goal of revitalizing organ performance. Astounding for its vitality and freedom, his Saturday night recital of J.S. Bach, Duruflé, Franck, Reger, and John Weaver in Livermore's First Presbyterian Church promises to shake the cobwebs from the rafters. Saturday, November 25. 8 p.m., $18-$16. 925-447-2752 or (Jason Victor Serinus)

Sludge Fest

Here's an incestuous rock show not to be missed. The Melvins' Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover collaborated with the bass-drums duo Big Business for the album, Senile Animal, released in October on Ipecac. Various formations of those bands will be joined by San Francisco's Porn, featuring Crover on drums, legendary producer Billy Anderson on bass, and guitarist Tim Moss, supporting their own new album, Wine, Women and Song. If you like sludgy bass, bashing drums, and thick distorted guitar riffs, this will be heaven. The Melvins, Big Business, Porn, Altamont, and surprise guests play the Great American Music Hall in SF on Wednesday, November 29. 8 p.m., $15. (Kathleen Richards)

Thanksgiving Eve Ranchera

Mexican ranchera singer Beatriz Adriana is renowned for emotionally-charged themes blending pop with traditional Mexican music. Blessed with a smoky tenor voice, she is a major star who has recorded for many labels including Peerless, Musart, and Fonovisa. Since her debut in 1988, La Luna Sera la Luna, she has recorded in Mexican regional configurations that range from brass-heavy bandas, accordion-led conjuntos, and string-and-trumpet mariachis. On Wednesday, November 22, she appears with her band at the Bench and Bar in Oakland as part of a La Bota Loca production. Time TBA. $50 VIP tickets (including a meet-and-greet and special seating). (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

A Big Brass Ball

San Francisco-born jazz trombonist Wayne Wallace has performed with, written songs for, recorded, arranged, and produced so many other musicians that a list of his credits would fill this entire page (just check his Web site!). And while he is an invaluable and in-demand musician who has performed with the likes of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Pete Escovedo, and a faculty member of the music department at San Francisco State University, Wallace rarely gets around to his own projects. On Monday at Yoshi's he leads his own band to celebrate the release of his new CD, Reckless Search for Beauty. No matter what or where he plays, Wallace brings not just great musicianship but also that rare quality of music as the means to uplift listeners' spirits to a higher level. 8 and 10 p.m., $12/$6. (Larry Kelp)

This Charming Tofurkey

What better day to herald the Smiths than on Thanksgiving? After your tofurkey feast, head down to 330 Ritch and burn off some calories with DJ Aaron Axelson and crew to celebrate the sixth annual tribute to the pro-vegetarian English lads. Plus Smiths tribute band This Charming Band will grace the stage, likely playing some tunes from the Meat Is Murder album. It goes down on Thursday, November 23 at 10 p.m. Free. (K.R.)

I'm Your Puppet

Here's a story to tell the kids. Fledgling San Francisco synth-pop band Life in Braille was doing what any hardworking indie band does — sending out demos — when one happened to capture the attention of a friend of Yoko Ono. Upon learning of the band name — a lyric taken from an Ono song — Ono sent them an angry cease and desist letter. So with a new moniker Master/Slave, the duo hasn't yet programmed their way into a label, but in the meantime it'll be working on perfecting its crashing, frenetic energy with the Proles at the Stork Club on Friday, November 24. 9 p.m., $5. (K.R.)


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