Critic's Choice for the week of October 4-10, 2006 

Cuban jazz flute, Irish arse-kicking, and Tuvan bull scrotums.

Jazz Flute from Cuba

With the recent passing of the legendary Richard Egües, Orlando "Maraca" Valle may well be the premier flute player in Cuba today. He came to prominence in the 1990s with Jesus Alemañy and Cubanismo, and quickly established himself as a versatile performer in both salsa and Latin jazz. The classically trained virtuoso makes a rare appearance at Yoshi's this week. Because of the exclusion of Cuban musicians into the US following 9/11, Maraca will be joined by a cast of island nation émigrés, including pianist Tony Perez and Humberto "Nengue" Hernandez as well as jazz heavyweight Craig Handy on sax. He calls the pickup band The New Collective. Wednesday through Saturday, October 4-7, 8 & 10 p.m.; Sunday, October 8, 7 and 9 p.m. $24-$28. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

That '60s Show

The Starship is landing ... in Pittsburg? Founding Jefferson Airplane member Paul Kantner brings his formation of Jefferson Starship to the Creative Arts Building for a benefit concert to restore the 2,000-seat auditorium, the largest in Contra Costa County. Billed as the "Jefferson Family Galactic Reunion," the show will revisit the San Francisco Sound of the '60s, featuring Quicksilver Messenger Service and onetime keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, Tom Constanten. Watch out for the hallway twirlers. Saturday, October 7. 7 p.m., $10-$65. (Kathleen Richards)

Refined Venezuelan Rhythm

Venezuelan singer and multi-instrumentalist Jackeline Rago has been a mainstay of the Latin dance music community for years, in bands including the Snake Trio, Alatazor, Altamira, and Keith Terry's Crosspulse, as well as performing and recording with most of the Bay Area's Latin, world, and socially conscious musicians. Her Venezuelan Music Project has been her main focus in recent years, allowing her to direct a band that draws from the rhythmically rich cultures of Venezuela and the Caribbean. This week, they set up in Berkeley's La Peña Cultural Center for "Tocao y Bailo," an evening of music with Venezuelan guitarist Aquiles Baez and bassist Gonzalo Teppa. Sunday, October 8. 6 p.m., $12/$15. (Larry Kelp)

Salty Old Punks

Remember about two decades ago, when your best friend's way-cool older sister wore skintight black jeans and smudged black eyeliner against a crusty pale face that wouldn't see the light of day until at least 3 p.m., just in time to juice up and head to Gilman Street? That's exactly where the dry-distortion rock 'n' roll of '80s So-Cal regulars Decry takes you. Good times. Appropriately, the band plays on Friday, October 6 at 924 Gilman with Retching Red, Z.B.S., Miscreants, and Skinned Alive. 8 p.m., $5. (K.R.)

Siberian Violinist Hottie

Personable violin virtuoso Maxim Vengerov returns to Cal Performances this week to join pianist Lilya Zilberstein in a Zellerbach Hall recital of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. Of great interest is their performance of ten of Dmitri Tziganov's unusual violin-piano transcriptions of Shostakovich's 24 piano preludes, to which Vengerov will bring his rich, deeply expressive tone. Sunday, October 8. 3 p.m. $36-$68. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Celt Arse-Kicking, Redux

Shane MacGowan is a little bit of history. Known for his less-than-attractive features and dipsomaniac tendencies, he came up in Sex Pistols-era London with his first band the Nipple Erectors, then became the lead singer of the Celtic-punk pioneers the Pogues. Today, he makes a triumphant return with a highly anticipated, hyped, and sold-out Pogues reunion tour, featuring original members Jem Finer, Spider Stacy, James Fearnley, Darryl Hunt, Andrew Ranken, Philip Chevron, and Terry Woods. The question is whether Shane can even stand. Monday through Thursday October 9-12 at the Fillmore in San Francisco. 8 p.m., $65. (K.R.)

Central Asian Throat Singing

The central Asian republic of Tuva has a band named Huun-Huur-Tu which is largely responsible for introducing the world to a tradition virtually unknown outside of the country. The quartet uses throat singing — a method of using a single voice to produce several notes and overtones at the same time — to create an eerie, riveting presentation with a centuries-old tradition. The band members are also adept on instruments largely unknown outside of their homeland, including dazhaanning khavy (a rattle made from a bull scrotum), amarga (a deer antler trumpet), and doshpuluur (a three-stringed banjo). Their live performance is an experience you'll never forget. Tuesday, October 10 at Ashkenaz in Berkeley. 8 p.m. $15. (j. poet)


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