You Have to Be There 

Our critics tell you what not to miss this summer

Page 2 of 3

Thursday, July 25

Mali, the landlocked West African nation, boasts one of the continent's most vibrant music scenes, with an array of international stars such as Salif Keita, Ali Farka Toure, Habib Koite, and Oumou Sangare. Lesser known in the West but long celebrated at home is the Super Rail Band, a powerful group that blends keening Islamic vocal styles with traditional kora and balafon rhythms and Afro-Cuban grooves to create a dance-inducing sound known as Manding swing. Founded in 1970 with sponsorship from Mali's Ministry of Information, the band got its name when it landed a regular gig at a train station hotel in Bamako, Mali's capital. Now under the leadership of the amazing guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, the Rail Band is one of the last surviving dance ensembles from a golden age of West African music. 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-594-1400. -- Andrew Gilbert

Saturday, July 27

Can you dig the 34th Annual Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival? When Concord Records moved to Los Angeles earlier this year, it ended an era started by local car dealer Carl Jefferson. His original jazz festival at Concord's Boulevard Park gave birth to Concord Records, a label that recorded such legends as Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, Cal Tjader, and Carmen McRae. It was Tjader who talked Jefferson into starting a Latin jazz division to record Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria -- thus Concord Picante. In this Saturday night festival closer, Arturo Sandoval, Eddie Palmieri, Machito and the Rodriguez Ensemble, and John Santos and the Machete Ensemble celebrate the Afro-Caribbean musical hybrid that a little label in the East Bay suburbs helped take around the world. 6 p.m., Chronicle Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord. 925-363-5701. -- Jesse "Chuy" Varela

Thursday, August 1

Finally the AileyCamp, an inspiration of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, has made it to Berkeley. This summer, 75 local sixth- to eighth-grade students deemed at risk of falling through the cracks -- and who reveal some interest in the arts -- are getting the chance to learn ballet, modern, jazz, West African, and folk dance in addition to taking art classes, writing and poetry workshops, and photography on the UC Berkeley campus. They will strut all their stuff on the Zellerbach Hall stage in a one-night-only performance August 1 at 7 p.m. Whether you're a sociologist or a balletomane, this is the kind of event that can make being human a thrill. For more info: 510-642-9121. -- Ann Murphy

Wednesday, August 7 - Sunday, September 1

Anton Chekhov said of The Seagull that it contained "a great deal of conversation about literature, little action, and five tons of love." Many people think of Chekhov's works as tragedies, yet he often intended them as comedies -- the kind that expose our lives in all their smallness and constriction. Artistic director Jonathan Moscone, ever curious about the unplumbed depths of the works he directs, will bring us what promises to be a moving, beautifully designed, and thoroughly realized production of Tom Stoppard's adaptation (yes, the one Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline just did in New York). Presented by Cal Shakes at the Bruns Amphitheater, Orinda. Tickets at tickets.com. Info: 510-548-3422 or www.calshakes.org -- Lisa Drostova

Thursday - Saturday, August 8 - 17

The death of beloved Oakland jazz drummer Eddie Moore gave birth to this most innovative of Bay Area jazz events, now in its thirteenth year. Run by the volunteer Jazz in Flight crew, the Eddie Moore Jazz Festival offers seven concerts of beyond-cutting-edge jazz and improvisation, each with once-only artist groupings, combining more than two dozen African-American, Asian, Native American, and other musicians in small groupings that range from free to fusion (among them Francis Wong, John-Carlos Perea, Sonny Simmons, Hamiet Bluiett, Tim Berne, even accordionist Andrea Parkins) with concerts at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (388 9th St., Oakland) and Ex'pression Center for New Media (6601 Shellmound St., Emeryville). Jazz in Flight: 510-763-4663. -- Larry Kelp

Thursday - Sunday, August 8-11

On New Year's Eve, Cuban flutist/bandleader Orlando "Maraca" Valle led an all-star band at Yoshi's that was broadcast live on NPR's Coast to Coast. Showcasing material from his latest recording Tremenda Rumba (Ahi Nama), the gig was a whirlwind of instrumental prowess and dancehall virtuosity that left the room steaming. Now, in the middle of summer, Maraca rolls back through with a band that includes some of the best young players on the island nation today -- music to make you dance and smile. 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Yoshi's, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland. 510-238-9200. -- Jesse "Chuy" Varela

Thursday and Friday, August 15-16

Of all the young pianists in jazz today, Craig Taborn is the most assured working in its acoustic and electronic idioms, perhaps because he started playing piano and got his first synthesizer at the same time. Best known as the pianist supporting James Carter's outward-bound excursions in the Carter Quartet, Taborn is at home in whatever musical context he finds himself, whether laying down the keyboard tracks for Detroit technohead Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra, bringing the Latin flavor to Susie Ibarra's Songbird Suite, or reconceptualizing the piano trio on last year's Taborn Trio debut, Light Made Lighter. His rare two-night appearance on this coast is a centerpiece of this year's Eddie Moore Jazz Festival. Appearing Thursday in the Marty Ehrlich Quartet, and Friday as a special guest of the Tim Berne/Michael Formanek Duo, one can only hope this leads Taborn to make more regular visits. 8 and 10 pm. The Ehrlich Quartet performs August 15 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th St., Suite 290, Oakland. The Berne/Formanek Duo with special guest Taborn performs August 16 at Ex'pression Center for New Media, 6601 Shellmound St., Emeryville. 763-4663. -- Aaron Shuman

Saturday and Sunday, August 31-September 1

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