Fri. March 16 -- Sometimes I get sick of being a liberal -- it’s so boring to support international cooperation and artistic exchange and tolerance and composting and peace, when all I really want to do is get loaded and listen to extreme music, and if Zakk Wylde would like to come over and shoot pool while I’m doing it, that’s just fine, we won’t say a word about his support for the goddamn war, in fact we might not say a word period, just empty the fridge of Carta Blancas; when the revolution comes you’ll have to climb over my bloody carcass to nationalize my nine-foot hardwood Brunswick billiard table, and if that makes me a hypocrite then at least I’m a hypocrite who can run six or seven balls on a good night. Still, I have to choke back that auld simpering liberal feeling every time I plug Hossein Alizadeh, regardless of the fact that Zakk would be the first to acknowledge this Persian as one lute fag who certifiably kicks motherhumping ass. Alizadeh’s mastery involves the connection between beauty and suffering, which is something Dmitri Shostakovich and Billy Strayhorn and Miles Davis and Billie Holiday understood, and Zakk understands too, if you should choose to consult for instance “In This River,” which he wrote on the occasion of his friend Dimebag Darrell’s murder. Alizadeh is both a classicist and an improviser, a daring player who taps his own emotions and can connect with the loves and horrors of centuries past as if they were right now. As a member of the Hamavayan Ensemble (which includes a woman, Afsaneh Rassa’i -- a mixture that used to be banned), he’s at liberal old Royce Hall, posing as an ambassador and, for a change in that two-faced occupation, actually being one. www.uclalive.org.
A RELATED MATTER -- Quite comparable in quality within the realm of Persiana is a recent album called Pangeya by Lian Ensemble, an internationally respected CalArts-centered outfit that includes among others Houman Pourmehdi on crisp hand drums, Pirayeh Pourafar on heart-tangling lute, and Djivan Gasparyan on the deepest, moaningest wooden flute you’ve ever heard. The record’s dominated by improvisations that you won’t want to end, and they almost don’t, ‘cause they’re mostly long. I’ll let you know when Lian plays locally.
Sat. March 17 -- St. Patrick’s Day, Amateur Boozers Night: What a great time NOT to be in a bar, and Ralph Alessi provides a terrific excuse to beg off. You may remember Alessi as a trumpeter who played locally with Ravi Coltrane and James Carney, and opted (like Coltrane and eventually Carney) for New York, where he could be heard. The new Look, by Ralph Alessi & This Against That, belongs to a wave of serious jazz that knows how to have fun in new ways. The group title is ironic but apt, as the restlessly sparkling and ingenious quartet -- with pianist Andy Milne, bassist Drew Gress (a special fave of mine), drummer Mark Ferber and guest R. Coltrane -- sound as if they’re playing handball in a six-foot cubicle, the rhythms bouncing around so unpredictably that your ears just about cross in the pleasantest way. (They also have a warmer lyrical side.) Here at REDCAT, Alessi brings Milne, the masterful shadings of Ravi Coltrane (sax), plus Ben Street (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums). It doesn’t swing in the old-time sense, but much more important, it moves. REDCAT, a wing of Disney Hall, is at 631 W. Second St., downtown, 8:30pm, www.redcat.org. Most everything booked there is excellent.
Sun. March 18 -- You say there’s a line between magician and cheesebox, and guitarist Joe Satriani sometimes crosses the road? Yeah, well what are you, chicken? He’s at the Orpheum (842 S. Broadway, downtown) with his G3 triple-guitar act, this time featuring John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big and the early/influential Racer X, which also sported drummer Scott Travis, now long of Judas Priest).
Tue. March 20 -- Lesbian are a heavy Seattle rock quartet who, like Isis, can roar like storm surf and get all submersive and momentous, but also enjoy changing things up in ways you wouldn’t expect, like referencing Captain Beefheart and Deep Purple in the same song, or throwing in Middle Eastern flavors, synth strings and even a solo fiddle. The longest song on Lesbian’s new Power Hor is only 25 minutes, so they haven’t yet beaten out Sleep, one acknowledged influence. A good band to nod to, but also good for twitching. At Mountain Bar, 475 Gin Ling Way, Chinatown.
Thurs. March 22 -- Ann Magnuson and Kristian Hoffman are at Amoeba Music (6400 Sunset Blvd., 7pm), and also at the Steve Allen Theater (4773 Hollywood Blvd.) Fri.-Sat., April 13 & 14. For my review of their magnificent new album, check my Feb. 22 entry.