Fri. Dec. 10 -- Trombonist Phil Ranelin's soulful originals push the boundaries but still go down easy. He'll be paying tribute to his mom, who passed recently; lotta love in this man. At the World Stage, 4344 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park 90008; 8:30 & 10:15pm; $10; www.theworldstage.org.
Fri. Dec. 10 -- Marty Ehrlich/Ani DiFranco drummer Allison Miller has put together an incredible band (pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, bassist Todd Sickafoose) to realize her adventurous pop-rock individualizations. She sings good, too. At Royal-T, 8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City 90232; 8pm; $12; $8 students; (310) 559-6300; www.royal-t.org. You can eat and drink there.
Fri. Dec. 10 -- The Bad Plus (bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer David King) were on the ground floor of that accessible jazz thing where capable improvisers cover '60s/'70s rock tunes and make their own modern statements. Great notion; nobody knows Gershwin anymore. At the Mint, 6010 Pico Blvd., LA 90035; 8pm; $30; (323) 954-9400; www.themintla.com.
Fri. Dec. 10 -- It's an outman's holiday as Santa Barbara bassist Hal Onserud and vet NYC windman Blaise Siwula make a rare local duo appearance to improvise for freedom, a process that involves no weapons. At the Battery Books and Music, 1005-B Mission St., South Pasadena 91030; 8:30pm; donations encouraged.
Fri.-Sun. Dec. 10-12 -- Guitar geeks step up: The slick & funky Mike Stern is back, leading an ace quartet with drummer Dennis Chambers, trumpeter Randy Brecker and bassist Anthony Jackson. At Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 90028; 8 & 10pm; $22-$30; (323) 466-2210; www.catalinajazzclub.com.
***DON'T MISS*** Sat. Dec. 11 -- Little Tokyo's Blue Whale has emerged as the hottest regular spot for the very best post-traditional jazz, and it's holding a fest to raise funds and showcase the talent. Headlining is the NYC trio Endangered Blood (9pm-midnight), which features some of the tiptop improvisers in the world: drummer Jim Black (pictured), windman Chris Speed and bassist Trevor Dunn. Lots more great stuff from noon on: Richard Sears Quartet (8pm), John Beasley Trio (7pm), superduper vibesman and event organizer Nick Mancini Quartet (6pm), Soulstice (5:15pm), Gary Fukushima Trio (4:30pm), polished altoist Kim Richmond Quartet (3:45pm), the beautifully inviting Slumgum (3pm), Bevan Manson (2:15pm), Matt Mayhall (1:30pm), Kevin Kanner Jam Band (12:45) and L.A. Jazz Collective stars Sigmund Fudge (noon). Food, drink, art auction. Support your scene, but mainly have fun at this sweet little modern venue, now open for a year. At the Blue Whale on the third floor of Weller Court Plaza, south of East First Street between South Los Angeles Street and South San Pedro Street, Little Tokyo 90012; noon-midnight; $20, before 6pm $10, students $10; validated parking on Second Street; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.
Sun. Dec. 12 -- Kate McGarry is the only artist I've ever heard sing about a close encounter with a priest; she also covers CSN and, y'know, Irving Berlin. She's in duo with guitarist Keith Ganz, spare and modern. At Royal-T, 8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City 90232; 8pm; $10; $5 students; (310) 559-6300; www.royal-t.org.
Mon. Dec. 13 -- If you're looking to be heated up by intense progressive thrash, Arsis sure burns; read my review of Jim Malone & co.'s latest album here. With five more. At the Whisky, 8901 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood 90069; doors 6pm; $15; www.whiskyagogo.com; (310) 652-4202.
Tues. Dec. 14 -- An old-skool rockin' & strippin' soiree: ex-Queen of the Stone Age Nick Oliveri's stripped-down Mondo Generator, plus ace biker sleaze from Angus Khan (read my review of their album here.) At Crazy Girls, 1433 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood 90028; 10pm; $10; (323) 969-0338.
Tues. Dec. 14 -- It's a chamber of secrets as Quartetto Fantastico updates notions of classical, jazz, world, etc. under the direction of violist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. At Grand Performances in California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., downtown 90071; noon; FREE; www.grandperformances.org.
Thurs. Dec. 16 -- Don't expect bassist-composer Nick Rosen to fit some category, just dig a dude who can tune in to a lot of instrumental and sensitive/melodic channels. Read my review of his debut album here. At the Blue Whale on the third floor of Weller Court Plaza, south of East First Street between South Los Angeles Street and South San Pedro Street, Little Tokyo 90012; 9pm-midnight; $10; validated parking on Second Street; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.