Fri. Dec. 30 -- The sparkling intelligence and wide-ranging accessibility of multi-Grammy-winning pianist Billy Childs warms up the room for tomorrow's sold-out New Year's Eve NPR live broadcast with the same redoubtable quartet: saxist Bob Sheppard, bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Gary Novak. It may not be as celebratory tonight, but cheaper and more relaxing. 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; usually $10 but I'm guessing $15 or $20 tonight (not specified on the web site); validated parking underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com. (The whole week rocks at the Whale this week, with New York vibesman Chris Dingman teaming up with pianist Josh Nelson on Tuesday, the L.A. Jazz Collective's Wednesday residency starting on the 4th, and Rudder bassist Tim Lefebvre's Thursday residency starting on the 5th.)
Fri. Dec. 30 -- One of the few original approaches to funk, blues and jazz you'll encounter: Saccharine Trust guitarist Joe Baiza's Mecolodiacs, with the postjazz furtherations of Atomic Sherpas. In the bar of Taix Restaurant, 1911 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake 90026; 10:30pm; free; www.taixfrench.com.
Sat. Dec. 31 -- Probably not as much punk barf tonight as there woulda been around '79 with The Mau Maus and The Gears tearing it up, but such spew ill-becomes us now. Also with Death on the Radio and Fangs on Fur. At the Redwood Bar & Grill, 316 W. Second St., downtown; (310) 245-0273; www.theredwoodbar.com.
Wed. Jan. 4 -- Anthony B., Rasta revivalist from the '90s onward, keeps the righteous political torch burning. At the EchoPlex, 1154 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park 90026; doors 9pm; $15 ($10 before 10pm); www.attheecho.com.
Avant perennial Sam Rivers died Monday. He was the fastest saxist I ever saw, with a fluidity and a rhythmic perfection that could just about leave your brain behind. Rivers waxed some uncompromising Blue Note and Impulse recordings in the '60s and '70s after passing briefly through Miles Davis' band in 1964, hitting a peak of radness with Cecil Taylor in 1969. My special memory was seeing him in the '80s with Dizzy Gillespie's mainstream group, his extreme bodily thinness pimped out in an impossibly tight, strangely colored and perfectly tailored double-breasted suit as he tore the fabric of reality with his solos. A true master.