Fri. Nov. 30 -- An odd combination that works on some levels: pianist Marcus Roberts (who adds personality and brilliant modernism to older jazz traditions) with Bela Fleck (who plays, y'know, jazz banjo among other things). The two released the appropriately titled "Across the Imaginary Divide" this year, and even though it's kinda cute, it skips along real nice. At Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 90028; 8:30 & 10:30pm; $35-$50; (323) 466-2210; www.catalinajazzclub.com.
Fri. Nov. 30 -- The pioneering Cali cartel Metal Blade Records celebrates its 30th anniversary with melodo-metal standard-bearers Armored Saint, plus Gypsyhawk and a jam of special guests including Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth) and Doug Pinnick (King's X). Eddie Trunk and Don Jamieson from "That Metal Show" host. At House of Blues, 8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood 90069; 8pm; $26; (323) 848-5100; www.livenation.com.
Fri.-Sun. Nov. 30-Dec. 2 -- Late Polish modernist rebel Withold Lutoslawski busted a nut on his exciting Symphony No. 1, tonight conducted by his old/young pal Esa-Pekka Salonen, who's throwing in a Beethoven overture and Ludwig's Symphony No. 2 on a program of music he's recorded for Sony. Bend a knee to Lutoslawski, 100 IF. At Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown 90012; 8pm Fri.-Sat., 2pm Sun.; $24-$187; (323) 850-2000; www.laphil.org.
Fri.-Sat. Nov. 30-Dec. 1 -- Last chance to catch the Afro-soul quartet of Azar Lawrence, Theo Saunders, Henry Franklin & Alphonse Mouzon. Real jazz on a monthlong stand, shades of Monk at the Five Spot. At the RG Club, 2536 Lincoln Blvd., Venice 90291; 9pm; $10.
Fri.-Sun. Nov. 29-Dec. 2 -- L.A.'s groovinest jazz eclectomorphs, Kneebody, wind up a four-day residency with special guests, including Daedalus (Friday) and Louis Cole & Genevieve Artadi (Saturday). At the Blue Whale on the third level 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; parking $5 underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908, RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED; www.bluewhalemusic.com.
Sat. Dec. 1 -- Singers-songwriters Garretson & Gorodetsky pull out their binoculars and magnifying glasses to examine the birds and bugs of Echo Park in light & dark perspectives. At Pilates & Arts, 1844 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park 90026; 5pm; FREE.
Sun. Dec. 2 -- Sacramento djass guitarist Ross Hammond's easy-moving melodies, bubbly electronifications and sometimes nasty attack make him a candidate for a family picnic with dragonflies and fire ants; he's got a trio tonight with one of L.A.'s best and most versatile bassists, Devin Hoff, plus drummer Alex Cline, always a prime attraction for his depth, variety and groove. And paying tribute to drummer Paul Motian, who died last year, is the Perpetual Motian trio of drummer Alan Cook (just the right wafter for the job), saxist Alexander Vogel and guitarist Derek Bomback. This monthly Sunday Evening Concerts series never fails; get on its mailing list. At Center for the Arts, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock 90041; 7pm; $10; (626) 795-4989.
Mon. Dec. 3 -- Here I sit like a lump of tofu, wondering why Aerosmith's new "Music From Another Dimension" is not honking my bobo, even though I like a lot of the songs. By now, focusing on the band's enormous virtues, I just ignore the bad impressions Aerosmith continues to make -- the usual tasteless cover image, the silly "Outer Limits" framing device, the schizoid selection of tunes cobbled by song doctors, the perpetual bickering. (I mean, singer Steven Tyler was virtually FIRED three years ago.) And we've got plenty of things to celebrate -- 15 new original compositions (first such in eight years); a reunion with classic '70s producer Jack Douglas; a feeling of real commitment. But the band's divisions run deeper than ever, as evidenced by six songs credited to band members and/or collaborators EXCLUSIVE OF guitarist/heartandsoul Joe Perry, and three songs credited ONLY to Joe Perry. Back in the mid-'70s days of "Toys in the Attic" and "Rocks," Douglas united the poles by letting these chemistry-heavy stagehounds slam it pretty much live in the studio, which gave the tracks energy, immediacy and dirt. Today, though, thanks to digital magic, rich musicians can load 99 tracks onto every song, and guess what, they do. Douglas could object only at the risk of his paycheck, and rockin' performances ended up sounding like lab experiments. Perhaps too many ballads: "Beautiful," "What Could Have Been Love," "Can't Stop Loving You," "We All Fall Down," "Another Last Goodbye"? Lyrically formulaic yet Benz-engineered and memorable, those drama spots provide posh vehicles for Tyler's angelic caterwaul, so only old hardcases still wearing that tired motorcycle jacket are likely to hate 'em. Potentially rippin' rockers like "Street Jesus," "Lover Alot" and "Freedom Fighter" are the songs that suffer, because in order to sound as if they belong on the same album, they require comparable levels of tweakery. Yeah, they punch thanks to drummer Joey Kramer's dauntless kick and Perry's fully evolved dominance in the field of clean but jambucking electric guitar, but despite deliberate echoes of filthy Aero classics like "Walk This Way," "Rats in the Cellar" and "Get the Lead Out," the uptempo pounders don't make me want to swill mezcal, and that's not a good thing. Honorable mention: Perry's ugly blues "Something," the best track, and maybe the only one with no Tyler. I look forward to hearing some of these fine songs played live by the best f*cking band in the land, because they're sure to shake my liver a whole lot more than the studio versions. By the way, I enjoyed the "Hello" and "Come on" vocal tips of the hat that "Dimension" offers to tonight's opener, the wonderful Cheap Trick, who used to employ the revolutionary recording method called by THEIR first producer, Jack Douglas, "Zero Overdub." At Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., LA 90015; 7:30pm; $50-$150, some tix left; www.ticketmaster.com.
Tues.-Sun. Dec. 4-9 -- Sometimes I wonder if former young lion Roy Hargrove is too pleasant. The trumpeter's 2009 big-band album was bland, but this trad-revival mainstay can play post-bop real clean & true, and when he's fronting a quintet, as here, that's mostly what he'll do. At Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 90028; 8:30 & 10:30pm (Sun. 7:30 & 9:30pm); $25-$35; (323) 466-2210; www.catalinajazzclub.com.
Wed. Dec. 5 -- Josh Nelson, the subtle piano kid who communicates and makes it sound easy, starts an every-Wednesday December residency. At the Blue Whale on the third level 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; parking $5 underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.
Wed. Dec. 5 -- Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus rap out the Nyabinghi drums & chants in Michael's 1960s tradition of Kingston yard circles, the scene that laid the rhythmic groundwork for roots reggae. Africa lives. Of course the superb house DJs will be spinning, too. Dub Club at the EchoPlex, 1154 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park 90026; doors 9pm; $10 cheap; 21+; www.attheecho.com.
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