L.A. previews January 4-10: Neurosis, Jeff Kollman, Azar Lawrence, Children, Michael Vlatkovich/Apophenia, Tigran Martikyan, Saccharine Trust, Castle, David Binney, John Beasley, Gerald Wilson.


Fri. Jan. 4 -- Atmospheric Cal doom vets Neurosis sludge it up to promote their current "Honor Found in Decay," appropriately with longstanding L.A. tribal art beaters Savage Republic (sans Brad Laner for some years I think) and heavy ghost riffers Ides of Gemini. At the Henry Fonda Music Box Theater, 6122 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood 90028; 8pm; $39; all ages; (323) 464-0808; www.ticketmaster.com.

Fri. Jan. 4 -- The Jeff Kollman Group stacks up the tastefully heavy Cosmosquad/Glenn Hughes guitarist with bassist Ric Fierabracci and drummer Glen Sobel. At the Baked Potato, 3787 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Studio City 91604; 9:30 & 11:30pm; $20; (818) 980-1615; www.thebakedpotato.com.

Fri.-Sat. Jan. 4-5 -- Post-Trane saxist Azar Lawrence is back in the residency game, swinging Friday and Saturday all month with some of L.A.'s most trusted jazz names: drummer Alphonse Mouzon, pianist Theo Saunders and bassist Henry Franklin. (LATE CHANGE: I checked the RG web site, and Azar and Theo aren''t playing Saturday; the bass & drums are the same, but trumpeter Nolan Shaheed and pianist John Beasley, both super players, fill out the quartet.) At the RG Club, 2536 Lincoln Blvd., Venice 90291; 9 & 11pm; $10.

Sat. Jan. 5 -- Two stages, 11 heavy bands, including ungrammatical Latin from Letum Ascensus and Ex Mortus, plus Mouth of the Serpent, Winterthrall, and notably Children, who expelled one of 2009's crunchiest collections of prognacious riffery, "Hard Times Hanging at the End of the World"; the album's somewhat obscure, but you can get an mp3 for 6 bucks here (after checking it out on YouTube). At Airliner Club, 2419 Broadway, Lincoln Heights 90031; 6:30pm; $7; 21+; (323) 221-0771.

Sun. Jan. 6 -- To knock out his own pithy tunes, flexi-toned avant trombonist Michael Vlatkovich has assembled a prodigious quartet with guitarist Tom McNalley (read about his life lessons here), bassist Scott Walton (of the redoubtable Cosmologic) and drummer Garth Powell (a Portlander highly touted by McNalley). Opening are old pals who always make wild sounds together, bassist Steuart Liebig, drummer Alex Cline and keyboardist Wayne Peet, a.k.a. Apophenia (which means, I learn, the process of drawing meaning from randomness). Highly recommended. At Center for the Arts, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock 90041; 7pm; $10; (626) 795-4989.

Sun. Jan. 6 -- Pianist Tigran Martikyan (not to be confused with Tigran Hamasyan) has a crisp touch, a sensitive aesthetic and a thorough understanding of jazz and classical; he'll be taking off from Armenian folk and Gershwin among other things. More fans should get acquainted with this local master, and I like it that his song "Depression" is filled with both despair and beauty. At the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in Pasadena Public Library, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena 91101; 2pm; $10.

Sun. Jan. 6 -- Jazzpunk old-timers night: Joe Baiza and Jack Brewer's Saccharine Trust, plus the ever-extreme screamin' jolts of The Deadbeats, and some kind of supergroup calling themselves Trembling Hills. Part Time Punks at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park 90023; 10pm; $5-$11; 18+; (213) 413-8200; www.attheecho.com.

Sun. Jan. 6 -- Bassist-singer Elizabeth Blackwell and Canada's Castle do an intelligently spooky thing that rocks real down; she reminds me of an even darker and witchier Patti Smith. With Behold! The Monolith, Iron Mtn, Yidhra. At Club Los Globos, 3040 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park 90026; 8pm; $5; 21+; www.clublosglobos.com; (323) 207-6686.

Tues. Jan. 8 -- Much-laureled highbrain NYC saxist David Binney cops a sharp trio with bassist Tim Lefebvre (Rudder) and young drummer Louis Cole. 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; $15; parking $5 underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.

Wed. Jan. 9 -- Grammy-nommed pianist John Beasley launches a residency of January Wednesdays via a soulful & efflorescent duo with supersinger Dwight Trible. 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; $15; parking $5 underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.

Thurs. Jan. 10 -- Multivalent bandleader Gerald Wilson is my hero for his knowledge and creativity, and my scourge for having more energy at 94 than I had at 30. Yup, he's got his whole talent-laden Orchestra; read my review from last August here. At Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 90028; 8:30pm; $20; (323) 466-2210; www.catalinajazzclub.com.

* * *

Read Don Heckman’s jazz picks here and MoshKing's metal listings here. Read John Payne's plutonic Bluefat.com (with a mess of new material including an interview with Mike Watt talking about Coltrane) here.

A year ago, recognizing that the main purpose of television is to help you sleep, Congress enacted a law prohibiting commercials from being louder than the programs in which they are embedded. That law, the CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act, went into effect December 13. Nothing will change unless you speak up, so the next time you're slammed awake by a commercial for loan sharks or boner pills, COMPLAIN HERE. Select the second-to-last option (Broadcast) on the first page, and the last option (Loud Commercials) on the second page. On the third page, be specific about the cable system, the channel, the advertiser and the time. Bookmark this FCC complaint site, cuz you'll be needing it. (You can use it against phone solicitors and other stuff, too.) Thank you, reader. And thank you, California Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Silicon Valley), the bill's sponsor.


I keep falling asleep on the couch during midnight movies . . . last nite it was "On the Waterfront," my fave flick ever. I couldn't figure out why . . . after all, one of my seizure meds discourages sleep even. Then I read your column and realized it was that damn law. No longer am I jolted awake for ads for the Trojan Twister and their haunting undertone that men aren't really necessary at all. And you know, I always did my best writing in the wee hours, invariably after being awoken by that delicious babe describing hideous malpractices that can be sued for. She talks so fast, and never blinks. Disturbing. And I don't even know what a vaginal mesh is. I'd turn off the TV and turn on the computer and out would come prose. No more. Now I just sleep, wake up, straighten up the house (I always straighten up the house), read some and go to bed, the real bed, and sleep again. No prose at all. There goes my writing career.