Fri. May 3 -- Tapped-in keyboardist Billy Childs celebrates his birthday on the more electric wing of his wide-spannig repertoire with bassist Jimmy Johnson, drummer Joey Heredia and windman Katisse Buckingham. At the Baked Potato, 3787 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Studio City 91604; 9:30 & 11:30pm; $25; (818) 980-1615; www.thebakedpotato.com.
Fri. May 3 -- Greg Stuart & Michael Pisaro present electronic music that cools, rumbles and lets you breathe. At The Wulf, 1026 S. Santa Fe Ave. #203, downtown 90021; 8pm; free or cheap; (213) 488-1182; www.thewulf.org.
Fri. May 3 -- Charles Owens, one of the last saxists who knows jazz from the soles up, leads an ensemble. You'll hear some standards and, if you egg him on, some orange-haired overblowing. At LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., LA 90036; 6-8pm; FREE; Friday summer jazz schedule here.
Sat. May 4 -- Guitarist Page Hamilton's jaggedly monolithic metal assault (with a touch of jazz) Helmet, which hit big a couple decades back, returns for a vital club date. Preceded by Goldsboro, The Knife Outline, Rooftop Revolutionaries. At the Viper Room, 8852 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood 90069; Helmet 11pm; $20; (310) 652-7869; www.viperroom.com.
Sat. May 4 -- Sounds like a wild evening with world trance groovers Maetar (dig 'em for real), special guest Lili Haydn, instant painter Norton Wisdom, DJ Jason Saavy and "dance/magic & fans" from Ariane Labyrinth. Hmmm . . . At the Syrup Loft, 939 Maple Ave. #301, downtown 90015; doors 9pm, music 10pm & midnight; $10; espresso, food & full bar; (323) 719-1240.
Sat. May 4 -- Helluva jazz team hits the stage tonight; probably should have played them instead of the Lakers. Pianist Brad Mehldau remains the most delicate brain-twister around, still exploiting the spontaneously counterthudding bass of Larry Grenadier; drummer Jeff Ballard fills out the trio with hastening energy. To open you get not only the sparkling abstractions and modern pop references of The Bad Plus (Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson, David King) but a brilliant trad-plus saxist who used to play with Mehldau, fella named Joshua Redman. A CAP presentation at UCLA's Royce Hall; 8pm; $20-$55; www.cap.ucla.edu.
Sat. May 4 -- Viola player Miguel Atwood-Ferguson always has a host of the city's best musicians to play out his highly listenable adventures, and since it's his birthday, you can even kick that up a notch. 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; $20 advance, $25 door; parking $5 underneath off Second Street at the sign of the P in a circle; (213) 620-0908; www.bluewhalemusic.com.
Sat. May 4 -- The Carnegie Stage seems to be the music spot to hit at the South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival & Art Walk, cuz tru-jazz trumpeter Elliott Caine will be on it at 7pm, and Blasters echobilly guitarist Dave Alvin steps up at 8:15. At the Community Room of the South Pasadena Public Library, 1115 El Centro St., South Pasadena 91030; free.
Sat. May 4 -- The women of Eclipse Quartet hit Microfest in a program of microtonal/just intonated music by Ben Johnston and Kyle Gann. Man, they nail it. At Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena 91106; 8pm; $25 ($20 students & seniors); (626) 683-6883; www.bostoncourt.com.
Sun. May 5 -- Wonder where the wonder went? The jazz avant still rules right here on the first Sunday of every month. This time it's the Brad Dutz Quartet (with windman Paul Sherman, bass clarinetist Jim Sullivan and cellist Chris Votek playing the vibraphonist-drummer's challenging antirhythms) and the Walsh Set Trio (bassist Colin Burgess and drummer Trevor Anderies jam free with outsider clarinetist Brian Walsh). At Center for the Arts, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock 90041; 7pm; $10; (626) 795-4989.
Sun. May 5 -- SASSAS presents the experimental Australia/Norway duo Jim Denley & Kim Myhr, a.k.a. Mural, with nine L.A. musicians including Ted Byrnes and Greg Stuart, on a striking hilltop. Denley is "one of the people I play with most," writes ex-L.A. microtonalist Kraig Grady from his adoptive Australian home -- a damn good recommendation. At Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, 6300 Hetzler Road, Culver City 90232, 5pm; free.
Tues. May 7 -- With Charles Lloyd, with Greg Osby, with many others and with his own units, Jason Moran has proved to be one of this generation's signature pianists. Dude has chops, sensitivity, imagination and a historical perspective that few can match; glad you still have a chance to hear The Bandwagon (Moran plus bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits) in a smaller venue like this. A presentation of the Jazz Bakery's Movable Feast at the Musicians Institute, 1655 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood 90028; 9pm; $25; www.jazzbakery.org.
Wed. May 8 -- Soulful organist Larry Goldings pushes into the second Wednesday of his May residency with a "new sounds" concept featuring Gabe Noel, Zach Harmon, Keefus Green and special guests. He's a relaxer. 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. May 9 -- Saxist Kamasi Washington ranks as a real star among the younger crop of South L.A. musicians, blowing strong & rooted. 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.
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Metal warrior Jeff Hanneman died yesterday -- liver failure, spider bite, rock burnout. "Mandatory Suicide," yes. He'd probably hate the notion, but Hanneman was Slayer's avant-jazz guy. His demonic guitar solos conformed to no recognizable scales; his whammy-bar bends smeared borders of notes and chords. Transcending the label "musician," Hanneman was controlled chaos incarnate. Birthed many of Slayer's weirdest riffs and most extreme lyric concepts, too. You don't play like Hanneman from going to school, you do it by making your instrument an extension of your heart. And Hanneman had a raging, raging heart.
Bend a knee for country legend George Jones, who died a week ago. I got to witness his vocal acrobatics one time, and I mean to tell you, hoss, it was like Dolphy. Rest in peace, Possum.
Leni Stern's birthday at the Blue Whale 4/28 was a charge. Draped in black, her blond hair all puffed out in bangs, Stern rocked Strat, n'goni and calabash, waxing funky, folky and African by turns. We dug the dissonant chord she hit when referencing global hunger in "10,000 Butterflies," her loveworn duo with bassist Edwin Livingston on "Now I Close My Heart," and her spine-twitchingly dissonant "symmetrical" improvisations (a mode learned from Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese) on "The Cat Stole the Moon." Stern was about the only guitarist I'd heard play like that until guest Adam Levy later forsook his ultra-refined Steely Dan-isms and pulled off the same damn intervallic method in tribute. Guest guitarist Jeff Richmond slipslided elegantly, and guest accordionist Henry Spurgeon added both textural depth and a solid understanding of the African rhythms, which were personified throughout by Senegalese hand drummer Alioune Faye -- you would not believe the range of sounds this smiling devil can slap out. Stern's one artist I rarely miss, because she brings the freshness every single time.
Bet you didn't know Kevin Chown, bassist with Bombastic Meatbats and Tarja Turunen, had epilepsy. Well, he just had brain surgery in an attempt to correct it, and he could use some help with the nasty deductible. Contribute to the cause here.
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