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Music Picks: Shelby Lynne, Marsha Ambrosius, John Scofield Quartet, Wiz Khalifa 

Also, Leon Russell, Chris Brown, Azar Lawrence Quintet and others

Thursday, Oct 13 2011
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Wiz Khalifa

Nokia Theatre

The eternally high Pittsburgh rapper with the hyena laugh shook off the dirt of his underground fame earlier this year when his hometown anthem "Black and Yellow" became the Steelers' unofficial Super Bowl anthem. His very public relationship with Kanye West's former paramour, video vixen Amber Rose, also helped. But the weed-n-women devotee didn't just luck out — he'd been touring relentlessly since his split with Warner Bros. in the summer of '09, building an online army of fans who call themselves the Taylor Gang. The ranks scorned his spring debut with new label Atlantic, calling him a sellout for its radio-friendly sound. But they'll turn up tonight anyway to be enveloped in the weed cloud that is still Wiz's trademark. —Rebecca Haithcoat

click to enlarge PHOTO BY AUTUMN DEWILDE - The Secret Sisters: See Wednesday.
  • PHOTO BY AUTUMN DEWILDE
  • The Secret Sisters: See Wednesday.

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John Scofield Quartet

Catalina Jazz Club

John Scofield is one of the most respected guitarists in jazz, making a major mark in Miles Davis' band in the early 1980s. Before that, Scofield had already recorded with jazz legends Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan and Gary Burton. Scofield's own bands have been some of the finest anywhere, producing classic recordings such as Blue Matter and Still Warm. He has split his time over the past three decades between traditional jazz and more eclectic settings, including collaborations with the likes of Medeski, Martin & Wood, Phil Lesh and Government Mule. Through Thursday he fronts a quartet in support of his new album, A Moment's Peace, backed by Michael Eckroth on piano, Ben Street on bass and Greg Hutchinson on drums. —Tom Meek

Also playing:

ST. VINCENT at Music Box; HUGH CORNWELL at Bronson Bar; BEN LEE at Largo.

 

wed 10/19

Paul Simon, The Secret Sisters

GIBSON AMPHITHEATRE

At a time in his life when he seemingly has little left to prove, the 70-year-old Paul Simon recently returned to action with his best album in many years, So Beautiful or So What. Rootsy strains of Americana fuse joyfully with serpentine African-style guitars wrapping themselves around coolly groovy shuffles. Although the album is ostensibly a meditation on spirituality and mortality, with songs like "The Afterlife" and "Love Is Eternal Sacred Light," Rhymin' Simon keeps the mood playful, even as he finds out — after climbing "up the ladder of time" — that Heaven is a place where he has to fill out a form and stand in line, just like everybody else. The retro-fixated Secret Sisters open with their dreamy, old-time country-pop harmonies. —Falling James

Also playing:

ROGER DALTREY PERFORMS TOMMY at Nokia Theatre; STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS at Music Box; JANEK GWIZDALA at Café Cordiale; SCOTT KINSEY GROUP at the Baked Potato.

 

thu 10/20

Chris Brown, T-Pain, Bow Wow, Tyga

STAPLES CENTER

Yes, we know Chris Brown is not high on the public's exemplary citizens list — his fall from grace stemming from his abusive relationship with Rihanna is well documented. But what really matters, at least from a critical perspective, is the man's talent. And, like it or not, Brown is dripping with it. After the dud of an apology-in-album-form that was 2009's Graffiti, the showstopping, fleet-footed entertainer returned this year with F.A.M.E., an album stockpiled with pulsating nuggets that can't help but make you re-evaluate his premier status in the pop game. Sure, you may not like C. Breezy, but damn, you've gotta respect him. Brown is joined by, among others, the robo-charged voice of T-Pain, who apparently also comes in human form. —Dan Hyman

Leon Russell

THE CANYON CLUB

Leon Russell's career certainly got a shot in the arm when he recorded The Union last year with his longtime fan Elton John. The album's surprising success brought welcome attention to the prolific Russell, who's been toiling away in relative anonymity in recent years, but it also gave John a much-needed boost of credibility after several decades of manufacturing MOR fluff and pandering to the rubes in Vegas. It may be hard to remember now, but in the early 1970s Russell was the bigger star, tapping out divinely carnivalesque melodies like the hit "Tight Rope" and such winsomely melancholic ballads as "Manhattan Island Serenade." Truth is, whether he's goosing up rock standards like "I've Just Seen a Face" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" or digging into his endless bag of originals, Russell is always a fiery performer, pounding on his piano and growling with plenty of funky Oklahoman soul. —Falling James

New Villager

MONDRIAN HOTEL

Brooklyn-based art and music collective NewVillager are a couple of guys named Ben Bromley and Ross Simonini, whose "mythologically woven" new-slant arty pop is but one small component of a live show that crosshatches beat/sound excursions and resonant visual corollaries. They've earned their art cred with installations at galleries and art spaces such as L.A.'s Human Resources Gallery, where a recent exhibit featured the construction of a village in which the band lived, slept and performed in 10 different rooms, each symbolizing a song from their jarringly beautiful recent debut album. Tonight they're doing a DJ version of all of the above; for the complete experience catch them also at the Troubadour on Oct. 15. —John Payne

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