Music Picks: Culture Collide, Nick Lowe, Screaming Females 

Thursday, Sep 27 2012

fri 9/28

Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble


click to flip through (2) Virgil Donati: - See Saturday.
  • Virgil Donati: See Saturday.

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In baseball terminology, Ovsepian is a five-tool player. He is an adroit improviser, a prolific composer, a virtuoso pianist, an intellectual heavyweight and he can hit for power. He has become a sought-after commodity in L.A.'s jazz scene, most notably by drummer Peter Erskine, whose trio has featured some of the smartest, finest pianists in the world. V.O.C.E. is Ovsepian's personal pet project, featuring tightly orchestrated strings, woodwinds and even a French horn, balanced with piano, bass and two drummers. The young Armenian's writing is compelling, provocative and without peer in modern jazz composition. This show is to promote the Kickstarter campaign funding the ensemble's new recording. If you contribute, you might even get a Vardan Ovsepian bobblehead! —Gary Fukushima


Walt DISNEY Concert HALL

When Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring premiered in Paris in 1913, the audience was split in its reaction. There was punching, slapping, hair-yanking, and the hurling of epithets — so scandalized were the older fuddy-duddies at how Igor messed so recklessly with the musical order. Roughly half the crowd loved it, though, hailing the piece as a ground-breaking achievement. We contemporary types will watch Gustavo Dudamel's debut conducting job of Rite with curiosity and anticipation; L.A. Phil predecessor Esa-Pekka Salonen's interpretations of Rite, after all, have set the bar at awesome new highs. Dudamel also debuts his skills at probing the music of contemporary composer Steven Stucky, whose aptly titled Symphony has its world premiere; you might trace the evolution of Stucky's far-flung orchestrations out of tonight's third piece, Maurice Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte. —John Payne

Light in the Attic Records Event

EL REY theatre

Hats off to the ever-righteous reissue kings Light in the Attic, who celebrate their 10-year anniversary by digging in the vaults for the most supremely obscure golden nuggets we failed to appreciate sufficiently the first time around. This stalwart and way-eclectic crew has chosen its artists wisely and farsightedly; the label's discoveries include funk-rock queen Betty Davis, protopunk baldies The Monks, folk singer Karen Dalton, Serge Gainsbourg, Lee Hazlewood, Kris Kristofferson, the Louvin Brothers — it's all over the map, and it's all, with hindsight, real high-quality stuff. The El Rey lineup features a representative sampling of the label's vision and scope: veteran English fingerpicking demigod Michael Chapman, Korean rock star Shin Joong Hyun, Memphis soul greats Wendy Rene and Packy Axton, poet/Beach Boys lyricist Stephen John Kalinich and Rodriguez, the '70s rock star whose recent return from obscurity was the subject of this summer's excellent documentary Searching for Sugar Man. —John Payne

sat 9/29

Sea of Treachery


A shotgun marriage of ultra-disciplined twin-guitar metalcore, boyish sing-along refrains and deathcore's diaphragm-defying gurgle, this Kentucky quintet apparently endorses any sound that makes mosh pits out of tatted teens. Just as they dodge between genres, Sea of Treachery flip through personalities like a tweaker in a Halloween store, traversing psychotic demon throat-ripper, militaristic post-metal shred-head and angelic voice of optimism — often all before the minute mark. They may have traded some of specialization's sheer quality for the comforting warmth of people-pleasing variety, but Sea of Treachery nonetheless make for an almost comically exhilarating crash course in all things -core. —Paul Rogers

Virgil Donati


Australian-born Virgil Donati is one of the world's most technically accomplished drummers, with a legendary practice schedule that would exhaust most other musicians. Less known about Donati? His penchant for writing some of the most demanding music in the West, with difficult meters that change frequently in the course of a single song, yet somehow manage to also be musical. Add to that Donati's feet, which are considered by many drummers to be the best in the world. The group of international music stars on this show includes French bassist Bunny Brunel (Chick Corea), Austrian guitar wiz Alex Machacek and Southern California keyboardist Dennis Hamm. This is music you won't hear anywhere else anytime soon. —Tom Meek

Killer Mike


Rapper Killer Mike is, of course, just as killer as advertised. His recent R.A.P. Music — produced to the limit of ferocity by Def Jux main man El-P — is one of the heaviest, most powerful hip-hop albums of the year. Example: If you've got a song called "Reagan," you better start bombing in five minutes, and so Mike marches off to war on society's wrongs — drugs, lies, economic inequality, racism, etc. — and snaps it all in half at the line, "I'm glad Reagan dead." Every lyric here is bleeding reality, even the one about his wife being "pretty as a singer, fine as a stripper/when we in the strip club strippers try to tip her." Actually, especially that. There isn't a lie on this album. Like he says: "What my people need is the opposite of bullshit." —Chris Ziegler

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