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Brick's Picks: Ascending the Mountain

The jazz picks this week are on the rad side. Take powerful tenor and baritone Dale Fielder at Vibrato on Friday: This guy can rock a room. Or across town at the Café 322, where The Bobby Bradford Mo’tet slips his out-there stuff by the crowd by hiding it in some fairly traditional arrangements. It works. Guitarist/picker Bruce Forman is the melodic third of the house trio at the Foundry on Melrose on Friday, while pianist Josh Nelson takes that role on Saturday and Zach Harmon is in on drums both nights. Both lineups will take the room places, and they play till last call, so you can finish your club-hopping there. From out of town comes the piano trio of the great Jacky Terrasson (who we raved about last week) at the Jazz Bakery on Friday and Saturday. The very melodically expressive trombonist Phil Ranelin kicks off African American History Month with a great quartet (including the thrilling pianist Mahesh Balasooriya) at the Café Metropol on Saturday.

Sunday morning the drummer Gerry Gibbs leads a quintet in a tribute to Dexter Gordon from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach. Gibbs swings hard and isn’t one to wax nostalgic. On Tuesday the beautifully expressive pianist (quite the composer, too) Theo Saunders leads a quartet at Charlie O’s. Theo never has a problem getting the best out of his band, and this time he’s got Chuck Manning on tenor. Excellent stuff. And there’s even a flick to pick this week: Charlie Haden: Rambling Man, a documentary by Reto Caduff, is being shown at the REDCAT on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

Now for the rest of the world: Grupo Fantasma have been around a while but are utterly new to us. Man, their latest, Sonidos Gold, is kickass, hard and funky salsa, and we can’t stop listening to it (at extreme volume). Maybe the hippest thing since Orlando Lopez broke all the rules on his Cachaito. We’re serious about the funk side, too. They’re at the Knitting Factory on Friday. (For the real Cuban-sounding thang, though, check out percussionist Orestes Vilato’s excellent It’s About Time. The veterano NYC salsero goes back to the son, missing only Cachao himself).

Niyaz are at the El Rey on Saturday night (also down at Cal State Fullerton on Friday). We totally dug both discs in their Nine Heavens set (on Six Degrees), the one with their Persian/Sufi/Indian/Turkish sounds in a cool trip-hoppy setting. Their second’s an acoustic flip of the first. Amazing stuff. And Magala Papa are at the Foundry on Thursday: an Israeli keyboardist and drummer with a local bassist kicking out an amazing mix of heavy dub, funk, afro-beat and even some umm kalthum. It works. Great players, all fired up and grooving.

Finally, pianist Tigran Hamasyan’s new band Aratta Rebirth throws a CD-release party for their debut, Red Hail, at the Broad Stage at Santa Monica College (1310 11th St., Santa Monica, 310-434-3412) on Sunday at 7 p.m. He’s been doing the Armenian folk tunes for a while, wild interpretations with vocalist Areni out front and often a dudek player. But he’s also promising a lot of rock influences (“certain rock music”), so who knows what the results will be. His band — longtime saxist Ben Wendel, bassist Sam Minaie, and the startlingly imaginative drummer Nate Wood (of Kneebody) — are capable of anything he throws at them. And Tigran is thinking big, a crazy young genius planning musical revolution, complete with a beautiful, wild, absurdly ambitious manifesto: “Aratta Rebirth is a call for the humanity to wake up. People have to understand and embrace their roots and culture. We have to stop, turn around and go against the flow of this brainwashing and moneypulating river of corruptness and fakeness, so we don’t end up in that big lake of globalization. We can go back up the mountain, to the source of this muddy river, have another look from the summit and make another choice.”

Some people wanna rock, some people wanna swing, some people just wanna dance all night long. Nice to see there are a few players out there who still wanna change the world.

(Brick can be reached at brickjazz@yahoo.com.)

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