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Brick's Picks: Far East, Far Out

The Asian American Music Festival is this weekend, and at least three of its five events (or "movements") contain some jazz or jazzoid music. On Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. there's local pianist Gary Fukushima's straight-ahead GF3 trio, and then Bay Area pianist Jon Jang in a solo set. Jang will lead his Pan-Asian Arkestra, joined here by the Taiko Project, for a world premiere of his "Concerto for Jazz Orchestra and Taiko," which should be fun and gnarly loud.

Saturday night it's ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro and his jazz trio, preceded by vibist/drummers Abe Lagrimas Jr. and Noel Okimoto's quartet — they'll switch back and forth on drumsticks and mallets. Closing the festival on Sunday is Charmaine Clamor & Her Killin' Sweethearts. The Sweethearts — including pianist Eli Brueggemann, drummer Abe Lagrimas and a horn section led by fine tenor Robby Marshall — is the same octet on her fine new Something Good. KKJZ's Bubba Jackson lays down the final benediction. Check out asianamericanmusicfestival.com for all the details. It all goes down in Little Tokyo at the Japanese American National Museum at 369 E. First St.

The Billy Higgins Birthday Celebration Concert happens on Saturday, from 3-6 p.m. at the Bryant Temple AME Church (2525 Vernon Ave. in Leimert Park, (323) 293-6201). It's a fundraiser for the World Stage and admission is $20, well worth every cent considering the vast array of talent, including the rarely heard trumpeter Richard Grant, Kamau Daáood, Oscar Brashier, Dale Fielder, George Harper, Phil Ranelin, Michael Session, Nolan Shaheed, Dwight Trible, Trevor Ware and easily a dozen more. It's all about Billy Higgins, of course, and we're betting the music will be extraordinary.

On Saturday night at 8 p.m., the Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble plays the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (4718 W. Washington Blvd., (323) 964-9768). A virtuoso pianist and visionary Third Stream composer, Childs has put together an awesome bunch to make his music, including saxist Bob Sheppard, harpist Carol Robbins and drummer Marvin Smitty Smith, as well as the Eclipse String Quartet. Cover is $30.

At 8 p.m. that same night (Why do these things always happen at the same time?) the great Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés is at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex (on the Cal State L.A. campus, right off the 10 freeway just east of downtown, (323) 343-6600). He's touring behind his latest, the exceptional Chucho's Steps, with the same Afro-Cuban Messengers who recorded it in Havana. Chucho's playing, of course, is revelatory and the band is just great — live they must be explosive. Both the gig and the album are highly recommended. Admission is $30 to $50.

After all the Angel City excitement we thought we'd mention a couple way-out things, all featuring sax/reed experimentalist Vinny Golia. First happens Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts (2225 Colorado Blvd. at Eagle Rock Boulevard), with bassist Daren Burns' mad sextet Onibaba, and then Alex Cline's mad septet Open Gate Theatre. On Thursday Vinny Golia's own mad sextet are on a bill with other odd and experimental things at the latest ResBox at the Steve Allen Theater (4773 Hollywood Blvd., (800) 595-4849). Tickets for each gig are 10 bucks, which ain't a bad deal, considering how stunned and bewildered you could wind up.

The Peter Erskine Quartet (with Bob Sheppard, Alan Pasqua and Darek Oles) do LACMA on Friday. Saxist Michael Pedicin brings his beautiful, full tone to Vibrato on Saturday, and Lorca Hart, one of our fave drummers, celebrates his new Recollections at the Blue Whale on Saturday, with pianist Josh Nelson and bassist Edwin Livingston.

Tenor Chuck Manning is back with the John Heard Trio at Charlie O's on Saturday, always a kicker. The Nick Mancini Quintet plays the Lighthouse on Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m., and if you hadn't tied one on the night before, you could be there. Saxist Dale Fielder's Sonic Rewind make their funky debut on Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Lawrence Jazz Oasis (548 W. Palm St., in Altadena, (626) 296-0631). Dale promises the "tradition of James Brown and Ray Charles." Tickets are $15, and food and booze are available.

Avant jazzers Slumgum do the Blue Whale on Sunday, and all you alienated, intellectual types need to be there. They understand you. Saxists Walter Smith III and Dayna Stephens front the Café Metropol Allstars' four-night recording session at the Metropol club, beginning Wednesday. Alto Zane Musa is at Charlie O's on Monday, and the Henry Franklin Quartet celebrates the Skipper's birthday there Tuesday. And we thought we were having a '70s flashback (was it all that dust?) when we looked at the Catalina's schedule: It's a fusion freak's dream, with no less than Stanley Clarke on Friday and Saturday, and Billy Cobham on Wednesday and Thursday.

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

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Nate Holden Performing Arts Center
miles

4718 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

323-964-9768

www.ebonyrep.org

Bryant Temple AME Church
miles

2525 W. Vernon Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90008

323-293-6201