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From Radical to Roots

The Creative Music Festival and other jazz picks

Producer Wadada Leo Smith describes this year’s Creative Music Festival as “a sustained exploration of creative music for orchestras and large ensembles.” Friday’s headliner is legendary pianist/composer and Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians founding member Muhal Richard Abrams, whose work ranges widely, from the roots to the radical. Opening will be the massed percussion/woodwind beauty of Adam Rudolph & Go: The Organic Orchestra. On Saturday, composer/cornetist (and longtime David Murray accomplice) Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris conducts his Orchestra SLANG through some radically structured improv. Opening will be a tribute to Horace Tapscott, led by the brilliant saxophonist and Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra mainstay Michael Session; his from-the-soul-to-the-stars solos have to be experienced. Maybe not a weekend for everyone, but the hip will dig. REDCAT at Walt Disney Concert Hall, 631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; Fri.–Sat. Feb. 2–3, 8:30 p.m.; $18 ($14 students) each night. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org.

A link to the wild expressionism of 1960s jazz, saxist Pharoah Sanders blows hard and goes deep at Catalina Bar & Grill, Fri.-Sun., Feb. 2–4. Pianist Billy ChildsJazz Chamber Ensemble (including saxist Bob Shepperd and harpist Carol Robbins) begins a run at the Jazz Bakery on Wed., Feb. 7. Pianist Otmaro Ruiz (with bassist Jimmy Johnson, drummer Jimmy Branly and saxist Ben Wendel) pushes things hard at the Baked Potato, Wed., Feb. 7. And downtown, there is the Bert Karl Trio at Café Metropol, Sat., Feb. 3, and saxist Rick Keller’s quintet (including bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer Thomas White) at Land on 2nd Street, Wed., Feb. 7.

For the pure straight-ahead fan, drummer Dave Ameele brings his impressive sextet featuring tenor Rob Lockhart, alto Bruce Babad and Tonight Show trumpeter (now, there’s a steady gig) Kye Palmer into Café 322 on Sat., Feb. 3. With a little more groove, The Elliott Caine Quintet is at the Jazz Bakery on Tues., Feb. 6. Out at Charlie O’s there is bop altoist Lanny Morgan on Fri., Feb. 2, and hard-bop tenor Rickey Woodard (with pianist Jon Mayer) on Sat., Feb. 3. And at Spazio on Tues., Feb. 6, John Pisano celebrates the release of his live Guitar Night CD, joined by the irrepressible Barry Zweig.

And lest we forget the roots . . . to kick off its Black History Month celebration, the Pasadena Jazz Institute presents the genuwine blues of Linda Hopkins, Fri.-Sat. Feb. 2-3.

—Brick Wahl