Friday, February 22
Kurt Rosenwinkel's playing is richly complex and challenging, and while he is smarter than most of us, smart people also feel. Thus, to label this guitarist as "intellectual" or "cerebral" does him a disservice. He is more poet than scientist, more John Lennon than Stephen Hawking. For his music, rife with the innovations that have inspired a generation of jazz musicians, is defined by lyrical beauty and emotive soul. It is this union of head and heart that elevates Rosenwinkel over others to a place among the hallowed. The band tonight is the same as on his recent iTunes No. 1 jazz album, Star of Jupiter, with Eric Revis and Justin Faulkner on bass and drums (both just in L.A. with Branford Marsalis) and the superb Aaron Parks on piano and keyboards. --Gary Fukushima
Béla Fleck & the Flecktones bassist Victor Wooten is thought of by many as one of, and in many cases the, finest electric bassist in the world, having now picked up a total of five Grammy Awards. Wooten likes to take on unusual musical projects, and tonight's stop at the El Rey showcases his latest as he plays in support of album releases Words and Tones and Sword and Stone. The seven-person band features four bassists, two drummers (including longtime Wooten bandmate Derico Watson) and a vocalist, Krystal Peterson. All the musicians play multiple instruments, including Peterson, who will be found on drums, keyboards or flute at various times during the show. --Tom Meek
Maybe you remember Moris Tepper from Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, gnawing at his guitar on "Hot Head" and "Ashtray Heart." Maybe you remember when he popped up at the Echo with PJ Harvey as his bassist. Maybe you never had a clue this guy existed until the two sentences just before this one, and you're frothing at the mouth with pain and regret because you've yet to hear a note by this true and righteous animal man. Don't worry -- we can fix you. Tepper's new album, A Singer Named Shotgun Throat, is traditional and original all at once, familiar at first listen but revealing something subtle and unexpected and sad and beautiful and real every time through. Maybe that's why Beefheart liked him; maybe that's why PJ liked him. I don't know, but I do know that's why I like him. -- Chris Ziegler
Saturday, February 23
When 19-year-old Lloyd Price cut his 1952 masterpiece "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," the kid likely had no idea just how far the track would take him. An epochal blast of grinding, funkenized New Orleans rock & roll it was, one mightily enhanced by the all-star Dave Bartholomew-led band that backed him. It was the teenager's loose, luminous, declarative pipes, though, that elevated the song to a positively celestial level. A slew of choice chart-toppers followed, and Price swiftly ascended to status as a rhythm & blues royal. Price went MIA for a long spell starting in the 1970s, when he spent a great deal of time in Africa, tending to diamond mines and co-producing, with Don King, the soul-funk music festival held in conjunction with the infamous 1974 Ali-Frazier fight known as the Rumble in the Jungle. This appearance, Price's first Los Angeles date in decades, really is a must. Price, apart from our own Big Jay McNeely, is one of the very last surviving stars from R&B's golden age. As such, this opportunity must not be squandered. --Jonny Whiteside
Robert Randolph, The Slide Brothers
One of the most unique forms of American music is the sacred-steel style. Created by African-American members of mostly Southern Pentecostal churches in the 1930s, the sound combines fervent gospel vocalizing with wild steel-guitar playing, with the guitar replacing the church organ of traditional gospel music. Coming from a strict religious background as the son of a deacon and a minister, Robert Randolph grew up unaware of most secular rock music, and it was only after he was championed by jazzman John Medeski and the North Mississippi Allstars in 2001 that he realized the deep connection between sacred steel and bluesy classic rock. Since then, Randolph has been widely recognized as one of the world's most dazzling guitarists, jamming with the likes of Buddy Guy, Santana, Los Lobos and Elton John & Leon Russell. Tonight, he returns the favor by presenting the Slide Brothers, four sacred-steel whizzes who tear through classics by Elmore James and George Harrison on their new debut album. --Falling James
Sunday, February 24
So much great music continues to come out of Mali, even as Islamic rebels attempt to take over the northern part of the country and impose Sharia law, which, among other things, discourages the practice of such unbridled and creative music making. Vieux Farka Touré, Amadou & Mariam, Tinariwen and Khaira Arby are among the Malian performers who've toured here in the past year, and Ballaké Sissoko is scheduled to appear next month at the Skirball Center. Now, even Western musicians like German jazz guitarist Leni Stern are finding themselves influenced by this distinctively hypnotic style of West African music. On her new album, Smoke, No Fire, Stern twists her fluid guitar runs with strains of the banjo-like instrument n'goni to weave a gently intoxicating spell as she sings haunting lamentations in several languages. For this show, she's joined by the Senegalese bassist Mamadou Ba and percussionist Alioune Faye. --Falling James
See also: Leni Stern Is Real
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