Julius Eastman was one of those musical enigmas as tragic as he was transcendent. His talents were huge; he was a concert pianist and singer, as well as a dancer. But it was his bold, utterly unique compositions that established him as an unequivocal contemporary music force. Sadly, Eastman’s personal demons got the upper hand in his too-short life. His struggles as a gay African-American, and his battles with drugs and alcohol, ate up his prodigious energy, and he died at the age of 50 in 1990, homeless and virtually forgotten. There is precious little of Eastman’s music left, as he never tried to recover any of it when he was evicted from his East Village apartment shortly before his death, but what has survived has been termed “minimal in form but maximal in effect.” This week, the California EAR Unit devotes an evening to Eastman’s works, the highlight of which is Crazy Nigger, part of the “notorious” trilogy for four pianos that includes Evil Nigger and Gay Guerilla. No ordinary music, this. REDCAT, W. Second and Hope sts., dwntwn.; Wed., April 11, 8:30 p.m.; $20, $16 students. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org.

LA Weekly