Merle Haggard -- See Wednesday
Merle Haggard -- See Wednesday
Myriam Santos

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Monday, December 9

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Jay Z


Jay Z is a busy man these days. When he's not steering the ship of his latest venture, Roc Nation Sports, he's the operating force behind the Made in America festival in Philadelphia, husband to Beyoncé and father to Blue Ivy. Earlier this year, Jay Z also trekked out on a brief stadium tour with Justin Timberlake, a run that included a July date at the Rose Bowl. Lost amidst the hype of that Legends of Summer tour was that Mr. Carter did, in fact, release on the Fourth of July Magna Carta Holy Grail, his first album of new material since 2009's The Blueprint Vol. 3. Despite the publicity stunt of teaming with Samsung to release the album (and the data-harvesting controversy created by this move), the album has been commercially underwhelming. But you have to give the savvy entrepreneur the benefit of the doubt. After all, he was the rapper to go from a businessman to a business, man. --Daniel Kohn

See also: No One Cares About Jay-Z's New Music



Ojai singer-guitarist Lissie continues her evolution away from the austere folk-pop settings of her early records into the more bombastic, full-band arrangements of her new album, Back to Forever. Whether that change works depends on one's taste. Although tunes like "Shameless" and "The Habit" are more overtly commercial, drawing upon mainstream inspirations like Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow, the production and songwriting often come across as generic and ultimately hollow. Lissie was far more vulnerably affecting on her 2010 album, Catching a Tiger, revealing more of her own style on moving ballads like "Oh Mississippi," where she needed little more than a gospel piano to support her plaintive yearning. --Falling James

Tuesday, December 10

Charlie Haden's CalArts Liberation Music Orchestra


Bassist Charlie Haden and composer Carla Bley founded the Liberation Music Orchestra in 1969 as a nu-jazz proposition that would meld modernist/free jazz with trad/folk world musics, all keyed into Haden's political concerns, among them the Spanish Civil War and the African National Congress. The original 11-member group -- featuring prime innovators including Don Cherry, Paul Motian, Dewey Redman and Michael Mantler -- improvised masterfully around Bley's expansive arrangements for brass, piano, bass, guitar and drums. The multiply honored Haden (named a 2012 NEA Jazz Master, among many other laurels) is a bona fide jazz giant, who, alongside the likes of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Keith Jarrett and Wayne Shorter, shaped much of the essential music of our time. Haden also founded CalArts' jazz studies program in 1982, and tonight conducts CalArts musicians in compositions from his pioneering Liberation Music Orchestra. --John Payne

Wednesday, December 11

Merle Haggard


Merle Haggard, the one and only California-born (delivered in the converted boxcar his family called home, naturally) Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, is a furry, freaky, thoroughly unpredictable and not necessarily all too pleasant specimen of Homo sapiens. Scarred by the death of his father when the singer was just 9 years old, Hag, as he is known, developed an ingrained criminal pathology and a lurid record as an incorrigible penitentiary escape artist. Nonetheless, he ultimately outsmarted himself and ascended to unquestioned status as one of hard country's most reliably brilliant, ornery and original artistic forces. With a flabbergastingly varied and achingly beautiful catalog of original compositions -- 38 of which have reached No. 1 on the Billboard country charts -- Hag's relentless drive and peerless skill as an interpretive vocalist burn as intensely today (at age 76) as ever they did. But he won't be around forever, Hoss, so drag your miserable butt down to this rare Los Angeles appearance or suffer the honky-tonk consequences. --Jonny Whiteside

Thursday, December 12

Total Science


Oxford, England, has its namesake university, Radiohead and enduring bass music. Prolific drum 'n' bass duo Total Science possess the lion's share of such material, exporting resilient tracks on their own labels, C.I.A. and Advanced, as well as on Goldie's Metalheadz, Friction's Shogun Audio and numerous others. While the dance floor-shredding "Champion Sound" from Q Project (who, with Spinback, comprises Total Science) is still a perennial favorite more than two decades after its release, Total Science maintain their position on the cutting edge of bass-driven sounds. Among their recent tracks, "Just Want You" marries growling synths with honeyed vocals, the snarling "Subwarfare" goes deep into subwoofer territory, "Another Time" has both buzzing bass lines and Grimm's soulful vocals, and "Searching" explores the liquid end of the bass spectrum. The styles may be experimental, but the quality is scientifically proven. --Lily Moayeri

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