Critic’s Choice


There are few more commanding purveyors of bebop piano performing today than James Williams, who first came to prominence as a member of the same edition of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers that included Wynton Marsalis. Having just given a workshop at Berkeley’s Jazzschool, the Memphis keyboardist sticks around to play Wednesday and Thursday at Pearl’s in San Francisco with bassist Michael Zisman, drummer Darryl Green, and, on Thursday only, the fiery young alto saxophonist Andrew Speight. 415-291-8255. (Lee Hildebrand)

In a final concert before its members graduate and go in separate directions, the innovative, award-winning Berkeley High School Jazz Trio (saxophonist Hitomi Oba, bassist Jens tenBroek, and drummer Justin Brown) performs Friday afternoon at Jazzschool. Following last summer’s European festival triumphs with the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, the members appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center, and the Grammy Awards. 510-845-5373. (Larry Kelp)

Whether playing blues, country music, or the hymns and gospel songs that comprise his current Carry the Word CD, Spencer Bohren creates a haunting backwoods ambience with his shimmering slide guitar virtuosity and warm baritone voice. The New Orleans-based master of musical Americana visits Freight & Salvage on Thursday. 510-548-1761. (L.H.)


Undoubtedly the most popular singer in Cuba today, Issac Delgado uses his silky smooth tenor to passionately deliver inspiraciones (improvised verses) with poetic finesse. Nominated for a 2001 Latin Grammy for his La Formula album, Delgado brings a supercharged band skilled in Havana timba grooves to Yoshi’s Thursday through Sunday, with new singing sensation Haila Mompie as special guest. 510-238-9200. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)


The irreverent acoustic East Bay rock duo Spore Attic has its CD release party at the Starry Plough on Saturday night after beating out tons of other bands and winning a music grant from the folks at Jim Beam. Apparently sardonic oddity, witticism, and good-ol’-fashioned indie rock goes well with hooch. Also appearing are Mark Growden’s Prosthetic Piñata and Bass Line Dada. 510-841-2082. (Katy St. Clair)

The name might conjure up bad Pentangle memories, but Electric Wizard ain’t got nothin’ to do with folk music. This is what the uninitiated would call “stoner rock” — awesome, heavy, long-ass dirges of delight that fans of Acid King, the Melvins, and High on Fire will appreciate. The band performs at Lucifer’s Hammer on Tuesday night at the CW Saloon, with Sons of Otis (alkies?) and Unearthly Trance. 415-974-1585. (K.S.)


If you can attend but one concert in this year’s Berkeley Festival & Exposition and simultaneous Fringe Festival, reserve your seat for Sunday afternoon’s First Congregational Church finale, as the men of Chanticleer join harpsichordist extraordinaire Skip Sempé, mezzo Guillemette Laurens, and the Capriccio Stravagante ensemble for a onetime program of gorgeous Spanish and Flemish music from the 16th and 17th centuries. 510-642-9988. (Jason Serinus)


The Winans family of Detroit has distinguished itself over the past two decades as gospel music’s preeminent clan. On Sunday, the whole bunch — the four brothers known as the Winans, siblings BeBe, CeCe, Daniel, Angie, and Debbie, parents Mom and Pop Winans, and the third generation group Winans Phase 2 — brings its powerful combination of musical polish and Pentecostal passion to the Paramount Theatre as part of a tour billed as Together We Stand: The Winans Family. 510-465-6400. (L.H.)

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