Critic’s Choice for the week of July 10-16, 2002

A tribute to a modern jazz legend, a benefit for the Albany High School music ed, the Experimental Pop Festival, and a soul singer reminiscent of Bessie Smith.


Ray Brown, the dean of modern jazz bassists, died last week at age 75. He was slated to have begun a six-night run last night at Yoshi’s. The shows will go on as scheduled through Sunday, with Brown’s trio mates — pianist Larry Fuller and drummer Karriem Riggins — joining the fiery bop alto saxophone master Phil Woods and possibly Brown bass disciple John Clayton in a Tribute to Ray Brown. 510-238-9200. (Lee Hildebrand)


Albany public-schools parents have banded together to replace music education classes cut by the district. Their Albany Music Fund has attracted heavy hitters with hearts of gold, from David Grisman to the Bobs. Saturday’s benefit in the Albany High School gym features Angela Bofill, the soulful, jazzy singer whose ’80s hit albums have recently been reissued. Bofill’s forte is songs of love and inspiration, which is just what our schools need. 510-559-8474. (Larry Kelp)


A summer of vocal delights awaits opera-lovers, as Festival Opera begins a five-performance July 13-21 run of Donizetti’s delightful comic opera Don Pasquale. The production, which opens Saturday at Dean Lesher Center for the Arts, features Kristin Clayton, Bojan Knezevic, David Miller, and Armando Gama. It’s directed by Harvey Berman and conducted by Francesco Milioto. 925-943-7469. (Jason Serinus)


Santo Sol is a new Latino dance band featuring singer Orlando Torriente and percussionists Dave Flores and Javier Navarrete. Flores and Navarrete play with Jesus Diaz y su QBA and Charanga Nueve, Torriente sings with John Santos and the Machete Ensemble and Charanson. Those aren’t bad credentials, so expect refreshing musical breezes when these young lions step on the stage Saturday at La Peña. 510-849-2568. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)


The second annual Experimental Pop Festival takes place Sunday at the Oasis. “Experimental” is really misleading — this ain’t Merzbow, folks. But it is an amalgamation of bands that do the ethereal, sometimes acoustic pop thing with added strings on occasion, offbeat instruments, lucid female vocals, and a shout out to cosmonauts. The Slow Poisoners grab from every existing instrument and serve up a plate of indie pop. Andalusia takes its vibe from 4AD. Spootnik even plays a harpsichord. The show was put together as a way to showcase local bands that are poppy for sure, but aren’t the usual guitar-rock thang. The day promises free barbecue with the $5 admission and “futuristic stage concepts”. Hmmm. … The Oasis, by the way, is Oakland’s hidden gem, with a bad-ass outdoor area. 510-841-4843. (Katy St. Clair)


Barbara Dane recorded prolifically during the 1950s and ’60s, singing in a brassy contralto that brings Bessie Smith to mind, sometimes in the company of such giants as Benny Carter, Earl Hines, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. After having been absent from the studio for way too long, the Oakland-based vocalist has a brand new CD on the New Orleans-based GHB label titled What Are You Gonna Do When There Ain’t No Jazz? on which she’s backed by Butch Thompson, Ray Skjelbred, and other trad-jazz heavies. Dane celebrates its release — as well as her recent 75th birthday — with a Saturday night bash at Freight & Salvage where she’s joined by a bevy of singers and instrumentalists, including Oakland’s legendary Andrews Gospel Singers, who were featured on her 1961 Capitol album. Expect plenty of the classic blues and jazz for which Dane is famous, plus some nueva cancion, Greek songs by Mikis Theodorakis, and political insights. 510-548-1761. (L.H.)

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