Critic’s Choice for the week of July 6-12, 2005

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Junior Reid will always be associated with his worldwide unity anthem “One Blood” (Rastaman a say de all o we is one), but he’s far from a one-hit wonder. More like a several-hit wonder, from his early solo stuff like “Book Shak a Lak,” to his stint as frontman in Black Uhuru (which resulted in “Great Train Robbery,” “Brutal,” and “Fit You Haffe Fit”), to later solo material like “Babylon Release the Chains,” to collaborations with Coldcut, Wu-Tang Clan, and Guru’s Jazzmatazz. When it comes to rasta sing-jays. Reid is in a class of a select few, and he’ll be live and very direct Saturday night at Oakland’s Oasis, which has suddenly become the bay’s best venue for reggae dancehall. 135 12th St. (Eric K. Arnold)


During her years playing tenor saxophone in the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble, Hitomi Oba wasn’t just a star player, but a mature artist with her own style, whether tackling difficult Coltrane or using a Japanese folk song as a springboard to extended improvisation. On summer break from college, she reunites her original trio — innovative bassist Tom Altura and equally impressive drummer Justin Brown — Sunday at 4:30 p.m. for a Jazzschool show, part of the Berkeley venue’s Emerging Artist Series running through July 24. $10. 510-845-5373 or (Larry Kelp)


Link Wray was a guitar hero before the term was invented, a player with a big, spooky, reverb-drenched sound — the menacing fuzz-tone power chords on his 1958 hit “Rumble” sounded like they came from another galaxy. He refused to compromise his gritty sound and faded from sight in the ’60s, but Wray resurfaced during the ’80s rockabilly revival, and his comeback continues to this day. He turned 76 two months ago, but his playing remains as ominous as it was in the ’50s. Tonight at Slim’s in SF. $16, 8 p.m. 415-255-0333 or (j. poet)


Arguably the most prolific indie hip-hop collective this side of the Good Life Cafe, True Skool has been showcasing some of the underground’s saltiest battle emcees, slinkiest B-Girls, and craftiest DJs since its launch in 1999. This Friday’s live variety show, Elemental, features a whole panoply of hip-hop styles, including live krumping, clowning, and pirouette moves by Flii Styles (which performs in the hip-hop dance documentary, Rize), breakneck “Mama Said Knock You Out” emcee battles, and turntable sets by such local royalty as Mr. E, Zeph, Fuze, Sake 1, Pam the Funkstress, Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist, Vin Roc, and more. The show starts at 10 p.m. at 1015 Folsom St. in SF, and costs $20, or $10 with a flyer. (Rachel Swan)


Ask Wynton Marsalis who the man is in Oakland for jazz sax, and he’ll tell you: Robert Stewart — WM’s longtime friend is a protégé of the late Ed Kelly and Pharoah Sanders, and is duly blessed with a strong, mature tone. He got national attention in the ’90s recording for Warner Bros. and put out a mellow effort last year titled Heaven & Earth. Sunday at 3 p.m., Robert kicks off the “Jazz on Sundays” series at Oakland’s Golden Gate Library (5606 San Pablo Ave.), to be followed by a History of Jazz lecture and an open jam session. Free. 510-597-5023. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)


Geoff Muldaur has one of the most distinctive voices in the folk and blues world, a lazy, laid-back growl that gives every word he sings a timeless appeal. Muldaur’s last project, Private Astronomy, explored the classic tunes of Bix Beiderbecke, but his extensive songbook of obscure folk, blues, and gospel tunes — peppered with his own excellent originals — guarantees a performance filled with surprises. Local legend Larry Hanks sits in. Saturday at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage. $18.50-$19.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761 or (j.p.)


The Bittersweets are profoundly well named: The bummed-out folk-pop duo’s debut EP is filled with sweetly sung and strummed odes to stormy melodrama, as the song titles alone (“Long Day” is as world-weary as advertised, and “Mostly Happy People” is self-explanatory) would imply. Catch these SF Americana up-and-comers Saturday night at Berkeley’s Starry Plough with Firecracker. $6, 9 p.m. (Rob Harvilla)


The Procussions‘ uniquely bubbly style of hip-hop — a mix of peppy beats, retro studio effects, and feel-good lyrics — helped this Pasadena-raised group garner a large fanbase all over the West Coast. In fact, if their raps didn’t sound so earnest and genuine, you’d suspect these dudes were jockeying for whatever part of the teenage girl audience Oakland’s own Zion-I didn’t already have on lock. This three-man outfit performs with Zion-I and TOPKAT at SF’s Independent Thursday and Oakland’s 2232 MLK Friday. Both shows start at 9 p.m.; if you want to go on the cheap, Friday night’s joint at 2232 costs just $5. (R.S.)


Walnut Creek’s Festival Opera begins its summer season Saturday in the Dean Lesher Center with a performance of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera (The Masked Ball), conducted by our own Michael Morgan. Excitement centers around the debuts of soprano Hope Riggs, tenor Mark Duffin, and baritone Scott Bearden. $35-$100, 8 p.m. — the production continues through July 17. 925-943-7469. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Bolivian jazz gained a foothold when pianist Johnny Gonzalez recorded the album Jazz 4000 Meters High in 1976. Working with Fernando Sanjinés 13 (drums), Eddy Terrazas (bass), and Eduardo Ortiz (who played native Andean instruments), they created a fusion that blended American jazz with haunting indigenous flutes. Friday at Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center, Gonzalez and Sanjinés 13 reunite for a rare, nostalgic duo performance. $13, 8 p.m., 510-849-2568. (J.C.V.)


Coupling violin and harp with jarana (a thin guitar), guitarra de son (a four-string guitar), and quijada (a percussive instrument made from a donkey’s jawbone), traditional jarocho music of Veracruz blends indigenous and Afro-Caribbean styles with the specters of Baroque Europe — cultures that originally came together by way of the Middle Passage. This Latin folk genre flourishes at the Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center (13108 San Pablo Ave.), which provides lessons in jarocho, zapateado dance, jazz, and jewelry making for Latino youth in San Pablo and Richmond. Drop by Friday at 7:30 p.m. for an evening live of music and dance from Veracruz. Admission is free; 510-233-8015. (R.S.)

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