Make way for the Recorder Grrrlzzz. Armed solely with their instruments, the impromptu recorder quintet of Bay Area women is set to dispel the myth that the recorder is suited only for old music and aging folkies. With their Friday program in Albany’s St. Alban’s Episcopal Church (8 p.m., 1501 Washington St., 510-527-9840), filled with jazz arrangements and contemporary classical works, the Grrrlzzz promise music with the power to turn heads. According to Letitia Berlin, some pieces composed for recorder since the 1950s employ extended techniques that generate “tuneful noise” not normally encountered in traditional recorder playing. Flutter tones, soft fingering, manipulation of air, and other effects figure prominently in a number of works on the program, including “Arrangements” by the Polish composer Serocki. “It’s unlike any tonal music you’ve ever heard,” says Berlin, who likens Serocki’s effects to those created by John Cage. Consisting almost entirely of extended techniques, “Arrangements” creates a multidimensional conversation between two players stationed in the balcony and three others blowing onstage.
From another end of the spectrum comes Pauline Oliveros’ meditative “The Well.” Its performance directions consist of five words arranged around a star: merge, support, soar, listen, match. As the recorderists hear Oliveros’ directions recited while playing a series of pitches, they create a unique group improvisation. Jazz arrangements scheduled for the evening include Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” for five recorders, as well as Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” and “Mood Indigo.” Johnny Mathis lovers will grow teary-eyed over “Misty,” while others will feel the pull of Scott Joplin’s “Magnetic Rag.” For Summer of Love survivors, group member Frances Feldon describes some ’70s works by German composers as tantamount to “listening to Mozart on drugs.” Classical aficionados may be familiar with recorder solos by Hindemith, Berio, and Britten, three of the most important composers of the last century. They will also know the work of Frances Blaker, Louise Carslake, and Hanneke van Proosdij, the other three members of the makeshift quintet. Together with Berlin and Feldon, the grrlzzz promise a rare excursion through music written for recorder quintets in the past eighty years. — Jason Victor Serinus
Onomato A Mano
Look! Up on the stage! It’s not Stomp! It’s not Blue Man Group! It’s … Phonk! The five-piece percussion ensemble Scrap Arts Music invades Pleasanton this week with epic symphonies for bowls and plates, wack-looking sculptural instruments on wheels, and no blueface in sight. At the Amador Theater this Friday, the Vancouver group shows off its fusion of world music and 21st-century pop. Exhaust hoses, artillery shells, and busted-up monkey bars are just a few of the items Scrap Arts uses to make Canadian junkyards weep — and to give international audiences the old ooh-ah. The Amador is located at 1155 Santa Rita Rd., and tickets cost $15-$25 for adults and $10-$20 for youth. 8 p.m. showtime. Purchase tickets at www.civicartstickets.org — Stefanie Kalem
Little Big Deal
Each slender issue of the eight-plus-year-old zine Ker-bloom! comprises a single, personal essay. That’s it — one essay. So why is the Long Haul Infoshop (3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) hosting the Ker-bloom! 51st Issue Party/Performance? Well, the lovely little Berkeley-based publication happens to be one of the only letterpress publications out there — every single letter, comma, and space is set in lead type and printed on a Vandercook flatbed printing press. Celebrate this laborious process with a sliding-scale benefit dinner at 7:30 p.m., followed at 8:30 by readings from poet Jennifer Dieges, Ker-bloom! publisher artnoose, and others. Info: CraftyCards.net/projects — Stefanie Kalem
Pause and Claws
Think a book about a woman entering menopause while living with her husband and her aging mother in Florida sounds like fun? No? Thank You: Your Opinion Means Nothing to Me. That’s the title of author Nancy Blair‘s new book (HarperCollins, $45), which evidently is humorous but not overly so — an uplifting first-person tour of the female change of life, “a journey of self-acceptance.” Find out all about it when Blair strolls into A Great Good Place for Books (6120 LaSalle Ave., Oakland) this Thursday at 7 p.m. to regale her audience with tales from the dark side. For more Information, call 510-339-8210. — Kelly Vance