AMINA FIGAROVA SEXTET
FROM BAKU TO YOU
Azerbaijan-born, Berklee College of Music-trained and Netherlands-based, Amina Figarova is another of those classically trained, turned-around-by-jazz cases. Her work has elicited reviewer comparisons to the great tone-colorist Maria Schneider (and through her, by implication to her influences, Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer). The comparisons are fine as far as they go, but Figarova is a friskier presence on her 2005 release Come Escape With Me. And she's unafraid of using jazz to tackle the grand themes of the time. Her disc September Suite, recorded the same day, is her response to 9/11, which she witnessed while in New York. Writing in Jazz Times, Thomas Conrad said that of all the jazz responses to the tragedy, none has been "more revelatory in [its] authenticity and realization." 8 p.m. at Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-769-2999; $10-$25, $5 for students.
IRVIN MAYFIELD AND THE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ ORCHESTRA
BIG SOUNDS FROM THE BIG EASY
New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield is one for wrestling with big themes in jazz music. Strange Fruit, his 2005 disc with his New Orleans Jazz Orchestra — and the Dillard University Choir — was a gripping tale of passion, race and power culminating in a lynching, set in 1920s Louisiana. But what makes the oratorio a success is that the power of the music is up to the demands of the story. Mayfield is an unrepentant Ellingtonian — Ducal flourishes are abundant — and his New Orleans roots are never far from the center of things. Mayfield had a considerable rep from his years of small group work — especially Los Hombres Calientes — before stepping it up with this stunning big band. 8 p.m. at Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5111; $22.50-$102.50
MITCH RYDER AND THE DETROIT WHEELS
STILL RIDING STRONG
Good ol' Mitch has had a lot of visibility lately, due to the recent publication of a new biography, It Was All Right: Mitch Ryder's Life in Music by James A. Mitchell (Wayne State University Press), including a recent "comeback" show at A2's Michigan Theater and even a cameo performance at this year's Blowout. This gig, however, promises to be an extra-special performance, as the legendary Detroit singer (born Billy Levise in Hamtramck) and one of Springsteen's all-time favorite performers takes the stage for a super intimate performance at what's generally a jazz club. At Cliff Bell's, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-961-2543
IT'S PIMPIN' PIMPIN' TOUR
HUSTLE & COMEDIC FLOW
Funnyman Katt Williams' aptly named "It's Pimpin' Pimpin'" tour makes a three-day stop in the D, with a show that promises equal parts self-deprecation and hood-fresh hilarity. Often dubbed the "king of underground comedy," Williams' HBO special Pimp Chronicles: Part 1 and the follow-up American Hustle feature cameos from Snoop Dogg, Ludacris and others, and he recently starred alongside Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan in the 2008 film First Sunday. The shows begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-965-4000; tickets $53.50-$73.50
CARL OXLEY OPENING RECEPTION
ZOWEE! CARTOONISH ART
A young John Lennon once saw Elvis performing on TV and said to himself, "That looks like a good job!" Carl Oxley must have felt something similar after a high school teacher showed him a video documentary about Keith Haring. Years later, the same joyful energy the New York pop master's work is known for lights up the paintings of the Hamtramck artist too. Though Oxley's backgrounds are getting more layered and painterly of late, his bold, colorful menagerie of smiling animals and cartoon whatsits still takes center stage. Oxley's work is the latest in a series of exhibits at the "Bo House," organized by recent MT cover artist Jerome Ferretti. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. at the Bohemian National Gallery, 3009 Tillman St., Detroit; 313-737-6606 for info.
JAY-Z AND MARY J. BLIGE
CAN'T KNOCK THE HUSTLE
With literally a rags-to-rap-royalty tale, Jay-Z is undoubtedly one of the most influential — and successful — hip-hop artists today. He's joined on tour by longtime collaborator and Grammy-winning R&B performer Mary J. Blige, who performed on his breakthrough 1996 album, Reasonable Doubt. The two will perform work from their recent albums — Blige's 2007 Growing Pains and Jay-Z's 2008 American Gangster — at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace of Auburn Hills, 5 Championship Dr., Auburn Hills; 248-377-0100 for info; tickets $49.75-$125.75.
A new generation of post-Sweeney Todd (version Depp.0) Sondheim enthusiasts can get their fix of melodic malaise in this latest incarnation of the Tony Award-winning musical, Company. Following the self-examination of a chronically single, womanizing New Yorker through his interactions with his married friends, the show waxes on the importance of meaningful relationships. Think operatic Woody Allen. Kinda. Through May 10, at the Village Theater at Cherry Hill, 50400 Cherry Hill Rd., Canton; 734-394-5300
ARTY? NOT THAT IT'S A BAD THING
Much of the who's who of rawk are happily consuming $8 bottles of water at the fest in the Coachella Valley, but the Constantines — a stellar Ontario-based quintet — are making it out to good ol' Pontiac this weekend. They've got a sort of swirling vintage sound, "arty dub punk," if you will, and have been compared to Springsteen, the Clash and Fugazi. Check out their latest album, 2008's Kensington Heights, and their awesome live show. With Oakley Hall in the Pike Room of the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333 for info.
WHIPS 'N' CHAINS, HANDCUFFS ...
Name it, you'll likely see it. Leather straps, ball gags, nipple clamps ... these are some of the tamer wares available at this expo for erotica and exotica. With live performances, vendor booths and two nights of City Club-style parties, you'd be missing out on some of the Midwest's kinkiest shopping if you decide not to go. At the Leland Hotel, 400 Bagley St., Detroit; see exoticadetroit.com for info.
OAKLAND COUNTY CHARITY
On April 26 — "National Rebuilding Day" — more than 1,500 volunteers are expected to help refurbish the houses of 38 low-income homeowners in Oakland County. Help will go to military veterans, families in need, the elderly and the disabled. Join in for a generous heaping of good karma. See rebuildingtogether-oaklandcounty.org or call 248-889-5450 for info.
PALMER WOODS MUSIC IN HOMES
THAT SWINGER ALBERT KAHN
We've touted the Palmer Woods Music in Homes series before, but we can't get over the idea of bringing together an appreciation of architecture and music. This time they're bringing together the music of the Straight Ahead Trio — Marion Hayden, Alina Morr and Gayelynn McKinney are one of the longest-running jazz attractions — and the architecture of the renowned Albert Kahn. The setting is the Kahn-designed Detroit Golf Club — which means that there's room to send children off to a supervised pizza party while the adults enjoy gourmet fare and music without them. Cocktail attire; $55 adults, $15 children; tickets at palmerwoods.org or call 313-892-3848
SPRING ART SHOW
GALLERY SHOW? NOT EXACTLY.
Every once in a while, Detroit artist Kathy Leison has a great sale of awesome, affordable art. Maybe it's an attempt to clean out her studio, to move on to new ideas and let go of the old, but anytime those sweeping, naive watercolor and collage vistas go up for grabs, you can bet they're gone within a few hours. Go see what she's got, and liven up your living room. The show's in a private home in Corktown, on 3023 N. Cochrane St., Detroit
CALLING ALL INDIE NEOPHYTES
An institution for Washtenaw dweeb-rockers, the Bang! is the brainchild of the scenesters and zinesters behind Geek Monthly, Age of Sinnocence and Bootleg Comics. Being the indie dance party that it is, there's a mix of '60s Brit-pop, Motown and new wave so awesome that we almost don't shed a tear when remembering the salad days of Dorkwave. Doors at 9:30 p.m. at the Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; 734-996-8555
LET'S DROP SOME NAMES
He came of age in the heyday of folk in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, and his latest album, Push Comes to Shove, takes his roots music — which he was playing long before anyone called it roots music — in the direction of hip hop with production from G. Love. In between, as one partial tally has it, John Hammond's musical associations have included, "Jimi Hendrix, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Tom Waits, the Band, Mike Bloomfield, Bill Wyman, Willie Dixon, Memphis Slim, Duane Allman, Bob Dylan, Dr. John and many, many more." Why would one guy be blessed with such grand company in one lifetime? Hang out for a set or so and hear. Ark, 316 S. Main, Ann Arbor; 734-763-8587 for tickets.
THURSDAY • 27
JEWELS AND BINOCULARS
IT'S ALL RIGHT MA (THEY'RE JUST JAZZING DYLAN)
Think about Dylan and you probably think about lyrics before melody. Jewels and Binoculars, a collective of edgy improv-minded instrumentalists, will make you think again about both words and the notes as they loop through Dylan such numbers as "It's all Over Now, Baby Blue" and "Gates of Eden." It turns out that even the syllabic tsunami of "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" has a melodic integrity to it, and, if you've ever let Dylan become part of the your personal soundtrack, Jewels and Binoculars make all those elusive words and connotations return to haunt you and taunt you. What does it all mean? Drummer Michael Vatcher, bassist Lindsey Horner and reeds-and-melodica-man Michael Moore have been asking for roughly eight years and three CDs. In their first Detroit appearance they want to ask you. Closing out the Tangential Festival at Bohemian National Home, 3009 Tillman St., Detroit; 313-737-6606; $10 suggested; More info at myspace.com/bohemiannationalhome. Jack Rose, D. Charles Speer and the Helix (members of Sunburned Hand of the Man and No Neck Blues Band) play Wednesday, April 23.
FRIDAY • 25
DETROIT MUSIC AWARDS
WINNERS & LOSERS
Love 'em or not, the Detroit Music Awards are a long-running Motor City music tradition at this point, voted on by D-towns musical experts and tastemakers. The awards show this year features an impressive lineup of local musos and bands, including live performances by American Mars, the Muggs, Crud, Doop & the Inside Outlaws (featuring the recently-signed to Atlantic Records Ty Stone), the Scott Gwinell Jazz Orchestra (with Jesse Palter and Joan Crawford — no "wire hanger" jokes, please!) and Nadir Distorted Soul. There will also be a tribute to Uncle Jesse White... and the whole shindig is hosted by MC Serch. Be there..or not.... At the Fillmore, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5450.