Nov. 27, 28
All that jazz
If you still have room in your tummy after Thanksgiving and are in the mood for some polished jazz and swing, you might consider going to The Heathman Restaurant and Bar to hear Johnny Martin and Linda Lee Michelet. Portland recording artist Martin gave up the rock 'n' roll ghost for the spirit of jazz in the mid-'90s after hearing the Nelson Riddle arrangement of 'Summer Wind,' and has since staked out a singing career in the tradition of Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Meanwhile, the elegant Michelet has resurrected Peggy Lee in concert and in voice, and should deliver a classy show.
Johnny Martin, 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, and Linda Lee Michelet 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, Tea Court of the The Heathman Restaurant, 1001 S.W. Broadway St. Free. Info: 503-790-7752, www.heathmanrestaurantandbar.com, www.johnnymartin.com, www.lindamichelet.com.
If you've never heard of electronica jangle rockers The Helio Sequence, try imagining bells chiming on Christmas Day except a well-balanced synthesizer-playing monk, and not a lonely hunchbacked Frenchman, ring them. Add the guys from Coldplay, REM and other post-punk melody-makers rooting that monk on as he progressively ascends toward heavenly bliss, and you're starting to get there. Singer-guitarist Brandon Summers almost lost his voice a few years back, but did what a man has to do to protect it - namely stop singing for awhile - and will join his longtime partner drummer-keyboardist Benjamin Weikel, also of Modest Mouse, on stage Saturday night at the Crystal Ballroom. Last year's Helio release 'Keep Your Eyes Ahead' is chock full of the kind of shimmering pop that picks you up in spring, summer, autumn, and even in our gray, grim winters. This is sort of a thinking person's dance party, with the duo sharing the stage with two other Portland area acts, the exultant, soaring harmonizing rockers in Panther and introspective balladeers and experimental rockers of Ramona Falls.
The Helio Sequence with Panther, Ramona Falls, 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St. $16. All ages. Info: 503-225-0047, www.myspace.com/theheliosequence, www.myspace.com/ramonafalls, www.myspace.com/panthertouch.
Beck meets The Band
'Innovative' and 'folk' are not words you usually hear together - nor, for that matter, do you want to. Folkies often like folk music for what it's not - it's not hip hop or electronica or rock and hell, half the time it ain't even close to country any more, even though hip-hop, rock and country are arguably more real folk music these days simply because they are what millions of folk like. New York City's nine-member alternative folk collective Red Rooster - possibly because they come from the Big Apple - doesn't care about fine distinctions between acoustic-flavored music and other genres. In fact they have created their own world where Appalachian high 'n' lonesome can meet Manhattan down 'n' dirty, a world you can hear on their latest release 'Walk.' Jay Erickson, lead vocals, and Nat Zilkha, lead guitar, are lifelong friends who share a passion for bluegrass, folk, country, blues, gospel, electronica and hip-hop. They'll be joined on stage at Dante's with Susannah Hornsby on vocals and accordion, Andrew Green on banjo, Dave Gould on saxophone, Brandon Doyle on French horn, Lucas Ives on drums, Jeremy Randol on drums, Daniel Engelman on bass and Pete Nilsson on keys.
Red Rooster with the Ed Forman Show, 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, Dante's, 1 S.W. Third Ave. Free. Info: www.redroostermusic.com, 503-226-6630.
Blue-collar jazz-bluesman Joshua Slamp plays a darn nice slide guitar (pronounced 'git-tar') and has decided to press his instrument's strings in service of such traditional Christmas tunes as 'Joy to the World' on his latest CD 'Slide into Christmas.' Come to think of it, those sleigh bells are a' jinglin' cuz Santa's cutting through the air like a slide guitar solo, ain't he?
Joshua Slamp CD release show, 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, Music Millennium, 3158 E. Burnside St. Free. Info: www.myspace.com/joshua slamp.
Another great jazz show (Portland really does have a lot of good musicians, folks) you can catch in town takes place Dec. 4 when The Ben Darwish Group and The Sam Howard Band hit the stage at Jimmy Mak's.
Pianist-singer Darwish, who purrs like a modern day cat descended from Brubeck and Monk, has a new group featuring Tim Willcox on sax, Bill Athens on bass and Randy Rollofson on drums.
The quartet will present and evening of mostly new material it plans to record soon. Everyone from the State Department to Lincoln Center to DownBeat magazine have sung the praises of this Darwish fellow, so catch him while you can. Meanwhile, bassist and composer Sam Howard, a New York City transplant to our fair town a while back, will lead his band in a set of eminently listenable crunky, funky, rootsy fusion.
The Ben Darwish Group and The Sam Howard Band, 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, Jimmy Mak's, 221 N.W. 10th Ave. $10. Minors can stay until 9:30 p.m. Info: www.jimmymaks.com, www.myspace.com/samhowardband, www.myspace.combendarwish.