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Chucho Valdes
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Thursday

Grammy winner Chucho Valdes has been touted by Time magazine as Cuba’s greatest jazz pianist. The son of legendary Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes, Chucho Valdes began playing the piano at age 3 and began professionally training at 9. By age 20, he was already well-known, having worked with various jazz ensembles around Havana. In the 1960s, Valdes led a jazz group featuring the late Armando Borcela “Guapachá” as lead vocalist. Valdes’ first noted performance outside Cuba was during the 1970 Polish Jazz Festival, for which he received praise from jazz musicians like Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan. Valdes went on to become the founding member of Irakere, one of Cuba’s top Afro-Cuban fusion jazz groups, and has released dozens of albums, both with Irakere and as a solo performer. In his compositions, Valdes has combined the influences of musicians such as Art Tatum and Bill Evans with Afro-Cuban roots; you can hear this unique fusion live when Valdes graces the stage at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall tonight. (May 2, 7:30 PM, $24, 273-0038)

Caroline Herring

Slaid Cleaves, Caroline Herring
The Iron Horse, Northampton, Mass., Thursday

A couple of country cats will be at the Iron Horse tonight, and when Slaid Cleaves and Caroline Herring hit the stage, be forewarned that critics are buzzing about them. Cleaves went from Portland, Maine, to the alt-country capital of Austin, Texas, to hone his style—which has been compared to that of Steve Earle and Ray Wylie Hubbard—and his adopted hometown’s weekly, the Austin Chronicle, recently chose him as Best New Artist. Cleaves has recorded a host of albums, the most recent being his 2000 release, Broke Down, which a Chronicle critic proclaimed “the first great Austin album of the 21st century.” Caroline Herring shares a few things with Cleaves: She, too, was voted Best New Artist by the Austin Chronicle after leaving her hometown to pursue her music career in Austin. The Mississippi native has created quite a buzz among the Austin community: The Austin American Statesman claims her 2002 release, Twilight, is “a debut that exudes the scent of arrival.” (May 2, 7 PM, $10, 800-THE-TICK)

Oliver Mtukudzi
The Mahaiwe Theater, Great Barrington, Mass., Saturday

For the second installment of the W.E.B. DuBois concert series, Great Barrington’s Club Helsinki presents Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits on Saturday at the Mahaiwe Theater. The concert series features important black artists as a celebration of the accomplishments of Great Barrington native DuBois, whom many regard as the “architect of the civil rights movement.” Previously, the series hosted the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Holmes Brothers; and now, Afro-pop superstar Oliver Mtukudzi—one of the most popular performers in African history, with a stunning 41 albums to his name—comes to the Mahaiwe. In his native Zimbabwe, Mtukudzi’s blend of captivating melodies and unflinchingly political lyrics has made him a hero; lesser known in America, Mtukudzi has still received enthusiastic welcome from U.S. audiences as a tourmate to such acts as Taj Mahal and Baaba Maal. (May 4, 8 PM, $35, 413-528-6308)

Crabapple CD-Release Party
Valentine’s, Saturday

It’s gotten to the point where “CD-release party” is more empty promise than accurate description: Another show, another merch table. But local workhorses Crabapple have put together a bill for the celebration of their new release, Heaven and Hell on Earth, that seems truly to deserve the label “party.” In addition to Crabapple, there’s a veritable boatload of local bands and musicians turning out to turn it up: Dana Monteith, Mike Eck, Mitch Elrod, MotherJudge, knotworking and the Staziaks all will take the stage—don’t fret, though, we’re certain that there will still be room at the bar for your skinny ass. And if, somehow, that embarrassment of riches isn’t quite enough to tear you from the Barcalounger, we’re told that paid admission will get you a copy of Crabapple’s debut release, Keeping Up With My Joneses. The new one, by the way, is available online, which means the band keep overhead low and could actually make a buck or two—if any struggling musician-types wanna know more about that, you can buttonhole Crabapple front man Don Bazley at the show. A party, a complimentary CD and a lesson in good music-business practice, all in one. Can’t beat that with a stick, can ya? (May 4, 8 PM, 432-6572)

Isaac Hayes and Cyrus Chestnut
Proctor’s Theatre, Saturday

R&B legend Isaac Hayes, whom some of you know better as Chef from the animated series South Park, has had a prolific career in music, movies and television. Hayes has made numerous award-winning albums, including the Shaft soundtrack, which propelled him from star to superstar status and made him the first African-American to win an Oscar for Best Musical Score (he also is the first black musician to have an album certified platinum). Hayes got his start as a session player on Memphis’ Stax label in the ’60s, and began recording on his own in 1968; his work spanned jazz, R&B and eventually disco, but he is perhaps best known for the sophisticated mood pieces that highlighted his breathy, black-velvet vocal style. Turning his attention to acting in the ’70s and ’80s, Hayes appeared in the television series Miami Vice and The A-Team, and also had roles in movies such as It Could Happen to You and Escape From New York. This year, Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his career contributions to pop music. Appearing with Isaac Hayes at Proctor’s Theatre Saturday will be jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut. (May 4, 8 PM, $39, $36, $29, 346-6204)

also noted

Mark Emanatian

Resophonic guitar great Junior Barber and singer-songwriter Gary Ferguson will play a concert at the Saratoga County Arts Center tonight (Thursday), with Michael Jerling opening (8 PM, $12, $10 advance, 581-1604). . . . Jonathan Peters, resident DJ at New York City’s Sound Factory, will celebrate his new Groovilicious/Strictly Rhythm Records release at Nick’s Sneaky Pete’s tonight (10 PM, $10, 489-0000). . . . Bassist Mike Bullock, a member of Saturnalia and Fetish, and cellist Vic Rawlings, who plays on instruments he’s either built or rebuilt, will perform an Impulse Response concert tonight at the Arts Center of the Capital Region (8 PM, $5, 273-0552). . . . Electric violinist Valerie Vigoda will bring her pop-folk band GrooveLily to Great Barrington’s Club Helsinki tonight (9 PM, $8, 413-528-6308). . . . Our very own hard-rock metal-groove trio, spineCar, will play the Fuze Box tomorrow (Friday), with Glitch opening (9 PM, 432-4472). . . . Tibetan tantric choir the Gyuto Monks will be at the Center for the Arts in Northampton, Mass., Friday (8 PM, $27.50-$50, 800-THE-TICK). . . . Bass legend Tony Levin, who has played with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, will be at the Van Dyck on Saturday (7 and 9:30 PM, $16, 381-1111). . . . Former Wildcat (as in Ernie Williams) Mark Emanatian has a new band, Folding Sky, and they’ll celebrate the release of their debut, Dancing With My Guitar, at the Garden Grill on Saturday (9 PM, $2, 462-0571). . . . Grammy award-winning a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock will play the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Saturday (8 PM, $25, 273-0038). . . . New York City jazz outfit Lemon Juice Quartet, which has as a member St. Marta Trio bassist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, will play the Larkin Lounge on Saturday (9 PM, $5, 463-5225). . . . American Head Charge, Gravity Kills, 3rd Strike and Pulse Ultra will be at Northern Lights on Sunday ($12, $10 advance, 371-0012). . . . Commander Cody will share his Western swing, country-rock and plain ol’ rock & roll stripes at his hometown’s Caffe Lena on Sunday, his first time at the intimate venue (7 PM, $18, $16 advance, 583-0022). . . . Speaking of both kinds of music, country and western, Jerry Jeff Walker (country) will play the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Monday and Tuesday; Kim Richey (western) will play the venue on Wednesday, with Josh Ritter opening (Walker: 7 PM, $35; Richey: 7 PM, $14; 800-THE-TICK).

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