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Alvin Curran
Arts Center of the Capital Region, Thursday

Our frequent mentions of Impulse Response and its consistently forward-looking programming may give the impression that IR trades solely in heretofore unknown forms, artists making their traditions up on the spot. Not so: Some of them are time-honored giants and pioneers in the field, as is the case with the Impulse Response show tonight (Thursday). Composer and electronic musician Alvin Curran has been a practitioner of “new music” since 1966, and his works have been performed by such ensembles as the Kronos Quartet and the Bang on a Can Allstars. Frankly, in the world of new music, the guy’s a legend. And, better yet, one still making challenging music. For his show at Troy’s Arts Center, he’ll use a sampler, a MIDI keyboard and a computer to unleash “just about every sound on the whole planet and beyond.” Let’s see Eric Clapton do that. (Nov. 20, 8 PM, $5, 281-2306)

The Thorns
Bearsville Theater, Woodstock, Friday

It would be an overstatement to say that the Thorns had unalloyed visions of greatness when they formed just last year. One of the band’s three guitarist-vocalists has gone so far as to typify his own expectations in decidedly pessimistic tones: “Really, in theory, it [was] a disaster waiting to happen.” Now, that disaster has not come to pass, and fans of Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins—all established singer-songwriters in their own rights before hooking up for this “musical experiment”—might just think, “Well, duh, of course this is good stuff.” But Droge’s aforementioned dire prediction had some merit: There’s no certainty that three guys “used to being dictators” will be able to successfully collaborate. Apparently, though, a shared love for a sweet, breezy, vaguely SoCal-inflected brand of alt-country (think Byrds via Eagles) was bond enough to get them past any ego issues—on that front, we’ll just ignore the fact that the Thorns press release cites both Crosby, Stills & Nash and Fleetwood Mac as models. The Thorns will play Woodstock’s Bearsville Theater on Friday, with Latino rock group Los Lonely Boys opening. (Nov. 21, 9 PM, $25, $20, 845-679-7600)

Billy Cobham and Art of 5
The Van Dyck, Friday-Saturday

Legendary jazz and jazz-fusion drummer Billy Cobham (Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra) doesn’t tour much stateside, which makes perfect sense when you consider that he’s been living in Switzerland for the last 23 years. What’s he been doing in Switzerland? According to a recent interview, Cobham’s been obtaining “peace of mind.” (This is, apparently, facilitated by the quiet of the lakes and mountains.) And Cobham also has been touring; according to the same interview, he has been playing gigs with a variety of musicians all over Europe, the Middle East and Asia. This rare American tour features his latest project, the Art of 5, a traditional jazz ensemble who earned this praise from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Swinging through some cool post-bop changes with veteran ease, Art of 5 is rediscovering jazz as a vehicle of spontaneous interaction.” Cobham’s West Coast tour dates earlier this year were strictly sellouts, so it might be wise to get your tickets yesterday. (Nov. 21-22, 7 and 9:30 PM, $30, 381-1111)

B.R. Finley’s

No, Captain Marvel won’t be throwing down in our area, but those crafty Impulse Response peeps will present Shazam! at B.R. Finley’s on Saturday, featuring esteemed area DJs, laptop artists and “miscellaneous delinquents” performing “super-powered electronic music.” The genetically enhanced lineup features Bone Oil’s Tom Burre, ringing in “a new era of thud and scrape”; Renaissance dude Seth Cluett, “reinventing dub so that it makes sense in Troy on a cold November night”; DJ Very Special Guest, providing oodles of special; the JTS3k (Jesse Stiles 3000), woozifying with his computer-generated music; one-half of the renowned duo Evidence, sound artist Stephen Moore, performing “boom-bap for the folks that think Stockhausen is danceable—and sultry”; and video ensemble lmnop providing intriguing imagery. The evening, which is a benefit for Impulse Response, also promises a couple special surprises. Oh Mighty Isis, perhaps? (Nov. 22, 10:30 PM, $3, 281-3206).

Cassandra Wilson
The Egg, Saturday

Vocalist Cassandra Wilson is one of contemporary jazz’s giants. Her sultry and smooth voice uniquely delivers jazz and blues standards with a pop sensibility that keeps her work accessible. Her newest album, Glamoured (Blue Note), was released last month, and it includes songs borrowed from the likes of Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters and Abbey Lincoln. Wilson’s smoky voice is tremendously flexible in range, and her unconventional reads do just what jazz singing should: interpret, consume, manipulate and invent. Saturday marks Wilson’s first visit to the Egg, and she’ll perform as part of its Roots & Branches series. (Nov. 22, 8 PM, $24, 473-1845)

 also noted
Early-’60s folk poineers the Kingston Trio will perform at the Troy Music Hall tonight (Thursday), and though Bob Shane is the group’s only surviving original member, George Grove and Bob Haworth join in the harmonies, creating a Trio reminiscent of the group’s heyday (8 PM, $25-$28, 273-0038). . . . Finally a band who will actually perform your “Freebird” request: The surviving members (with some new additions) of the legendary Southern-rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd will play the Pepsi tonight, and with .38 Special sharing the bill, this show is sure to take you back to the ’70s (7:30 PM, $18.50-$38.50, 476-1000). . . . OK, let’s try this one again: Local quartet Nikilee & Mass Chaos will perform their intense melodies at Troy’s All Sports tomorrow (Friday), opening for area power-blues hellions Lowthief. We really mean it this time (9 PM, $5, 687-0064). . . . The Lawn Sausages will bob down the river for their first blowout at the Garden Grill Friday, and the band are so excited that they’re bringing a slew of area musicians to help in the merriment (7 PM, $2, 462-0571). . . . Schenectady’s ’70s night takes place Sunday at Proctor’s Theatre, with old-time rockers Chicago performing their five-decade run of chart-topping hits (7:30 PM, $44.50-$54.50, 346-6204). . . . It’s acoustic mayhem at the Larkin on Sunday, with favorite local rockmakers Rockets and Blue Lights, Lincoln Money Shot (expanding to a seven-piece band, featuring members of Complicated Shirt, Pirate School, Friendship Is Terrible and Total Chaos Unit) and Parwana (with former Amazing Plaid member Ryan Gurnett) performing unplugged (8 PM, $5, 463-5225). . . . Alt-rockers Fuel and heavy-rocking rising stars Sloth will play Northern Lights on Tuesday (7:30 PM, $22-$25, 371-0012). . . . Bruce Cockburn brings his newly purchased rocket launcher to our area in search of action (apparently someone told him that Albany is where the lions are). Well, that’s a bald-faced lie, but the versatile Canadian guitarist-singer-songwriter will stop in to the Egg on Tuesday as part of his tour behind his newest album, You’ve Never Seen Anything (7:30 PM, $22, 473-1845).

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