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Great Jazz Harmonica Player Comes to the Albright-Knox Gallery Saturday

Toots Thielmans is still with us.
In fact, one of the truly sublime musicians in the entire history of jazz --certainly its greatest harmonica player -- just released a disc of music giving us the joy of being the greatest there is in his 10th decade on earth.

But at Toots' age -- he was 90 in April --it's impossible not to wonder who's in the wings to take his place when Toots leaves us to join the greatest of all jazz bands (my guess for that first jam in heaven: ballads and mid-tempos swingers with Miles Davis.)

Some would say the great 55-year old German harmonica player Hendrik Muerkens. And certainly in a long career he's recorded much beautiful music in stellar company.

But it seems more likely that the NEXT Toots Thielmans for a world in need would be another sublime European musician from one country over -- the French Gregoire Maret, whose self-titled first disc as a leader earlier this year featured appearances by Cassandra Wilson, guitarist Raul Midon and, most tellingly, Toots himself in a kind of moment that couldn't help but be interpreted as "passing the torch" (not that Toots won't be brandishing it, mind you, for as long as he's with us.)

Maret has toured with Pat Metheny and done time in one of Herbie Hancock's bands. In other words, some of the sharpest ears in jazz love his music.

He'll be appearing at 8 p.m. Saturday in the invaluable Art of Jazz series at the Albright-Knox Gallery. Preceding the concert at 7 p.m., series curator Bruce Eaton will discuss what have always been called "Miscellaneous Instruments" in jazz but whose players have so often included some of the most idiocyncratic and exceptional musicians the music has ever had.

--Jeff Simon


Live chat: Miers on Music at noon

Check out Roky Erickson and Nude Beach this weekend

To see Brooklyn rock band Nude Beach you won’t have to go farther than Mohawk Place on Sunday night where it’ll be appearing with Buffalo’s own Matt and the Immediates.

To see the cult-hero Nude Beach is supporting on its current tour, however, you’ll have to head up to Toronto on Saturday night.

Roky Erickson, the Austin singer and guitarist who spawned the psychedelic rock genre with 13th Floor Elevators in the mid-1960s, will perform with his backing band the Hounds of Baskerville on Saturday night at Lee’s Palace.

Lucky for us Nude Beach picked up a travel day show in Buffalo between its Toronto and Philadelphia opening gigs for Erickson.

And while Halloween is over, Erickson’s “I Walked With A Zombie,” “Night Of The Vampire” and “Two-Headed Dog” are sure to send a shiver down your spine. So head up to Toronto if you can to see this author of his own personal tale of rock, redemption, drugs and downfall. It has all the makings of a show to remember.

Maybe next time though Roky will stop in Buffalo. Can’t you just picture him on stage at Mohawk or Sportsmen’s Tavern?

—Joseph Popiolkowski

Russian romance


The Andante of Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2, to be heard at Kleinhans Music Hall this weekend.

Listen and savor. It is beautiful!

This weekend's concerts take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday. Michael Boriskin is the piano soloist. Also on the program is Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13, complete with a reading in Russian by poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. JoAnn Falletta conducts the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. You can read the background to this unique event in this story by News Features Editor Melinda Miller.

Meanwhile, do try to find time in your day to listen to this little bit of the piano concerto, played in the above recording conducted by Shostakovich's son, Maxim Shostakovich, and featuring on piano Maxim's son, Dmitri Shostakovich II.

You will be hooked!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Thursday Theater Roundup

"33 Variations," through Dec. 2 in MusicalFare Theatre. ★★★½

From the review: "[Moises] Kaufman imbues the potentially nap-worthy premise with the kind of smart and economical writing typically reserved for TV cop shows and Hollywood thrillers. Between interludes of the variations played beautifully by Kramer, we skip back and forth through time, from 18th century Vienna to our own troubled century, each time learning something new about the nature of creativity, genius and, perhaps especially, mediocrity." --Colin Dabkowski


"A Couple of Blaguards," through Nov. 18 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "Director Gordon McCall makes full use of his actors’ gifts for physical comedy and song. Both men’s voices are beautifully suited for Irish music and those interludes are lovely to listen to. In the audience, it was also clear that some of the sketches were more polished than others – some good, some even better, some wonderful – and the best assumption is that the show will age well over its three-week run." --Melinda Miller

Stan Klimecko, Dee LaMonte Perry and Gregory Howze in Jewish Repertory Theatre's "The Whipping Man."

"The Whipping Man," through Nov. 11 in the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York's Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "The unexpected subject matter alone makes Lopez’s play a worthy addition to the literature of Jewish and African-American relations. It helps that Lopez gives audiences plenty of deft writing and makes a series of historical connections that, while perhaps obvious to some, have long been hidden in plain sight for many Americans." --Colin Dabkowski

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