Arts & Culture » Culture

Gangway

The wide world of gangsta jazz

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FRI 7/29

Catchy as they are, slogans like "gangsta jazz" and "jazz mafia" bring absurd images to mind -- such as Al Capone playing stride piano with a gun slung through his suspender straps, or Biggie Smalls spinning Charlie Parker 78s to serenade that proverbial daughter tied up in a Brooklyn basement. Yet to Adam Theis of the new-school jazz outfit Shotgun Wedding Quintet -- which comprises a small lump of the indie collective, Jazz Mafia -- such terms are the best way to describe his group's hybrid of "classy, intricate jazz with down-and-dirty, working-class hip-hop." Affectionately dubbed "pub-hop" in some circles, Shotgun Wedding's mix of fancy-schmancy horn licks and crusty, looped bass lines is best suited for the SoMa boho clientele at Bruno's and the now-defunct Black Cat Club, where what would become the Jazz Mafia started meeting up for Tuesday night jam sessions in 2000. Theis met the hip-hop group Felonious in 2002, when he decided to attend Last Day Saloon's hip-hop and jazz night on a rare Tuesday that Jazz Mafia wasn't performing. He grooved on this fusion-ish hip-hop band for the same reasons the rest of us groove on this fusion-ish hip-hop band -- because, in the slummy and ungainly world of fusion-ish hip-hop bands, Felonious is like, you know, the next Beatles (though it's fair to say it's jockeying with Crown City Rockers, Variable Unit, and some other folks for that title). Fronted by the alarmingly clever freestyle battle champ Infinite and his more demure -- though no less capable -- stunt double MC D. Wolf, Felonious combines rap vocals and live instrumentation with a flair that distinguishes it from the average roots-redux: Yes, a jazz bassist really can trade fours with a gulping, raspberry-blowing beatboxer and produce something seminal and real. What's most exciting about Felonious and Shotgun Wedding Quintet is how they've chosen to stretch the genre, from Felonious' famous rap opera, Beatbox: A Raparetta, to Shotgun Wedding's combination of original jazz licks and slappable soundbox beats. Granted, their music lacks the lurid, ghetto-sublime luster of Biggie Smalls' raps about robbing the preacher for the offering -- but in its own way, it's still gangsta.

Felonious and Shotgun Wedding Quintet perform this Friday at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. 9:30 p.m. $8, students $5. ShattuckDownLow.com -- Rachel Swan

SAT 7/30

¡Cuba Sí!

Sisterhood is poderoso

Of all the sister cities Berkeley has been involved with, the Cuban town of Palma Soriano, Santiago, has been the most active lately. The latest peaceful salvo in the cross-cultural love-in is CambioXchange, a festive cubano combo of visual art, live folkloric music and dance performances, and a video screening created especially for the event. Donations go toward such future projects as a joint Cuban-US mural in Berkeley and US artists' trips to Cuba. Saturday, 6-9 p.m., at the Berkeley Arts Center, 1275 Walnut St., 510-653-1009. -- Kelly Vance

8/1-9/30

Happy-Go-Lucky Locals

When she took four different trips to Asia in four years, photographer Sandra Bradman traveled around by bus, "so I could immerse myself in the smells, tastes, and sounds of the world around me" in places like China, Vietnam, and Thailand. The former Laney College student, who has shown her photographs (right) in solo shows in the East Bay and SF, got down to ground level in Southeast Asia, as her photo show, Temples, Portraits, and Landscapes, indicates. It stays through September on the walls of the Albatross Pub, 1822 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, AlbatrossPub.com, and all art on display is for sale. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 7/30

Hobo Quest

What's in a tag? Bill Daniel's 55-minute documentary Who Is Bozo Texino? is a character study of an enigmatic graffito scrawled on freight trains and in hobo camps over eighty years. Daniel undertakes a quixotic quest for Texino's true identity -- which, like WWII's Kilroy, may exist only in myth. The movie screens Saturday at 9 p.m. at Oakland's LoBot Gallery, along with two other underground indie shorts: Britton, South Dakota, and Waldo Point. Sean Smith provides postfilm and interlude music. $5 donation. LoBotGallery.com -- Eric K. Arnold

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