Joe Zawinul has composed three all-time-influential jazz tunes -- "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" for Cannonball Adderley, "In a Silent Way" for Miles Davis, and "Birdland" for Zawinul's influential '70s fusion band Weather Report -- but he's not resting on his laurels. The Austria-born, Africa-drenched keyboardist, now a tough 73 and living in Vienna, still plays fusion (and reportedly still hits the gym for boxing workouts), and much like his soul brother Wayne Shorter, "Mr. Gone" isn't finished pushing the music through its world-sound paces. Joe's urgent new CD with his Zawinul Syndicate sextet, Vienna Nights/Live (on his BirdJam label), recorded at Zawinul's Birdland club, zigzags across the globe from Mauritius to Argentina to Harlem. And now to Yoshi's, with Linley Marthe on bass, Jorge Bezerra on percussion, Nathaniel Townsley on drums, vocalist Sabine Kabongo, and guitarist Clovis Nunes Correa. If we're lucky, the band'll play "East 12th Street Jam" or "Borges Buenos Aires" from the high-energy CD. Thursday through Sunday. 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, 510-238-9200, Yoshis.com -- Kelly Vance
Framed for a murder after being kicked out of boot camp, a good guy heads Amazonward in The Portal, a time-traveling thriller by Danville pilot and dad Keith White. As part of San Ramon Library's meet-the-writers workshop program, White discusses the routine by which he completed the novel (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Writers have been probing the transformative experience of urban life since long before hip-hop, as UC Berkeley comparative-lit prof Robert Alter reveals in Imagined Cities, his book about the influence of the metropolis on 19th-century novelists including Flaubert, Dickens, Woolf, Joyce, and Kafka. He's at Black Oak (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Since Khomeini's 1979 ascent, creative expression in Iran has been crushed by fear and war. Yet a cultural renaissance is afoot, as evinced in Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature. Editors Nahid Mozaffari and Ahmad Karimi Hakkak discuss the anthology preceding a reception in 340 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley (Thu., 5 p.m.). ... Read for cheap. San Lorenzo Library's weekend secondhand book sale begins today in the library's Meeting Room and lasts all afternoon (Thu., 1 p.m.). ... Bret Easton Ellis is the name of the main character in Lunar Park, the new novel by ... well, by Bret Easton Ellis, who reads from this tale about a famous author's descent into depravity at Cody's Telegraph (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... You can't beat the prices -- 50 cents to $1 for nearly everything, with romance novels five for a dollar. Stock up all weekend at Dublin Library's secondhand book sale (Sat., 10 a.m.). ... Sip and listen as the Whole Note Poetry Series presents Randy Fingland and Bert Glick, preceding an open mic, at The Beanery, 2925 College Ave., Berkeley (Tue., 7 p.m. ). -- Anneli Rufus
Ahenk means harmony in Turkish, so to say master musicians Derya Turkan and Murat Aydemir, aka the Ahenk Duo , work well together, is somewhat obvious. Turkan specializes in the kemenche, a three-stringed fiddle, while Aydemir is an expert in the tanbur, a long-necked lute. Well versed in classical Turkish tradition, the duo's live show includes many folkloric tunes from Turkey's storied past, as well as solo and duet improvisations, called taksims. They bring their worldly folk music to Berkeley's Freight and Salvage Thursday night for a performance that's sure to have you saying "Ahenk you very much." $17.50-$18.50. TheFreight.org -- Eric K. Arnold
Did George W. Bush steal the 2004 election? Inquiring minds still want to know. Attention, Dubya doubters in search of indisputable electioneering evidence: Author Bob Fitrakis has collected reams and reams of data detailing widespread voting irregularities, which he'll tell you all about Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. when the "Essential Documents" tour hits Oakland's Grand Lake Theatre. For more info, visit FreePress.org -- Eric K. Arnold
Laptop with Gristle
Avant-garde duo Matmos does a slow burn
he thing about contemporary laptop concerts that most irks Drew Daniel, one half of the experimental noise duo Matmos, is that there's no "gestural element." You see a guy clicking a computer mouse and you just hope he's not sniffing around on Yahoo Personals. So Matmos takes a different tack -- Drew and his partner, MC Schmidt, make live samples during their performances and manipulate objects in real time. They're equally entertaining on vinyl. Most of the group's recorded material blends found sounds that the two throw in the sampler. Matmos is most famous for 2001's A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure, a surgery-themed gross-out album in which each song revolves around an isolated sound in the operating room -- say, the fat being sucked out during liposuction (yikes). "But it's not all S&M," Schmidt promises. Drew adds that you don't have to make surgery scarier than it already is: "It's more fun to make it toe-tapping." The duo's new work-in-progress stems from the installation piece Work Work Work they showcased at Yerba Buena last year. "Every day, we'd interview the first person who walked in the room," Drew says. They'd amass concrete details from the person's life, write a song about it, and record it that day. Matmos recently extended the project to include famous people, too. For a tribute to Darby Crash -- who sang for the famous '80s punk band, the Germs -- they got the band's former drummer, Don Bolles, to burn a cigarette into Drew's wrist (a form of initiation for Germs fans). The result is morbid. You hear the hiss of a cigarette, followed by a self-immolating wail. Eww.
Matmos performs these new works at Rock and a Hard Place, a showcase of avant-garde artists at Mills College (5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland), to kick off the fall concert series. Friday at 8 p.m.$12, $6 seniors. -- Rachel Swan