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Masterstrokes


KING AND QUEEN ACT: Next Monday’s C&W blockbuster at the Arlington — with the classic country hero George Jones and alt-country queen Lucinda Williams  — is a tale of two legends, from different generations and artistic points of view. It’s also further proof that you can’t always believe what you hear on the radio or see garlanded by the Grammy gods. Seventy-four-year-old Jones, who played the Arlington back in 2002, is on a new high these days, celebrating 50 years in the business, a steamy heap of hits, and an influence on just about everyone who matters in country. Fiftysomething Williams, last heard locally opening for another country legend, Willie Nelson, is simply one of the greats, in any genre. She brings rock, swamp, and C&W together in her loping, twanging voice, joined to poetic songwriting with a deep-diving intelligence and gritty-surfaced charms. Don’t miss this one.

TO-DOINGS: Truth-in-advertising becomes the project known as The Masters of Persian Music, landing Tuesday at Campbell Hall. An all-star confab featuring vocalist Möhammad Reza Shajarian, kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor, and tar player Hossein Alizadeh, they last played Campbell Hall early in 2001, shaking rafters and craniums. That acclaimed tour fueled further projects, including the recent album Faryad (World Village). Try as we might to separate art and global politics, you can’t help but view this amazing, ancient project out of Iran as a balm of cultural healing in the frazzled post-9/11 world.

FRINGE PRODUCTS: An exciting new subcurrent is underway in jazz, another valuable musical strain you have to strain to find. Gifted jazz musicians with open ears and a labworker’s curiosity are finding fresh ways to blend bona fide jazz elements with rock, electronica, soul, and other groove-lined musical flavors, creating new bitchin’ electro-acoustic brews. This music only marginally relates to the jazz-rock fusion of old or to the jazzy side of the “jamband” scene, in which limited players dabble in the idea of jazz. Three new releases highlight the movement’s development, from musicians at various stages of their musical game. Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal , whose inspirations include Jimi Hendrix , John McLaughlin , and John Coltrane , has conjured his own brand of jazz-rock meets seductive-Nordic-angst for 30-plus years. His “fusion” is less about head-banging energy than heady impressionism. Vossabrygg, Rypdal’s latest for ECM, is his finest in years, embodying a new synthesis of groove, inside-outside ideas, and electro-acoustic textures. Re-routed echoes of ’70s Miles Davis voodoo jazz abound, in the best way. Among the players are his son Marius on electronics and turntables, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, and currently hip Norwegian keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft (whose own vibrant electro-jazz is too little known on this side of the Atlantic). Mid-career player Chris Potter , considered by many as one of jazz’s best tenor saxists, has capital-J jazz credentials well in order, but his latest band project is a fascinating trip into the electro-funkified zone, as heard on Underground (Sunnyside). Joined by guitarist Wayne Krantz (and sometimes Adam Rogers), drummer Nate Smith, and the wondrous Craig Taborn on Fender Rhodes (no bassist), Potter concocts super-cool attitudes and fresh variations on the groove-ish jazz theme. He also dips into cover material ranging from Radiohead (“Morning Bell”) to Ellintonia (“Lotus Blossom”). Lastly, Gianluca Petrella’s Indigo (Blue Note) may be the strongest “major jazz label” debut of the year. A young Italian trombonist, Petrella has fierce and flexible improvisational skills, a love of both swing tradition and hip-hop’s liberating sound out-sourcing policies, and a persuasive assembly of concepts. Interests run from Thelonious Monk to Sun Ra — closing with the Ra-dedicated original “A Relaxing Place on Venus.” Petrella’s coup reminds us that some of the brightest ideas and sounds in jazz now come from Europe, and also that the younger generation of jazz players aren’t taking tradition for an answer. (Got e? fringebeat@aol.com.)

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