JACKIE ALLEN QUINTET Jazz singer Jackie Allen recently hit the jackpot by scoring a deal with Blue Note Records, and I doubt that she saw it coming: since moving here from Wisconsin in 1990 she's been a strong but gentle presence on the scene, never stridently pushing her art or her ambition. But her two most recent indie albums, 2003's The Men in My Life and 2004's Love Is Blue, qualified as crossover successes, thanks to the inclusion of "new standards" from the likes of James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Sting along with traditional jazz tunes and her own puckish originals. Those discs attracted the attention of Blue Note, which signed her to join Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, and Patricia Barber as a standard-bearer for the label's redefinition of vocal jazz. On the new Tangled, her debut for the label, she once again crafts a lovely, intimate program that uses unexpected material (including tunes by Steely Dan and Van Morrison), John Moulder's exquisite acoustic guitar, and her own voice--a coiled spring, wrapped in velvet--to seduce and beguile. She's backed here by Moulder, pianist Ben Lewis, bassist Hans Sturm (her husband), and drummer Dane Richeson. See also Saturday. 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $10. --Neil Tesser
JEFF CHAN'S PERSPECTIVES Like his fellow members of the Bay Area's Asian Improv Arts organization, reedist Jeff Chan has looked to Chicago's AACM for guidance; in 2002 he took the additional step of moving here, and since then he's become a valuable voice in our own small but precocious Asian-American jazz movement. Chan plays tenor with a hale, rough-hewn power, while his liquid soprano tone allows for charming idylls like "Sunbeams," a quietly infectious piece, a la Joseph Jarman, from his 2003 live album In Chicago (Asian Improv). (The disc also features great trumpeter Ameen Muhammad in one of his last performances.) Chan will play solo sets on all three nights of this showcase. Tonight and Saturday he'll also perform with a trio featuring veteran Chicago saxist Jimmy Ellis and bassist Tatsu Aoki, joined by guest percussionist Greg Diethrich. On Sunday he'll play shinobue (a Japanese bamboo flute) in another trio, joined by taiko drummer Hide Yoshihashi and Aoki on bass and shamisen, a three-string Japanese lute. See separate items on Saturday and Sunday for more info. 8 PM, Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 2nd floor, 773-281-0824, $12. A --Neil Tesser
KLAAS HEKMAN, VERYAN WESTON, AND FRED LONBERG-HOLM See Sunday. Dutch bass saxophonist Klaas Hekman, British pianist Veryan Weston, and local cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm will play free improv. 8 PM, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis, 773-702-8670. Free. All ages.
JACKIE ALLEN QUINTET See Friday. 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $10.
BOTTLE ROCKETS On the Bottle Rockets' new album, Zoysia (Bloodshot), front man Brian Henneman continues to play the working-class bard, bringing a rare poignancy to even the most run-of-the-mill situations. On "Happy Anniversary" he attends an ex's party in "my melancholy trousers and my masochistic shirt," while on "Middle Man" he bemoans his own personal run-of-the-millness, singing "If I could be a little bit younger, if I could be a little bit older / If I could be a little bit friendlier, if I could be a little bit colder." The band's shuffled members a lot in recent years--only Henneman and drummer Mark Ortmann remain from the original lineup--but its formula hasn't changed much: the mix of Crazy Horse-style stompers and amped-up twang sounds as crisp and powerful as ever. Eight albums into their career the Bottle Rockets seem doomed to second-tier status, but then few seriously populist bands are gunning to be A-list stars. Trampled by Turtles opens. 9:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $15. --Peter Margasak
JEFF CHAN'S PERSPECTIVES See Friday. Chan performs solo and in a trio with saxophonist Jimmy Ellis and bassist Tatsu Aoki, joined by guest percussionist Greg Diethrich. a 8 PM, Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 2nd floor, 773-281-0824, $12. All ages.
GOLDSTARS This local band is the very picture of unglamorous, roll-up-your-paisley-sleeves garage rock. Their second full-length, Purple Girlfriend (Pravda), carries so much Nuggets baggage--especially the basket-weave repetitiveness and alley-cat vocals--that you could mistake them for pimply, hairy teenagers who've arrived via time machine. (In fact their lineup includes two-thirds of the long-running trash-rock trio the New Duncan Imperials.) They're as unpretentious as the bar they share a name with but confident enough to do instrumentals, and Skipper's Farfisa gives "Fire" and Mel Torme's "Comin' Home Baby" a squealy slinkiness. The album came out last month, but this is the release party. They'll be joined onstage by a Kansas City burlesque troupe, the Burly-Q Girly Crew. The Handcuffs open. 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8. --Monica Kendrick
KLAAS HEKMAN, VERYAN WESTON See Sunday. Hekman performs with Lou Mallozzi, who made a spoken-word contribution to one track on Hekman's 2005 solo album, Yolo. Weston performs with Jim Baker, who will play ARP synthesizer. 9:30 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-3616, $10. All ages.
RONU MAJUMDAR Few instruments say "meditative" like the bansuri, an Indian bamboo flute with a much lower and more rounded sound than the Western version. In the hands of a master like Mumbai-based Ronu Majumdar, it's especially spellbinding--his playing is a sublime mix of lyric improvisation, dynamic rhythm, and buttery tone. He uses the introductory sections, or alaps, of the three ragas on last year's A Sacred Space (Sense World Music) to create impressive landscapes; though the sound is serene there's rigor behind his melodies, all gently floating glissandos, high-register curlicues, and resonant dips. When the percussionists kick in Majumdar doesn't get caught up in the rhythms--instead his playing hovers over the beats, as if he knows something nobody else does. He's joined here by the great tabla player Abhijit Banerjee and Durga Prasad Majumdar on the pakhawaj, a barrel-shaped drum. 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 seniors and kids. All ages. --Peter Margasak
MONO I've seen some ill-fitting labels stuck to this Japanese instrumental band. They've been compared to Tortoise, whom they sound nothing like, and I've also seen them called a "noise" act, which they're far, far from being. (No dis meant to noise, of course, which jollies my heart.) What they play is music built from scratch out of silence, layered to a crushing density, then brought back down again, so slowly and gracefully the seams never show. Their new full-length, You Are There (Temporary Residence Limited), is so fluid it almost creates a paradox: at its loudest it feels somehow quiet (and vice versa). On this tour they'll be selling a new ten-inch EP, Memorie dal Futuro (released on Cameron Crowe's label, Vinyl Films), which like You Are There was recorded here by Steve Albini with local players lending hands. Pelican, who appeared on a limited-edition split LP with Mono last year, headline; the Life and Times open. 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $13, 18+. --Monica Kendrick
SNOW PATROL The major-label debut from this Scottish band jumbled Sebadoh, My Bloody Valentine, and Coldplay, but here in the States it was a stiff. So guess which one of those three influences prevails on the follow-up, Eyes Open (A&M)? No longer protectively sheathed in processed guitar noise, Gary Lightbody sings with earnest arena-ready gumption, the sort of ambitious move that'll either satisfy hundreds of thousands or practically no one at all. Thankfully these guys have some strange notions about how to sell out effectively, because the new record reminds me a little bit of Sugar. Augustana and Duke Sprit open. 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages. --Keith Harris
TIME AGAIN There won't be a new Rancid album in stores for another year, but with the release of Time Again's full-length debut, The Stories Are True, who's going to notice? It's on Hellcat, the Epitaph subsidiary run by Rancid vocalist Tim Armstrong, and sounds almost exactly like his band did in the early days, back when they still had Gilman grit in their blood and were just figuring out they could turn street punk into pop gold. When Armstrong teams up with Time Again singer Daniel Dart on the title track, their voices are nearly indistinguishable. (The only difference is Dart can actually enunciate like English is his first language.) But you can't begrudge Time Again the similarities--especially when they're writing songs that are fresher than anything Rancid has done in years. Love Equals Death, PKdores, and Shedding Winter Coat open. 6 PM, Waiting Room, 7016 N. Glenwood, 773-465-8005, $5. All ages. --Jessica Hopper
JEFF CHAN'S PERSPECTIVES See Friday. Chan performs solo and then in a trio, playing shinobue (a Japanese bamboo flute) with taiko drummer Hide Yoshihashi and Tatsu Aoki on bass and shamisen (a three-string Japanese lute). 8 PM, Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 2nd floor, 773-281-0824, $12. All ages.
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS WITH ALLEN TOUSSAINT Pianist, singer, and songwriter Allen Toussaint has been living in New York since Katrina damaged his New Orleans home. (Contrary to early news reports, he escaped to a hotel, not the Superdome.) He's collaborated and performed with Elvis Costello during that time--Toussaint's called the hurricane "my new booking agent"--and their new album together, The River in Reverse (Verve Forecast), is an uplifting and sometimes heartrending R & B requiem. For this tour, Costello's crack backing band the Imposters, last heard on 2004's raucous and live-feeling The Delivery Man, joins forces with Toussaint and his Crescent City Horns. 7 PM, Ravinia Festival, pavilion, Green Bay & Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park, 847-266-5100, $15-$65. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
KLAAS HEKMAN, VERYAN WESTON, AND FRED LONBERG-HOLM In his liner notes for Yolo (Strotbrock), last year's solo album from Dutch bass saxophonist Klaas Hekman, John Corbett writes that "Hekman has dedicated himself to the bass sax the way Steve Lacy did at the other end of the saxophonic register, with the soprano." Maybe that line made an impression: Hekman's in town with a new trio playing Lacy's music. The nimble lyricism that Lacy got from one of the smallest saxes will be hard to duplicate with the unwieldy bass, but Hekman is surprisingly fluid. On Yolo he sometimes does a bang-up imitation of a flute, isolating a ghostly top layer of his sax's tone, and even when he's exploring its lower reaches he's agile and articulate. He's joined here by cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and British pianist Veryan Weston. Lonberg-Holm's a great improviser who has no problem with the bass range, though I wouldn't be surprised if he handles Lacy's parts while Hekman lays down the bass lines; Weston is flexible enough to play both inside-out cabaret tunes with whacked-out vocal improviser Phil Minton and bristling free improv with bassist John Edwards and percussionist Mark Sanders. Hekman, Weston, and Lonberg-Holm will play Lacy material during their opening set; later they'll be joined by percussionist Michael Zerang for a set of free improv. See also Friday and Saturday. 10 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118, donation requested. --Peter Margasak
YOUNG PEOPLE After Young People released their 2003 full-length, War Prayers, guitarist Jeff Rosenberg left, making the band a bicoastal duo of multi-instrumentalists Jarrett Silberman (in LA) and Katie Eastburn (in New York). Their new album, All at Once (Too Pure), reflects that change: it's darker and more minimal, and piano is more prominent in the absence of Rosenberg's lyrical squall. Silberman and Eastburn composed the album by sending parts back and forth, which might explain why the songs sound somewhat fragmentary. Eastburn's wailing vocals are still front and center, but the sparse guitar and keyboard accompaniment, along with Silberman's thin, muffled drums, lack the dynamic counterpoint of previous efforts. The music's grown on me, but I miss the band's old wounded exuberance. Pit Er Pat and Lark open. See also Wednesday. 9 PM, South Union Arts, 1352 S. Union, 312-850-1049, $10 suggested donation. --Peter Margasak
LES CLAYPOOL This supremely wonky bass virtuoso is a poster boy for the positive side effects of nervous energy. Not only does he maintain an impressive menagerie of bands, at varying ratios of on-again to off-again--Primus, the Frog Brigade, Oysterhead, Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains--he's also about to publish his first novel, South of the Pumphouse (Akashic Books), and later this summer he'll release his first feature film, the jam-band mockumentary Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo. On his first album under his own name, Of Whales and Woe (brand-new on Claypool's Prawn Song label), he's manic as usual, his playing rubbery and giddy, but sometimes he reins in his caffeine-freak slapping and popping to make room for a little funk, nudging himself toward a sort of Beefheart lite. Though he never seems sure when (or even whether) to take his tongue out of his cheek, sometimes his levity has teeth--on "Phantom Patriot," for instance, he goes to town on conspiracy theories in splendidly creepy paranoid-stoner style. For this tour Claypool is accompanied by his Fancy Band, which consists of Gabby La La on sitar, Mike Dillon on vibraphone and percussion, Paulo Baldi on drums, and Skerik on saxophone. Rasputina opens. 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $25, 18+. --Monica Kendrick
YOUNG PEOPLE See Tuesday. Cellmates and Dylan Posa & Three Cheers for One Dead Man open. Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+. All ages.
CUTS The Cuts aren't all the way out of the garage yet, but on their latest album, From Here On Out (Birdman), they devote more energy to catchy melodies than Nuggets-style riffing. Andy Jordan's squirrelly yelp--he sounds like a giddy, hyperactive Tom Verlaine--is the star of the show, and his meaty retro licks, along with the 70s glam solos of Ben Brown, are stoked by chugging organ from Michael Aaberg. But it's the quasi-orchestral tunes at the end of the album that blow right by the group's usual Raspberries-tinged numbers. They kinda remind me of the blue-eyed soul and soft rock of early Hall and Oates--and I mean that as a compliment. Pyrite and the Tax open. 9:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Peter Margasak
MADONNA See Wednesday. 7:30 PM, United Center, 1901 W. Madison, 312-455-4500 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages.