Critics' picks - music

December 4, 2008
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MERCURY REV The purveyors of hypnotic rock dreamscapes that leap from gauzy to noisy to arty return to bewitch with tunes from their latest, "Snowflake Midnight." Be sure to arrive early enough to catch the intimate song stylings of Dean & Britta, formerly of Luna. 9 p.m. Dec. 5. $17.50. Paradise Rock Club. 617-931-2000,

NAT AND ALEX WOLFF Better known as the shaggy-haired tween leaders of the Naked Brothers Band, of the hit Nickelodeon show of the same name, the boys hit the road for their "Fully Clothed" tour - and their quest to catch up with friendly Mouse House rivals the Jonas Brothers. 4:30 p.m. Dec. 7. $25-$50. Berklee Performance Center. 617-931-2000,

ERIC HUTCHINSON This Maryland singer-songwriter won us over with his funny, self-deprecating YouTube videos - especially the T-shirt infomercial - and then with the clever pop music on his 2007 self-released debut, "Sounds Like This." 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7. $15. Middle East Downstairs. 617-931-2000,

ELLIOTT MURPHY Since 1973, this cult favorite's fan club has included everyone from the Velvet Underground to Bruce Springsteen to Shawn Colvin. His new album, "Notes From the Underground," shows why. 8:30 p.m. Dec. 10. $12. Johnny D's. 617-776-2004, SARAH RODMAN


JENNIFER KIMBALL, ROSE POLENZANI, ROSE COUSINS A veritable supergroup of some of the finest local singer-songwriters, the ladies will perform in a round-robin setting and welcome some special guests. 8 p.m. Dec. 4. $15. Club Passim. 617-492-7679,

DAN BLAKESLEE This Brighton-based singer-songwriter is celebrating the release of "The Holiday Fair," an acoustic collection of heartfelt Christmas originals (love those sleigh bells on the song "The Christmas Homecoming"). 7 p.m. Dec. 5. Plum Island Coffee Roasters, 54 Merrimac St., Newburyport. 978-465-1444,

SARAH LEVECQUE BAND For someone born in Maine, Levecque sure sounds like she comes from the heart of Nashville, with just the right mix of country torch and twang. 10 p.m. Dec. 10. Free. Plough & Stars. 617-576-0032, JAMES REED


THE FLATLANDS COLLECTIVE For decades, two of the most important regional dialects of improvised music have been based in Amsterdam and Illinois. Saxophonist/composer Jorrit Dijkstra, Boston's own representative of the inimitable Dutch jazz scene, teams with five young Chicagoans to form this adventurous band, which incorporates electronics into its catchy, challenging pieces. 7 p.m. Dec. 4. $10. The Lily Pad.

KEN SCHAPHORST AND THE NEC JAZZ ORCHESTRA: MUSIC OF CHARLES MINGUS The award-winning student orchestra, under the exemplary direction of Schaphorst, performs compositions by the great bassist, composer, and bandleader Charles Mingus, including his classics "Boogie Stop Shuffle," "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," and "The Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife are Some Jive-Ass Slippers." 8 p.m. Dec. 4. Free. NEC's Jordan Hall.

THE SOFFERMAN PERSPECTIVE Last January, the Globe's Steve Greenlee wrote: "You will not hear a local jazz group play with more talent, more focus, more intensity than the quintet led by drummer Brooke Sofferman." Featuring the world-class frontline of saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi and trumpeter Phil Grenadier, the Perspective will play a fresh crop of Sofferman's curveball compositions. 9:30 p.m. Dec. 5. $15. Acton Jazz Café. 978-263-6161,

CHARLIE HUNTER The innovative guitarist, whose mastery of seven- and eight-string instruments allows him to do the work of both guitar and bass, appears with his trio (keyboards and drums) to support their new record "Baboon Strength," an anthology of groovy pop instrumentals, including dedications to Squeeze, Karen Carpenter, and (we think) Ricardo Montalban. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7. $18-$20. Cambridge Family YMCA Theatre. 617-512-4836,



BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA James Levine returns for what may be the most keenly anticipated program of the season, featuring the world premiere of Elliott Carter's "Interventions" with pianist Daniel Barenboim, who will in addition play Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto. Also on the program will be a Barenboim-Levine performance of Schubert's F-minor Fantasy. And the evening will close with Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," the piece that first made Carter want to become a composer. Dec. 4 at 8 p.m., Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m. $29-$105. Open rehearsal today (Dec. 4) at 10:30 a.m. $19. Symphony Hall, 617-266-1200 or

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY This weekend brings the 155th annual H&H performances of Handel's "Messiah." With soloists Kendra Colton, Paula Murrihy, Brian Stucki, and Brett Polegato. Paul Daniel makes his H&H conducting debut. Dec. 5-7, $25-$86, Symphony Hall, 617-266-3605 or

EMERSON STRING QUARTET The tireless foursome arrives in town for a Celebrity Series recital bookended by Dvorak Quartets (Op. 51 and Op. 105). In between will be Ravel's Quartet and Webern's Six Bagatelles. Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. $45-$58. Jordan Hall, 617-482-6661 or

MUSICIANS FROM MARLBORO The touring arm of this venerable chamber music festival stops off in Boston with a program that includes works by Janacek and Mozart as well as Mendelssohn's celebrated Octet. Dec. 7 at 1:30 p.m., $23, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 617-278-5156 or JEREMY EICHLER

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