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31st Annual CJA Holiday Concert & Jam Session

Ever since local trombonist and jazz historian Teddy Adams jump-started this Savannah tradition after years of inactivity, this yearly concert and “head-cutting session” has been a highly anticipated event among those in-the-know. First, Adams and his All-Star Band (with featured vocalist Huxsie Scott) offer up a full show of joyous jazz, and then the stage is opened up to just about anyone who thinks they can hang. It’s a chance to see young newcomers play alongside —and receive both recognition and tips— from this area’s elder statesmen of the art form. I’m told that players sometimes drive hours to attend this uplifting musical celebration. This is a major fund-raiser for the Coastal Jazz Association, and proceeds benefit their Student Scholarships. $12 tickets available at Portman’s Music Superstore, Rody’s Music & Annie’s Guitars and Drums, from CJA Board Members, or at the door. For more info, call 661-2419, or go to Mon., 5 pm, The Hyatt Regency.  

Miles Ahead

This relatively new regionally-based jam-band describes themselves as playing a progressive mélange of rock, jazz, world music, but there’s plenty of reggae, ska and funk thrown in there as well. While they still bear some of the hallmarks of young musicians (i.e., a tendency to overplay their hand, slightly awkward transitions), they seem determined to do more than emulate their obvious influences.

Although vocals are not the band’s strong suit, the fact that each of the six members sings lead (and each with their own approach) adds plenty of variety to Miles Ahead’s already fairly diverse repertoire of slinky piano/organ grooves, minor-key laments and overdriven blues-guitar solo vehicles. Their two percussionists mesh well with the rhythm section and provide plenty of color to the more complex and unpredictable funk workouts. Like many modern improvisational granola outfits these days, they wear their Phish jones proudly on their sleeve (most noticeably in their tone and penchant for odd-meter breakdowns and fixation on negative space), but in this case, it’s not so overpowering as to distract from their own promising outlook. Sat., 10 pm, Locos Deli & Pub (downtown).

Modern Skirts

This Athens, Ga.-based ultra-now melodic rock group pledges allegiance to such adventurous musical innovators as The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach Boys and Elvis Costello. What they share with these artists is a sense of playfulness, and an offhanded way with densely-layered pop that balances pianos with guitars and sweet with sour. Many critics and listeners are gushing over both their talent and refined manner. After a few club gigs in town, they’re headlining this holiday benefit organized by Benedictine Military School.

Named Athens’ “Up-and-coming Band of The Year” by Flagpole Magazine, opening act The Empties occupy a highly entertaining sonic space whose stop-on-a-dime arrangements, beatific vocal harmonies and insouciant attitude simultaneously recalls ancient-ass “Southern Girls”-era Cheap Trick, vintage Voidoids and post-Big Star Chris Bell’s posthumously-released solo LP. Woefully-misguided fans of cotton-candy brainwash like The Strokes and Jet, take heed: here’s how to properly do the “watch us bleed our record collections” bit with both dignity and nerve. If The Empties are half as good live as they are on record, Modern Skirts might want to consider taking the first slot on this bill... Wed., 8 pm, Trustees Theater - ALL-AGES. 

The Bobby Ryder Quartet

For almost half a century, this jazz vocalist and saxman has honed his talents, and his current bag finds him drawing on his years as a headliner at famous rooms like the Peppermint Lounge and Radio City Music Hall to create a wide-ranging stage show that dips into oldies, ballads, blues, shag tunes and a special nod to his hero, Frank Sinatra. A regular performer at this tony resort island supper club, he’s known as a solid entertainer with the chops (and the personal history) to pull off even the most demanding numbers. Fri. - Sat., 8 pm, The Jazz Corner (Hilton Head).