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Fall Arts Preview 2007

Globe critics choose the season's top events

The table below can be sorted by clicking on the column headers.
SubjectEventCityVenueDateWebsite
Classical music"Ainadamar": Since its Tanglewood premiere in 2003, Osvaldo Golijov's flamenco-infused opera has been musically revised and theatrically reimagined. It's also been performed all around the country and is now finally arriving in the composer's home town. Opera Boston mounts a production that was first conceived for the Santa Fe Opera, with Dawn Upshaw, Jessica Rivera, and Kelly O'Connor in the lead roles. Peter Sellars, an eloquent champion of Golijov's music, is directing. The opera itself is a beautifully voiced meditation on the life and loves of the writer Federico Garcia Lorca, and his murder during the Spanish Civil War. Gil Rose conducts. Oct. 19, 21, and 23, Cutler Majestic Theatre, 617-451-9944 or operaboston.org. BostonCutler Majestic Theatre Oct. 19, 21, and 23operaboston.org
Classical musicBoston Symphony Orchestra: The orchestra opens its season on Oct. 4 with an all-Ravel program under music director James Levine, with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the radiant mezzo-soprano Susan Graham there to lend a hand. Other promising programs on the fall schedule include Mahler's Ninth Symphony (Nov. 8, 9, 10, 13) and Smetana's "Ma Vlast" (Nov. 23, 24, 27). New-music fans will want to take note of Michael Gandolfi's "Garden of Cosmic Speculation" (Oct. 11, 12, 13, 16); a mostly Osvaldo Golijov program with Yo-Yo Ma (Dec. 6, 7, 8); and the premiere of Elliott Carter's Horn Concerto (Nov. 15, 17, 20). 617-266-1200 or bso.org.BostonSymphony HallOct. 4-Nov 20bso.org
Classical musicSt. Lawrence String Quartet: With its core sense of expressive urgency and the charismatic violinist Geoff Nuttall on first fiddle, this group may be the most exciting of the next-generation string quartets. In November, the St. Lawrence comes to town with soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, pianist Kevin Murphy, and an intriguing program that includes the local premiere of Roberto Sierra's "Songs from the Diaspora" as well as works by Chausson and Schubert. Batting cleanup, no matter where it's placed, will be Beethoven's late Quartet Op. 130 with the explosive "Grosse Fuge" as its finale. Presented by Celebrity Series of Boston. November 18 at 3 p.m., Jordan Hall, 617-482-6661 or celebrityseries.org. BostonJordan HallNov. 18celebrityseries.org
Classical musicSimon Bolivar Youth Orchestra: How did a Venezuelan youth orchestra end up in Boston's Symphony Hall? The answer is El Sistema, an extraordinary national music education program that has drawn journalists from far and wide to Caracas to witness its startling results with Venezuelan urban youth. This particular orchestra is the flagship of the program, and its leader, Gustavo Dudamel, is the most buzz-generating conductor around, ever since the Los Angeles Philharmonic named him to be its next music director at the ripe old age of 26. It's tough to weigh hype against substance because so few people have actually heard him conduct, but the orchestra's current national tour will give many listeners a chance to judge for themselves. They'll play music by Bartok and Bernstein among others. Presented by New England Conservatory. Nov 7, 8 p.m. Tickets at 617-266-1200 or bso.org.BostonSymphony HallNov. 7bso.org
Classical musicCantata Singers: If the contemporary zeitgeist had a composer in residence, it just might be Kurt Weill. He has been recently spotted with Lotte Lenya on Broadway, and his "Mahagonny" opera seems to be popping up everywhere these days. But how well do we really know Weill's output? This year, the Cantata Singers is devoting much of its season to exploring some lesser-known Weill works, beginning with a benefit performance on Sept. 23 of his "Lindbergh Flight" Cantata at the Collings Foundation Aviation Museum in Stow, followed on Nov. 9 by the first local performance of Weill's "Legend of the Dead Soldier" in Jordan Hall. 617-868-5885 or cantatasingers.orgBoston and StowJordan Hall in Boston; Collings Foundation Aviation Museum in StowSept. 23, Nov. 9cantatasingers.org
DanceSean Curran Company: The irreverent, eclectic, immensely talented hometown boy returns with a world premiere for his company, "Social Discourse." With a performing career that's taken him from Irish step dancing to Bill T. Jones to "STOMP" to New York City Opera, Curran has developed a distinctly offbeat choreographic style that's always engaging and often -- as in his wickedly satirical reworking of "Pulcinella" and his "Aria," which combines recorded apologies with Handel arias -- quite provocative. It's a coup for his troupe to be on the Celebrity Series of Boston's main subscription docket with the likes of Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey. Oct. 26-28, Tsai Performance Center. 617-482-6661, celebrityseries.org -- KAREN CAMPBELLBostonTsai Performance CenterOct. 26-28celebrityseries.org
DanceMaureen Fleming: She's a master of transformation, spinning sensual, sculptural movements into a kind of finely distilled dance poetry. Her body language alone -- and nudity plays a part -- is often gorgeously evocative and mesmerizing. In her new celebration of the female archetype, "Waters of Immortality," she also incorporates three-dimensional video projections and still photography by the brilliant Lois Greenfield. Akikazu Nakamura provides live accompaniment on the shakuhachi, a bamboo flute, and pianist Peter Fleming performs the music of Philip Glass. The Boston premiere is presented by CRASHarts. Nov. 2-4, Institute of Contemporary Art. 627-876-4275, worldmusic.org -- KAREN CAMPBELLBostonInstitute of Contemporary ArtNov. 2-4worldmusic.org
DancePaul Taylor Dance Company: After 50 years in the business, he's still a titan of the modern dance world, one of the most respected and influential choreographers in history. How is it that Taylor's work remains both accessible and innovative? In addition to "Aureole," the program includes two Boston premieres: the dance comedy "Troilus and Cressida" and one of Taylor's latest works, the darkly ruminative "Lines of Loss." The company ends the show with one of the undisputed masterworks of contemporary dance, the exuberant "Esplanade," with dancers leaping into one another's arms. It can take your breath away. Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Citi Shubert Theatre. 617-482-6661, celebrityseries.org -- KAREN CAMPBELLBostonCiti Shubert TheatreNov. 30-Dec. 2celebrityseries.org
DanceMorgan Thorson's "Faker": Commissioned by the Walker Art Center and Southern Theater in Minneapolis, Thorson's "Faker" is the talented Minnesota choreographer's exploration of "impersonation, obsession, and ritualistic behavior." The piece takes on American culture's fixation on celebrity and the twisted tendency to view personal degradation as entertainment. A Boston premiere presented in collaboration with Critical Moves Contemporary Dance, this work for seven dancers blurs the boundaries between who we are and who we pretend to be, embracing everything from celebrity impersonators to obsessive fans and wannabes. Nov. 29-30. Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave. 617-478-3100, icaboston.org -- KAREN CAMPBELLBostonInstitute of Contemporary ArtNov. 29-30icaboston.org
DanceBridgman/Packer Dance: The highly skilled and wildly inventive choreographers Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer work at the intersection of dance and technology. They create eye-popping collisions of video imagery and real-time performance that pack an emotional and visceral wallop. CRASHArts presents the Boston premieres of the duo's "Memory Bank" and "Seductive Reasoning" as well as their acclaimed "Trilogy," featuring the unforgettable video/dance fantasy "Under the Skin," with a dynamite jazz/funk score by composer/saxophonist Ken Field, who performs live. Dec. 7-8, Institute of Contemporary Art. 627-876-4275, worldmusic.org -- KAREN CAMPBELLBostonInstitute of Contemporary ArtDec. 7-8worldmusic.org
DanceBoston Ballet: After a gala performance on Oct. 12, Boston Ballet kicks off its season with a work it has had lots of opportunity on to fine tune during its recent tour of Spain, August Bournonville's "La Sylphide." The oldest existing choreography in the classical ballet repertoire and the first great romantic ballet, Bournonville's 1836 masterpiece presents the wistful, fantastical fable of a young man who abandons his fiancée when he becomes enraptured by the vision of a bewitching sylph. It's paired with two rarely-performed Balanchine/Stravinsky works, "Monumentum pro Gesualdo" and "Movements for Piano and Orchestra." Oct. 18-28, Wang Theatre. 800-447-7400, bostonballet.org, telecharge.com -- KAREN CAMPBELLBostonWang TheatreOct. 18-28bostonballet.org, telecharge.com
FolkCountry Joe McDonald's Woody Guthrie Tribute: The leader of the '60s band Country Joe and the Fish learned all the right lessons from Guthrie, lacing his protest songs with tart humor and humanism. His tribute is equal parts Guthrie biography and personal memoir.CambridgeClub PassimOct. 4clubpassim.org
FolkMariee Sioux: Sioux's startlingly original songs stomp and prance, whisper and howl, combining visceral imagery and surreal spiritual wanderings. Her voice is at once wild and soft, wearing shades of Joni Mitchell's soaring elegance and Buffy Sainte-Marie's parched prettinessSomervilleP.A.'s LoungeOct. 12paslounge.com
FolkMary Black: Ireland's premiere songbird remains among the most convincing and flat-out beautiful singers anywhere in modern music. Her soprano sounds the way clean mountain water tastes: pure, bracing, and brimming with life.BostonBerklee Performance CenterOct. 13worldmusic.org
FolkRichard Shindell, Antje Duvekot: On his magnetic new album, "South of Delia," brilliant balladeer Shindell covers other musical storytellers, including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, A.P. Carter, and Woody Guthrie. He imagines the album as one conversation, occurring at some mystical crossroads, where 12 weary pilgrims explain the troubles that brought them there. Duvekot is proving to be as riveting and revealing on stage as she is writing songs.SomervilleSomerville TheatreNov. 2songstreetproductions.net
FolkCrooked Still, Carolina Chocolate Drops: Among the most neglected chapters in our folk history is the once-vibrant school of African-American string bands. Equal parts sly jug band and old-time pickin' party, the young Carolina Chocolate Drops are changing all that. Their sound is muscular, raw, and evocative -- whoop-it-up proof that there's much more to African-American tradition than Saturday night blues and Sunday morning gospel. They should get just the right hearing alongside Boston's own neotrad darlings, Crooked Still.CambridgeSanders TheatreNov. 9worldmusic.org
JazzGeorge Garzone and the Fringe: Garzone is one of the finest tenor saxophonists anywhere, and he makes his home in Boston. His passionate, explosive, nuanced saxophone playing has been featured in bands led by such names as Buddy Rich, Gil Evans, Ron Carter, and Joe Lovano. A beloved educator over the years at nearly every music school in town, he has taught students ranging from Branford Marsalis to Joshua Redman to Danilo Perez. And for more than three decades, as a member of premiere free-jazz trio the Fringe, with bassist John Lockwood and drummer Bob Gullotti, he has brought unbridled expression to a succession of Monday night residencies at local clubs and performance spaces. This will be a rare appearance by the group in the sumptuous setting of a spacious concert hall. Free admissionBostonJordan Hall at the New England ConservatorySept. 25newenglandconservatory.edu
JazzMarty Ehrlich/Myra Melford: Multi-reed player Ehrlich and pianist Melford, both distinguished composers and bandleaders in their own right, are heralded left-of-center jazz musicians. Ehrlich is known as one of the downtown New York scene's MVPs. Melford is among her generation's most adventurous pianists, yet possessed of a rigorous sense of compositional architecture. The duo will be making a rare Boston-area appearance, for an evening of music that is sure to be lyrical, earthy, energized, airborne, and boundary-stretching.CambridgeThe Lily PadOct. 27lily-pad.net
JazzThe Bad Plus: Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King form the acoustic piano trio the Bad Plus, who achieved notoriety a few years ago for their rock-influenced dynamics and for covering tunes by the likes of Nirvana, Blondie, and Aphex Twin. But the real gems, and the bulk of their repertoire, are their own intriguing compositions. And their music puts as much classical in the mix as it does rock, making for one of the most original takes on the piano trio tradition to be heard today.CambridgeRegattabarNov. 2-3regattabarjazz.com
JazzChris Enright Quintet: In a welcome development, jazz returns to the hallowed halls of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum after more than two years' absence, with the inauguration of a Thursday night series presenting the Berklee College of Music students and young alumni. The opening evening features the quintet of promising pianist Enright, who composes and performs original music with echoes of everyone from Vince Guaraldi to Brad Mehldau to Pat Metheny.BostonIsabella Stewart Gardner MuseumNov. 15isgm.org
JazzThe Music of Don Byron: Super-eclectic clarinetist and bandleader Byron has recorded tributes to, among others, klezmer cut-up Mickey Katz, novelty composer Raymond Scott, seminal jazz tenor saxophonist Lester Young, and, most recently, Motown's Jr. Walker and the All Stars. From swing to avant-garde to funk to classical, he engages it all with surprising results. This fall he returns to his alma mater, NEC, for a week of seminars and workshops, culminating with a concert of his kaleidoscopic music.BostonJordan Hall at the New England ConservatoryNov. 15newenglandconservatory.edu
Pop musicToby Keith: The country superstar has released four albums since his dust-up with the Dixie Chicks. All hit number one on the country charts and number one or two on the Billboard 200, including the recent "Big Dog Daddy."MansfieldTweeter CenterSept. 22tobykeith.musiccitynetworks.com
Pop musicStevie Wonder: On his first tour in more than a decade, the musical genius could perform everything from his hits as "Little" Stevie Wonder right up to songs from his not too shabby 2005 release, "A Time To Love."BostonBank of America PavilionSept. 20steviewonder.net
Pop musicRilo Kiley: These former indie rockers funk it up good on their latest release, "Under the Blacklight," so this should be a dance party of the first order. The conga line forms behind lead singer Jenny Lewis.BostonAvalonSept. 21rilokiley.com
Pop musicBob Dylan and Elvis Costello: Two of the most acclaimed and influential names in rock history team up for what should be a truly rocking and erudite night. Costello will be performing solo for the first time in 12 years. Fingers crossed for a duet. WorcesterDCU CenterOct. 2bobdylan.com, elviscostello.com
Pop musicSinead O'Connor: Though her latest double disc, "Theology," is a hushed, reverent affair -- taking inspiration from the Old Testament -- O'Connor still has that glorious voice of fire and ice. And the good news is she has lifted her ban on performing her old material live.BostonOrpheum TheatreOct. 22sineadoconnor.com
Pop musicRegina Spektor: Part of a new wave of quirky, smart, and funny female singer-songwriters, Spektor got the critics hot and bothered last year with her gem of a major label debut, "Begin to Hope." BostonOrpheum TheatreOct. 14reginaspektor.com
Pop musicKelly Clarkson: We're not sure if you've heard, but the original "American Idol" has had an interesting year. She scrapped an arena tour due to poor ticket sales, but we don't think she'll have any trouble filling the Orpheum with fans or her big voice. Tickets on sale Sept. 15.BostonOrpheum TheatreOct. 23-Nov. 4kellyclarkson.com
Pop musicBen Harper & the Innocent Criminals: Harper and his band have been smoldering for years. But if the praise for the California rockers' ninth album, "Lifeline," is any indication, their blend of soul, folk, rock, and jazz is about to catch fire. BostonOrpheum TheatreSept. 23benharper.net
Pop musicNellie McKay: The witty and wicked darling of the cabaret-pop circuit returns with her trusty keyboard to promote her new album, "Obligatory Villagers," out Sept. 25.BostonParadise Rock ClubOct. 2nelliemckay.com
Pop musicVan Halen: Will this, the last of the big reunions of 2007, be a train wreck or a triumph? Given David Lee Roth's disastrous appearance with the Boston Pops a few years back, we're a smidge concerned. But maybe within the familiar instrumental embrace of the Van Halen boys -- including Eddie's son Wolfgang subbing for original bassist Michael Anthony -- "Diamond" Dave will find his way out of the rough. BostonTD Banknorth GardenOct. 30van-halen.com
Pop musicBruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: By November, diehard Springsteen fans should've committed to memory all of "Magic"-- the Boss and gang's first album together in five years, due Oct. 2.Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, has been calling the album "a high-energy rock CD." We like the sound of that. But not to worry, we're pretty sure that the bard of New Jersey will be dusting off some classics live as well. Tickets on sale Sept. 22.BostonTD Banknorth GardenNov. 18brucespringsteen.net
TheaterHuntington Theatre Company, "Brendan" and "The Atheist": The award-winning Boston playwright Ronan Noone has two plays on the fall schedule at the Huntington. "Brendan" came first, as a kind of transition from the Irish characters and settings of Noone's "Baile" trilogy, which he completed after immigrating to the United States in the 1990s. Like the playwright himself, Brendan is an Irish immigrant who finds himself both enchanted and disoriented by the country of which he's now a citizen. "The Atheist," starring Campbell Scott, is a viciously funny one-man show about Augustine Early, an amoral reporter who'll do anything for a story. "The Atheist" runs Sept. 12-30 and "Brendan" Oct. 12- Nov. 17, both at the Wimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-266-0800, huntingtontheatre.orgBostonWimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the ArtsSept. 12-30; Oct. 12-Nov. 17huntingtontheatre.org
TheaterZeitgeist Stage, "The Kentucky Cycle": Zeitgeist collaborates with Way Theatre Artists in an ambitious project -- the Boston premiere of "The Kentucky Cycle," the nine-play epic for which Robert Schenkkan won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Directed by Zeitgeist's David Miller, the story of seven generations in Kentucky will take over the Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts from Oct. 6 through Nov. 17. 617-933-8600, bostontheatrescene.com, zeitgeiststage.comBostonPlaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the ArtsOct. 6- Nov. 17bostontheatrescene.com, zeitgeiststage.com
TheaterBoston Theatre Works, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum": Can all of ancient Rome fit into the BCA's Plaza Theatre? We'll find out on Sept. 20, when Boston Theatre Works presents "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." Erick Devine directs the raucous classic of musical comedy, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Sept. 20-Oct. 20. 617-728-4321, bostontheatreworks.com -- LOUISE KENNEDYBostonPlaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the ArtsSept. 20-Oct. 20bostontheatreworks.com
Theater"Sweeney Todd": For those who prefer their Sondheim extra dark, the touring production of "Sweeney Todd" promises to be one of the season's best nights of theater. For the Colonial Theatre staging of director John Doyle's Tony-winning, pared-down reinvention (which has the actors themselves playing the score, instead of an orchestra), Judy Kaye plays Mrs. Lovett, whose dreadful pies advance the revenge of Sweeney himself, the demon barber of Fleet Street. Oct. 23-Nov. 4, 617-931-2787, broadwayacrossamerica.com -- LOUISE KENNEDYBostonColonial TheatreOct. 23-Nov. 4broadwayacrossamerica.com
TheaterActors' Shakespeare Project, "Macbeth": No man of woman born will take the stage in the Actors' Shakespeare Project's production of "Macbeth." Evening the score with last season's all-male "Titus Andronicus," director Adrianne Krstansky presents the Scottish play with an all-female cast. David Gammons's direction turned the "Titus" staging into far more than a gimmick; let's hope history repeats itself. Oct. 18-Nov. 11, 866-811-4111, actorsshakespeareproject.org -- LOUISE KENNEDYTBATBAOct. 18-Nov. 11actorsshakespeareproject.org
TheaterNew Repertory Theatre, "A House with No Walls": New Rep again participates in the National New Play Network's "rolling world premiere" program, presenting a new play in conjunction with other network member theaters. This season's is "A House with No Walls," in which playwright Thomas Gibbons draws on real events to create a drama of race and politics, set on the grounds of George Washington's presidential home -- and the 8-by-8-foot quarters that nine slaves once shared. Oct. 24-Nov.18, 617-923-8487, newrep.orgWatertownNew Repertory TheatreOct. 24-Nov.18newrep.org
Visual Art"Symbols of Power: Napoleon and the Art of the Empire Style, 1800-1815": Under the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte there emerged in France a new visual language inspired by the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome that reflected and celebrated the power and glory of the imperial regime. This spectacular show at the Museum of Fine Arts will present nearly 200 objects, including paintings, sculpture, furniture, and decorative objects. Among them will be J. D. Ingres's famous coronation portrait of the emperor and one of the four actual thrones that Napoleon ruled from. Oct. 21-Jan. 27. 617-267-9300, mfa.org -- KEN JOHNSONBostonMuseum of Fine ArtsOct. 21-Jan. 27mfa.org
Visual Art"Design Life Now": Every three years, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum produces an exhibition displaying cool new ideas in graphics, animation, electronic media, fashion, robotics, architecture, and other fields. Including works by 87 leading designers and design firms, the 2006 Triennial, called "Design Life Now," travels to the Institute of Contemporary Art. Sept. 28- Jan. 6. 617-478,-3100, icaboston.org. -- KEN JOHNSONBostonInstitute of Contemporary ArtSept. 28- Jan. 6icaboston.org
Visual ArtTom Sachs, "Logjam": The inventive, sly, satirical New York-based sculptor Tom Sachs is known for highly detailed representations of objects such as an airplane lavatory, a full-size whale, and an all-black chain saw labeled Chanel made from foam core, glue, wood, paint, and other ordinary materials. This exhibition at the Rose Art Museum will present 12 "workstations": constructions that the artist uses to make art and that are also artworks themselves. Sept. 25-Dec. 16. 781-736-3434, brandeis.edu/rose -- KEN JOHNSONWalthamRose Art Museum, Brandeis UniversitySept. 25-Dec. 16brandeis.edu/rose
Visual ArtIlya and Emilia Kabakov, "The Center of Cosmic Energy": The Kabakovs, Russian-American satirists and visionary narrative sculptors, have constructed a modern scientific research facility on what they claim to be an ancient, sacred site once used to channel cosmic energy. Visitors to the Tufts University Art Gallery will learn how cosmic energy can be used to open up "new and unlimited possibilities for mankind." c. 617-627-3518, tufts.edu/as/gallery -- KEN JOHNSONMedfordTufts University Art GallerySept. 6-Nov. 11tufts.edu/as/gallery
Visual Art"Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics": Comic books, posters, flyers, signs, and other sorts of vernacular communications produced by Mexican artisans to advertise and promote businesses and events such as auto repair shops, food vendors, and wrestling matches are featured in a show that promises much visual pizzazz. At Massachusetts College of Art. Sept. 25-Dec. 1. 617-879-7336, massart.edu/calendar -- KEN JOHNSONBostonMassachusetts College of ArtSept. 25-Dec. 1massart.edu/calendar
Visual Art"Global Feminisms": In Catherine Opie's photograph "Self Portrait/ Nursing," she's a naked, plus-size, short-haired woman with tattoos on her arms, cradling a big, healthy looking baby who suckles from one breast. Opie's a lesbian, wild woman, Madonna, well-known photographer, and middle-aged mother who loves and cares for her child. Her work is one of many challenging pieces in "Global Feminisms," an exhibition coming to the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College that promises to get people talking. Organized at the Brooklyn Museum, where it was on view last year, the exhibition presents works created since 1990 by more than 60 women, most under the age of 40, representing about 40 different countries. Sept. 19-Dec. 9. 781-283-2051, davismuseum.wellesley.edu.WellesleyDavis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley CollegeSept. 19-Dec. 9davismuseum.wellesley.edu
Visual ArtMartin Creed, "The Lights Going On and Off": In 2001, the Conceptualist provocateur and canny multimedia artist Martin Creed won the prestigious Turner Prize, an award given annually to a British artist under 50. He is best known for a piece that the Mills Gallery will be presenting this fall at the Boston Center for the Arts; it consists simply of an empty gallery with the lights going off and then back on at set intervals. Sept. 14-Oct. 28. 617-426-5000, bcaonline.org -- KEN JOHNSONBostonMills Gallery, Boston Center for the ArtsSept. 14-Oct. 28bcaonline.org
World musicSpiritual Sounds of Central Asia: Nomads, Mystics and Troubadours: The world music calendar often features return visits by regulars who can be counted on to deliver a solid show and pack a concert hall; this tendency is understandable in business terms but renders exceptions like this one all the more refreshing. This Boston debut assembles 18 artists, with Azeri mughams (similar to Persian classical music) by Alim Qasimov, Sufi mystic music from Tajikistan by the Badakhshan Ensemble, and sounds from across the region interpreted by a female vocal ensemble. Echoes of the Silk Road and a welcome sample of artistry from a region usually associated with oil and problematic politics.CambridgeSanders TheatreOct. 14worldmusic.org
World musicOliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi: The news from Zimbabwe is an unremitting disaster, as one of Africa's great hopes has collapsed into hyper-inflation, repression, and political paranoia. The country's musical offerings remain stellar, however, and though it might take more than Oliver Mtukudzi's gentle voice and soul-filled midtempo music to alleviate the country's suffering, it's surely a welcome balm. "Tuku," a cult figure in Zimbabwe and one of African music's living legends, has a brand-new album, "Tsimba Itsoka." The title means "No Foot, No Footprint," which rings like an oblique, proverbial statement about action and responsibility. SomervilleSomerville TheatreOct. 19worldmusic.org
World musicMarta Gomez: Gomez comes from Colombia and works with a New York-based, mainly Argentine group. From these diverse sources they have assembled a flexible, improvisation-friendly sound that draws on a wide range of Latin styles from the familiar to the obscure. A luminous and gentle singer, Gomez has a jazz singer's poise and enunciation; her music is quiet in the spiritual sense yet never still.CambridgeThe Real Deal Jazz Club and CaféOct. 19concertix.com
World musicYoussou N'Dour and Super Etoile de Dakar: The season's landmark African show, not only because N'Dour – the Senegalese superstar known across Africa just as Youssou – is headlining, but also because he brings Super Etoile, the iconic Dakar band that propelled him to fame in the 1980s on a tide of mbalax rhythms and Afro-funk horns. Later, N'Dour would perform collaborations with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Neneh Cherry, and on 2004's mystical "Egypt," he explored the trans-Saharan ties at the root of Senegal's Sufi Islam. With Super Etoile, expect N'Dour's sweetness of voice, unmatched even in the exalted realm of top African singers, to deploy in the service of unleashed raw funk and soul.SomervilleSomerville TheatreNov. 24worldmusic.org