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In concert 

The 1990s may someday be remembered as the real end of jazz's Golden Age. The decade marked the passing of some of the music's last great practitioners (e.g., Miles, Dizzy, Ella). Thankfully, saxophonist Jackie McLean (pictured right) is not only still with us; at the age of 67, he's stronger than ever. McLean grew up in the same Manhattan neighborhood that produced Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins. He made his recording debut in 1951 with Miles, played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and made significant contributions on some of Charles Mingus' best albums. McLean really hit his stride in the '60s with a series of albums for Blue Note, including One Step Beyond and Destination Out. While never an innovator on the level of Miles or Ornette Coleman, McLean was able to update his bop style with elements of free-jazz and to dabble in dissonance without losing his strong sense of melody. While he spends much of his time teaching, McLean still plays with the fervor and intensity of a man half his age. Expect nothing less than brilliance from the man who can stake a claim to being the world's greatest living alto player. Jackie McLean plays the Carrboro ArtsCenter this Saturday, March 4. Call 929-2787 for tickets. --Gavin O'Hara

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Think the blues have to be low-down to be real? Cephas and Wiggins (pictured left) beg to differ. This blues duo, considered by many to be the finest currently performing in the Piedmont tradition, sings songs that are joyous, uplifting and more likely to have you up dancing than crying in your beer. Also different about this duo: They're from D.C., so they bring a bit of urban sophistication to their music while never truly abandoning its rural feel. And if you think that isn't blues, you need to talk to the folks at the Handy Awards, who have given Cephas and Wiggins not one but two "Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year" awards. Their current Alligator Records album Homemade already has folks saying it's the best of their career. Hear for yourself how good the blues can feel this Sunday, March 5 when Cephas and Wiggins perform with the National Council for the Traditional Arts Masters of Steel String Guitar Tour. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at the N.C. Museum of Art on Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. Call 839-6262 for ticket information. --Karen A. Mann

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Browsing through Ladysmith Black Mambazo's official Web site (www.mambazo.com), Net surfers can find a page teaching Zulu, the language in which the 10-man a cappella group from South Africa generally sings. The first phrase, "Ngiyabathanda Labafana," means "I love these guys" in English. This bit of shameless self-promotion aside, almost everyone does love Ladysmith Black Mambazo (pictured right); since 1960, the group has recorded with Paul Simon, members of the Winans gospel family, Dolly Parton, George Clinton, MJ and Stevie Wonder. Kids may not know the name, but they'll recognize the sounds from Disney's The Lion King II. But appearing on a soundtrack doesn't do justice to these great singers, favorites of Nelson Mandela, so buy a ticket for Ladysmith's March 1, performance at Duke's Page Auditorium at 8 p.m. Call 684-4444 for more information. --Cynthia Greenlee

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