Saxophone Music Crafstman Branford Marsalias Plays MCG; Anti-Flag Performs “Terror State” at Mr. Smalls (CPs Fri., 2/6/15)

1) “Good evening” is putting it mildly when the event is An Evening with Branford Marsalis, part of the talented jazz performing Marsalis family of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Branford is a Grammy Award-winning saxophonist who comes to town as part of the MCG Jazz series at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, and Marsalis himself is an exquisite craftsman. With his own quartet, he plays jazz in moods from sweet to hot and makes every note matter. He has played with other prodigious musicians such as Dave Matthews, Sting, and Béla Fleck; he performs classical music with symphony orchestras; he is renowned as a composer and a music educator. At MCG, school is in session for two shows, 7 and 9:30 p.m. 1815 Metropolitan St., Manchester.

 

2) Pittsburgh-based, internationally known punk rockers Anti-Flag will be playing their album The Terror State in its entirety at Mr. Smalls. The concert is billed as “celebrating ten years of The Terror State,” although the album came out in 2003. Maybe they’ve been celebrating for the past two years? Whatever, many of the album’s themes still apply, and the work certainly represents a creative peak for the band. Their fourth full-length release, it criticizes the Bush administration’s handling of the War on Terrorism. “Post-War Breakout” uses lyrics by Woody Guthrie but with original punk instrumentation. The album also contains essays by both the band and political commentators. Oh, and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello produced it. Today, Anti-Flag still perform, protest, and are set to release a new album, American Spring, this May. Such Gold, The Homeless Gospel Choir, and Divorce open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

3) Innovative comedian Josh Blue, who has made appearances on all the fixtures of the national comedy circuit including Comedy Central, “The Mind of Mencia,” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” will be performing at the Pittsburgh Improv tonight through Sunday. Winner of the 2006 season of NBC’s  “Last Comic Standing,” Blue suffers from cerebral palsy and includes and embraces it as part of his act. Nice to see someone overcome a major obstacle to achieve success. 8 and 10:30 p.m. tonight. 166 East Bridge St., the Waterfront, Homestead