KODO 2/18, CENTRE EAST, 2/19 & 20, COLLEGE OF DUPAGE The live performances of this Japanese percussion ensemble have earned a reputation for transforming ritualistic drumming into a transcendent art. Abetted by carefully choreographed dancers, loinclothed men pound on massive 880-pound taiko drums amid lighter percussive layers and simple flute melodies. The dynamic range of their tribal frenzies–from a quiet patter to a thunderous barrage–is remarkable, but based on a listen to the recently released Best of Kodo (TriStar Music), I’d guess they’re probably better experienced live. Press accounts, too, suggest that the allure is in the visuals of the music making rather than the actual result. DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND 2/18, PALACE THEATRE, 2/19, PRAIRIE CENTER FOR THE ARTS Over the course of six albums this New Orleans unit has set out to expand the vocabulary of the traditional Crescent City brass band beyond the trademark contrapuntal funeral dirge. In the past they’ve made funked-up, semi-interesting forays into R & B, bop, and even a little avant-garde jazz, but their most recent excursion is a set of interpretations of the music of the self-professed creator of jazz, Jelly Roll Morton. On Jelly (Columbia), the band blunts Morton’s fiery tunes for the sake of street-party danceability, stripping away much of the spicy subtlety of the original late-20s recordings by Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. It’s an honest attempt, but it just don’t work so well. Live, with a less limited repertoire, they should have a better chance of success. RAY ANDERSON 2/19, QUICKSILVER This Chicago-born trombonist has stretched some musical boundaries himself, demonstrating proficiency in myriad styles on scads of recordings. Whether blowing abstract smears (with Anthony Braxton), wooly freebop (in the trio Bass-Drum-Bone), or airy New Orleans lopes, Anderson spans the full jazz lineage, from brusque tailgating to rich harmonic sophistication. He also likes to croon, embuing standards with goofball humor and an almost multiphonic tone. THA ALKAHOLIKS 2/20, ALAMEDAS CASINO This LA hip-hop trio would have you believe they live only for pounding 40s, as their debut album 21 & Over (Loud/RCA)–the title is the group’s token concession to “responsibility”–staggers through choked grooves celebrating chronic debilitation at the hands of malt liquor. On “Only When I’m Drunk,” belched punctuations mirror the music’s dry-heave stop-start rhythm, and the lyrics feature such less-than-attractive admissions as “Goddamn I gotta piss / I’ll pass the mike to E-Swift” or “I conjure up ghosts to bone / When I’m alone.” Such gimmickry is always short-lived, and one can’t help but wonder if Tha Alkaholiks will soon expand their palettes to find room for the more subtle possibilities of Ripple. UNCLE JOE’S BIG OL’ DRIVER 2/24, AVALON After a lackluster Rocket From the Crypt show last week, the assault of pea-brained but wildly energetic punk rock from San Diego continues in the form of lowest common denominator Uncle Joe’s Big Ol’ Driver. Their just-released eponymous debut serves up the most basic of hard-rockin’ possibilities, merging 70s staples (Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, etc) with a spunk that sounds like early Replacements, Superchunk, or maybe Dinosaur Jr. on speed (yep, not a particularly enticing combination). If you think life doesn’t get any better than beer and sweat, here’s a new band to pass out to.