THURSDAY DECEMBER 21
Joe Colley's creepy installation depicts futile, repetitive sonic action. At the center of a constricted room, a suspended microphone jammed against the floor drags, gradually inscribing a circle in a glum black carpet. Step or walk nearby, and sensors trigger blinding lights and a thunderclap of squiggly sounds like sped up, scratched vinyl. Through Fri Dec 29. Jack Straw Productions, 4261 Roosevelt Way NE, 634-0919, 9 am—6 pm, free.
Despite wallpapering countless Christmas TV ads for jewelry, one-day sales, outlet malls, and hamburgers, Tchaikovsky's music for the Nutcracker somehow resists commercial wear and tear. I've seen Pacific Northwest Ballet's fine production of the Tchaikovsky ballet heaps of times and I'm still a sucker for Nutcracker's courtly choreography, sumptuously colored costumes, and the vivid sets by Maurice Sendak. Through Thurs Dec 28. See www.pnb.org/season/nutcracker for a complete schedule. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, 441-2424, various times, $18—$108.
The concert version of this beloved musical pays tribute to Fats Waller, one of the 20th century's oft-overlooked jazz pianists and songwriters. With Vivian Jett, a veteran of the initial Broadway run. Through Sat Dec 23 with sets at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 pm, $26.50.
Among the few to make experimental music on the banjo—Eugene Chadbourne and Uncle Woody Sullender also come to mind—Mike Marlin reunites with compadres from his Pulp Ensemble, including trumpeter Jim Knodle and bassist Mark Collins. Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave E, 322-1533, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding-scale donation.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 23
Billed as a "Bleak Holiday Genocide," this evening of "Despairmental Music" offers short sets from Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, Pig Heart Transplant, Syphilis Sauna, and other sonically scabrous groups. Bring earplugs. Re-bar, 1114 E Howell St, 233-9873,10:30 pm, $3.
Stellar products of Garfield High School's jazz program, saxophonist Ben Roseth and trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt continue the straight-ahead hard-bop tradition. Roseth has a hearty Coltrane-ish sound while Greenblatt, at the ripe old age of 22, has already gigged with Joe Lovano, the Mingus Big Band, Christian McBride, and Reggie Workman. The Triple Door, 216 Union St, 838-4333, 8 pm, $15.
Once nicknamed "Little Dex," this friend and disciple of tenor saxophone giant Dexter Gordon teams up with one of our burg's best bassists, Phil Sparks. Cafe Amoré, 2229 Fifth Ave, 770-0606, 8 pm, free.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 24
Circa 530 A.D., St. Benedict prescribed music and manual labor as an antidote to the excesses of monasticism (self-flagellation, standing on a pillar year after year, vermiform mortification, etc.). Benedict outlined seven offices to be spoken and sung. Compline, the last holy office of the day, is sung after dinner, hence the late Sunday start time. The cathedral is chilly this time of year so dress warmly. St Mark's Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave E, 323-0300, 9:30—10 pm, free.