On the Freedom Tip

Sabir Mateen
Frank Rubolino

WED 12/7

If anything can shake up Houston's somewhat staid jazz scene, it's an appearance by New York tenor saxophonist and leading free-jazz advocate Sabir Mateen and his quintet.The quintet includes trumpet player Raphe Malik, whose own forays into free jazz drew acclaim as far back as the '70s. Back then, Malik partnered with pianist Cecil Taylor, one of the founders of the '60s avant-garde jazz movement and arguably the first player to introduce the genre to a mainstream audience. While Malik collaborated with Taylor, Mateen was jamming with bandleader and avant-garde pioneer Sun Ra. Mateen and Malik finally played together on Secrets of When, released in 2001, and the results are mind-blowing. Other members of Mateen's quintet include pianist Raymond King (the elder statesman of the group at age 75), drummer Ravish Momin and bassist Jane Wang.

In this new quintet, Malik takes his cues from the sketchy vapor trail laid down by Mateen, and then departs into his own jazz matrix, where structure is nonexistent, but a tenuous cord still exists and ultimately reconnects the players.

What's just as cool as the performance is the hole-in-the-wall venue. MECA puts up rows of simple folding chairs in what used to be the cafeteria of the old Justin E. Dow Elementary School building, circa 1912. The scene is hipster-casual to say the least in this burgeoning mecca of the artistic community in the old Sixth Ward. 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 10. 1900 Kane. For information, call 713-928-5653. $8 to $13 donation; free for students. -- Greg Barr

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My sleep deprivation was at an all-time high. It was bad enough that I'd partied like a rock star every night after work, but hanging out with my up-all-night co-worker was getting me in more trouble than I care to admit. She kept telling me I had a snoring problem. I kept telling her she had personal problems. The bags under my eyes were big enough to carry groceries in, but I wasn't going to let a night off from work (and her) keep me from seeing the city lights. At 7:30 on a Monday night, I found myself sitting alone at Qin Dynasty (5115 Buffalo Speedway, 713-660-8386), wondering just what in the hell I was going to do next. The bar area has no stools, so the hostess seated me in the vacant smoking section, just next to the bathrooms. Without a drink list, I ordered the first thing that came to mind, in this case a cosmopolitan. In all honesty, it was a bit odd, but drinkable nonetheless. And I was having way too much fun with the table buzzer, a futuristic box you can use to order a drink, a menu item or your check -- all with the press of a button. I was like a kid in a candy store, but the staff was getting a little disturbed. I ordered one more, then I buzzed for the check. Time to get some serious rack time.

1-1/2 ounces Absolut vodka
1/2 ounce Rose's lime juice
1/4 ounce Cointreau
Splash of cranberry juice
Wedge of lime

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, measure out ingredients. Shake once or twice, pouring contents into martini glass. Garnish with lime. Great with breakfast, lunch or dinner. -- J.W. Crooker


Block Party

FRI 12/5

In storybooks and seasonal cartoons, neighbors might appear at your door, tra-la-la and come in for a cup of your famous mulled cider. If you don't feel like letting everyone who lives on your block stomp through your living room, you can head to the 19th Street Holiday Bash and soak up the neighborly atmosphere without staining your carpets. There will be carolers (of course), but also fire twirlers, belly dancers, art cars and a fashion show. Viva variety! 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, December 5. 300 block of 19th Street. For information, call 713-869-1414. Free. -- Lisa Simon


Pay Up, Then Party Down

SAT 12/6

The first Saturday of the month brings the makeshift house party "Rent Is Due" over at Helios. After another check has made its way into the landlord's wallet, house-music lovers can check into this all-night way station. Brotha Jibril will take care of spinning duties downstairs, while Little Martin and Chris Sill handle the turntables upstairs. And the party won't stop at the second floor. The much-mythologized third floor will become a VIP lounge called "The Barry White Room," where you can continue to get your freak on after the dancing's done. 10 p.m. Saturday, December 6. 411 Westheimer. For information, call 713-526-4648 or visit www.upsidedownhouse.com. $7. -- Craig D. Lindsey

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