Born in 1957, jazz pianist/composer Geri Allen is young enough to be of that generation referred to (or reviled) as Young Lions nattily dressed, glib neoconservatives who pretend soul-jazz, free jazz, and fusion never happened. Allen has no truck with that she's swung mightily with mainstream cats (singer Betty Carter, trumpeter/husband Wallace Roney), plugged into the funk of Brooklyn's M-Base posse, and played with avant-garde icon Ornette Coleman. Her latest album Timeless Portraits and Dreams (Telarc) displays a creative spirit that goes beyond mere "style." Featuring her trio, guest vocalists, and a choir performing Allen originals and choice covers by Gershwin, Nino Rota, and Lil Armstrong (a wife of Louis'), Timeless is an ambitious, heartfelt homage to the American diaspora from which jazz grew. Ms. Allen will perform with Mary Stallings and the Marcus Shelby Orchestra as part of the S.F. Jazz Festival on Friday, Nov. 10, at the Herbst Theatre at 8 p.m. Admission is $25-$58; call 788-7353 or visit or www.sfjazz.org for more info. Mark Keresman
After more than 30 years in absentia, the lords of glam trash have reunited to save rock 'n' roll from post-punk ennui. Fronted by heroin-chic Mick Jagger knockoff David Johansen, the New York Dolls sport enough mascara, mousse, and prom-reject duds to give Tyra's America's Next Top Model girls a run for their money. The band's hopeful new comeback album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, fires up its trailer-park anthems with just enough hot six-string licks and club-hoppy beats to bring together the fist-pumpers, bump-and-grinders, and body-shot enthusiasts of the U.S.A.'s finer (sub)urban wastelands. Join the Dolls along with the Supersuckers and the Chesterfield Kings on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the Independent at 8 p.m. The show is sold out; call 771-1421 or go to www.theindependentsf.com for more info. Sam Prestianni
For Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars , music is a matter of survival. The group of nearly a dozen displaced singers, percussionists, and string players got together a few years back at the Kalia Refugee Camp in Guinea as a way of coming to terms with the violence that had torn apart their homeland for more than a decade. Drawing strength from the buoyant rhythms and melodies of old-school reggae and West African pop, the RAS shares a message of struggle, solidarity, and perseverance with songs like "Weapon Conflict" and "Compliments for the Peace" on its debut album Living Like a Refugee. The bare-bones reggae groove, "Smile," says it all: "Thinkin' about some positive change." Come celebrate the healing power of music when the Refugee All Stars perform on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Fillmore at 8 p.m. Admission is $20; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info. S.P.