Sacramento Live: Master jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal at Mondavi

Now in his early 80s, pianist Ahmad Jamal continues playing and recording at the highest level imaginable. His early landmark 1958 recordings “At the Pershing” and “Ahmad’s Blues” established a spare style and elegant sound that haven’t changed much in the intervening years but have been increasingly appreciated.

Famously influential on a young Miles Davis, Jamal distills lyricism with precision and economy, turning classics and evergreens into explorations that may as well be original compositions. Jamal’s trademark remains how much he has going on musically, and how easy he makes it look and sound, creating an orchestral richness in his open arrangements.

He plays Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall on Saturday and brings a top-shelf band of sophisticated masters with him: bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena.

The Ahmad Jamal Quartet at Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center, 8 p.m. Saturday. 1 Shields Ave., UC Davis. Tickets: $42, $31, $21. For information, call (866) 754-2787 or go to .

Luna’s Litquake

“Let’s explore personal shame, regret and humiliation,” Brooklyn-based writer Beth Lisick says by way of introducing her latest memoir collection, “Yokohama Threeway: And Other Small Shames,” released last month by City Lights/Sister Spit Press.

Lisick, whose previous comic memoir “Everybody Into the Pool” cracked the New York Times best-seller list, will read from the recently published work at Luna’s on Saturday, and she knows how to transfer her work from the page to stage. Opening the reading are Rachel Leibrock, moonlighting from her daytime gig co-editing the Sacramento News & Review, offering poetry and prose, and legendary singer-songwriter David Houston playing a set with a string quartet.

8 p.m. Saturday at Luna’s Cafe 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Tickets are $10. Call (916) 441-3931 or go to for more information.

Special ‘Sunday’

New Helvetia Artistic Director Connor Mickiewicz will rightly be praised for bringing local favorite Nanci Zoppi back to the stage in the little-seen “Tell Me On A Sunday.” The one-woman chamber musical was conceived in 1982 by none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber (who wrote the music to lyrics by Don Black) as the first act of Lloyd Webber’s famous “Song and Dance,” which debuted in the West End and starred Marti Webb.

Richard Maltby Jr. later created an American adaptation of that first part. Titled “Tell Me on a Sunday,” it opened on Broadway in 1985 with Bernadette Peters winning a Tony Award for her portrayal of Emma, the story’s tough-luck-in-love heroine. Graham Sobelman provides musical accompaniment. At the New Helvetia Theatre, 1028 R St., Sacramento.

8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Oct. 19, Oct. 20 and Oct. 26; 7 p.m. Oct. 27 (last show). Tickets: $30. Call (916) 469-9850 or go to .

Blessing and a curse

It’s Lee Blessing month in Sacramento as the dark-edged playwright receives a second local production following his “Lonesome Hollow,” now at Big Idea Theatre. EMH Productions brings Blessing’s “Down the Road” to The Geery Theatre. In it, two journalists – Iris Henniman (Elise Hodge) and her husband, Dan (Jake Lyall) – interview a famous serial killer about his gruesome crimes. The show runs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 26, with a final special Oct. 31 performance.

At The Geery Theatre, 2130 L St., Sacramento. Tickets are $25 and available at , or at the door – cash only.