Tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse (at Woody's Hilltop Pub, Friday and Saturday) has one of the most gorgeous tones in jazz: Just listen to his eloquent and fluid reading of the ballad "Darn That Dream" on his new album, "Social Call" (Uptown 27.18). Still, Thelonious Monk's favorite blowing partner remains best known for the kind of up- tempo excursions we find here -- his own "Little Chico," Tadd Dameron's "Casbah" and Miles Davis' "Half Nelson," all of which provide solid frameworks for his convoluted harmonic and rhythmic explorations. Rouse gets an able assist from Red Rodney's trumpet and flugelhorn.
Guitarist John Abercrombie (appearing with Ralph Towner at The Barns of Wolf Trap on Saturday) began his jazz- rock interpolations with Dreams, and "Night" (ECM 1272) teams him with fellow explorers Jan Hammer (keyboards), Jack DeJohnette (drums) and Mike Brecker (tenor sax). On "Ethereggae," "3 East" and "Four on One," the emphasis is on swirling syncopation penetrated by succinct solos. "Believe You Me" recalls the primal spirituality of the early Mahavishnu Orchestra, while "Night" is an intriguing electric expansion on pastoral themes.
Dave Van Ronk (at Blues Alley Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m.) is one of those enduring folk musicians whose influence outstrips their fame. Saddled with a grainy whisky-soured voice but blessed with picking and plucking skills most guitarists would kill for, Van Ronk fills "Going Back to Brooklyn" (Reckless 1916) with 14 original songs, ranging from the languid, rolling "Antelope Rag" to distillations of the ups and downs of Village life in "Gaslight Rag" and "Zen Koans Gonna rise Again."