Thursday, Feb. 18

Timing is everything.

This ageless maxim was sadly appropriate at the acoustically luscious Fox Tucson Theatre, when not more than 100 people turned out for what should have been one of the highlight shows of the year. Had this concert been held two or three weeks earlier, when the tragic nature of the Haitian earthquake was very much in the news, people no doubt would have flocked to this benefit for the Red Cross.

The true star of this show was undeniably Aodhan Lyons. A remarkable 12 year-old looking for a meaningful bar mitzvah project that might benefit the welfare of others, he was the person who conceived the idea and took responsibility for putting it all together. According to his mother, Hilary, after he got the idea, "he researched all the bands, made the phone calls and followed through."

First up was Odaiko Sonora, Tucson's resident taiko-drumming ensemble. These traditional Japanese drums are played with a combination of precision and physicality and are delivered with movements so animated that taiko can almost pass as a form of dance.

After a set of jazz-influenced reggae/funk by the Triple Double Band, the 10-piece Key Ingredients of African Soul gave a five-tune demonstration as to why they are one of the Southwest's most accomplished and diverse world-music ensembles. Playing a variety of different West African melodies and rhythms, the Key Ingredients showed off not only their singing, but also dancing, stylish horn charts and lots of percussion.

Not to be dismissive of anyone—including the amazing Spirit Familia, which had the misfortune of going on last—the musical high point of the night was the all-instrumental set delivered by Green Light. After three minutes of improvisational free jazz (think Frank Zappa meets Eric Dolphy), Green Light settled into melodic grooves alternatively driven by guitar, bass and killer alto sax courtesy of Haitian native Gerard Dalencourt. Their set's highlight came when the Spirit Familia trumpet player came out to play on two songs, including an expansive arrangement of War's classic "The World Is a Ghetto."

For better or worse, a very good time was had—but only by a few.