New Year's Eve doesn't have to be a drag, if you forget about trying to make it The. Best. Night. Ever. The chronological turn of the page offers some choice opportunities for a memorable musical experience. Here are some options, most of which won't put a strain on 2013 finances.

Pete Escovedo: Pittsburg-born Latin jazz great Pete Escovedo might have moved down to Los Angeles, but he likes to spend important dates with his family near where he grew up in Oakland. Celebrating the Jan. 15 release of "Live From Stern Grove" (Concord Picante), the timbales master and exuberant showman brings the same talent-laden combo to Yoshi's in Oakland for a four-night run culminating on New Year's Eve. His band features his sons, percussionist/vocalist Juan Escovedo, and drummer/vocalist Peter Michael Escovedo.

Details: Two shows nightly Dec. 28-31; 510 Embarcadero W., Oakland; $25-$30 on Dec. 28-30, $50-$170 on New Year's Eve (including packages with and without dinner); 510-238-9200, www.yoshis.com.

Kim Nalley: A vocalist whose gorgeous sound is matched by her infectious sense of fun, Kim Nalley offers the closest thing possible to a guarantee for a good time. Whether she's inducing swoons with a torch song, inspiring blushes with salty blues, or dropping jaws with a steeplechase scat solo worthy of a bebop saxophonist, Nalley combines high-watt star power with a welcoming musical embrace. Performing a six-night run at the Rrazz Room, she's joined by her superlative band, featuring pianist Tammy Hall, bassist Michael Zisman and drummer Kent Bryson.


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Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 26-27, 9 p.m. Dec. 28-29, 7 p.m. Dec. 30, and 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Dec. 31; Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco; $75-$175; 800-380-309, www.therrazzroom.com.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue: Nothing better exemplifies the special relationship between the Bay Area and New Orleans than the presence of Crescent City standard-bearer Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. A lyrical trumpeter, raucous trombonist and soul-drenched singer, Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) plays a three-night Fillmore run concluding on New Year's Eve. A stand out entertainer since the age of 8, he proudly represents a city where partying is a serious pastime.

Details: 9 p.m. Dec. 29 and 31, 8 p.m. Dec. 30; Fillmore; 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco; $35 on Dec. 29-30, $75 on Dec. 31; www.livewnation.com.

Maceo Parker: Since stepping out on his own after a quarter-century with R&B visionaries James Brown and George Clinton, alto saxophonist/vocalist Maceo Parker has become a funk icon in his own right, spreading the gospel of groove with his excellent combo. More than a bandleader, he's a funk shaman who turns performances into ecstatic gatherings. His four-night run at Yoshi's in San Francisco culminates on New Year's Eve.

Details: Two shows nightly Dec. 28-31; Yoshi's San Francisco; 1330 Fillmore St.; $25-$30 on Dec. 28-30, $50-$100 on Dec. 31; 415-655-5600, www.yoshis.com.

Maceo Parker will be serving up the funk when he headlines a New Year’s show at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.
Maceo Parker will be serving up the funk when he headlines a New Year's show at Yoshi's in San Francisco. (Laurent Gillieron/AP file)

Orquesta La Moderna Tradición: Berkeley's La Peña Cultural Center hosts one of the most family-friendly New Year's celebrations around, especially if you cotton to old-school Cuban dance music. Orquesta La Moderna Tradición is the only ensemble on the West Coast dedicated to the graceful 19th-century style danzon. Performing standards of the genre and original compositions, Orquesta is also versed in an array of traditional and modern Cuban styles, including son and songo, cha-cha-cha and timba.

Details: 9:30 p.m. Dec. 31; 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; $26-$30; 510-849-2560, www.lapena.org.

John Nemeth: The blue-eyed Bay Area soul singer John Nemeth recently released two CDs, "Blues Live" and "Soul Live," albums that leave no doubt why he's one of blues scene's brightest new stars. A confident and hardworking entertainer who writes most of his own music, he possesses a highly expressive voice, whether he's crooning sweetly or getting gruff and low down. The Grand Dell Saloon also offers the best New Year's amenity, providing free limo service home for locals within a five mile radius after midnight.

Details: 7 p.m. Dec. 31; Grand Dell Saloon, 1040 Dell Ave., Campbell; $55; 408-378-3970, www.thegranddell.com.

Balkan Bash: Ashkenaz's Balkan New Year's blowouts are a beloved annual tradition, but this edition is tinged with a little sadness. After 12 years as a leading force on the California Balkan music scene, the great Gypsy-style ensemble Brass Menazeri soon will disband because reed expert Peter Jaques, the ensemble's director, founder, and principal composer/arranger, is moving to Greece on a Fulbright grant. A triple bill, the program also features the long-running band Edessa, which is powered by Bulgarian-born Roma percussionist Rumen "Sali" Shopov, and the True Life Trio, a fantastic new band featuring former Kitka vocalists Leslie Bonnett, Juliana Graffagna and Briget Boyle (who also sings with Brass Menazeri).

Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 31; 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; $25, 510-525-5054, www.ashkenaz.com.

Sammy Varela: Veteran South Bay blues guitarist Sammy Varela has never quite received the notoriety he deserves, but he's a potent player who knows that the best of the blues unfurls with all due deliberation. Often heard backing irrepressible vocalists such as Sista Monica and Kaye Bohler, he has plenty to say as a frontman, laying down stinging single-note lines as eloquent as just about any singer's.

Details: 9 p.m. Dec. 31; JJ's Blues, 3439 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose; $20; 408-243-6441, www.jjsblues.net.

Contact Andrew Gilbert at jazzscribe@aol.com.