SOUNDS OF BLACKNESS

When: 8 p.m. Sat. • Where: Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Av., St. Paul. • Tickets: Sold out.

No wonder Sounds of Blackness' 40th anniversary reunion concert Saturday sold out so fast: They needed to save room for the roughly 100 current and past members of the venerable gospel/funk/R&B choir who plan to make it for the show, including some from as far away as Japan and Italy.

"It makes me want to quote one of the old spirituals: 'My soul looks back and wonders,'" leader Gary Hines quipped about the turnout.

Among the better-known alumni and associates from the Grammy-winning ensemble, Ann Nesby is unavailable to come, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Alexander O'Neal are all maybes, and Cynthia ("Funkytown") Johnson will for sure make the show, which coincides with Macalester's own alumni weekend. Of course, rehearsing with that many people will be no easy chore, but Hines said it's actually gotten a lot easier than it was 40 years ago.

"We've been sending out MP3s via e-mail to people of the repertoire, so we're going to be almost ready even before everyone gets to town," he said.

Since Saturday's concert is sold out, Hines left open the possibility of another big reunion show down the line. For sure, though, look for a new Sounds album to land in August, titled "The Third Gift: Story, Song & Spirit."

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

MAZARATI

When: 9:30 p.m. today. • Where: Cabooze, 917 Cedar Av. S., Mpls. 612-338-6425. • Tickets:$25.

There are probably seven different versions of the truth if you talk to the members of Mazarati, an underrated funk-rock band from Prince's secretive purple reign. What they all agree on is that they're excited to reunite tonight after 20 years, even if it's just for three songs.

Fittingly, their comeback will be at the Cabooze as part of the third annual Prince Family Reunion (in honor of his 51st birthday on Sunday).

"We played our first show at the Cabooze" in 1984, said guitarist Tony Christian.

Mazarati, which gigged on the Upper Midwest club circuit, scored their only hit -- "100 MPH," co-written by Prince (they also recorded "Kiss" before he decided to keep it for himself) -- on a self-titled album produced by Prince bassist Brown Mark on Paisley Park Records in 1986. A revamped version of the group recorded "Mazarati 2" on Motown. "Fourteen thousand copies were released in Canada," sighed lead singer Terry Casey, who has a Mazarati logo on his left bicep.

Since then, Casey, now with salt-and-pepper curls, has toiled as a machinist. Christian and keyboardist Marvin Gunn (aka Marr Starr) worked on Paula Abdul's hit debut; now Gunn is an actor and musician in Phoenix while Christian has been producing with Prince sideman Dr. Fink. Bassist Jerome Cox (aka Romeo) worked with Death Row Records in L.A. before dropping out of the music biz. Guitarist Craig (Screamer) Powell has continued to gig, mostly with Westside. Keyboardist Aaron Keith played in a piano bar for 10 years, reopened the Varsity Theater and has served as a union stagehand for everyone from Eminem to Barack Obama.

New to Mazarati is well-traveled Twin Cities drummer Pancho Lopez, who did stints with Stevie Wonder and Kool and the Gang.

The band sounded as tight and funky as ever at a recent rehearsal. "We're going to do an album" -- and some gigs -- Christian promised.

Also appearing tonight are such familiar Purple faces as Dez Dickerson, Bobby Z, Dr. Fink, Michael Bland, Margie Cox, Tyka Nelson, Mike Scott and the Family, the Paul Peterson/Susannah Melvoin group that recorded the original version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" and is working on a new album.

JON BREAM