More than seventy youth jazz ensembles from across the nation gather in Denver this weekend for the second annual Jazz Celebration at Metro State, and they'll be drawn by more than just our rugged mile-high ambience: The fest's guest faculty, which includes saxophonist Lee Konitz, trumpeter Bobby Shew, vibraphonist Victor Mendoza, jazz vocalist Sunny Wilkinson and the stalwart West Point Jazz Knights, is simply bodacious. The musicians will perform and work with the assembled young talent, and it's open to the public: Daytime student performances and open master classes are free, daily through Saturday, while nightly evening concerts run the admission gamut, from $0 to $20. Shew, Konitz, Mendoza, Wilkinson and the MSCD Monday Night Jazz Band will wrap up with a grand finale concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. All events take place at the King Center, 855 Lawrence Way, Auraria campus; for tickets in advance, call 303-556-2296.
Friday, April 11
Not your average cult figure, scary-good acoustic finger-style guitarist Adrian Legg defies categorization and the laws of physics when he plays, leaving roomful after roomful of the hopeful guitarists he plays to banging their collective head against the wall. Depressing? Not really, because Legg is also a funny, eccentric man with a penchant for gallows humor who tells stories at least as well as he plays guitar. He keeps 'em occupied, anyway, long enough to prevent inadvertent suicides. Legg performs with local guest (and former Fat Mama keyboardist) Eric Deutsch, now of Country Road X, tonight at 8 at Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue; for tickets, $8 to $12, call 303-777-1003.
Saturday, April 12
Now that the snow has retreated, gardeners all over town are beginning to get their first glimpses of green. But don't be fooled: Experts say we're still in a drought, so ardent green thumbs had better prepare for the minimalist drip of xeriscape gardening. That's the pervasive theme at this year's Ready, Set, Garden! event at Hudson Gardens, 6115 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, where such topics as "Changing the Face of Gardening" and "Beauty in the Dry Garden" will dominate talks given by local garden luminaries, including Panayoti Kelaidis of the Denver Botanic Gardens and gardener/author Marilyn Raff. There will also be information booths, book chats, activities for kids and the beautiful gardens themselves. Gates will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and tomorrow; admission is $1 to $2 (Hudson Gardens members admitted free). Call 303-797-8565 or log on to www.hudsongardens.org.
In the same vein, rare and rugged beauties suited for stony garden nooks and crannies will be on display all weekend at the annual North American Rock Garden Society Show and Sale, today and tomorrow at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York Street, which is just a nice to place to visit this time of year. After a big blizzard-fed drink, the outdoor gardens are really coming alive, and if you've passed by the DBG conservatory all winter long, now's the time to check out the indoor facility's spectacular new Cloud Forest Tree exhibit, an orchid-laden "living sculpture" that debuted in January. The NARGS show is free with regular gate admission; call 720-865-3500 or log on to www.botanicgardens.org.
Sunday, April 13
You'll find everything that spins -- and a bit more -- at today's Denver Record Collectors Spring Expo 2003, where the bickering and bartering will be heavy when fans and vendors commune over a vast selection of rare CDs, LPs and 45s, as well as peripheral music posters and memorabilia. Collect to your heart's desire from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Denver Southeast, 3200 South Parker Road, Aurora, Admission is $2; for information, call Big K Productions at 303-455-8408.
"Country" just doesn't begin to describe singer-songwriter Kim Richey. Although she came up with a Nashville boost, Richey's kicked off her slick boots to scuffle down to a grittier, more contemporary path. She truly breaks loose on her most recent CD, Rise, an all-out small pop-music masterpiece on the Lost Highway label. Here's your chance to see her in a cozy venue that fits her style just fine: Richey performs two matinee shows today, at 1 and 4 at Evergreen's leave-your-shoes-at-the-door Red Barn, off Highway 73. Tickets are $40; for reservations and directions, call 303-816-0230 or log on to www.rockymountainhomeconcerts.com.
Monday, April 14
He cut his big-band teeth with Buddy Rich and in Doc Severinsen's legendary Tonight Show Band, but sax player Richie Cole has long been on his own, heading up a variety of ensembles driven by the man's impeccable hard-bop roots. This season's incarnation, the full-blown Richie Cole Alto Madness Orchestra, tunes up tonight at 8 at Boulder's Trilogy Lounge and Wine Bar, 2017 13th Street; admission is $10. For information, call 303-473-9463 or log on to www.trilogywinebar.com.
Tuesday, April 15
Some artists follow in footprints, but others leave them: Jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter has blazed trails throughout his career, traveling from the proving ground of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers to Miles Davis's classic mid-'60s combo to the jazz-fusion frontiers of Weather Report. Perhaps it's no accident that Shorter's tune "Footprints," which also paved the way for his recent renaissance album, Footprints Live!, is one of his most memorable compositions. He's now touring work from Alegría, a new studio recording with the all-star Wayne Shorter Quartet, which, even without his presence, is still a supergroup: Pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade will cut loose with Shorter tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street. Admission ranges from $31 to $41; call 303-786-7030 or log on to www.bouldertheater.com.