Neat Beats

Latin jazz gets its due in a Smithsonian exhibition

 SAT, 11/1

Seminal New Orleans musician Jelly Roll Morton, acknowledging his own Creole roots, used to say his syncopated early jazz music evolved with a "Spanish tinge," and it's an element of jazz that's always grown with the genre itself. In fact, there's a name for what's become of that influence: It's called Latin jazz, and the form has survived, often submerged in its own complex little world, since the late '40s and early '50s. During that time, bebop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie imported the new Afro-Cuban/jazz fusion explored by such artists as Mario Bauza, Chano Pozo and Machito to the States from Cuba. The music is experiencing a revival, spurred by new recognition brought on by the Buena Vista Social Club recordings and similar projects of recent years.Now there's more proof that Latin Jazz is getting its due: Latin Jazz: La Combinaciůn Perfecta, a traveling Smithsonian exhibition, brings information about the style's history and figures together in concise fashion. And the comprehensive show, a Smithsonian first, marks a major score for the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center, 400 Quail Road, Longmont, where it opens today with a 7 p.m. reception for a three-month run. The incredible bilingual, multimedia compendium features artifacts (including Gillespie's trumpet, Tito Puente's timbales and a variety of other instruments peculiar to the genre), vintage film footage and photographs, listening stations with oral-history tapes, album covers and more; in addition, a companion book and CD will be available for purchase.

Curator Raķl Fern´ndez explains that because the show is unprecedented in terms of size and detail, it was necessary to streamline the amount of information included into a cohesive overview. It wasn't always easy, though, to find material. "When it comes to jazz itself, there's a lot of information available, but in Latin jazz, we didn't have that," he notes. "So one thing we did was carry out a lot of interviews. We uncovered things that had never been seen before. The quotations we use didn't come out of books or libraries." Interview subjects included Chucho Valdez, Chico O'Farrell, Mongo Santamaria, Celia Cruz, and one of Fern´ndez's favorite finds: Machito's sister Graciela, a vocalist he credits as a heretofore unsung innovator. ("It seems like you have to be ninety to be famous," he says of her.)

Latin Jazz: La Combinacion Perfecta opens 
this weekend at the Longmont Museum.
Rob Ullman
Latin Jazz: La Combinacion Perfecta opens this weekend at the Longmont Museum.
Rob Ullman

In conjunction with the show, the museum will host a Wednesday-night Jazz Cafe series, drum and salsa classes, a concert and other related events; for details, call 303-651-8374 or log on to -- Susan Froyd

Halloween art glows at Zip 37
FRI, 10/31

Halloween is Zip 37 gallery member Jerry Simpson's big hurrah; indeed, the local dumpster-diving folk-assemblage artist's oeuvre seems especially tailored to the spooky season, with its loopy monster faces composed from sinister found objects that seem to have gone twice around the dump. So Simpson's come to own the Halloween spot at the gallery, putting on shows annually to coincide with the ghoulish season.Now he's sharing the wealth. "This year, my energy level was down," he says. "So I thought maybe I'd do something different that would make it easier on myself." The something different? Simpson invited thirty local artists to join him for a show. The grinning result is JACK: Art of the Jack-O-Lantern, opening with a reception tonight from 7 to 10 p.m. and continuing through November 16. Simpson, of course, will be amply represented: He promises a leering pumpkin nearly five feet tall, built from barn wood painted orange and sporting piano-key teeth, probably lit up and cozied up to some black cats wrapped in old advertising tins -- although he's not sure how it'll fit into the place. "Zip is small," he notes. "If I can't get it inside, maybe I'll put it on the roof."

Other artists' contributions include endless variations on pumpkins and black cats, many inspired by old-fashioned graphics and decorations, in every medium you can think of. Zip 37 is at 3644 Navajo Street; call 303-477-4525. -- Susan Froyd

Getting a Clue
FRI, 10/31

Professor Plum in the library with the candlestick? Colonel Mustard with the wrench in the billiard room?For the solution to the mystery, see Clue: The Movie, the big-screen version of the classic whodunit board game, at 10 p.m. tonight. But there's more going on than a murder to solve: Delusions of Grandeur will be shadowcasting the film, keeping the show interactive with the audience while shadowing the action on screen. The DoG ensemble is part of the theater troupe Colorado Elusive Ingredient, which fleshes out The Rocky Horror Picture Show on a weekly basis.

"We've got Rocky Horror down to a science, so the cast really wanted to try something new," says DoG director P.J. Shields.

And while there is no Time Warp to dance in Clue, Shields promises that there will still be plenty of audience interaction. "It's a different type of interaction; it's going to be in their faces," she says. "Our French maid is going to die in somebody's lap."

Both cult favorites will screen tonight at the Starz FilmCenter, 900 Auraria Parkway; Clue will be followed by Rocky Horror at midnight.

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