Field Day

An avant-garder takes a walk on Sesame Street.

FRI, 9/2

Boston-based saxophonist Ken Field makes grown-up sounds for idiosyncratic outfits such as Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, whose 2003 disc, Year of the Snake, is like a particularly wild visit to Bourbon Street. Yet tots know his work, too, thanks to his contributions to the long-running children's program Sesame Street. Sight & Sound, which takes place tonight at the Mercury Cafe, represents the intersection of these two very different thoroughfares. The show features screenings of pieces by Field's wife, animator Karen Aqua, and a performance by his Alto Saxophone Project, a group co-starring several fine Denver jazzers.

In 1990, two years after Birdsongs' debut, Field and Aqua first combined their talents on behalf of Sesame Street. "For both the music and the animation, they have indicated that they prefer we not talk 'down' to the kids," Field notes via e-mail, "so the music tends to be pretty close to what I would do anyway." As a result, his Sesame material should blend seamlessly into the set by the Project, which will tackle songs from throughout his career. Bassist Edwin Hurwitz and drummer Art Lande anchor the ensemble, with the melodies coming courtesy of Field and fellow altoists Clare Church and Pete Lewis. "I love the sound of three (or more!) alto saxophones," Field points out. "There's a hard-to-describe uniqueness to the sound of three of the same instrument playing chords or interweaving melodic lines."

The festivities kick off at 7 p.m. at the Mercury, 2199 California Street. The "suggested donation" for attendees is $8. Phone 303-294-9281 for more info. -- Michael Roberts

Reality Bites
The Dead Guy raises reality TV's stakes.
THURS, 9/1

Playwright Eric Coble'sThe Dead Guy questions America's obsession with reality TV -- namely, how much farther down the cultural toilet we can go than Who's Your Daddy, The Littlest Groomor The Swan.

"The premise is this guy who has nothing in his life is given a million dollars and one week to spend it, while a film crew televises his every move," explains the 37-year-old dramatist. "At the end of the week, he has to die, and the viewing audience gets to decide how, based on how he's living his life. If they feel he's living his last seven days in an appropriate way, they might vote for him to die quietly in his sleep. Or, if they think he's really doing awful, they might vote for a chain saw accident."

The dark, multimedia-enhanced satire, which evokes the seven stages of dying posited by the late Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, offers bargain previews at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night for $10. The regular run is from September 3 until October 15 at the Acoma Center, 1080 Acoma Street; for information and tickets, $13 to $26, call 303-623-0524 or visit www.curioustheatre.org. -- John La Briola

 
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