The beat goes on: When John Coltrane changed the face of jazz music with his imaginative modal improvisations, he owed more than a little to the smoothly shifting bedrock off which he played. Coltrane's classic quartet recordings of the early '60s were more often than not held together by a legendary rhythm section that included pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and powerhouse drummer Elvin Jones, who brought both brains and brawn into the group's groundbreaking arrangements. Now pushing seventy, Jones, who hasn't yet learned to sit still behind the traps, rages into the Mount Vernon Country Club for one show tonight at 8, accompanied by his Jazz Machine, a combo of young hotshots. A buffet dinner will be available at the club, located seventeen miles west of Denver off I-70, exit 254, beginning at 6 p.m. All-inclusive tickets are $25.95, while concert-only tix go for $15. For reservations call 526-0616.
Magic Jeni: Once in a while, a comic comes along who does it all: He's quick on his feet, a master of observation, and he doesn't just tell a story--he gets inside it and understands what makes it tick. Richard Jeni is just such a versatile funny guy, whose talent provided the gateway from the arena of live performance to the broader venues of television and film. In the last category, he found himself cast as Jim Carrey's sidekick in The Mask, a role he likened to "an Italian Barney Rubble." Well, yabba dabba doo for you--Jeni will hone his pointed little wit on stage here in town at Larimer Square's Comedy Works, 1226 15th St., where he appears for several shows--some of them nonsmoking affairs--today through Saturday. Tickets range from $13 to $20 and must be reserved in advance; call 595-3637 for information.
Man on bass: When the fabled Five Points club the Casino Cabaret, at 2633 Welton St., reopens its doors again tonight after fresh renovations, it'll take a big pair of shoes to step into the balconied venue's bright new limelight. Bassist Stanley Clarke is a big man. And when he cozies up to his big bass fiddle, Clarke makes a big, beautiful sound that leaves no doubt in his audiences' minds that he absolutely loves to play. One of contemporary jazz fusion's greats, the supple bassist is, to put it simply, a musician's musician, whose breathtaking instrumental dexterity is but a tool for creative experimentation. In recent years Clarke has turned to scoring and orchestration projects, but put him on stage and he'll always charm his fans. He performs tonight at 7:30 for the Casino Cabaret's grand opening; for tickets, $25, call 832-3770.
The road not taken: Bright lights, big city. Denver's trying awfully hard to be urbane. But on the flip side of the city's blooming brewpubs and martini bars are its alternative galleries and performance venues, which have actually been around a long time, serving an arts community that never stops struggling for recognition. So how about giving them a hand by sparing them one Friday night out of your life?
Cooperative gallery openings tend to be low-rent, trendy, atmospheric and later than the status quo, but the art you'll see when you attend one is often surprising, funny and well-done. Tonight at CORE New Art Space, 1412 Wazee St. (571-4831), a two-man show juxtaposes the bold abstract of Steve Cramm with Greg Cannon's whimsical culture-clash statements (geishas on skateboards and the like), while Spark Gallery, 1535 Platte St. (455-4435), features a two-woman exhibition by local art stalwarts Sally Elliott and Annalee Schorr. In addition, Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, 3659 Navajo St. (458-6058), showcases new works by Denver defector Greg Esser, who describes his show as "a group show of my multiple personalities" and, in Pirate's Alley, a small exhibit by Mark Lunning. All three shows open tonight with receptions from 7 to 10 (live acoustic music will be provided by Jux County at Pirate) and continue through March 23.
What else? Across the street from Pirate, at 3654 Navajo St., the Bug Performance and Media Art Center presents a multimedia theater work, Wars and Whores, which throws together life-sized puppets and musical sound effects for a performance based on playwright Jean Genet's The Maids. See Wars and Whores tonight or tomorrow at 8; for information or tickets, $6 ($4 members), call 455-5977.
Skip the formalities: There is no rule that says you have to be stodgy to play the classics. Just ask classical guitarist Robert Bluestone, who has no use for playing from a pedestal--he's the kind of virtuoso you'd sooner meet over a beer in your own backyard. But don't let his casual, yarn-laden stage patter fool you. When Bluestone sits down to play, stunning technique and a loving knowledge of his instrument take over. Bluestone brings his relaxed repertoire to the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., today at 10 a.m. for a special children's show and again tomorrow at 7:30 for a more adult version; tickets are $4 for the matinee or $15 for the evening performance. To reserve seats call 431-3939.
Celts in action: What the heck is a hooley? (If you're Irish, you can be excused from the room until this is over.) Well, dear readers, it's really just a swell party, with lots of frisky music and dancing to keep you and the kids in line. You'll find all of that, along with lessons to get your dance steps straight, good eats, drink and unnamed surprises at the Mile High Hooley, an all-day celebration taking place today from noon to 8:30 p.m. at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. Irish recording artists Reeltime--with violinist Mairin Fahy, also a fiddlin' fool for the blockbuster musical Riverdance--head up the musical bill, but there'll be plenty of Celtic music on several stages throughout the day. Admission is $10 ($15 at the door) or $5 for children twelve and under; call 830-TIXS to order tickets in advance.
In the key of Duke: One of the region's most talented musical aggregations, the Creative Music Works Orchestra, has beefed itself up to a fifteen-man ensemble for a special occasion. Led by Denver's formidable jazz trumpet artist Ron Miles, the expanded group gets together to perform a pair of Duke Ellington concert suites and additional works by Ellington cohort Billy Strayhorn in a fine tribute to two of jazz music's greatest composer/arrangers. The program, sponsored by the Creative Music Works and DU's Lamont School of Music, takes place tonight at 8 in Corkin Hall of the Houston Fine Arts Center, 7111 Montview Blvd.; tickets are $8 at the door. Call 477-3081 for more information.
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The grass is greener: What do you do on a Sunday afternoon in March when football season is over, baseball season hasn't yet begun and the grass is way, way too dead to mow? You didn't want to do that, anyway. Grab your partner and catch the last day of the Rocky Mountain Home Show, open for its last hurrah today from 10 to 6 at Currigan Exhibition Hall, 14th and Champa streets. Featured this year at the nuts-and-bolts home expo is the ecologically correct, miniature Built Green Bungalow, which resides on Built Green Boulevard and highlights the benefits of earth-friendly home construction planned for 1,000 sites in the metro area this year. And of course, there'll be plenty of other demonstrations, seminars and exhibits full of ideas for improving your home. Home show admission, available at the door, is $7 ($3.50 for seniors, $1 for youths ages thirteen to eighteen, and free for children twelve and under); call 778-1400 for details.
Flower power: Put ambient technology and solid rock-pop instrumentation in a pot, add some lo-fi dirt, and see what grows. Tonight at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., it'll be The Lilys, a cultish band gaining quiet critical recognition for its fresh, sweet-sounding harvest. Early Lush fans and even earlier Eno aficionados will no doubt approve. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $5; call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
Rhyme and reason: The poet laureate of Illinois since 1968, Gwendolyn Brooks is truly the grande dame of American women poets of color--and the first African-American of any gender to claim a Pulitzer Prize. That was way back in 1950. Still going strong, Brooks continues to write for the times: She'll read from and sign copies of her latest collection, Children Coming Home, which casts a realistic eye on the lives of children in America, today from 11 to noon at the St. Cajetan's Center on the Auraria campus. The Brooks reading is free and open to the public; for more information call 556-8441.
Fringe benefits: Little Pocahontases all over town will want to don their feathers and fringe this week when Walt Disney's World on Ice hits the Denver Coliseum. The troupe's current ice extravaganza, The Spirit of Pocahontas, puts the historic Indian maiden--played here by eighteen-year-old California skating phenom Joanna Ng--on blades and sticks her in the middle of a gorgeous primeval forest set along with all her Disney cohorts. Pocahontas opens tonight at 7:30, and shows continue daily through March 16; ticket prices range from $14.50 to $18.50. Reduced Family Night prices are in effect tonight only; for showtimes and reservations call 830-