As hard as it is to imagine any jazz combo functioning without its bass player, one listen to the artistry of bassist Ray Drummond makes that prospect seem even more impossible: The tasteful veteran has provided the heart and soul of recordings and live performances by a whole swath of jazz greats that swings from Wynton Marsalis to Pharoah Sanders to Woody Shaw to Kenny Barron. In other words, he's awesome. And adaptable. On his own, Drummond explores a fusion of world influences--African polyrhythms, hard bop, blues, Japanese folk tunes...you name it--with help from his All-Star Excursion Band, the handpicked product of what he calls the "Miles Davis theory of bandleading." The top-notch ensemble--in this case, drummer Billy Hart, bright young saxophonists Craig Handy and David Sanchez, and pianist Stephen Scott--appears tonight at Mount Vernon Country Club, seventeen miles west of Denver at Exit 254 on I-70; a buffet dinner will be served beginning at 6, and the concert follows at 8. Show tickets are $12 ($25.95 for the dinner/concert package); for reservations call 303-525-0616.
It's time for a change on the Denver Museum of Natural History's four-story-high, large-format IMAX Theater screen, but this time around, there'll be something old and something new in store for fans of its you-are-there approach. Returning for a second run is Everest, a breathtaking visual trek up the world's tallest peak and one of the most popular films ever shown at the Denver IMAX; in addition, Alaska: Spirit of the Wild, a stunning companion piece featuring views from one of the world's last great frontiers, debuts in the theater today. Daily showtimes for each film vary; for tickets, $4 to $6, and information, call 303-322-7009 or 1-800-925-2250. The museum and IMAX are at 2001 Colorado Blvd.
Swing your partner at the Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival--the perfect respite for anxious bluegrass aficionados who just can't wait until summer's slew of string-band events. This one, taking place today through Sunday at the Northglenn Holiday Inn, I-25 and 120th Ave., boasts a lively mix of national and regional acts, headlined by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver (promoters say his Sunday gospel show is a must), the super-traditional Dry Branch Fire Squad, fest favorites New Tradition, and the Freight Hoppers, a notable quartet that specializes in historically accurate performances of old-timey backwoods tunes. Tickets to the nonstop affair, which features concerts, workshops, vendor booths and other surprises, range from $15 to $20 daily ($40 for a three-day pass); call 1-970-482-0863.
In contrast, trad-jazz fans will get their fill at another Summit Foundation Swinging Jazz Concert, this time featuring the steady improvisations of journeyman saxophonist Red Holloway, trumpeter Randy Sandke, trombonist Dan Barrett, pianist John Sheridan, guitarist Frank Vignola, bassist Colin Gieg and drummer Joe Ascione. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. today and tomorrow in the Seawell Ballroom, 14th and Curtis streets; for tickets, $35, call 303-674-4190 or log on to www.summitjazz.org.
Romance is in the air, so Middle Eastern veil dancer Titanya Monique Dahlin should fit right in: She brings her storytelling and dance performance, Scheherazade: The Veil Behind the Blade, to the newly reopened Nomad Theatre, 1410 Quince Ave., Boulder, for a weekend of sheer fantasy and even sheerer costumes. But don't get the wrong idea--Dahlin isn't just another belly dancer. In the show, she essentially rewrites nineteenth-century scholar Sir Richard Burton's translation of The Arabian Nights to empower rather than denigrate women. Dahlin's interesting fare will be staged at 7:30 tonight and tomorrow and at 2 Sunday; admission is $10 in advance ($12 at the door). Call 303-443-7510.
While the Chinese New Year officially begins on a Tuesday this year, the firecracker-worthy holiday gets a bang-up welcome tonight during The Night of the Dragon, a cultural feast hosted by the Denver-Kunming Sister Cities Committee. To bring in the Year of the Rabbit, the program will offer traditional Cantonese opera excerpts, folk music and dance and other presentations by an international cast of artists and entertainers, topped off with a buffet of Chinese finger foods and a rousing Lion Dance led by Master Howie Solo of the Boulder Red Brow Shaolin Martial Arts School. The festivities begin at 6:30 in the Grandview High School Theater, 20500 E. Arapahoe Rd., Aurora; admission is $20 ($15 seniors and students/$7 for children under twelve). For further information call 303-770-7866.
And for more holiday excitement, head over to the Valentine's Burlesk at the Bluebird, a vaudeville extravaganza that's equal parts corn and adult entertainment. The show comes complete with Sally Randy's fan dance, contortionist sisters Katja and Katrina Cobra, magician The Great Spaghettio and more, all whipped up by local promoters. The fun begins at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; admission is $10 at the door.
It's hokey, it's corny, it's as sappy as it gets, but that's why we love Valentine's Day--because it's the one day of the year when it's okay to make ooey-gooey fools of ourselves, all in the name of love. Here are a few ways to do so:
If you're one who takes your mush seriously, Wildflowers and Chocolate, with 50 Best Wildflower Hikes author Pam Irwin, will no doubt hold your interest this afternoon at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center, 910 Colorow Row, Golden. Irwin will present a slide show before they crack out the chocolates; for reservations, which are required, call 303-526-0594. And while in Golden, drop in at the Sweetheart Book Sale, where the Golden Library will be selling a dozen used romance paperbacks for a buck, today through next Saturday. The library is at 1019 10th St.; call 303-279-4585.
Love is always relative, and at the Rocky Mountain Classic Dog Show, which ends tomorrow, the day's main objects of affection will be a meticulously groomed and spit-shined multitude of man's best friends. Taking place only a week after the prestigious Westminster dog show, this show is the logical next stop for many of the nation's top dogs. Today's events include conformation, obedience and agility trials; judges make their dogged determinations beginning at 8 a.m. Watch the pooches perform at the National Western Complex, I-70 and Brighton Blvd.; admission is $2 at the door.
The romance heats up tonight when Creative Music Works presents the Ellyn Rucker Trio in an evening of Jazz Torch Songs beginning at 7:30 at the Houston Fine Arts Center, 7111 Montview Blvd. The smokey repertoire is a personal favorite for local pianist and singer Rucker, so expect an exciting set; admission is $8 ($5 for students) at the door. Call 303-759-1797.
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And finally, we always find it prudent to mention that today is also National Condom Day, an observance we can fully endorse, especially in tandem with the day of love. Play it safe below the belt--and if you need more information, log on to www.ashastd.org.
Metro area law-enforcement officers will be living up to the motto "To Serve and Protect" during the next several weeks, after Cops & Lobsters kicks off today at Red Lobster restaurants across the nation. Here's your chance to eat and run in style: Officers will take turns waiting on tables at lunch and dinner shifts through April 4, but they'll turn over their tips to the Special Olympics to benefit both local programs and the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Though he's a subtle performer, quiet Texan James McMurtry is a songwriter for the ages, weaving believable storytelling chops, intimacy and Americana into one mini-novel after another. They're songs that stick to your ribs--and your heart--and are always worth a listen. Sally Taylor opens for McMurtry tonight at 7 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $10.50, call 303-443-3399 or 303-830-TIXS.
What do you grow up to be when you're the son of a comedy-club owner and a stand-up comedian? More of the same: The original dude, Pauly Shore slacks into the Comedy Works, 1226 15th St., tonight to wrap up a three-day run with an engaging routine of Southern Californian humor and authentic Valleyspeak. Shore performs at 7 and 9; for tickets, $20 to $25, call 303-595-3637.