The five best concerts in Denver this week

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Welcome back, Americans. We ardently hope you return to us full of leftover barbecue and slightly sunburned.

There are a few good shows this week, starting with legendary jazz drummer Tootie Heath with his new backing band (two-thirds of the Bad Plus). They'll play Dazzle a couple nights this week. The rest of our picks follow.

Bear Hands Bluebird Theater : 8:00 p.m. July 7

Bear Hands first made waves in 2007 with the release of its first record


EP, bolstered by a nervy energy and politically pointed lyrics on songs like "Vietnam." On the Brooklyn band's 2010 release,

Burning Bush Supper Club

, Dylan Rau's incisive lyrics are very much intact, but the band has honed its dynamism in a way that flows with more ease than just the thrillingly angular attack heard on


, released last February, finds the act broadening its scope and more ambitions than previous efforts.

The Budos Band Bluebird Theater : 8:00 p.m. July 8

Daptone's The Budos Band jumped on the funk revivalism bandwagon and made it their own with Ethiopian-tinged instrumentation and sixties psychadelia. Playing self-described "Afro-Soul," the 10+ consistent members offer tight musicianship and danceable grooves in defiant response to anyone who thinks instrumental music is boring. Although they haven't altered their sound much over the last nine years or so, the James Brown meets Afrobeat aesthetic works too well to abandon.

Poncho Sanchez Oriental Theater : 8:00 p.m. July 8

Since getting his start in Cal Tjader's band in the mid-'70s, legendary percussionist Pancho Sanchez has gone on to release dozens of album, including Latin Soul, which the percussionist and his ensemble won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz album, and 2011's Chano y Dizzy!, on which Sanchez honors the legacy of two main pioneers of Latin jazz, Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie.

Tootie Heath Trio Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge : 6:30 p.m. July 9; 6:30 p.m. July 10

rother of the great saxophonist Jimmy Heath and bassist Percy Heath, drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath has worked with a slew of jazz heavies like John Coltrane, Art Farmer, Dexter Gordon, Clifford Jordan and Wes Montgomery. With his latest effort,

Tootie's Tempo

, the 79-year-old teamed up with some younger cats who are heavy in their own right - Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson and bassist Ben Street, who both join Heath for a two-night stand at Dazzle. While Iverson can be a bit heavy handed at times with the Bad Plus, there's more of a swinging lilt in his playing on the disc, which may partly be due to being propelled by Heath, a master of swing.

Joan Baez Denver Botanic Gardens : 7:00 p.m. July 10

It took decades, but Joan Baez has finally overcome her stage fright. The legendary folk singer and activist, who initially found fame during the folk renaissance of the 1960s, partnering with Bob Dylan on stage and fighting for a wide range of causes into the '70s, '80s and '90s, says she's discovered a newfound sense of creative comfort and inspiration in the past several years. The past decade has seen the most dramatic growth for Baez. A 2009 episode of the PBS series

American Masters

revisited her musical achievements and turned a new generation on to her work.

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