IMPROV AT THE INSTITUTE: Six hours of improvisational jazz,
you say? I realize this sounds like an unlikely event in a town
where is improvisational jazz has historically been hard to come
by. Admittedly, the jazz scene in Tucson's clubs and cafés,
whether local or imported, veers away from the genre's fringes
and converges on median tastes--primarily because until recently
there were no venues or promoters devoted to nurturing a mean,
Enter Zeitgeist: Committed to the presenting local avant garde and experimental performers in a forum promoting unabashed and unrestricted creativity, Zeitgeist presents a local jazz showcase entitled Making It Up In Real Time. The show, which benefits Zeitgeist's performance fund, takes place Saturday, December 6, at the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave. It's a great cause, in that a fat bank-roll for Zeitgeist enables them to bring in performers who might otherwise pass Tucson by.
The showcase line-up features six acts spanning the jazz spectrum: The Lee Gardner/Ed Ulman Quintet, Mary Redhouse, Cortex Bomb, Audio Radiance, The Aaron Bonsall Trio and the Mat Bevel Orchestra.
Impulse Records (the label shared by John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp) is underwriting the show and providing promotional support. The show gets underway at 6 p.m., with each band playing 45-minute sets. Tickets are $5 in advance, available at Last Wax Records and CD Depot, and $6 at the door. Call 882-7154 for more information.
HOT PICK: Rich Hopkins is a mainstay of Tucson music, proving his talent and ability as a performer, producer and manager. Time flies, as the saying goes, and believe it or not 10 years have passed since Hopkins started San Jacinto Records by releasing the late, great Sidewinders on vinyl. In the interim, Hopkins has been instrumental in the careers of several Tucson and Arizona bands, many of which are coming together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of San Jacinto Records and the commemorative release of ¡Chinga! The Best of San Jacinto Records 1988-1998.
The party, to be held Friday, December 5, at the point of San Jacinto origin, the Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., will be an all-out affair featuring bands from the label's past and present: The Sand Rubies, The Woodcocks, The Luminarios, Tom Stauffer and Chris Martin performing as Bullhorn, 35 Summers, Stefan George, Gila Bend, White Chrome Splendor, Slippery Jill, Jon Frederick of Black Watch, and Sloppy Guitarist, with Fish Karma doing the honors as emcee for the evening. ¡Chinga! will be available for purchase at a nominal $10, and cover is an even more nominal $4. Call 622-8848 for more information.
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAMI: Still being somewhat of a newcomer, I'd never heard of Sami Ross; but I was intrigued when I heard an anonymous insider describe her as "the legendary chick drummer" of Brain Damage Orchestra and Friendly Fire fame. Back in 1992, young-old Sami retired from the Friendly Fire gig, sold her drums to pay the rent, and got a day job. Ho-hum...a day in the life of a career musician.
But now Sami's back, and an inspired cast from the local musical community will turn out on Sunday, December 7, to warm-up the stage for her with notable reunions and three hours of jammin'. The grand blaster herself will be playing with a pick-up band including Mitzi Cowell and Liz Fletcher, with former Brain Damage bandmates also expected to make an appearance.
Minimum donation is $5 at the door, with proceeds earmarked for the next-time-sell-anything-but-your-drums fund. Event runs from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. Call 690-0991 for more information.
LAST NOTES: Candye Kane, presiding queen of bodacious blues, returns to Tucson to engage the Rialto Theater--a venue with grandeur enough to suit her copious talents. She's still touring her spring release, Diva La Grande, produced by The Blasters' Dave Alvin, but plans to work in some special holiday tunes fit to roast your chestnuts. On, Vixen! Newly formed roots rockabilly band Exit 56 hits the highway south from Phoenix to open the show at 9 p.m. Saturday, December 6, at The Rialto Theater, 318 E. Congress St. Tickets are $6 in advance and $8 at the door. Proceeds will be directed towards the Rialto restoration project. Call 740-0126 for more information.
The New West, the premier venue at the entertainment multiplex located at 4305 W. Ina Road., has hit the ground running, hosting, as promised, a wide variety of shows in the short span since their grand opening in September. The week ahead is no exception. The Tucson Blues Society hosts legendary harp master James Cotton at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 7, at the New West. The veteran bluesman has toured and recorded with the best in the biz--and not just the blues--from the Grateful Dead through soon-to-be released projects with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Cotton contributed to two Grammy nominated albums in the '80s and won a Grammy this year for his 1996 Verve Records release Deep In the Blues, an acoustic album featuring greats Charlie Hayden, Joe Lois Walker and Dave Maxwell. Opening for Cotton is Stefan George's trio, The Conrads. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day of show and $5 at the door for TBS members. Call 617-4617 for recorded information.
Later in the week, witness the miraculous: At 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 9, The New West hosts godfather of funk George Clinton, and the P-Funk All-Stars. Clinton's last appearance in the Old Pueblo was nearly two years ago at The Outback, a show that by all accounts confirmed Clinton's long-standing reputation for larger-than-life, phenominal performances.
Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 day of the show. Call 744-7744 for more information. Both New West shows are 21 and over.
Thursday nights are looking up for live music around town: Crawdaddy-O breaks out the brass at 9 p.m. Thursday, December 4, at Gentle Ben's Brewing Company, 865 E. University Blvd. Call 624-4177 for more information. Downtown, The Airport Lounge, 20 E. Pennington St., features the Thursday double bill of Bluescrusher and Flavor Cage. Call 882-0400 for more information.
Table-dancing rockabilly rowdies Al Foul and the Shakes shake down at The Nimbus Brewing Company, 3850 E. 44th St., at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, December 5. Call 745-9175 for more information.
Lastly, I just wouldn't feel right if I didn't get a dig in for the Mötley Crüe show up at the America West Arena on Wednesday, December 10. Decent seats are $35--no, that's not a joke, at least not in the literal sense--but I suppose there are some diehards out there willing to plunk down said fat chunk of change for some vintage '80s pretty-boy metal. Has it occurred to anyone else that the unnecessary umlauts, which to an angst-ridden teen may've seemed righteously badass, now hang limply--vestigial, goofy punctuation marks of "cool" from a (hopefully) bygone era? But hey, the Crüe is hip to what's up in the '90s--in addition to an unannounced "special guest," (somehow I don't think it's going to be Pamela Lee) DJ Larceny will supply "big beats 'n' vibe."
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