BODY PARTS. You never know what you'll get during the Zeitgeist Jazz at the Institute series. The music is often improvised, meandering around a theme or chord progression.
The five members of Kneebody all possess heavy-duty jazz educations--the Eastman/Cal Arts/Berklee crowd. They're based in Los Angeles and they used to be called Wendel-Endsley Group. Despite their original lawyerish name, their sound is anything but buttoned up. They're informed by their 20-something generation's music: hip-hop, electronica, radical folk pop, jam bands, modern funk and alt rock.
When the cooperative quintet isn't grooving together, they're playing with the likes of Ani DiFranco, Macy Gray and the Dakah Hip-Hop Orchestra. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi says of Kneebody, "This is some of the freshest, most innovative, category-defying music that I've heard in a long time."
The group includes Ben Wendel on sax, flute and pedals--he's also just finished a score for a short film that went to Sundance. Shane Endsley plays trumpet and pedals, and is the creative force behind many of the band's compositions. Adam Benjamin Fender Rhodes (why not sport four names?) hits the piano and keyboards. Kaveh Rastegar is the band's prolific bassist, composer and visual artist. And Scott Seiver also composes for Kneebody and pounds on the drums and messes with samples.
Hear them altogether at 8 p.m. at the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave. Tickets in advance cost $8 (get them at Antigone Books) or $10 at the door. Call 882-7154 for details.
AN ALCHEMY OF INSPIRATION. Time to intone the muses. The Visionary Healing Arts Ensemble presents Unbound.
The folks over there are describing it as an eclectic, soulful performance of voice, movement and artistry--an evening of poetic activism, live tribal music and percussion, African, hip-hop, modern dance, improvisation, spoken word, yoga-fusion and more. Twenty local artists join in making the chemical elements sing; there will be safe explosions only.
It gets underway at 7 p.m. at Zuzi's Little Theater located in the Historic Y at 738 N. Fifth Avenue at University Boulevard. Tickets cost $10 at the door. Call for information at 760-6062.
A DOZEN YEARS OF NEW PLAYS. Old Pueblo Playwrights hosts its 12th annual New Play Festival this weekend with seven new dramas.
Here's how OPP works: Writers meet weekly to read, share and discuss their works in progress. Once each year, they offer their polished gems to the public.
Come hear the birth of new drama in Tucson. Tonight's is a full-length play by Adrienne Perry called Into the Wind, about three detectives' search for clues in a young beauty queen's murder. The play is a finalist in this year's Arizona Playwrights competition and it starts at 7:30 p.m.
Other plays featured are Bret Primack's The Audition (Thursday at 7:30 p.m.); a bevy of one-act plays--Drop the Duck, Night Birds and Conflicting Part--by veteran OPP member Joan Van Dyke (Saturday at 2 p.m.); Adrienne Perry's one-act, Toys (Saturday at 4 p.m.); and Gavin Kayner's Thumbs (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.).
The festival takes place at Temple of Music and Art's Cabaret Theater, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets cost $5. Questions? Call 529-9445 or visit the OPP Web site: www.oldpuebloplaywrights.com.
KITCHEN GARDENING. Listen up all ye woefully failed gardeners: We can grow food indoors!
Kim Nelson shares secrets about growing edibles on the windowsill. She's the author of Southwest Kitchen Garden. (Note that local artist Cynthia Miller illustrated the book.) Nelson succeeds in growing plants and flowers where the soil is lean, the water is bad, the sun is hot, the wind is dry and the rain is scarce. If she can do it, so can you.
Nelson's a master gardener, a lifelong Westerner, a frequent contributor to Sunset Magazine and the author of A Desert Gardner's Companion. In her newest book, she outlines the process of planning, planting, growing, harvesting and cooking the crops that thrive in the particular incarnation of the Southwest kitchen garden. She proves that it's here that you can develop a source of wonderful food as well as a visually striking place--with vivid lavender and marigolds flourishing under a brilliant sun. At the end of the day, a gardening household can feast on such delights as Southwestern gazpacho, balsamic roasted root vegetables, dill and rosemary salmon. Nelson shares such recipes at Kim's most wonderful salad, citrus salsa, Mom's pumpkin cake and Anna's ice cream coleslaw.
Her reading starts at 2 p.m. at Reader's Oasis, 3400 E. Speedway Blvd. There will even be some tasty morsels to try out. Call for details at 319-7887.
CINEMA AUDITORIO. What do you get when you cross a writer/drummer with a radio artist/voice thief? Something literary and linear, certainly plausible and percussive, maybe apocryphal and aleatory.
Close your eyes and open your ears for Plausible Narratives, an evening of sound-art and writing at Biblio, located at 222 E. Congress St. It gets underway at 7 p.m. and features the writing of Karen Falkenstrom and sound-texts by Joan Schuman. (Yes, that's me, your behind-the-scenes voice of City Week here at the Tucson Weekly.)
Falkenstrom's influences go way back. "As the child of an opera singer and a violinist, my early life practically had a soundtrack," she offers. "I've struggled with brief bouts of visual impairment this past year, which has necessarily brought my focus almost entirely on the sounds of my life."
She's worked with the UA Poetry Center, the Tucson Poetry Festival, and Kore Press. The writing group she founded in 1992 recently published an anthology of their work, The Daybreak & Willingness Club. Her poems have appeared in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner and Colorado Review.
As for this obscure thing called sound-art, I describe it this way: "Interviews sometimes find their way into sound-texts. Voices evolve into others. Sounds become metaphors. It's all a cinema for the ear."
The work gets aired on the radio in Europe, London, Australia and, closer to home, on NPR and public radio stations. Sometimes it goes online, sometimes in galleries. For the first time, the two of us weave our own work together, a collaboration of sound and story.
The performance is free. We suggest bringing a blindfold or dark glasses. Call Biblio at 624-8222 for more information.
NORWAY'S BLOOM. In 1912, the St. Olaf Choir was born in--where else other than the old country?--Northfield, Minn.
It's a premier choral ensemble, hailing from St. Olaf College, a liberal arts school with a mere 3,000 students. The choir is comprised of full-time undergrads who balance studies and exams with rehearsals five days a week. Further demonstrating their unique commitment to the a cappella tradition, the choir members perform entirely from memory.
The celebrated collegiate ensemble stops in Tucson tonight for one concert out of their 16-city Western U.S. tour. This year's program is directed by Dr. Anton Armstrong and offers a rich tapestry of choral music. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall, located just inside campus, east of Main Gate at University Boulevard and Park Avenue.
Tickets cost $22 and $24 and are available at the box office by calling 621-3341.
THE WEAVE. In the summer of 1826, 17-year-old Felix Mendelssohn wrote to his sister, Fanny: "I have grown accustomed to dreaming in our garden."
Lucky chap. A Midsummer Night's Dream, the well-known orchestral overture based on the Shakespearean play, was thus born. The siblings performed the duet for a family concert, but it wasn't until he was an adult that Mendelssohn was commissioned by the King to compose the rest of the incidental music.
And now, Mad Dogs and Englishmen honors this weave of words and music. The UA's Keyboard Faculty--Pamela Decker, Paula Fan, Tannis Gibson, Jeff Haskell, Suzanne Knosp Rex Woods, Lisa Zdechlik and Nicholas Zumbro--join forces with singer-actors Mary Woods, Betty Allen and Grayson Hirst, plus KUAT's Bill Pitts. They perform Mendelssohn's work plus William Walton's Façade, conceived in the 1920s by the Sitwell family of poets and the young, 19-year-old composer who shared their house. Edith Sitwell composed the surreal verses that go along with Walton's jazzy music.
The concert starts at 3 p.m. and benefits the English-Speaking Union, which sponsors the Southern Arizona Shakespeare Competition for High School students. The performance takes place at Casas Adobes Congregational Church, 6801 N. Oracle Road. Tickets cost $10 or $5 for students. Call 326-5299 for details.
CHARMS AND BEADS AND GEMS. Inch your way towards early February in Tucson and you get this ritual of hordes of out-of-towners descending upon the desert for the sunshine and the ubiquitous gem shows.
Starting today and continuing through Sunday, Feb. 9, the annual Tucson Bead Renaissance Show opens to the public. Both the retail and the wholesale trade portions of the show are open to all. The show features bead artists and merchants offering ancient, vintage and contemporary beads plus designer glass beads and jewelry. You'll find bead books, beading supplies and educational information, too.
The Preview Gala and Sale takes place today from 4 to 8 p.m. at Sabbar Shrine, 450 S. Tucson Blvd. Suggested donation for the gala is $5 to benefit Shrine's Children's Hospital Transportation Fund. The rest of the show is free. It's even on the Orange Shuttle service route.
For more information, check the website at www.beadshow.com.
HONORING THE MONTH. Here we are at the cusp of Black History Month, and my Jubilee of Saints wall calendar is filled to the brim honoring folks each day in February.
Celebrate those who made an impact in the African-American community with a series of lectures titled, The Socialization of People of Color. The first in the series is hosted by social and human rights activist Brother Khaaladan and it takes place today from 7 to 9 p.m. at Bookman's, 1930 E. Grant Road.
It's free and open to all. Questions? Call 325-5767.
THEY PROMISE TO BE SHORT. Barney Burns is an historian whose focus is textiles from the 19th century to the present.
A Short History of Tarahumara and Mayo Weaving is the title of his lecture in which he traces the purchasing of these weavings by collectors and how the weavings themselves have, or have not, changed due to market demands.
Come hear his talk beginning at 7 p.m., hosted by the Arizona Historical Society. It takes place in the Museum's auditorium at 949 E. Second St. Admission costs $6 or $5 for AHS members and $3 for students. You can buy a pass for the Wednesday lecture series that continues through March 19 for $18 to $36. Seating is limited, so get there early. Free parking is available at the Euclid Avenue and Second Street garage. For details, call 628-5774.