For those who want to see a genuine giant of jazz's golden era in live performance, time isn't on your side. Sure Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and Jimmy Heath still perform occasionally, but seeing them on stage is probably going to require a trip to New York or a pricey ticket to a major music festival. Luckily, Da Camera of Houston gives us an opportunity to see Wayne Shorter perform in Houston when the Wayne Shorter Quartet celebrates the legendary saxophonist's 80th birthday on Friday.
Shorter, who led groups under his own hard-bop leanings, was a leading light in jazz fusion, co-founding the ensemble Weather Report. He often played in other men's bands (Art Blakely's Jazz Messengers, Miles Davis's Second Great Quintet). He also penned classics like "Nefertiti," "E.S.P." and "Footprints" (all for Davis). "Wayne is a real composer," the famously skinflinty-with-compliments Davis wrote in his autobiography. "He knew that freedom in music was the ability to know the rules in order to bend them to your satisfaction and taste." Shorter's current quartet -- which features Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Brian Blade on drums -- released the well-received Without a Net last year.
See the Wayne Shorter Quartet at 8 p.m. Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $40 to $65.
Is the image in the photograph above A) a wooden sculpture in the shape of a whooping crane's head, B) a mock-up of a canon used on the set of a movie about an intergalactic war, C) none of the above, D) all of the above, or E) art, so it's up for interpretation? If you answered E, congratulations, you understand contemporary art. (Technically, if you answered A, B, C, D or E, you understand contemporary art.) The photo is one of the works seen in the "36th Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition" at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, which has its opening reception on Friday. Some 18 upperclassmen and grad students have work in the show, a showcase for work created by visual artists that are in the university's MFA program.
Maria Granato Sharon, a Master of Arts candidate in art history and coordinator of the exhibition, calls the show an important part of the students' education. Via press materials, Sharon says, "The art presented in the "MFA Exhibition" is the culmination of their three years as graduate students. They share what they've learned over this time, and audiences can get a preview of what to expect from these artists in the future."
There's an opening reception 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Through April 19. Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, 3800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-743-9521 or visit uh.edu. Free.
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Musician and experimental filmmaker John Wiese is making his Houston debut on Saturday, and he's rounded up some of the most out-there artists in the city to help him. "It's kind of unbelievable considering how many shows I've played in the U.S., but I've simply never had the opportunity to play in Texas before," says Wiese. "The scene in Houston is legendary, of course, and I've had correspondences with artists there dating back to the mid-90s."
It all starts with a timbral-based noise performance by some of the best of improvisational musicians in Texas, like Sandy Ewen, Parham Daghighi, Damon Smith and Houston Press contributor Steve Jansen. Then Wiese screens a series of his experimental films including Mirror, a triumph of Wiese's obsessions with the demystification of performing minimal sound works in a live setting. "A man and a woman listen to a very loud and aggressive sound piece and struggle with falling asleep standing up," says Wiese. "Using cuts and editing, their experiences envelope each other as the piece progresses. At screenings of this work, the image has been projected very large and the sound reproduced at significant volume, creating a situation in which the audience became a third participant."
Doors open at 8 p.m. with the music set to start at 8:30 p.m. 14 Pews, 800 Aurora Street. For information, call 281-888-9677 or visit 14pews.org. $10.
Say the name Jo Koy five times real fast -- sounds like jokey, doesn't it? We think Koy, born Joseph Glenn Herbert, is trying to send out a subliminal message to his audience -- "I'm funny. I'm jokey. You will laugh." A Houston favorite, Koy is one of our picks for Saturday.
Koy, who's deceptively sophisticated at the mike, doesn't really need the help of subliminal suggestions on stage, although he might need some if he ever rides the mechanical bull at the glitzy version of Gilley's nightclub at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. "I can't [ride the bull]. I can't see myself trying it," Koy told Megan Riggs of What's on Magazine in 2013. "I think the worst, like my teeth are all paid for, and all I can see is my face hitting the front of that bull and [them] falling out. I don't see any good outcome at riding the bull. I don't see staying on for eight seconds and then people applauding. I see my face bashing up against the head of the bull, blood everywhere, and the paramedics."
A regular guest on the Adam Carolla Show and on Chelsea Lately, Koy has his own podcast with fellow Amerasian comedian and former Houstonian Michael Yo and a hilarious series of YouTube videos with stand-up star Anjelah Johnson.
Jo Koy performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The Improv Comedy Showcase, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $25 to $60.
Love Simpson, the woman at the center of our choice for Sunday, the Carlisle Floyd opera Cold Sassy Tree, is a woman with a plan. It's not a great plan, but given that it's the year 1900 and Simpson is an old maid living in a gossipy small town, it's a pretty good one. Simpson (a role shared by Cynthia Clayton and Emily Robinson) marries Rucker Lattimore, an older, gruff man whose wife recently died. When we say recently, we mean just a few days before Simpson and Lattimore's wedding. That throws the whole town in an uproar, including his outraged adult daughters.
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"Love [Simpson] is a woman who has very few options," Clayton tells us. "She's a woman for whom marriage didn't happen when it was supposed to so she has to make some hard choices. When Rucker proposes, it's a business deal." (He needs someone to take care of him, and in return she'll inherit all his property when he dies.) "It's about self-preservation for her. She thinks, 'If I don't do this I may end up with nothing.' So she marries him."
But wait, this is an opera so, of course, the story doesn't stop there. "She sees him as an old man," Clayton says. "He's hiding under a big Duck Dynasty beard, and yes, he's nice to her -- he wants her to be happy, he fixes up the house for her -- but she isn't thinking about love. Then he shaves off his beard and she says, 'Oh my god, I'm married to someone attractive.' Things start to change for her."
7:30 p.m. April 4, 5 and 7, 2 p.m. April 6. University of Houston, 3800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-743-3313 or visit uh.edu. $20.
Bob Ruggiero and Jef With One F contributed to this post.