Bay Area hip-hop is celebrating another anniversary, and this time Colorado Springs will get to be part of it.
You may remember how our own ReMINDers played the Hieroglyphics collective's 20th anniversary show out in Oakland last Labor Day weekend. Now comes late-breaking word that the hip-hop supergroup's cofounder, Jonathan "Casual" Owens, will be coming to town Sunday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his own Fear Itself release.
The night after Casual sits in with Slum Village at a Denver J Dilla tribute, he'll be down here performing his debut album in its entirety. And if all that weren't enough, the show will take place at Thai Lily, a restaurant that can barely hold 150 people even if they all hold their breath. The part-time venue, located at 319 N. Chelton Road, has been hosting live hip-hop nights for the past several months, but this will be its first serious out-of-town act.
"I keep in contact with most of the Hiero Crew," says Jon "Jayoin" Stevens of the booking. "I've been on a bunch of shows with Hieroglyphics members, and they are always a class act."
So where do we get tickets? "We don't need no stinking tickets," laughs the Mad Trees/A Black Day emcee. "It's $5 at the door. We might have some presales available at Thai this week."
If not, though, doors open at 8 p.m., so this is fair warning to underground hip-hop fans who don't want to spend the night listening from the parking lot.
As for Fear Itself, the battle rapper's solo debut finds him working alongside producer/emcee Del the Funkee Homosapien and other hip-hop luminaries on crossover singles "I Didn't Mean To," "Me-O-Mi-O" and "That's How It Is."
The album also draws upon an LP bin's worth of jazz samples — which, given that it was on RCA/Jive, may actually have been paid for — by the likes of Eddie Harris & Les McCann, Roy Ayers, Tom Scott and Freddie Hubbard.
Which is a good thing, actually, because it makes for an easy transition to this weekend's 11th anniversary of the Five Points Jazz Festival. Denver's premier outdoor jazz event will go all day and well into the evening on Saturday, with a few dozen musicians, on eight stages, playing for some 15,000 people. In addition to the music, food and arts vendors, the neighborhood itself is an attraction. Once known as "the Harlem of the West," Five Points used to house venues that played host to legends like Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.
As for the current crop of Jazz Fest performers, we asked Lenny Mazel, longtime host of jazz shows on stations like KRCC and KCME, to give us his insights into this year's must-see acts.
"I generally approach a day of music like this by planning to see the acts that I know I will like, but end up discovering artists I was unfamiliar with," he responds via email. "I would mark the following on my program going in:
11 a.m.: Joe Bonner (Outstanding pianist, numerous recordings with jazz great Pharoah Sanders, also Roy Brooks, Billy Harper and Woody Shaw)
1:30 p.m.: Freddy Rodriguez (Veteran saxophonist, led the El Chapultepec house band for over a decade, recorded with the Jazz Corps in 1966 with guest Roland Kirk)
2 p.m.: Brad Goode (Hard bop trumpeter out of Chicago, has made notable recordings for the Delmark and Steeplechase labels, now on Origin Records where he has greatly expanded his musical palette)
3:30 p.m.: Marc Sabatella (Amazingly versatile pianist-composer who explores many facets and styles of jazz)
7 p.m.: Brad Leali Orchestra (Alto saxophonist, veteran of Harry Connick, Jr. and Count Basie orchestras, leads his own ten-piece little big band of Denverites)"
True jazz aficionados may also want to stay up in Denver for Leali and company's 3 p.m. encore performance Sunday at Dazzle Jazz.
And finally, for old-school thrash-punk fans and their grandkids, Suicidal Tendencies will be making a rare appearance this coming Tuesday at the Black Sheep. As the band pointed out in its debut single, "Institutionalized," all frontman Mike Muir really wanted was a Pepsi. Instead he got a three-decade punk-rock career. You could probably do worse.