Dave Brubeck: Best known as the progenitor of cool jazz in the '50s (and for "Take Five," one of the all-time standard-bearers of cool), the West Coast pianist/bandleader is a giant of jazz--period, and no modifier required. Granted, the Brubeck sound cracked open the door, far off in the future, for dishwater fusionists like Russ Freeman's Rippingtons (see the Sounds listing in Thrills), but can you really blame the guy who planned the party for the mess the party crashers made of it? And despite the Brubeck band's use of classical motifs--and partly because of its groundbreaking incorporation of world-music rhythms--Dave's golden-age crew was and remains a darling of the party set; it's hard to hear something like, say, "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and not dream of martinis--extra-dry. But because of that party-band reputation and the group's inarguable popularity, it's taken a while for critics (especially the snooty jazz kind) to warm to the notion of Dave Brubeck as visionary--but he was, and is. The 76-year-old shares the stage with fellow California keyboardist David Benoit (a Brubeck disciple) and the Daves' merged combos on Thursday, September 25, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets range from $30 to $38, available at Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Ticketmaster; call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Basically Balanchine: Ballet Arizona has opened its season with this homage to the "father of American ballet"--an all-Balanchine program that includes "Serenade: A Dance in the Light of the Moon," "The Four Temperaments: A Dance Ballet Without Plot" and the jazzy "Rubies" (the middle movement from the late choreographer's ballet Jewels). Final performances are on Thursday, September 25; Friday, September 26; and Saturday, September 27. All start at 8 p.m. in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets range from $9 to $34.50, available at the center and Dillard's; call 252-8497 or 503-5555.
Robert "Bilbo" Walker: Here's something you don't hear every day: a black, Delta-born bluesman, nicknamed after a white, segregationist Southern politician, blue-yodeling the Anglo-country standards "The Wild Side of Life" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels"--but this bluesman pulls off the musical desegregation with a powerfully raw, singular style. Now based in Bakersfield, California--!--and considered a beloved eccentric back home in Mississippi, Walker's really a musical maverick on the model of Chuck Berry. Guitarist/vocalist/cotton farmer Walker once worked, in fact, under the stage name "Chuck Berry Jr.," and "Bilbo" shares Berry's predilection for the duckwalk and, yes, country music, as well as Chuck's general otherness (onstage, 59-year-old Walker typically wears an atrocious wig and a tux custom-made for the prom from hell). Robert's warm and wonderful first disc, Promised Land, features two Berry covers (including the title track), plus masterful translations of tunes by others, including Sam Cooke, McKinley Morganfield (a.k.a. Muddy Waters), J.B. Lenoir, B.B. King--even Hoyt Axton. Showtime is 9 p.m. Thursday, September 25, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. The cover is $5. Call 265-4842.
"Inescapable Histories": The retrospective of the career of New York-based sculptor/eco-artist Mel Chin, the product of China-born parents and an upbringing in a racially mixed neighborhood in Houston, Texas, addresses Chin's deep concerns for personal and Earth history, human rights and, most notable, the environment. (Mel is likely best known for his large-scale piece "Maquette for Revival Field," a living sculpture that substituted "hyperaccumulator" plants for his usual medium of marble and was inspired by the "Revival Field" project focusing on the "green remediation" process of removing heavy metals from contaminated soil.) "Inescapable Histories" continues through Sunday, November 9, in the Mezzanine and Lower galleries at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Viewing is free; hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays (to 8 p.m. Thursdays), noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Call 994-2787.
"Harkins Anniversary Film Festival": The independent Valley chain celebrates its 64th year in show biz with this annual, best-deal-in-town spate of value-priced classics. The fest opens Friday, September 26, and continues daily, through Thursday, October 2. The lineup: Giant (1956) at Centerpoint 11, Mill and University in Tempe; Vertigo (1958) at Shea 14, 74th Street and Shea in Scottsdale; Lawrence of Arabia (1962) at Christown 11, 19th Avenue and Bethany Home; A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) at Bell Tower 8, 51st Avenue and Bell in Glendale; and Cabaret (1972) at Fiesta 5, 1520 South Longmore in Mesa. (All of the films are unrated except the latter, which is PG.) Admission to each screening is 25 cents; all proceeds benefit the United Way. For details see Showtimes or call the individual cinemas.
The Makers: If you've only got time, money and energy for one garage-punk show this week, make it the one by these self-proclaimed "kings of lowlife lobotomy rock" from Spokane, Washington, on Friday, September 26, at Hollywood Alley, 2610 West Baseline in Mesa. (If you've got the resources for two, check out New Jersey's Swingin' Neckbreakers; see the Sounds listing in Thrills.) The Makers (original name: the Haymakers) play savage, snot-nosed, nonfancy stuff that calls to mind early '70s Stooges and Pretty Things. The Fells, the Breakmen, and the Medieval Knievals open; the all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance, $8 the day of the show, available at Dillard's. Call 820-7117 or 503-5555.