Current events |

Current events

Bassist Christian McBride, pictured on drums at last summer's JASummerNights Swing event at Aspen Highlands, leads the tribute to late jazz bassist Ray Brown at Harris Hall. Aspen Times photo/Stewart Oksenhorn.

Bassist Ray Brown was not only one of the most recorded musicians ever, with more than 2,000 recordings to his credit, among the most beloved figures in jazz, and a mentor to the likes of Diana Krall and Christian McBride. Brown was one of the key architects of jazz. As a 20-year-old in New York City in 1946, the Pittsburgh native was recruited by Dizzy Gillespie to play bass in a quartet that included Charlie Parker. The result was the birth of be-bop, the form that remains essential to jazz today. Of local interest, Brown, who died in 2002, was a significant figure in Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ educational efforts. On Wednesday, March 23, Jazz Aspen gathers a group of top players – bassists McBride and John Clayton, pianists Benny Green and Geoff Keezer, and singer Marlena Shaw among them – for the Tribute to Ray Brown at Harris Hall.

One of the key launching points for filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kaufman on the way to an Academy Award was Aspen. Briski, a photographer by trade, had been teaching photography skills to children of prostitutes in Calcutta’s red-light district, in the hopes of providing them with skills, opportunity and hope. Briski and Kaufman had hopes of their own, to make a documentary film of the experience. To raise critical funds, they used local contacts to exhibit the children’s photos at the Woody Creek Gallery. The result was last year’s “Born Into Brothels,” a film both heartbreaking and hopeful, which won the Oscar for best documentary. “Born Into Brothels” shows at the Wheeler Opera House Wednesday and Thursday, March 23-24.

When the late Arthur Miller wrote “The Crucible” in 1953, it was a most timely piece. Though set three centuries earlier, the drama about the Salem witch hangings spoke eloquently about one of the momentous events of Miller’s day: Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the communist hunt carried out by his House un-American Activities Committee. In this era of the Patriot Act and the chief executive claiming to speak in God’s name, “The Crucible’s” theme of demonization rings as loud as ever. Kent Reed, who founded Theatre Under the Jerome – which became Aspen Theatre in the Park, and now Theatre Aspen – directs the play at the Black Box Theatre in Aspen High School. Lee Sullivan, as the accused witch John Proctor, heads a cast that includes Kathy Pelowski, Ed Foran, Brian O’Neil, Veronica Hunsinger-Loe and Reed himself. “The Crucible” plays Friday through Sunday, March 25-27 and April 1-3.

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