The Denver home of violinist and jazz musician George Morrison was always filled with music, as his granddaughter Trudi Morrison remembers it. That music was not only from the students who received …
The Denver home of violinist and jazz musician George Morrison was always filled with music, as his granddaughter Trudi Morrison remembers it.
That music was not only from the students who received lessons at the house, but from the jazz luminaries who stopped in — figures like Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and Jelly Roll Morton.
“Denver was strictly segregated at the time, so touring musicians weren’t able to stay at the hotels. Instead, they stayed with us at Big Daddy and Big Mommy’s house,” Morrison said. “Everyone knew who he was, and they still remember him. He was like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, all rolled into one.”
Morrison (1891-1974) made his first violin from a corn stalk, a piece of wood, and some string, and first played publicly with his brother in mining camps in the mountains west of Boulder. He married in 1911 and started “George Morrison and his Jazz Orchestra,” one of Denver’s first jazz orchestras. In 1920, he played a command performance in London for King George and Queen Mary.
To celebrate Morrison and other visionaries of African-American musical and cultural history, the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., is hosting The Legacy Show at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 24.
The multimedia musical experience is anchored by music of African-American composers performed by violinist Tami Lee Hughes and pianist Byron Burford-Phearse. The program features classical music infused with a variety of styles, including spirituals, blues, gospel, hip-hop, and jazz. Portraying cultural themes of the Antebellum Period, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Era, and Modern Times, the program includes poetry and visual media projected onto a large screen, providing images of people and places thematically related to the music.
“As a classically trained violinist, I love traditional repertoire, but the music featured in the show is a fusion of all of the styles I heard growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, including classical, jazz, gospel, spirituals, and blues,” said Hughes, whose artistic direction of the show is an extension of her debut solo recording. “As I researched music of African-American composers, I found a treasure trove of pieces rarely heard on the concert stage. Through The Legacy Show, I hope to share some of these works and celebrate the composers who have left a rich legacy through music we can all enjoy.”
In addition to Morrison, the performance will feature music from Duke Ellington, David Baker, Daniel Roumain, Kerwin Young, and more. But for this Denver-based crowd, Morrison’s work will be the most personal to hear. Which is something his granddaughter understands perfectly.
“We have a family history of breaking racial barriers, and we all stand of the shoulders of those who came before us,” she said. “Big Daddy’s story is one of striving and thriving in a time of deep-rooted segregation.”
Hughes did plenty of research when putting The Legacy Show, and she hopes concert-goers learn about the different voices and styles of music from different generations and backgrounds.
“The show is for everyone, but I especially like to see young people in the audience. There is distance between them and a lot of the history in the show, so the performance gives them context for understanding complex issues we are dealing with today,” she said. “I hope The Legacy Show inspires great conversations, including talks between people of different generations.”
For tickets and more information, visit www.arvadacenter.org/the-legacy-show.
Learn curling as the Olympics take over your screens
With the Winter Olympics now in full swing, viewers may well be inspired to try out a new sport after seeing some of the world’s best athlete’s competing.
For those who see the broom-and-ice-and-stone sport of curling and want to give it a try, the Denver Curling Club will be hosting an open house and drop-in learning classes on from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 7 to 9 p.m., on Saturday, Feb. 17, and from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, at the club’s headquarters, 14100 W. Seventh Ave. in Golden.
Visitors can learn about throwers and how they practice their deliveries (also called pitches or throws), and sweepers, who use brooms to sweep the ice. Visitors are encouraged to hang out, enjoy the Olympics on television, see curlers in action, and talk to members about our adult leagues and junior programs — all children must bring a helmet of any kind to wear.
For the drop-in classes, they last 30 minutes on the ice with instruction and a free nonalcoholic drink for $20.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 303-321-1107, or visit www.DenverCurlingClub.com.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week - Majid Jordan at the Gothic
Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan, made up of Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman, have provided plenty of backing vocals for more well-known artists like Drake, but they took their skills to a whole new level on their sophomore album, “The Space Between.”
Now Majid Jordan will be taking the stage at Englewood’s Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18.
“The Space Between” is easily one of the year’s sexiest albums, but it explores all aspects of romantic relationships, including moving on from old loves to the fickleness of contemporary relationships. “One I Want” is one of the best singles of the year, and “Gave Your Love Away” shows the pair’s vocal range.
While Majid Jordan is obviously heavily influenced by modern soul artists like Frank Ocean and Miguel, they add flourishes of electronic music that are all their own. Seeing and hearing how they translate all of this to the stage makes the show this week’s can’t-miss concert.
To get tickets, visit www.gothictheatre.com.
Life is a cabaret with the Denver Chorale
The Denver Chorale is preparing to bring the laughs to audiences for its annual spring cabaret performance at the “Make ‘Em Laugh” Cabaret at Dazzle Jazz, 1512 Curtis St. in Denver, at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18.
The cabaret will feature a special guest performance by Third Kind Improv, which is the resident improv troupe for the Human, Kind Theater Project.
From musicals to pop, every song choice will be performed by a talented member (or group) of the Denver Chorale, and is designed to have the audience rolling in the aisles. The chorale is a group of singers from throughout the metro area, and is led by founder and artistic director Valerie Montaño, a veteran music teacher. The group advocates the virtues of music, especially its healing power and guiding contribution to social movements.
There will also be a silent auction with the opportunity to bid on meals, theater tickets, original artwork, handcrafted items, overflowing themed gift baskets and more.
To learn more, visit denverchorale.org.
Turn up for Buffalo Bill’s birthday
Many people in Golden and beyond are aware of the big Buffalo Bill Days festival the city throws every summer. That’s some ways away, but those looking for a taste of the Old West can get their fix at the man’s birthday party.
The free Buffalo Bill Birthday Party will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, at The Rock Rest, 16005 Mount Vernon Road in Golden.
There will be hundreds of reenactors from all around the region celebrating William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s birthday. Visitors can take a shot in one of the free outfits contests for a chance of winning cash and/or prizes from top artists and photographers. National best-selling author Reid Lance Rosenthal will be there selling and signing his books along with local authors Leslee Breene and Sam Pisciotta. Local favorites Timothy P. and Friends will perform, and there will also be free birthday cake and door prizes.
For more information on the party, visit www.buffalobilldays.com.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. A community editor with Colorado Community Media, he can be reached email@example.com.