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  • Larry Redhouse Trio kicks off TJS Summer Series July 5

    The Tucson Jazz Society kicks off the 8th season of its Summer Series on Saturday, July 5 with the Larry Redhouse Trio at the DoubleTree by Hilton at Reid Park. Pianist Redhouse will lead a world class ensemble made up of Robin Horn on drums, and Evan Dain on both acoustic and electric bass. The Trio incorporates straight-ahead jazz, Latin, funk and reggae influences in its exciting repertoire.Pianist and composer Larry Redhouse has performed in prestigious venues around the world, including the Grenoble Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian Museum and Kennedy Center Jazz Club, both in Washington, D.C. He has opened for jazz greats Chick Corea and Terrance Blanchard, and backed such popular artists as Rick Braun and Euge Groove. Larry has released two self-produced CDs, Spirit Progression and Live at the Westward Look.Robin Horn has made an international reputation as performer, studio drummer, composer, arranger, producer, and educator. He has worked such artists as Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville, and Joe Sample. Robin has released two solo CDs and also appears on Larry Redhouse’s album Spirit Progression. As an educator, Robin has been an Artist-In-Residence at the University of Arizona from 1994 to the present.Evan Dain is a San Francisco Bay area native who began playing bass professionally in Northern California followed by a stay in New Orleans where he performed and toured with Banu Gibson, Hal Smith, and John Gil. Since moving to Tucson in 1996, Evan has worked prolifically as a performer, arranger and producer and as a member of the popular gypsy jazz band, Hot Club of Tucson.Don't miss out on this smokin’ hot performance. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for non-members; $15 for members; $10 for veterans, seniors, and students. Tickets are available at the door and at tucsonjazz.tix.com.

  • ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ dazzles

    The cast returns in this sequel to the 2010 “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, providing viewers with a hard-edged storyline.  Very quickly in the film it’s apparent that “Dragon 2” is at least on par, if not better, than the original journey.  Writer and director Dean DeBlois establishes all the familiar characters for moviegoers to pick-up right where they left off in the previous film.  The most significant ploy by DeBlois, though, is his masterful narrative that makes this animated movie enjoyable for adults and children alike.“How to Train Your Dragon 2” puts DreamWorks in the pole-position of animated films, moving itself ahead of the industry-leader Pixar.  In fact, the visuals in this film almost distract viewers, at least initially with the vast landscape shots.  During the first few scenes, the lucid—almost magical—pictures on the big screen mesmerized me.  Raising the animation bar to such a high quality product really opens this movie to wider audiences, as adults will forget they’re watching a kids’ film.  Pixar’s “Toy Story” collection was brilliant at this realism too, leading the way for other studios to market these movies not only to parents, but also to adults without any children.Besides its remarkable visual acuity, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” satisfies audiences with its successful storyline.  A darker plot involves another milestone for the young Viking boy, Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel), to overcome on his rise to leadership.  Following in the footsteps of his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), Hiccup must protect and defend the dragons against outsiders.  With plenty of action and a soft tug at our heartstrings, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” invokes emotion and interest throughout its 1 hour and 45 minute running time.  DeBlois deserves credit for keeping the film’s length commensurate with its target audience attention span, never trying to do too much on the big screen.This movie deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film and accolades for producing a storyline that’s enjoyable for both adults and kids.  Never getting too far ahead of its viewers, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” keeps the action and suspense flowing seamlessly.  The film instills the positive messages of personal fortitude and one’s goal to settle differences peacefully.  While the story is kept simple for younger audiences, it offers enough boldness to pique the interest of older viewers—and for an animation film to capture the attention of moviegoers of all ages, that’s saying a lot.Grade: A-(Editor’s Note: Patrick King is a resident of Oro Valley and writer for the REEL BRIEF movie blog at www.reelbrief.com.  Email him at reelbriefmoviereviews@mail.com.)

  • Prime Time Review: North Korea threatens war over movie

    The hermit nation of North Korea has recently proclaimed its newest round of threats towards the United States. This time however, the nation is not concerned about military issues or demonstrations, but a Hollywood movie. The always radical and unpredictable country threatens a “resolute and merciless response against the United States” and calls the release of a single film “reckless U.S. provocative insanity”, labeling it an act of war.What movie could garner such a swift and radical response from North Korea? A documentary looking inside the troubled nation? Or maybe a propaganda film portraying North Korea in a less than favorable light? No, the movie that has North Korean officials so riled up is “The Interview”, a comedy movie directed by Evan Goldberg and starring Seth Rogan and James Franco.“The Interview” is an action-comedy movie in which two celebrity TV journalists (Rogan and Franco) secure an exclusive interview with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un. Before the interview, the two journalists are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim. While this concept may seem funny to Americans and even the rest of the world, the levity is not shared amongst officials in North Korea.At first, North Korea panned the movie off as nothing more than “rubbish” and gave little care to the comedy, but have now released more dire responses through the nation’s state-run news agency, KCNA, “The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays an attack on our top leadership ... is a most wanton act of terror and an act of war and is absolutely intolerable.”The preview is filled with plenty of chase scenes, missile attacks, and other events that gimmick the constant threats and bolstering of arms by the hermit nation. The trailer not only comes packed with some interesting action scenes, but also the goofy, none too serious comedy style of Franco and Rogan. The two actors have worked together for over a decade now on some memorable comedy projects like “Freaks and Geeks”, “This is the End”, and “Pineapple Express”.Are these two “stoner comedians” really releasing a movie that would warrant all-out war? Of course not.  This is not the first time the nation has condemned a Hollywood movie.

  • Fourth of July events

    Fireworks planned in Oro ValleyThe Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort, the AAA Four-Diamond resort located in the shadows of Pusch Ridge.Resort guests and locals alike are invited to celebrate Independence Day with Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort’s Stars and Stripes Classic BBQ event. Attendees will enjoy two live concerts, featuring Kaci Bays and Ken Martinson from 6 to 7 p.m. and country singer Marnie Chastain from 7 to 9 p.m. Throughout the event, the resort’s culinary team will be cooking-up a buffet-style BBQ feast featuring baby back ribs, southwestern green chili pork, gourmet hamburgers and hot dogs, roasted chicken, veggie burgers, tamales, served alongside an array of seasonal salads, side dishes and desserts. At 9 p.m., the resort will light-up the Tucson skies with a 30-minute spectacular fireworks show.The event is open to the public, with non-resort guest tickets available for $48 for adults, $20 for children ages 5-12, with no charge for children under the age of five. Ticket prices include taxes and gratuity, and advanced reservations are strongly recommended as the event is expected to sell-out.To purchase tickets, call the resort concierge at 520-544-1244 or visit the resort’s El Conquistador Country Club location at 10555 N. La Canada Drive, Oro Valley.The event will be held Friday, July 4 between 6 and 9:30 p.m., gates open at 5:30 p.m. for event parking.

  • Happenings - Week of July 2

    THEATERFriday to Sunday, July 4-6• Catch a performance of The Comedy Genius of Ben Franklin featuring selections from the comic writings of one of the founding fathers of the United States. Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday; the Comedy Playhouse, 3620 N. First Ave., Suite 154; $10-$12; 260-6442.Saturday, July 5• Laugh out loud with America’s favorite comic and Comedy Central star Jeff Dunham and his beloved cast of characters on their “Disorderly Conduct” tour. Details: 8 p.m.; Casino del Sol AVA Amphitheater, 5655 W. Valencia Road; $40-$85; 800-344-9435.Tuesday, July 8

  • Saturday Puzzles 6-28-14

  • ‘Jersey Boys’ walks like a man

    This is a film that normally would make for easy discard by critics and moviegoers alike; a simplistic story about four troubled New Jersey youths growing up, each trying to make it big and get out of their neighborhood for good.  Many could argue that with a plot and movie conclusion already predetermined, all that’s left is for some feel-good music to be thrown in to break up the dialogue--and keep impatient audiences awake.  Fortunately, despite criticism from film experts to the contrary, director Clint Eastwood’s latest movie works.  In fact, “Jersey Boys” doesn’t just work, it rock and rolls.“Jersey Boys” is not, however, only a movie about 1960s pop culture music and a fresh leading voice; truthfully, it’s a film about relationships—deep-rooted and loyal friendships attempting to survive hardships and disappointments behind every music label.  The foursome may have been brought together by the common goal to make chart-topping songs, but it’s their close personal bond that makes this true story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons so compelling.Eastwood deserves credit for making “Jersey Boys” entertaining for audiences of all ages.  He masterfully casts newcomers in the film (minus Christopher Walken) and soft handedly introduces us to the popular rock genre of songs from 50 years ago.  Between recognizable hits like “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like A Man”, Eastwood expertly highlights the group’s change in dynamics from novice crooners to one of the best-selling bands of all time.  It’s a difficult task to transform a true story into more than two hours of cinematic bliss.  There are bound to be slower moments along a life’s journey that still need to be told, in order for the greater film whole to be connected and understood.   My only movie downgrade for “Jersey Boys” are these handful, but necessary, background sketches to provide viewers the complete picture in the proper context.  That’s the price--and difficulty--of taking true-life stories and keeping faith with that account.  Nevertheless, so much of “Jersey Boys” provides a fascinating look at the musical predecessors to the Beatles; the culture captured so eloquently in the film through the clothes, speech, mannerisms, and yes, even the music.“Jersey Boys” steps up and delivers to moviegoers.  If the music doesn’t have you smiling, then seeing four young men rise to number one on the Billboard charts will.  This film’s true story, under Clint Eastwood’s fine direction, illustrates how far friendship and talent can take a group if they really want it.  Eastwood’s final act pays tribute to the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. With over 100 million records sold worldwide, The Four Seasons still ranks as one of America’s most successful bands ever. “Jersey Boys” shows us how a group of troubled youths became such a pop culture icon in the 1960s.  That’s something people of all ages can enjoy.Grade: B+

  • Prime Time Review: Tucsonan selected for CBS Reality TV

    Fans of the CBS reality show “Big Brother” will have a hometown hero to root for this upcoming season. 23-year-old Tucsonan, Christine Brecht, was selected to be among the 16 hopefuls participating for a big cash prize in this year’s competition. Brecht has already been whisked away from her friends and family, shut off from the outside world, and prepared for her TV debut.“Big Brother”, now in its 16th season, is a competitive escapade for its contestants. Brecht will be placed in a lavish home with her fellow “houseguests”, made to compete in various mental and physical challenges, and will be filmed around the clock. At the end of the competition, the last contestant standing will be awarded a grand prize of $500,000. Brecht’s competition is diverse, ranging from 21 to 42 years old, with occupations that include a YouTube personality, a DJ, a baseball player, a police sergeant, a minister, and a makeup artist.This season of “Big Brother” has a few twists that set it apart from its predecessors. For those who understand the show’s format, there will be two Heads of Household each week this season. The Heads of Household will be awarded a large suite all to themselves, and will have the authority to nominate other houseguests for elimination. The Heads of Households themselves are not immune to elimination, however. Another twist entering this season will allow fans, or “Team America”, to have an interactive influence on the competition’s outcome. Finally, an entirely new concept entitled “Battle of the Block” is being adopted, and it is designed to shake things up, creating power shifts, and placing contestants on the chopping block.But despite the challenges ahead, Tucson’s own dog in the fight believes she has the perfect strategy for winning the grand prize. She explains that she plans to carefully select confidants in the house, and to build alliances with those who may help her survive the threat of elimination. Brecht, an avid board game fan, claims that she will maneuver her fellow houseguests like game pieces, using them to her advantage and ultimately reaching her goal through careful planning and masterful execution. It is sure to be some stiff competition, but Brecht is confident that she will bring the prize money back to Tucson.For those who want to tune in and cheer on their fellow Tucsonan, “Big Brother” will premier in the evening on both Wednesday, June 25 and Thursday, June 26 on CBS.

  • Kids invited to musical instrument photo contest

    Join Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance for an interactive experience geared towards youth the whole family can enjoy, featuring music, dance and theater. Evans Family Musical Merriment will bring humor to the next Musical Magic for Kids, on Saturday, July 5 at 10 a.m. at the Town of Oro Valley’s Council Chambers, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive.Presented by Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, the series has recently inspired a “call to kids” for the Musical Instrument Photo Contest, where youth can submit photos – each will receive a free gift as well as a chance to win prizes. The top photo will be published in The Explorer Newspaper following the contest.Musical Magic for KidsWhen: Concerts begin at 10 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month  Where: Town of Oro Valley’s Council Chambers, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive.

  • Happenings - Week of June 25

    THEATERSunday, June 29• Enjoy the Gran Festival de Folklore Mexicano y Mariachi featuring Mariachi Vargas who has endured for five generations presented by Ballet Folklorico Tapito. Details: 7 p.m.; Casino del Sol AVA Amphitheater, 5655 W. Valencia Road; $17-$77; 800-344-9435.Saturday, July 5• Laugh out loud with America’s favorite comic and Comedy Central star Jeff Dunham and his beloved cast of characters on their “Disorderly Conduct” tour. Details: 8 p.m.; Casino del Sol AVA Amphitheater, 5655 W. Valencia Road; $40-$85; 800-344-9435.Tuesday, July 8

  • Saturday Puzzles 6-21-14

  • SAACA to host live arts and fashion show

    Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) and La Encantada present Splash! summer charity event on June 21.On Saturday, June 21 at 6 p.m., the Splash charity event will dive into this modern art form and provide a venue for local “street” artists to create live, designing striking paintings in the event’s colorful theme. Attendees can watch the artistic process first hand and get a chance to speak to the artists in action.Vibrant sights, rich tastes and pulsating sounds will energize La Encantada during the fundraiser presented by SAACA. Walk through fashion displays and feast on creative food and cocktails as energetic music fills the mall’s center courtyard.Tickets are $25 per person, which includes cocktails and food samplings from participating restaurants, live art, goodie bags with coupons and giveaways from Tucson businesses, musical entertainment and access to the silent auction.

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