An avant-garder takes a walk on Sesame Street

By Michael Roberts, originally published by Westword 2005-09-01

Boston-based saxophonist Ken Field makes grown-up sounds for idiosyncratic outfits such as Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, whose 2003 disc, Year of the Snake, is like a particularly wild visit to Bourbon Street. Yet tots know his work, too, thanks to his contributions to the long-running children's program Sesame Street. Sight & Sound, which takes place tonight at the Mercury Cafe, represents the intersection of these two very different thoroughfares. The show features screenings of pieces by Field's wife, animator Karen Aqua, and a performance by his Alto Saxophone Project, a group co-starring several fine Denver jazzers.

In 1990, two years after Birdsongs' debut, Field and Aqua first combined their talents on behalf of Sesame Street. "For both the music and the animation, they have indicated that they prefer we not talk 'down' to the kids," Field notes via e-mail, "so the music tends to be pretty close to what I would do anyway." As a result, his Sesame material should blend seamlessly into the set by the Project, which will tackle songs from throughout his career. Bassist Edwin Hurwitz and drummer Art Lande anchor the ensemble, with the melodies coming courtesy of Field and fellow altoists Clare Church and Pete Lewis. "I love the sound of three (or more!) alto saxophones," Field points out. "There's a hard-to-describe uniqueness to the sound of three of the same instrument playing chords or interweaving melodic lines."

The festivities kick off at 7 p.m. at the Mercury, 2199 California Street. The "suggested donation" for attendees is $8. Phone 303-294-9281 for more info.

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