Didn't We Ramble: Of all the bedrock American musical styles that Texas can proudly claim, jazz seems to be the least recognized. Blind Lemon Jefferson plays that twangy down-home blues and Bob Wills moves a dance floor with his galloping Texas swing in our collective memories, but many of the great jazz instrumentalists of the last half-century have hailed from here. Any state that can boast Ornette Coleman, David "Fathead" Newman, Red Garland, Cedar Walton, and Julius Hemphill surely deserves a chapter in the American book of music, but so far, the region's jazz history hasn't been exhaustively chronicled. The Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters has taken up the cause and presents a night of many musical colors, all of them in the shade of jazz. "Didn't We Ramble: A Night of Jazz Joy in June" features four of the best contemporary North Texas musical outfits--Sebastian Whittaker and the Creators, Marchel Ivery, Rachelle Parks, and Wm. A Richardson and the Inner Circle Jazz Evolutionists. The Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters presents "Didn't We Ramble" 8 pm-1 am in the Clarence Muse Cafe Theater in the Dallas Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin. Tickets are $10-$12. For more info call 658-7147 or 943-0142.
Janet Leigh: While film scholars over the last three decades have poked, prodded, dissected, and generally emptied the clockwork contents of every movie Alfred Hitchcock ever made, his films continue to resist critical reductionism, perhaps because so many of them are so damned entertaining--the Master's first concern with every project. And while you can savor the pristinely realized themes of duplicity in Vertigo and voyeurism in Rear Window, many of us revere the more confrontational Psycho for its sheer, white-knuckle effectiveness. Indeed, as one of the few classic American thrillers that actually gets creepier the more you analyze it, Psycho is the pinnacle of all Hitchcock's intricate exercises in audience manipulation. The film's star, Janet Leigh, has just released a book on the making of the film titled Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller. She appears to sign copies of her memoir at 7 pm in Taylors Prestonwood, 5455 Belt Line Rd. For info call 357-1700.
AmeriFest '95: Say what you like about Dallas' general apathy toward arts institutions that offer challenging work, but we sure know how to throw an outdoor festival. A bunch of corporations and business vendors see the chance for a little "community outreach" (read promotion), put their heads together, and voila!!--you have another outdoor festival with arts and crafts, food and drink, live performances, etc. Actually, early June is ideal for walking among crowds of fellow Dallasites--the sun is shining, kids are out of school and therefore pretty much thrilled to be doing anything, and the concrete hasn't yet begun to feel like the bottom of one of those old-fashioned bread-baking ovens. AmeriFest was first organized last year to coincide with the World Cup Games. When a whopping 45,000 folks made their way through, the organizers decided to give it another go. Just think of AmeriFest '95 as an excuse just to be. AmeriFest '95 happens daily June 9-11 on Main Street between Pegasus Plaza and Griffin Street. It's free. For more info call 742-4021.
The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb: By the time David Borthwick's 1993 The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb played at last year's USA Film Festival, the hour-long combination of latex creations and live actors was dragging a wagonful of international film festival awards behind it. No small wonder, because this Tom Thumb works as both a stunning technical feat and an unnerving, if ambiguous, exploration into the relationship between scientific innovation and moral decay, the latter represented by a sludgy, trashy underworld into which the tiny protagonist escapes. What makes the film especially eerie is the jittery movements of the live actors, who were filmed as though they were latex models---each gesture painstakingly recorded with a single shot and then woven together. The film is accompanied by a short work called Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life, in which the inimitable Richard E. Grant portrays an off-his-rocker Kafka trying to begin his short novel The Metamorphosis despite the interruptions of Christmas Eve well-wishers. The Inwood opens The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb and Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life for a midnight run each Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $7. For more information call 352-6040.
The Art of Collecting: Thirty Years in Retrospect: After playing host to a series of wildly successful international touring exhibits, Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum has decided to toot its own horn with the latest show on the schedule. Entitled The Art of Collecting: Thirty Years In Retrospect, the exhibition features 150 separate works in various media that stretch from the ancients to the moderns and include European, North American, Asian, and African artists. For years now, Kimbell staffers and directors have been working to assemble a permanent collection that distinguishes the institution not just as the stop in the Southwest for traveling mega-shows, but also as a formidable, internationally competitive holder of great works. They've got the family jewels on display here, so come and peruse. The Art of Collecting: Thirty Years in Retrospect opens June 10 and runs through September 3 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. It's free. Call (817) 332-8451.