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Arts Beat: Sounds of jazz outside Albright-Knox; 'Date' night at MusicalFare

It would not be summer without the sounds of jazz on outside Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.). The Brendan Lanighan Sextet kicks off the 38th annual Buffalo News Jazz at the Albright-Knox summer series at 2 p.m. July 7 outside the gallery on the Delaware Park side facing Hoyt Lake.

Lanighan, on trombone, is a Buffalo native who has toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Doc Severinsen and Gordon Webster and his All Stars. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Juilliard School. He's joined by Mark Filsinger on trumpet, Elliott Scozzaro on sax, Nick Weiser on piano and Wayne Moose on bass. Dan Hull is the man on drums.

Admission is free, although if rain moves the concert into the gallery's auditorium, museum admission will be charged. Paid parking is available in the museum lot, with free parking also available on nearby streets. The series continues with Don Rice and the Bobby Jones Trio on July 14, the Greg Millar Quintet on July 21, the Nancy Kelly Quintet featuring Bobby Militello on July 28, concluding with the Don Menza Septet on Aug. 4.

It's a 'Date' at MusicalFare

Although two is considered company, this dinner date draws a crowd in the romantic comedy "First Date," MusicalFare's frothy summer show, which opens July 10.

The lightweight musical about a mismatched couple on a blind date includes unexpected song-filled interruptions by people from past relationships and other emotional baggage carriers, some of them helpful, others not so much. The guy half of the date is Aaron, a straight-arrow with a good job who also is fresh from a devastating breakup. He has just met Casey, an artsy girl who approaches all her many first dates in full defensive armor. Casey is unaccustomed to "nice" guys and doesn't plan to let her guard down for this one. True to its title, the show shares every minute of their first date, from drinks to dessert, to learn the answer to the inevitable question: will there be a second date?

The story is written by Austin Winsberg. He was the producer and sometime writer for the TV show "Gossip Girl," to give you an idea of what sort of humor you'll find here. Music and lyrics are by the team Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner.

MusicalFare's theater is on the Daemen College campus (4380 Main St., Amherst), with plenty of free parking and a comfortable lounge for pre-show drinks for those who want to make a date of it. Performances are Wednesdays through Sundays through Aug. 11. Tickets are $45 (musicalfare.com).

Hands-on art at Artpark  

Artpark isn't just for oldies rockers. Things get artistically busy on the grounds there every weekend in July, with free Family Saturdays and Music in the Woods on Sundays. The family series begins July 6 and runs through July 27, with activities in the amphitheater area from noon to 4 p.m. and free parking in both lots.

Each Saturday, artists of all ages can try their hands at painting, clay modeling and even throwing a vase on a pottery wheel (if you are at least 4 feet tall). There's also access to a costume closet for play-acting and a sand mountain for tactile fun. In the midst of all this, an acting group called N.U.R.T. (that's the Niagara University Repertory Theatre) will present children's shows on stage at 1 and 3 p.m.

On July 7, members of the Buffalo Jazz Composers Workshop open the Music in the Woods series at 4 p.m. The free 90-minute concerts are in the park's Lower Park Emerald Grove, overlooking the Niagara River. The series continues each week through Aug. 18. Visit artpark.net.

Over the river

The Shaw Festival is in full swing in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. with much of the buzz centering on its production of Patrick Hamilton's mystery "Rope." Critics are giving the psychologically thriller high marks for its staging and performances, calling it "gripping" and "riveting." It is playing in the Royal George Theatre through Oct. 12. Shaw tickets come in a wide range of prices and packages. Find out more about that and about other shows at shawfest.com.

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