Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, dance, film, and theater that’s coming up this week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
A Palo Seco: Cinco Por Cinco
Multicultural Arts Center Cambridge
The New York based flamenco company A Palo Seco, led by Rebeca Tomas and Pedro Cortes headlines a Valentine’s night party that is preceded by a special party including wine, cava and desserts.
Heart and Sole
In a Valentine’s Day “something for everyone” showcase, tap dancer Ryan Casey has curated a program of duets ranging from tap, modern, ballet, flamenco, Latin fusion, contemporary, classical Indian dance with participants including Monkeyhouse and Luminarium Dance Company.
Akili Jamal Haynes: Art & Soul of Chibuzo
Jewett Art Center Auditorium
Chibuzo is an African word that means “God leads” and this debut performance of dance, music and theatre led by New England Conservatory faculty member Akili Jamal Haynes incorporates influences from across the African diaspora. This free performance features a cross-section of Boston’s African heritage dance troupes including The Art of Black Dance & Music, Jo-Me Dance Company, and the NIA Dance Troupe of Origination.
Circus Oz: From the Ground Up
Presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston at the Citi Shubert Theatre
The long-running family friendly and “animal free” circus from Down Under comes to town with an acrobatic show that was inspired by the precarious activities of construction workers suspended from swinging steel beams.
Rennie Harris Puremovement
Tang Theatre, Philips Academy
Rennie Harris Puremovement’s old school hip hop dance brushes off the works that investigated how hip hop technique could be transformed into a narrative language. The repertory in this free performance includes “March of the Antmen” inspired by a friend’s return from war, and an excerpt from Harris’ all-male reconsideration of the gangs battling at the center of Romeo and Juliet, “Rome and Jewels.”
Boston Ballet Close to Chuck
February 20 – March 2
Boston Opera House
Resonance, set to Franz Liszt and performed by two solo pianists, is the big draw in Boston Ballet’s midwinter repertory show Close to Chuck: it is the first American commission from former Paris Opera Ballet and current Spanish National Ballet director José Martinez. Also on the program is a look-see of C. to C. (Close to Chuck), the ballet Jorma Elo created for American Ballet Theatre, based on the friendship between pixel portraitist Chuck Close and composer Philip Glass, and Boston Ballet’s often-reprised version of Jiri Kylian’s Bella Figura.
and further afield
Margaret Jenkins Dance Company: Times Bones
February 14 – February 15
San Francisco-based Margaret Jenkins came of age with Merce Cunningham, but has carved out her own distinctive language. For this rare New England appearance, her company presents a work inspired by the myth of Osiris and the reassembly of the “bones” of forty years of dance-making.
– Debra Cash
Dave Holland’s Prism
February 14, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Bassist and composer Dave Holland’s always compelling blend of grooving mixed meters and controlled contrapuntal mayhem this time falls into the hands of a new quartet with a homonymous new album on ECM. The players are guitarist Kevin Eubanks (a longtime Holland foil before jumping to direct the Tonight Show band), pianist Craig Taborn, and drummer Eric Harland. As usual with Holland’s outfits, everyone contributes original tunes, which makes for an especially alert crew.
February 14, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
No less an authority than Nat Hentoff has called singer Catherine Russell “the real thing.” With a strong pedigree (daughter of Louis Armstrong orchestra music director Luis Russell and guitarist Carline Ray, of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm), Russell made her early career singing high-profile back-up gigs (Paul Simon, David Bowie, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Rosanne Cash) before going solo about 10 years ago and delivering one beautifully assured album after another, focusing on vintage swing and blues, with the occasional oddball and apt contemporary choice (the Grateful Dead’s “New Speedyway Boogie”). She has the kind of voice and diction that lend every song a conversational directness and literate clarity even when she’s hitting the high notes and swinging her hardest. Her latest, Bring It Back (Jazz Village), comes out this Tuesday and it’s another well-designed collection, guided by her own taste and by the skill of music director/guitarist Matt Munisteri.
February 15, 8 p.m.
This piano trio’s name, pedigree, and forthcoming album title all instill fear of New Age. That is, they’re from Hawaii, and when they say “North Shore,” they mean Oahu, and the forthcoming album is Slow Down (This Isn’t the Mainland). But their sound is the kind of brainy lyricism that gives even Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” unexpected jazzy ensemble texture and heft. And, hey, they play Monk’s “Light Blue.” Pianist Romain Collin, bassist Shawn Conley, and drummer Abe Lagrimas Jr. hit the Lily Pad.
Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio
February 15, 8 p.m.
Juanito Pascual’s idea of flamenco has always been expansive, going well beyond the sound of the Gypsy Kings. His latest CD, New Flamenco Trio, incorporates a variety of traditional flamenco rhythms as well as a bit of Panama, American jazz, and George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” His trio — with bassist Brad Barrett and percussionist Tupac Mantilla — will be joined by flamenco dancer Auxi Fernández and flamenco singer Alfonso Cid.
Danilo Pérez’s “Panama 500”
February 15 [8 p.m. and 10 p.m.] and 16 [4 p.m. and 7 p.m.]
Scullers Jazz Club
The 47-year-old pianist and composer’s latest CD, Panama 500 (Mack Avenue), is his most ambitious achievement yet. Looking again at his native Panama, he offers a portrait that mixes folkloric percussion, chants of the indigenous Guna people, modern-chamber music string writing, and, of course, fleet jazz-piano trio sections. At times, all these languages are layered so that history emerges as a living memory. Pérez brings an ensemble from the album to Scullers: violinist Alex Hargreaves, percussionist Roman Díaz, and his longtime trio mates, bassist Ben Street and drummer Adam Cruz.
February 15, 8 p.m.
Pickman Hall, Longy School of Music
Due to the impending inclement weather and the Cambridge parking ban Longy School of music is closed.
The “Prehistoric Jazz” concert scheduled for tonight, 2/15, by the Eric Hofbauer Quintet is therefore CANCELLED.
It will be rescheduled for later this semester.
Guitarist and composer Eric Hofbauer takes the full title of this concert — “Prehistoric Jazz: The Rite and 100 Years of Revolution” — from a Leonard Bernstein rehearsal of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, in which he instructs the timpanist to play the piece like “prehistoric jazz.” For his part, Hofbauer has arranged “The Rite” for small, improvising jazz ensemble, which the group has played at the Lily Pad. Now he’s playing the Stravinsky on a bill with Olivier Messiaen’s “Quatuor pour la fin du temps” (“Quartet for the end of time”). The players include Hofbauer, clarinetist and bass clarinetist Todd Brunel, trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, cellist Junko Fujiwara, and drummer Curt Newton.
February 19, 8 p.m.
Newpoli, the Southern Italian folk ensemble based in Boston, offer their own take on all manner of frenetic tarantellas as well as Renaissance dance music, from the 12th to 19th century, plus a few originals. Singers Carmen Marsico and Angela Rossi front the band, featuring acoustic bass, guitar, accordion, flute, and all manner of hand percussion.
Liebman, one of the most influential saxophonists of his generation, presents “The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim.” It might not be what one normally associates with this fierce, exploratory, Coltrane-influenced reedman, but his discography includes a few impressive Brazilian and Latin-influenced projects. Here his group is joined by daughter Lydia Liebman, with whom he and his wife, the oboe player Caris Visentin, made the 2013 album Familia. Joining the Liebmans for this Scullers gig are guitarist Leandro Pellegrino, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Willy Rodriguez.
Sun Ra Cosmic Centenary
February 20, 8:15 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
The man himself called May 22, 1914 his “arrival day,” since he was not born of this earth. One way or another, this is the centenary year of one Herman “Sonny” Blount, a/k/a Sun Ra, one of a handful of the most important composers in jazz history — a group that includes Ellington, Mingus, Monk, and George Russell. Berklee celebrates by convening Sun Ra Arkestra members Marshall Allen, Charles Davis, and Danny Ray Thompson and an all-star Berklee ensemble under the direction of bassist Dave Clark.
– Jon Garelick
Roots and World Music
Brookline-bred R&B singer Reed comes to town not just for this Valentine’s Day affair but also to preview material from his forthcoming major label LP Nights Like This. Although sonically it’s a far more modern-sounding effort than his previous releases – and marks a bit of a gambit in Reed’s quest to bring a new audience into the soul fold — the catchy pop vibe never buries Reed’s deep gospel foundation. Ruby Rose Fox and the Soulelujah DJs join in on the fun and for those who forgot to do their Valentine’s Day shopping everything from vintage hats to cupcakes will be available. Disclosure: Reed is a long-time friend of this writer.
Joe Val Bluegrass Fest
One of the largest indoor bluegrass festivals in the country, the event honoring local mandolin pioneer Joe Val features scores of national and regional bands on two stages, workshops, master classes and a guarantee that no matter what time it is you’ll find someone who’ll want to informally pick out some tunes. Among the musical highlights are former Byrd Chris Hillman’s Desert Rose Band in an acoustic setting, excellent traditionalist Junior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice and an all-star tribute to banjo master Don Stover. Due to a weather-related cancellation by the group Sideline, Saturday headliners the Gibson Brothers have added a Friday night “brother duet” set. Disclosure: I’ll be volunteering by helping to facilitate one of the workshop rooms on Sunday.
The sunshine pop pioneers of “Can’t Find the Time” fame – or at least lead singer Bruce Arnold and a crew that includes legendary funk drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie – debut their newest incarnation which is slated to play a series of shows over the next year. Click here to read the Arts Fuse interview with Arnold.
Mighty Clouds of Joy
United House of Prayer, Dorchester
This Black History Month event brings to town the Mighty Clouds of Joy, who are the last of the great gospel quartets still touring with their original lead singer (Joe Ligon). Although the band scored a disco-era hit with “Mighty High,” their most important legacy is keeping hard gospel both alive and relevant since their 1960 debut. It’s been years since they played Boston, making this is a must-see for any gospel aficionado. The excellent all-female group Test-a-mony are among the many openers.
The Sinclair, Cambridge
It’s no surprise that this Punch Brothers member is a frequent cohort of Steve Martin (and a winner of Martin’s Excellence in the Banjo award). They share both a passion for the banjo and a wicked sense of humor. As an example of the latter, there’s Pikelny’s banjo-driven recreation of a classic album by fiddler Kenny Baker, which he’s named “Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe.” (A NY saxophonist has extended the joke.) Pikelny’s touring behind it with a truly stellar band: Bryan Sutton, Luke Bulla, Barry Bales, and Jesse Cobb.
– Noah Schaffer
West Side Story
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 14-16, 8 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sunday)
Symphony Hall, Boston
The BSO reprises its popular screening (from last summer at Tanglewood) of West Side Story with the orchestra playing Leonard Bernstein’s landmark score live. David Newman, conducts, making his Symphony Hall debut.
A French Baroque Valentine
Presented by Boston Baroque
February 14 (8 p.m.) and 16 (3 p.m.)
Jordan Hall, Boston
Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque present music by two leading composers of the French Baroque. Jean-Philippe Rameau’s La Guirlande tells the tale of two lovers who stray, forgive, and (of course) live happily ever after. Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Te Deum concludes the program.
Either/Or plays Alvin Lucier
Presented by MIT
February 15, 8 p.m.
Saarinen Chapel, Cambridge
The pioneering American experimental composer Alvin Lucier is the focus of the new music group Either/Or’s performance at MIT, where they are artists-in-residence this year. Sunday’s program is dedicated to some of Lucier’s chamber music, both with electronics and without.
Anne-Sophie Mutter plays Dvorak
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 20-22, 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
The great German violinist brings back Dvorak’s underrated Violin Concerto and popular, lyrical Romance (both of which, coincidentally, can be heard on her new Dvorak album on Deutsche Grammophon). Manfred Honeck conducts and also leads Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.
– Jonathan Blumhofer
Saturday, February 15 at 4 p.m.
St. John’s Church, Jamaica Plain
J.P. Concerts presents pianist Konstantinos Papadakis, violinist Amanda Wang, and cellist Patrick Owen performing two wonderful trios – Dvorak’s Dumky Trio and Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor.
Friday, February 14 at 8 p.m.
At Marsh Chapel, Boston University, Boston (Free)
Saturday, February 15, at 8 p.m.
First Church, Cambridge.
The superb Renaissance vocal ensemble, under the direction of Scott Metcalfe, performs Un petrachino cantato. “A musical valentine: 16th-century madrigals setting the poetry of Petrarch, by Arcadelt, Willaert, Rore, Wert, Marenzio & others. With Joel Colodner, reader.”
New York Festival of Song presents Warsaw Serenade, a program featuring music composed “the Polish giants”: Karol Szymanowski, Grayna Bacewica, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, and others. This ensemble puts on an entertaining show. Don’t let the consonant clusters put you off!
Arabella String Quartet
Sunday, February 16 at 3 p.m.
Temple Emmanuel, Newton
(Free. Open seating. A dessert reception will follow the concert.)
The Arabella String Quartet presents a program of string quartet miniatures composed by Mendelssohn, Dvoraak, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, and Turina.
Cédric Tiberghien, piano.
Wednesday, February 19 at 8 p.m.
This program, presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston, looks very promising. The lineup includes Liszt’s Annees de Pelerinage – First Year: Switzerland; Szymanowski’s Masques, Op. 34 and Ravel’s Miroirs.
– Susan Miron
Dust of War
The BU Cinematheque- 640 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Room 10
The B.U Film Series presents a first feature by Ex-BU production student Andrew Kightlinger. It is described as having a “Mad Max feel, infused with the earthy textures of Dances With Wolves and the stark beauty of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal shot in South Dakota’s savagely beautiful landscape.” This is a great opportunity for students to hear first hand about producing and directing a first film. It is free and open to all. The trailer here.
Romeo and Juliet
Sunday, February 16th at 3 p.m.
Regent Theatre, Arlington
This is the film version of the Broadway stage production of Shakespeare’s classic love story directed by five-time Tony nominee David Leveaux. It features an acclaimed cast of 25 including Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings) Bloom and Tony nominee Condola Rashad (A Trip to Bountiful, Stick Fly). To get a sense of the film’s visual style, the trailer is here.
Balagan’s Constructive Interference
Brattle Theater, Cambridge
Jeff Silva and Alla Kovgan’s long-running and venerable Balagan Film Series has an admirable mission: “to carve a niche for the offbeat within Boston’s rich cultural scene.” They begin the year with a program of short films that “employ inventive analog filmmaking techniques, such as chemical manipulation and optical re-photographing, to transmute, melt, displace and multiply the image.” Stimulate your imagination with shorts such as Josh Lewis ’s 3 minute Doubt #2, a 16mm film that features “investigations that attempt to penetrate film’s enigmatic materiality in tandem with the vagaries of my own emotional and psychological state.”
– Tim Jackson
RED‐EYE to HAVRE DE GRACE
Presented by ArtsEmerson
Through February 16
At The Emerson/Paramount Center Mainstage, Boston
An experimental musical piece that sounds pretty intriguing, particularly for those who love the work of E.A. Poe: “innovative theater director Thaddeus Phillips teams up with the Minneapolis‐based musical duo Wilhelm Bros. & Co. to create an action‐opera that follows the odd details surrounding Edgar Allan Poe’s mysterious last days.” Set in September 1849, the piece “follows Poe on a tour from Virginia to New York, focusing on a stop in Maryland where a train conductor saw Poe in a stranger’s clothes headed south…where he would die just days later.”
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller.
Directed by Spiro Veloudos.
February 14 through March 15
At the Lyric Stage Company, Boston
This production of the Miller warhorse about a man squeezed like an orange by American capitalism features a strong cast headed by Ken Baltin as Willy Loman and Paula Plum as his long-suffering wife, Linda.
– Bill Marx
Death and the Powers simulcast
MIT Media Lab
The Dallas Opera is presenting Tod Machover’s robotic opera Death and the Powers, but if you can’t get to Texas, head over to MIT for a hi-def broadcast feed of the production that can be augmented by downloadable apps that will trigger extra video, audio and graphical content. Free, but reservations are required.
– Debra Cash