This Weekend: The Houston Symphony’s Got Rhythm — for Jazz-Lovers and Kids Alike

This Weekend: The Houston Symphony’s Got Rhythm — for Jazz-Lovers and Kids Alike

Houston Symphony presents Get Up and Dance! for families (photo by Melissa Taylor)

THIS WEEKEND, THE Houston Symphony teams up with the pianist Marcus Roberts, bassist Rodney Jordan, and drummer Jason Marsalis for Jazz, Love, & Gershwin: A Century of Rhapsody in Blue, a unique unpacking of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, originally scored in 1924 for solo piano and Paul Whiteman’s jazz ensemble.

Beginning with a solo clarinet trill on a low F natural that with a sigh and a scream sails upwards two-and-a-half octaves into the stratosphere, Rhapsody is a melting pot of musical inspirations, including early 20th-century jazz, that era’s modern European composers, and the Jewish music of Gershwin’s youth. For this weekend’s performances, Roberts’s trio will transform Rhapsody’s piano solos, interludes, and cadenzas into newly conceived moments of improvised interplay, paying homage to the music of early 20th-century African-American originators Gershwin and many other Jewish American composers felt a kinship with. Rounding out the program is Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Catherine Russell, who will join Roberts and the Symphony, led by Principal POPS conductor Steven Reineke, for a set of love songs by Gershwin (with lyrics by his brother Ira), including “The Man I Love,” “Embraceable You,” and “I Got Rhythm,” songs that are now standards of jazz repertoire. The concerts take place Friday through Sunday (Feb. 2-4) at Jones Hall.

Cat Russell

Martin Jaffe

Jason Marsalis

For parents whose kids are already bobbing their heads to music, this Saturday’s PNC Family Series concert Get Up and Dance! is a great way to introduce the wee ones to dance rhythms from around the world. Houston Symphony assistant conductor Gonzalo Farias will lead the orchestra in such groovy numbers as Ary Barroso’s Brazil (samba), Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer (ragtime), and Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” from Rodeo. (Did somebody say RODEO???) In the Jones Hall lobby, kids are invited to try out various orchestral instruments at the symphony’s popular “Instrument Petting Zoo” and enjoy dance ribbon crafting, coloring, and a performance by the Folklorico Dancers. Get Up and Dance! takes place Feb. 3 at 10am and 11:30am.

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