Jazz pianist and composer Randy Weston is a living legend. The self-proclaimed musical anthropologist, who's been playing for four decades, is still kicking it, touring and recording with the Randy Weston African Rhythms Trio. Percussionist Neil Clarke and bassist Alex Blake will join him at Miller Outdoor Theatre this weekend for an evening of storytelling and music. Weston's sound is ancient and mystical, filled with references to dreams and intuition. "In African music," he has said, "there aren't the categories of the past, the present and the future. Music is a timeless thing." Weston has won almost every honor that a jazz musician can receive, including Composer of the Year in 1975, the French Order of Arts and Letters in 1997 and the American Jazz Master Fellowship in 2001.
The musician lists the Count and the Duke as his early influences, but it was Thelonious Monk's innovative style that steered him toward contemporary greatness. "He was the most original I ever heard," Weston has said. "He played like they must have played in Egypt 5,000 years ago." And in fact, it's Weston's use of African rhythms and musical styles from many cultures that sets him apart from the crowd. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 6. 100 Concert Drive. For information, call 713-284-8350 or visit www.milleroutdoortheatre.org. Free. --Felecia Johnson-LeBlanc
Cracking the Ballet
If the only ballet you've seen is The Nutcracker, you won't want to miss this weekend's Houston Ballet Fall Repertory Program. The show, which features three highly charged programs that stretch the boundaries of modern ballet, will give you a quick education in the genre. The evening includes the world premiere of a one-act work by Houston Ballet's Trey McIntyre (who also happens to be one of People magazine's most eligible bachelors). McIntyre will explore the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen in a piece set to Dvorák's Symphony No. 8. American choreographer William Forsythe, director of the Frankfurt Ballet, has created the titillating work In the middle, somewhat elevated, which is set to an industrial-techno soundtrack. And Stanton Welch, Houston Ballet's new artistic director, will present Dance in the Garden of Mirth, featuring music from the 13th and 14th centuries and primitive movements that emulate the live-for-the-moment philosophy of that era. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, September 4 and 6; and Friday and Saturday, September 12 and 13. 2 p.m. Sunday, September 7, and Sunday, September 14. Wortham Theater Center, 550 Prairie. For information, call 713-227-2787. $11.50 to $115.50. -- Greg Barr
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Take Your Seat, Dammit!
At this musical spoof, the joke's on you
Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes at a theater box office? Curious about the employee banter that commences when you hang up the phone after making reservations? Here's a hint: You suck. Michael Ogborn's musical revue Box Office of the Damned takes a look at what it's like to deal with ticket-buyers. Every aspect is spoofed and roasted: the exchange policy, curtain speeches, ushering. Ever been late to a performance? There's a whole song just for you. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, September 5 through October 11; 6:30 p.m. Sunday shows on September 21, 28 and October 5. Theater LaB Houston, 1706 Alamo. For information, call 713-868-7516. $23. -- Troy Schulze
Trade in the Jingle
Traders Village should get one of the bands playing at its Village Bluegrass Festival -- among them, the Lone Mountain Bluegrass Band, the Lone Star Bluegrass Band, Vintage Sounds, Hilary Sloan & Aunt Erma's Fillin' Station and the Coleman Broto -- to record a new jingle for the open-air market and entertainment complex. The tune's "wonder what bargain I'll find today!" lyrics are, unfortunately, both irritating and catchy. There's no worse combo. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, September 6 and 7. 7979 North Eldridge. For information, call 281-890-5500 or visit www.tradersvillage.com. Free; parking is $2. -- Cathy Matusow