PHIL WOODS AND SOPHIE MILMAN
JAZZ HOT AND COOL
Even non-jazz fans have heard Phil Woods via sax solos on Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are," Paul Simon's "Have a Good Time" and Steely Dan's "Dr. Wu." And jazz fans know better than to hold the shadow of pop against him (and the statute of aesthetic limitations is long expired if there was even a case to begin with). Inspired by Parker, a student of Tristano, a member of Monk's big band, etc., etc., he's been an inspiration, teacher and bandleader himself many times over. (Current lineup includes trumpeter Brian Lynch.) Also on the bill: Sophie Milman. In her mid-20s, her honey-drippin' voice has made her a star in Canada. You can say you caught her when. At 8 p.m. at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5111.
IT'S BROADWAY BABY
This 1971 award-winning Broadway Stephen Sondheim musical chronicles a reunion of performers who were part of a Ziegfield Follies-esque vaudeville act popular in the '30s. The washed-up actors and dancers, now ensconced in pedestrian pursuits, relive the glittery days of their youth while reflecting on the titular follies of their past and present lives. Considered one of the best or worst examples of American musical theater (depending on the critic), Follies provides enough pageantry to please about any musical theater devotee. Performances at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, 911 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor; tickets and info at 734-971-2228 or a2ct.org.
BUST A PLIÉ
Montreal's Rubberbandance Group performs an innovative fusion of b-boy moves and ballet, blending street style with the formal techniques of traditional dances. The group's bent for experimentation also includes such things as incorporating audio and video into its pieces, interacting with audience members during performances and performing in nontraditional spaces. On Friday, the ensemble will perform its latest work, Punto Ciego, a mixture of contemporary dance and street moves in which you can expect the aforementioned experimental elements to make an appearance. Sunday, they'll perform Elastic Perspective Redux, hip-hop dances set to classical tunes, with an abbreviated one-hour family-friendly version on Saturday. At 8 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Power Center for the Performing Arts, 121 Fletcher St., Ann Arbor; 734-763-3333; tickets at ums.org.
ROBERT GORDON & CHRIS SPEDDING
ROCKABILLY DONE RIGHT
Robert Gordon was rockabilly before rockabilly was cool — that is, before "pretty boys" (as he once termed them) like the Stray Cats started the post-punk revival of the form in the early '80s. Rising from the CBGB's punk rock scene as vocalist with the Tuff Darts, Gordon grew a greaser pompadour and started performing songs by various Sun Records legends and even Detroit's own Jack Scott (his "The Way I Walk" opened Gordon's second LP) in the late '70s, while, at the same time, recording new originals by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Marshall Crenshaw. He's always worked with superb guitarists, including late legendary innovator Link Wray and late cult hero Danny Gatton. His longest professional union, though, has been with early Sex Pistols producer Chris Spedding, who can mimic virtually any guitarist (as his "Guitar Jamboree" tune demonstrated) — although his own unique guitar style has been employed by Roxy Music, Paul McCartney and the Pretenders, among others — and who'll be playing with Gordon in Ferndale this Friday. The pair just completed a tribute album to original rockabilly king Elvis Presley, due for release this spring. Doors at 8 p.m. at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030.
CABARET AND KLEZMER
A hodgepodge of old-world styles — from klezmer to Parisian hot jazz, Arabian belly dances to Ukrainian ballads — make up the repertoire of Vagabond Opera, Portland's neo-cabaret, modern-day itinerant musical sideshow. With trained operatic vocalists and accordion in tow, the group performs a down-and-dirty version of opera, with bawdy theatrical spectacles and lusty arias that are more at home in Bohemian beer halls than stodgy performance venues. Traditionals and originals in 13 different languages can be heard on two albums, with a third due out in the spring. At 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; dia.org.
The electro-folk indie-pop doings of Ann Arbor's Wild Years have the kind of soothing, toe-tapping vibe that's sure to please fans of such indie singer-songwriter oddballs as Andrew Bird and M. Ward. The band has digitally self-released two EPs and, after a show-heavy summer and fall, the group's schizophrenic sound and sometime dalliances into performance art are on the verge of becoming almost famous in the local music scene. Like, famous enough for actual, hand-holdable vinyl or CDs? With Prussia and Pop Songs for People at the Corktown Tavern, 1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103; corktowntavern.com.
DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM
Cervantes' classic novel is retold in this ballet performed by the Russian Classical Ballet Theatre (because everything gets better once you throw in some pirouettes) — to sum up: The delusional knight errant Don Quixote embarks on pretend chivalric quests in the name of his alleged ladylove Duclinea, accompanied by his faithful squire, the dim and corpulent Sancho Panza. Legendary Russian dancer Elena Radchenko founded the Russian Classical Ballet Theatre in order to uphold the great tradition of Russian ballet. The company performs a number of pieces by renowned choreographer Marius Petipa, including this version of Don Quixote at 8 p.m. at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison St., Detroit; 313-887-8501; musichall.org; $30-$50.
OVERWROUGHT PIANO POP
The mass-pleasing piano-based pop-rock of the Fray found a wide audience with 2005's How to Save a Life — even if you don't want to, you're probably humming the title song now. Bah! With lyrics that nosedive from sweetly sentimental straight to maudlin mush sung in a plaintive and ever-so-earnest voice, it ain't surprising that the band's music has been featured on a number of emotionally over-the-top and teen-angst plagued shows such as Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill and The Hills. Their self-titled sophomore album is due in February. Expect to hear some new tracks with a rousing encore of you-know-what at St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit; 313-961-8137; doors at 7 p.m.; all ages.
TINGLING SPINES & KNOCKING KNEES
Fear features a variety of artists working in various mediums, but all the works attempt to express the idea of fear — whether the artists' own fears, the fears they've perceived in others or even the fear others have felt because of them. Instead of embracing the simple idea that fear is a negative emotion, the artists explore the various roles that the unpopular but often addicting emotion may play in our lives — from the tingling in your spine that warns you to run to the full-on phobias that seem to serve only as a hindrance in daily life. On display 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday through Feb. 13, at Work Detroit, 3663 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-593-0527.
DESIGNING AN ICON
YES, WE ONCE HAD GLORY DAYS
In a time when auto company talk's likely to make stomachs turn rather than hearts glad, it's easy to forget the optimism that once held and lifted the industry. But Designing an Icon: Creativity and the American Automobile showcases that optimism, using drawings that were the basis for the designs of great American cars — from the earliest doodles and sketches to fully realized engineering drawings and product renderings. Many illustrations here were kept secret for years so ideas couldn't be leaked to competitors. On view to the public for the first time, they capture the energy and passion of the Big Three's glory days. At the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery, 480 W. Hancock St., Detroit; 313-993-7813. On display through Jan. 16.
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