February brings an intriguing mix of Piedmont bluegrass, Balkan-infused punk, modern dance, jazz and classical piano to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Carolina Performing Arts will present such special guests as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, classical pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and Overtone Quartet, featuring a jazz dream team of Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Jason Moran and Eric Harland.
Performances will be in Memorial Hall on Cameron Avenue. For tickets and more information, visit www.carolinaperformingarts.org or call or visit the Memorial Hall Box Office at (919) 843-3333, open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and before shows. Show details follow.
Carolina Chocolate Drops with special guests Luminescent Orchestrii, 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 3
All about innovation and serious fun, the Grammy Award-winning and critically lauded Durham-based Carolina Chocolate Drops are the newest and youngest players in the long lineage of black string bands. The band has been widely credited with reviving the rich sounds of this music from the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. Upstarts in a stable of deep tradition, they are also a link between past and future, exploring generations-old songs with a modern touch.
They collaborate here with New York gypsy punk band Luminescent Orchestrii, which renders Romanian gypsy melodies, punk frenzy, salty tangos, hard-rocking klezmer, haunting Balkan harmony, hip-hop beats and Appalachian fiddle music.
The pairing guarantees a night full of high-energy and foot-stomping music from the southern Appalachian and eastern European Carpathian Mountains. Tickets are $29 to $69 and $10 for UNC-Chapel Hill students. Websites: www.carolinachocolatedrops.com, www.lumii.org
"Four Electric Ghosts: An Opera Masquerade" by Mendi + Keith Obadike, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9
This fantastically futuristic multimedia romp creates a composite world at the intersection of game culture, folk tales and pop songs. Inspired by Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola's 1954 novel "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" and Japanese video game designer Tori Iwatani's influential 1980s arcade game Pac Man, "Four Electric Ghosts" follows the afterlives of four ghosts who encounter the same mortal in a journey through the Land of the Dead. The provocative story is told through masquerade, dance, video interviews and original funk, rock and R&B music, and the audience is invited to dance with the performers at the end.
Mendi + Keith Obadike make music, art and literature. After working as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University, Mendi Obadike became a poetry editor at Fence Magazine. Today, she is an assistant professor of humanities and media studies at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. Keith Obadike is a tenured assistant professor in the College of Arts and Communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., and an art adviser for the Times Square Alliance.
"Four Electric Ghosts" is part of the Loading Dock series in which audiences and artists share the Memorial Hall stage. Seating is limited to 160 people. Directions on how to enter Memorial Hall will be distributed with tickets. Tickets are $20 or $10 for UNC-Chapel Hill students. Website: www.blacknetart.com
Overtone Quartet, featuring Dave Holland, Jason Moran, Chris Potter and Eric Harland, 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10
Grammy Award-winning Holland joins a quartet of jazz veterans who all have earned awards and critical praise as players, bandleaders and composers. Each contributes his own compositions to the Overtone Quartet. The online magazine "All About Jazz" reported, "This group has no bandleader and instead functions as a collective, coming together around the shared goals of challenging each other to greater and more subtle composition and performance."
From his beginnings with Miles Davis to his acclaimed ensembles today, Holland has one of the most celebrated legacies in jazz. "The Boston Globe" calls Holland "a master bassist and bandleader, one of the most sophisticated composers and arrangers in the jazz world." The "Los Angeles Times" described pianist and composer Moran as "a startlingly gifted pianist with a relentless thirst for experimentation." Grammy Award-nominated Potter has been called the finest saxophonist of his generation. And drummer Harland has recorded more than 30 albums and toured the world.
Tickets are $25 to $59 and $10 for UNC-Chapel Hill students. Website: http://www.carolinaperformingarts.org/media
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13 and Tuesday, Feb. 14
Spiritual, graceful, hopeful and one of the most celebrated modern dance companies in the world, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Memorial Hall. The group started in 1958, led by Ailey and young African-American modern dancers. Their performances forever changed the perception of American dance.
In 2008, a U.S. Congressional resolution designated the company as "a vital American cultural ambassador to the world" that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.
The modern classic "Revelations," to be performed both nights, tells a story of African-American faith and tenacity from slavery to freedom through dances set to spirituals and blues music. This is the first tour for the company featuring new artistic director Robert Battle, the personal selection of former director Judith Jamison. He is only the third person to head the company since it was founded.
Tickets are $25 to $64 and $10 for UNC-Chapel Hill students. Website: www.alvinailey.org
Leif Ove Andsnes, 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17
Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation, appears with the world's leading orchestras and gives recitals in the foremost concert halls. Also an active chamber musician, he plays at the Risør Chamber Music Festival in Norway and next year will be music director of the Ojai Music Festival in California.
This year, Andsnes has performed with the Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Trondheim and Vienna symphony orchestras, the Norwegian and Swedish chamber orchestras and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In Chapel Hill, he will perform Haydn's Sonata in C minor, Bartók's Suite, Op. 14, Debussy's "Images" and Chopin's waltzes, ballades and Nocturne Op. 62.
Andsnes' discography comprises more than 30 solo, chamber and concerto releases, spanning repertoire from Bach to the present and garnering seven Grammy nominations and five Gramophone Awards. Among his recent recordings are Rachmaninov's Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4 with Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra. He also recorded Schumann's piano trios with violinist Christian Tetzlaff and his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff.
Tickets are $29 to $69 and $10 for UNC-Chapel Hill students. Website: www.andsnes.com
Christian McBride and Inside Straight, 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24
Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer, arranger and educator Christian McBride is one of the most omnipresent figures in jazz, performing and recording with legends including McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis and Joshua Redman. He also works with hip-hop, soul, pop and classical artists such as The Roots, Sting and soprano Kathleen Battle.
Performing with McBride is his band, Inside Straight, which just released their its album, "Kind Of Brown," in 2009. The band features styles that range from hard swing to bluesy groove and includes pianist Eric Reed, alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, drummer Carl Allen and vibraphonist Warren Wolf, one of McBride's former students.
McBride, equally adept on acoustic and electric bass, has been at the forefront of jazz education, working as an artist in residence at festivals and artistic director at arts centers and museums—including stints as co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and creative jazz chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Christian McBride and Inside Straight will perform at UNC as part of the 35th annual Carolina Jazz Festival. Tickets are $15 to $39 and $10 for UNC-Chapel Hill students. Website: www.christianmcbride.com.