DSO will salute the era of prohibition and Latin jazz with concerts

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s PNC Pops series features two very different themed programs taking place over two weekends this month. “Prohibition: Cabarets and Speakasies of the Era” arrives this weekend, while “Hot Latin Sounds with the Mambo Kings” is slated for October 16.

“Prohibition”, played on Saturdays and Sundays, evokes the gin joints and smoky music halls of the 1920s and 1930s in New York, Paris, Berlin, London and Atlantic City. Conductor Jeff Tyzik and singers Myra Maud, Bronson Norris Murphy and Madison Claire Parks will lead the audience through a program that includes “La Vie en rose”, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, “St. Louis Blues” and “Mack the Knife”, originally from Kurt Weill’s “Threepenny Opera”.

“This whole period was really tumultuous around the world,” Tyzik said, “when you consider Prohibition leading up to the Great Depression and everything that happened in people’s lives. It was very dramatic. And the music actually tells a story because in every generation the music that comes out of it is a reflection of the human condition, in this case we see that reflected in “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” and then two years later, “We’re in the Money.” The music tells a story.

“When we designed this concert,” he said, “we thought of a journey that begins in New York. And then you travel across the Atlantic, and you end up in Paris at the Moulin Rouge. From there we go to a cabaret in Berlin, then cross the ocean back to Atlantic City and end up in New York. Paris will give you Josephine Baker; Berlin is going to be Marlene Dietrich. When you come back to the States, it will be Bessie Smith. We thought about the geographical history, then we interspersed the music to fit it.

Performances are Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave. Tickets start at $19. Visit dso.org.

October 16 will bring the DSO’s unique performance of “Hot Latin Sounds with the Mambo Kings.” The Kings are a quintet of musicians from Rochester, New York, who will join the orchestra for a spin through Latin jazz songs like “Milonga del Angel” by tango legend Astor Piazzolla and the immortal “Oye Como Va” by Tito Puente, directed by Robert Bernhardt.

“(The Mambo Kings) are this amazing band that play Puerto Rican, Cuban and Afro jazz,” Tyzik said. “They have traditional Afro-Cuban jazz tunes, but they also take well-known tracks like The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’ and transform them. They take “Blue Rondo a la Turk” by Dave Brubeck and, with the permission of the Brubeck family, they turn it into “Blue Mambo a la Turk”.

“Even though I’m not conducting this concert,” he said, “they first worked with a symphony orchestra with me 20 years ago, and I’ve worked with them with many, many orchestras, and they continued to do that all over the country. The two guys playing percussion and drums are just amazing, and the bass player is phenomenal. Richard DeLaney, who is Peruvian, plays the piano. He’s an orchestrator expert, so he took this music and created it for a symphonic presentation. It’s fabulous. It makes you want to get out of your seat and dance!

The show is at 3 p.m. on October 16 at the Orchestra Hall. Tickets start at $19.

Comments are closed.