The Houston Symphony is teaming up with three incredible vocalists to pay tribute to the queens of jazz. “The Ella Fitzgerald Songbook” concert series recreates the songs of Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and other songbirds with the full force of a major metropolitan orchestra.
Broadway singers Capathia Jenkins, Montego Glover and N’Kenge each have clear, powerful and awe-inspiring voices. N’Kenge dominates the stage with her presence and dramatic renditions of songs of love and heartache. Glover is stunning with how she can belt out songs like “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Jenkins’ voice is a crystal-clear serenade. Her voice is also soft, and unfortunately, I had trouble hearing her at times because her microphone was not loud enough for her voice to carry over the roaring symphony behind her. All three of the contemporary ladies of song stand on the shoulders of the icons who came before, and their performances do a sweet-sounding justice to the music royalty of the last century.
Many of these songs are written by the likes of great jazz composers George and Ira Gershwin and Nelson Riddle. From “Strike Up the Band” to “Love is Here to Stay,” these composers wrote pieces for the big bands and even bigger voices of the twentieth century. They give a lot of material for three Broadway singers and for Houston’s world-class symphony to work with and to shine. There are opportunities for the talented saxophone, piano, drum and guitar players to be in the spotlight. The members of the Houston Symphony can truly take any genre of music from any time period and bring it to life in a new and exciting way. From classical composers and movie scores to jazzy tunes and big band blues, the Houston Symphony can light up the night with the best songs in the world of music.
The Houston Symphony is performing the Ella Fitzgerald Songbook concert series for one weekend only, Feb. 15-17. With all the love in the air and in the songs, it makes a perfect belated Valentines date. The Houston Symphony offers student tickets starting at $15 for select performances as well as student passes for discounts.