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Rialto Center for the Arts leaps into new season

Acrobatic dance, supernatural jazz, sublime vocalizing and the ineffable songs of Georgia’s own Johnny Mercer will be on tap during the new 2017-2018 season at the Rialto Center for the Arts.

Among the highlights at the downtown venue will be a full roster of dance performances from both exotic and familiar traditions, punctuated by Hervé Koubi’s explosive Compagnie, a male dance troupe from Algeria and West Africa.

Expect these men to be spinning upside down or flying through the air for at least part of the show.

The dance presentations, supported by a grant from the Charles Loridans Foundation, will include flamenco, modern dance and steamy tango from Tango Fire.

Songs from Georgia’s own Johnny Mercer will be provided by vocalist Francine Reed and trumpeter and band-leader Joe Gransden, leading the Georgia State University Jazz Band.

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Flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena will bring her passionate art to the Rialto Center for the Arts next February. Photo: courtesy Georgia State University (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Rialto series is presented by Georgia State University, and the library at GSU houses the definitive archive of Johnny Mercer’s manuscripts, recordings, letters, photographs, and other memorabilia.

The holdings include notes and plans for songs that the prolific Mercer never actually published, and the GSU Jazz Band will perform new arrangements of those previously unheard songs.

“He puts Georgia on the map with regards to the great American song book,” said Gransden, who will probably be playing “Days of Wine and Roses,” among other Mercer tunes at the show.

Trumpeter Joe Gransden and vocalist Francine Reed, backed by the Georgia State University Jazz Band will perform the music of Johnny Mercer at the Rialto Center for the  Arts. Photo: courtesy the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Rialto’s season begins with other-worldly saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who will perform the day after his 77th birthday. Check the Rialto website for times and ticket prices

Here’s the 2017-2018 season:

Pharoah Sanders, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017: Sheets of sound from one of the architects of free jazz.

Ailey II, The Next Generation of Dance, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017: Modern dance from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017: Former backup singer featured in the film “20 Feet from Stardom” steps out on her own.

Niyaz featuring Azam Ali, “The Fourth Light Project,” Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017: A multi-media performance with contemporary Middle Eastern music.

20th Annual Gala Holiday Concert, Saturday, Dec. 2-3, 2017, by the Georgia State University School of Music.

Celtic Christmas, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16- 17, 2017: Music and dance of the season, from the Celtic Company.

Tango Fire, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018: Sensual dance from Buenos Aires.

Roomful of Teeth, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018: A vocal ensemble specializing in music commissioned from contemporary composers.

Afro-Cuban All Stars, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018: Cuban expatriate musicians playing in the rich musical traditions of the island nation.

Johnny Mercer Tribute, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018: Trumpeter Joe Gransden and vocalist Francine Reed presenting the music of the great American songwriter.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018: Acrobatic dance from the streets of Algeria.

Eva Yerbabuena Company, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018: Flamenco dance virtuosa.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Saturday, March 3, 2018: South African vocals from the a cappella ensemble that was the highlight of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album.

The Capitol Steps, Saturday, March 24, 2018: Musical and political comedy from our nation’s capitol.

Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Friday-Sunday, April 13-15, 2018: Georgia State University Opera Theater presents the romantic music of Stephen Sondheim.

René Marie, Friday, April 20, 2018: Jazz vocalist backed by the Georgia State University Jazz Band.

Larry Harlow & The Latin Legends Band, Saturday, April 28, 2018: Salsa Party!

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