Aug. 11, 2007 The unveiling of the Reichhold Center For the Arts 2007-2008 season was a production itself, as the P'Your Passion band and the Caribbean Dance Company of the Virgin Islands had everyone in thrall this week at the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event.
About 200 people ate, drank and enjoyed the night's entertainment as video clips showed the center's 29th season's coming artists in performance.
It's a season chock full of music from jazz, rhythm and blues to Caribbean zouk, along with dance, magic and a nationally recognized choral group.
The 2007-2008 season opens Oct. 20 with the rhythm and blues sounds of Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. Beverly takes the vocals, with Carl Wheeler on keyboards and synthesizers, Robin Duhe on bass guitar, Ronald Loary playing the congas, and McKinley "Bug" Williamson on percussion. Loary and Williams also do the background vocals.
The group has released a stream of hits over the last 30 years, notably "Joy and Pain" and "I Can't Get Over You." The All Music Guide calls them "the ultimate urban contemporary group, much more soulful and funky than many of their counterparts."
Next up is jazz/pop guitarist George Benson Nov. 17. Revered in jazz circles, Benson is widely known in the pop and R&B world singing such hits as "On Broadway," "Give Me The Night" and "Lady Love Me (One More Time)."
It's not always easy to book the big names. Denise Humphrey, co-director of the Reichhold, said they got lucky with Benson. "He is returning from a St. Martin tour at that time, so we were able to catch him on the way back."
Humphrey said she and co-director Pamela Sanes like to book performances a year in advance, "but that's not always possible."
MOMIX with more than a dozen dancers/illusionists, will celebrate the end of the 2007 season on Dec. 8 with a performance to remember. The group is known for its inventiveness and physical beauty as it conjures a world of surrealistic images using light, shadow and humor.
Caribbean music is one of the highlights of the season, with three programs devoted to the sounds of the islands. First is Kassav on Jan. 12, a group from Martinique and Guadalupe and recognized from Paris to New York for their inventive zouk sound.
Zouk means party in French creole and sprang to life in the 1980s. The propulsive style layers elements of American funk, Latin and West African rhythms onto French Caribbean music such as kadans.
The third installment of Playing Ring series, takes the stage Feb. 2. This production will celebrate music from the wider Caribbean, specifically St. Lucia, Dominica and Puerto Rico, and explore its impact on Virgin Islands music and culture.
Contrasting with the veteran jazzman Benson, relative newcomer Chirs Botti will play his soothing trumpet tunes Feb. 16. Botti recently finished a tour with acclaimed jazz vocalist Diane Krall and has appeared with Sting, Gladys Knight and Jill Scott.
Botti is known for putting his own interpretation on such jazz standards as "Good Morning, Heartache," once the exclusive turf of Billie Holiday. Now that takes nerve.
The third Caribbean face appears Mar. 15 when reggae rules as Berres Hammond returns to the Reichhold. He's a favorite with the Reichhold audience, performing to a sold-out crowd in 2001.
The proclaimed "King of Lovers," Hammond will sing his hits including "Putting Up a Resistance," "Tempted to Touch," and "Rockaway."
The renowned Morgan State University Choir comes to the Reichhold Mar. 28. The group is noted for its emphasis on preserving the heritage of the spiritual, but its repertoire spans several centuries and includes classical, gospel, and contemporary popular music. The choir has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, and has recorded with Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony.
To make this performance closer to home, the choir will perform with the University of the Virgin Islands choral group, and high school choral groups. The concert is a co-production with the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts.
Completions Dance Company closes out the official season on May 17. Created by two former principal dancers with the Alvin Ailey company, the group features an eclectic mix of dance styles from a Swedish ballet to a funk tribute to Marvin Gaye.
For the second year, Reichhold is presenting its Family Series, which the directors said will offer fun and affordable entertainment for all ages. It kicks off Oct. 6 with "Break! The Urban Funk Spectacular." Break is a hip-hop dance group out of New York City .
Later in the season on May 10, the series features the Golden Dragon Acrobats. This group of Chinese acrobats demonstrate daring aerial feats, spectacular costumes and theatrical techniques that will delight children and families.
The two Family series performances begin at 7 p.m. All others are at 8 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online, as well as through other outlets. All ticket information, prices and seating, along with additional information on the season is available at the Reichhold website.
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