Two of the most intriguing shows of Los Angeles Philharmonic’s summer season at the Hollywood Bowl are coming up next week. On Tuesday night, August 20th, the orchestra will be presenting a program of Russian music highlighted by a staging of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in collaboration with actor John C. Reilly and London-based puppeteers Blind Summit Theatre. The next night, August 21st, the Wednesday Night Jazz Series features Herbie Hancock: Next Generation, where the legendary jazz chameleon will share the bill with contemporary innovators R+R Now, Thundercat and Phoelix.
Commissioned essentially as a piece of Soviet youth propaganda in 1936, Peter and the Wolf has completely transcended this aspect of its creation to delight audiences of all ages, nations and beliefs. The children’s story of a boy who, ignoring the warning of his grandfather, goes out into the woods and encounters a variety of animals and hunters, each given symphonic voice by different instruments, has been narrated by an eclectic array of performers over the decades; I dare anyone to find another work in the classical repertoire that, in addition to being adapted into an animated film by Walt Disney, has been recited by a group that includes Sir Ralph Richardson, Basil Rathbone, Eleanor Roosevelt, Captain Kangaroo, David Bowie, Tom Seaver, William Buckley, Jr., Alice, Cooper, Sharon Stone, and the troika of Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren. The versatile John C. Reilly joins their ranks on Tuesday, with Blind Summit’s puppets adding an exciting visual element. The balance of the program includes two pieces by Tchaikovsky and Borodin’s In the Steppes of Central Asia.
Herbie Hancock, in his sixth decade at the forefront of jazz, continues to be one of the music’s restless and most forward looking innovators. Like his early mentor Miles Davis, Hancock’s has continued experimenting with different styles throughout the entirety of his storied career. His keyboardist’s set will focus on his original compostions, and the band he brings with him to the Bowl features the powerful drummer Vinnie Colaiauta, Saturday Night Live’s house bassist James Genus, Benini guitarist Lionel Leueke, and multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin. Martin also appears earlier on the bill with R+R Now, a supergroup that also includes Grammy award winning producer and keyboardist Robert Glasper, among others. Appearing as special guests are Chicago-based producer Phoelix and the bassist Thundercat, a former member of Suicidal Tendencies whose diverse musical inclinations have led him to perform with everyone from Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington to Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.
Both shows start at 8 pm. Tickets start at $1 and are available at the Hollywood Bowl website.