Music: Kamasi Washington at the Apollo
Feb. 23; apollotheater.org.
For just about as long as it’s existed, jazz has been a battleground for purists to delineate what it is and isn’t — usually when provoked by a musician who’s achieved substantial success outside of the genre.
The saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington is among the latest artist to inspire these discussions, with his brash 10-piece ensemble that favors funky, hip-swiveling grooves juxtaposed with lush strings and choral arrangements.
The Apollo Theater in Manhattan has a storied history of hosting jazz musicians of all stripes, even if it’s been more unusual in recent years. This performance, on Saturday, Feb. 23, is part of the theater’s “Race Music” weekend, billed as a way of reclaiming the term that for so long dictated segregation in music and the way it was sold. A slate of documentaries about race and music round out the weekend’s programming. NATALIE WEINER
TV: Let Amy Sedaris Entertain You
Feb. 19; truTV.com.
Amy Sedaris once prided herself on being a hostess with the mostest. But after her 2006 book, “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence,” she packed up the rental chairs and tables and stashed the pots and pans in her West Village apartment for good. “I was tired of it,” she said in a New York Times interview. “I look back on those years and can’t even believe I was that person — I was so obsessive.”
Believe it. In “At Home With Amy Sedaris,” returning to truTV on Tuesday, Feb. 19, she redirects her maniacal skill set to the soundstage of a fictional homemaking show, like Martha Stewart on crack. Season 2 kicks off with sketches about teenagers, featuring a mustachioed Matthew Broderick as an adolescence expert and diary-making with the comedian Cole Escola. “I’ve always said, keep their hands busy and their genitals will follow,” Sedaris explains.
That frisky repartee, plus a crafty way with Popsicle sticks and glue bottles, earned Sedaris her first Emmy nomination last season. Her co-conspirators in household crimes this time around include Rose Byrne, Justin Theroux, Susan Sarandon, Gillian Jacobs and Matthew Shannon. KATHRYN SHATTUCK
Dance: A Flamenco Star at Town Hall
Feb. 22; townhall.org.
After a long absence from New York, the flamenco dancer Farruquito made a dazzling return in 2016. In his 13 years away, he had served three years in prison — he had been convicted of manslaughter associated with a hit-and-run.
On Feb. 22 he returns to Manhattan for one night at Town Hall, as part of his first major North American tour, with the city premiere of “Farruquito.” In keeping with the title, the program deals with its star’s personal history and self-discovery, as he sets out to both honor his ancestry — he is the grandson of the influential flamenco dancer Antonio Montoya Flores, or El Farruco — and assert his own style.
Joined by an ensemble of dancers, musicians and singers, he not only choreographed the show but also composed its music and lyrics, giving further insight, perhaps, into where he comes from and who he is now. SIOBHAN BURKE
Theater: ‘If Pretty Hurts’ at Playwrights Horizons
Through March 31, playwrightshorizons.org.
The playwright Tori Sampson, making her professional debut with a vividly titled, bracingly powerful contemporary fable, has spoken about feeling censored when publications bleep a word from its name. Apologies, then, for doing it anyway; house style dictates that we call her play, coyly, “If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a ________.”
Directed by Leah C. Gardiner and in previews for a March 10 opening at Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan, “If Pretty Hurts” is set in a world of black teenage girls where the luminous Akim reigns supreme for her loveliness, while her overlooked peers stew in their jealousy. But this knowing, funny, staunchly unsentimental play is only secondarily a critique of adolescent culture.
Like Suzan-Lori Parks’s “Venus,” Kirsten Childs’s “Bella: An American Tall Tale” and Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play,” “If Pretty Hurts” is a celebration of black female beauty. It’s also a sharp-witted takedown of a society that — to its own peril and that of its daughters — narrowly defines such resplendence. LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES
Art: Franz Boas
Through July 7; bgc.bard.edu.
Franz Boas’s epochal 1897 volume “The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians,” written in collaboration with the Tlingit-English ethnologist George Hunt, was commissioned as a simple museum catalog but grew into a massive compendium of stories, songs and objects from multiple collections across North America. It became a kind of bible for anthropologists, and even a source for contemporary Kwakwaka’wakw people trying to revive their own traditions.
Held at the Bard Graduate Center, in cooperation with the U’mista Cultural Centre in British Columbia, “The Story Box: Franz Boas, George Hunt and the Making of Anthropology” is a deep dive into the book’s history, including photographs, many original artifacts and hundreds of pages of Hunt’s post-publication emendations of the text. WILL HEINRICH
Film: A Different Kind of Drug Story in ‘Birds of Passage’
“Birds of Passage” isn’t your Pablo Escobar-by-way-of-“Narcos” kind of drug saga. Instead, it ventures back to the 1960s and ’70s, when Colombia’s desert-dwelling Wayúu people found their traditions chafing against the marijuana trade that blossomed with Peace Corps volunteers clamoring for the pleasures of “wild grass.”
Gorgeously directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra (“Embrace of the Serpent”), “Birds of Passage” stars Carmiña Martínez as the clan matriarch Úrsula, whose daughter, Zaida (Natalia Reyes), has captured the eye of Rapayet (José Acosta). Úrsula demands a lavish dowry, which leads Rapayet to his pot-growing cousin Aníbal (Juan Bautista Martínez). And ultimately catapults Úrsula’s family members into the drug business, who, as their wealth accumulates, replace their colorful woven bags with designer purses.
“Birds of Paradise” is rolling out to more than 100 cities in the coming weeks after opening in New York on Feb. 13 and Los Angeles on Feb. 15. KATHRYN SHATTUCK
Classical Music: Portrait of a Playful Composer
Feb 21; millertheatre.com.
In the composer Wang Lu’s 2015 chamber work “Urban Inventory,” chromatic smears of instrumental color accrue into a playful depiction of an afternoon in a Chinese city park. Her scores use interwoven gestures that simultaneously evoke tradition and modernity — one piece depicts the frenetic pace of Tinder while quoting Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” — and recall the tonal language of her native China, creating a rich polyphony of musical conversations.
“Urban Inventory,” recorded deftly on a 2018 album, is one highlight of a portrait concert that Columbia University’s Miller Theater is devoting to her music on Thursday, Feb. 21. Lu is herself a recent Columbia graduate, and the Miller concert will feature performances by the International Contemporary Ensemble and Yarn/Wire and the premiere of a new work titled “A-PPA-Aratus.” WILLIAM ROBIN