Manuel Valera New Cuban Express
Born and raised in Havana but now based in New York, pianist and composer Manuel Valera has quickly established himself as one of America’s most exciting young bandleaders, earning a 2013 Grammy nomination for his debut album with his New Cuban Express jazz sextet.
March 1 at 8. $35–65. Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. 713-524-7601. dacamera.com
Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain is said to have declared that without the Pixies there would be no “Smells Like Teen Spirit”—not to mention no Soundgarden, no Pearl Jam, and no Smashing Pumpkins. Founded in Boston in 1986 by Joey Santiago and Black Francis (né Charles Thompson IV), the band quickly became a darling of the underground rock scene with their raw sound, catchy hooks, and gnomic lyrics. After breaking up in the ’90s, the band reunited in 2003 and has been touring ever since. With special guest Best Coast.
Feb 27 (Thursday) at 8. $55–70. Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas Ave. 713-230-1600. bayoumusiccenter.com
Dramatist Theresa Rebeck has written for film, television and the stage, and not incidentally was named one of Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women in the World in 2011. In her new comedy Fool, her fifth play to be produced by the Alley, two medieval kings place a bet on their court jesters—the funnier one gets to keep his head.
Feb 26–March 16. $30–65. 615 Texas Ave. 713-220-5700. alleytheatre.org
In 2011, shortly after his 20th birthday, mop-headed Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov won first prize at the quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. For his Houston performance, he’ll play one of his standards, Rachmaninoff’s fiery Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Then, guest conductor James Gaffigan will lead the orchestra in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, which is said to have received a 40-minute ovation at its 1937 premiere.
Feb 28–March 2. $25–124. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St. 713-224-7575. houstonsymphony.org
John Singer Sargent: The Watercolors
Although best known for his stately portraits of upper-crust Americans, the Gilded Age painter John Singer Sargent was also a prolific and masterful watercolorist, turning out 2,000 such paintings during the course of his long career, many of them produced en plein air. This exhibition brings together work from the two most significant collections of Sargent watercolors, which are held by the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
March 2–May 26. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St. 713-639-7300. mfah.org