Pharoah. Photo: Michael Scherer
Pharoah Sanders. Photo: Michael Scherer

The 883-seat Rialto Center for the Arts opens its 2017/18 series with the Pharoah Sanders Quartet on Oct. 14 and ends its with Larry Harlow & the Latin Legends on April 28, 2018.

As always, audiences will see a diverse mix of jazz, world music and dance featuring international and American artists. The season continues the Rialto’s celebration of 100 years in downtown Atlanta and 20 years as part of Georgia State University.

Single tickets (starting at $22) and subscriptions (starting at $150) are on sale at or at 404.413.9849. Tickets also are available in person at the Rialto box office, 80 Forsyth St. NW, or by mail at P.O. Box 2627, Atlanta, GA 30301-2627. Free, validated parking is provided for all Rialto Series events at the 100 Peachtree Parking Garage (formerly the Equitable deck) on Fairlie Street.

Here’s a closer look at the lineup:


Pharoah Sanders Quartet | 8 P.M. OCT. 14. Tenor saxophonist Sanders is joined by William Henderson, Nat Reeves and Johnathan Blake for jazz that can be raw and fierce or spiritual and emotional. Sanders, now 77, made his name playing free jazz with John Coltrane in the mid-1960s. Today he navigates the currents of jazz tradition.

Lisa Fischer
Lisa Fischer

Ailey II | 8 P.M. OCT. 21. Some of the country’s best young dancers dip into the creative vision of today’s choreographers while staying true to the vision of founder Alvin Ailey (1931-1989). Dance Magazine calls Ailey II “second to none.”

Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton | 8 P.M. OCT. 28. The Grammy Award-winning vocalist and her band perform what’s described as an “organic gumbo of progressive rock, psychedelic soul, and African, Middle Eastern, Caribbean rhythms with classical influences.”


Niyaz presents “The Fourth Light Project” | 8 P.M. NOV. 18. Niyaz, the Iranian-Canadian musical duo Azam Ali and Carmen Rizzo present an “immersive multimedia experience.” The twosome blends medieval Sufi poetry and folk songs from Iran and other Persian Gulf countries with acoustic instrumentation and modern electronics. The Huffington Post calls Niyaz “an evolutionary force in contemporary Middle Eastern music.” For this performance Ali and Rizzo are joined by designer/visual artist Jerome Delapierre, who contributes interactive technologies and projection/body-mapping techniques.


holiday gala crop20th annual Gala Holiday Concert | DEC. 2-3. Featuring more than 200 student and faculty musicians from the Georgia State University Symphony Orchestra, choruses, Jazz Band and community ensembles. 8 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday.

Celtic Christmas | DEC. 16-17. The fiddlers, dancers, harpists, singers and pipers of the Atlanta-based Celtic Company are joined by bards from the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Appalachian traditions. 8 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday.

January 2018

Tango Fire  | 8 P.M. JAN. 20. It might take two to tango, but it takes 15 to Tango Fire. The Tango Fire Dance Company of Buenos Aires features five couples, a musical quartet and singer Jesus Hidalgo to evoke the passion of late-night Buenos Aires. Expect music from the great tango masters —Astor Piazzolla, Osvaldo Pugliese and Carlos Gardel.

Tango Fire
Tango Fire

Roomful of Teeth | 7 P.M. JAN. 21. The Grammy-winning vocal group joins with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw for a multi-tonal feast. The eight-voice ensemble has trained throughout the world. Its four-octave pitch range explores a sonic palette of speech, sighs, whispers, murmurs, wordless melodies, spoken prattle and throat singing. Shaw is the youngest-ever winner of the Pulitzer for Music, for her a cappella piece Partita for 8 Voices (2013).


Juan De Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars | 8 P.M. FEB. 3. The multi-generational Afro-Cuban All Stars showcase Cuba’s best musicians (many of them members of the vaunted Buena Vista Social Club). You’ll hear classic Cuban styles like son and danzón and contemporary dance rhythms like timba.

Francine Reed, Joe Gransden.
Francine Reed, Joe Gransden.

Johnny Mercer Tribute  | 3 P.M. FEB. 11. Hard-bop trumpeter/vocalist Joe Gransden and blues/jazz/gospel singer Francine Reed pay tribute to Georgia-born songwriter Johnny Mercer, who’s said to have written the lyrics to more than 1,700 songs. Mercer won Academy awards for “Days of Wine and Roses,” “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” “Moon River” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.” Also part of his songbook: “Accentuate the Positive,” “Blues in the Night, “Jeepers Creepers,” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” “Hooray for Hollywood” and hundreds more.

Compagnie Hervé KOUBI | 8 P.M. FEB. 17. The internationally known dance company performs its critically acclaimed “What the Day Owes to the Night.” The piece is based on the emotional and physical journey of choreographer Hervé Koubi, who believed he was of French heritage until age 25, when his father revealed his Algerian roots. Koubi recruited artists who had never been to dance school but did perform hip-hop, capoeira, backflips and head spins on Algeria’s streets and beaches.

Eva Yerbabuena Company | 8 P.M. FEB. 24. Eva Yerbabuena has been one of Spain’s leading dancers for more than a decade. She won Spain’s National Dance Prize in 2001, and is widely considered one of flamenco’s foremost performers.


Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo | 8 P.M. MARCH 3. The all-male a cappella harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mambazo recall the days when South African men left small towns for work in the country’s gold and diamond mines, carrying with them hope, memory and song. The ensemble, which fuses Zulu music and Christian gospel, has entertained audiences since 1960, winning four Grammy awards along the way. The group joined Paul Simon on the 1986 album Graceland and performed at Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inauguration.

The Capitol Steps | 8 P.M. MARCH 24.  This comedy troupe puts the “mock” in democracy. The equal-opportunity offenders, who create musical satire straight from today’s headlines, are a Rialto favorite.


René Marie. Photo: John Abbott

René Marie | 8 P.M. APRIL 20. The music of this Grammy-nominated songwriter and jazz vocalist is rooted in jazz traditions and leavened by elements of folk, R&B, classical and country. She joins the Georgia State University Jazz Band, led by trumpeter Gordon Vernick, for a singular evening of sound.

Larry Harlow & the Latin Legends | 8 P.M. APRIL 28. Salsa party! Pianist, songwriter, bandleader and record producer Larry Harlow has been making music for more than 50 years. He’s credited with revolutionizing salsa by developing the explosive trumpet and trombone sounds for which it’s now known.