By Suzanne Monaghan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Peter Nero and the Philly POPS will perform the works of Gershwin at a series of upcoming shows in February. And there are some special things planned for the performance.

Artistic director and conductor Peter Nero says one of the highlights of the show is jazz pianist Marcus Roberts, who will perform Rhapsody in Blue.

“He takes it and makes it his own in such a way that he actually improvises internally and makes inserts in there and then we get back to the piece again. But the improvisation he does is so closely aligned with the original piece that it gives me the feeling that this is what Gershwin might have written had he lived beyond the age of 38.”

Toward the end of the performance, Nero and Roberts will take the stage in a dueling piano improvisation.

“I don’t know if we’re even going to talk about what tunes we are going to play or just start. Or call out the key and it will just be the two of us. No rhythm section, no orchestra, no nothin’. And it is really fun because it is all spontaneous.”

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