With a full orchestra backing smaller intimate jazz ensembles, various artists appearing under the umbrella title The Crown Project have gathered to pay tribute to George Gershwin’s music. Leading players are pianist Mark Gasbarro, flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny, saxophonists Doug Norwine & Justo Almario, and singers Sandi Patty & Tim Davis. Gasbarro performs "Nice Work if You Can Get It" with bass and drums in an atmosphere that seems to place the listener in a club at center stage absorbing every nuance. Later, the pianist works alone with bassist Dave Stone to deliver "Somebody Loves Me" in swinging fashion.
Matheny lends his ballad support to "But Not For Me," "Someone To Watch Over Me" and "The Man I Love." The flugelhornist turns his phrases over lightly and fluidly; making sure the audience can appreciate every note. Vibraphonist Brian Atkinson and guitarist Carl Verheyen team up with a rhythm section on "Our Love is Here to Stay" and waltz gently around the dance floor. Sandi Patty adds the lesser-known waltz "By Strauss" with flute and full orchestra accompaniment; the lyrics are amusing and memorable. Fortunately, the liner notes are quite informative with respect to the life of George Gershwin and each of the songs represented. "Fascinating Rhythm" swings out with alternating meters of 5/4 and 4/4. Justo Almario overdubs several flute lines and teams with Gasbarro’s piano to provide a melody, but the fascinating part of the piece is their challenging take on alternating meters.
Monarch Records organized The Crown Project with the centennial of jazz’s history in mind. This, their debut recording, marks Gershwin’s 100th birthday, which fell on September 26, 1998. Plans for similar centennial tributes are being made to mark the birth anniversaries of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie in the next several years. It just keeps getting better. As we enter the next millennium, there are hundreds of jazz centennials to dot our calendars, and hopefully they’ll all be remembered with due respect.
Track Listing: The Man I Love; They Can
Personnel: Mark Gasbarro- piano, keyboards; Dave Stone, Dave Marotta, Tom Warrington- bass; John Ferraro- drums; Dmitri Matheny- flugelhorn; Justo Almario, Doug Norwine- tenor saxophone, flute; Dan Higgins- clarinet; Carl Verheyen- guitar; Brian Atkinson- vibes; Greg Mathieson- Hammond B-3; Richie Gajate-Garcia- percussion; Sandi Patty, Tim Davis, Melody Tunney, Bonnie King- vocals; Carl Gorodetsky- concertmaster.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.