Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Gershwin Two-fer: Bohuslan Big Band & Scottish National Jazz Orchestra


Sign in to view read count

Bohuslan Big Band

George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess (feat. Lew Soloff & Adam Nussbaum)



Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

Rhapsody in Blue Live



It's still no surprise that George Gershwin, one of America's first 'serious' composers to be influenced by jazz, would continue himself to influence countless jazz musicians. The pieces he composed have proven themselves to be rich sources for interpretation. Here are two new additions to that lode, both offering surprises but for very different reasons.

The Bohuslän Big Band of Sweden, has, in some sense, decided to take the bigger gamble. Under the baton of New Yorker Joe Muccioli, the band presents a new recording of the Gil Evans arrangement of the music from Porgy & Bess. This setting of this music was, of course, immortalized in 1958 with Miles Davis as the featured soloist and it's quite a bit of chutzpah to do a new take on that seminal recording. It's to trumpeter Lew Soloff's great credit that he is able to present the piece with new shading and coloring. Soloff clearly understands the challenge and his brash and assured playing is a striking complement to the original conception. He soars stratospherically in some areas without ever compromising the essence of the great Gershwin music. Because of the new recording technologies, the subtle yet well-defined shape of Evans' approach can stand out and also allow for a greater presence for drummer Adam Nussbaum. Thus, this recording has newly delineated lines and colors—hear how Nussbaum deftly pushes Soloff in "Summertime." It's by no means an entirely new reading but it's a beautifully recorded concert of a major piece of the jazz repertoire.

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra recording is something else again. This truly is a reimagining of a classic score. Saxophonist Tommy Smith has expanded what was originally a 15-minute piece—the original Rhapsody in Blue was premiered by Paul Whiteman in 1924 with an arrangement by classical composer Ferde Grofé—and turned out a nearly 54-minute showpiece for the whole orchestra, complete with big band solo space for all the sections of this knockout ensemble. Smith utilizes the tunes and sections of the original work but reorders and reshapes them. He has as his featured piano soloist the remarkable Brian Kellock, recipient of England's Top Jazz Pianist Award. Both he and Smith have worked out truly dazzling ways to keep this work alive—in fact, to reinvigorate it. As a beautiful example of how this is done, at around 17: 34 into the work Kellock takes off on a madly inventive stride piano variation of the main melody and is soon joined by trumpeter Tom MacNiven for a spirited duo; when MacNiven pulls out Kellock is again at the forefront for a straight-ahead solo with rhythm. And then the orchestra returns and the piece keeps growing. (The booklet has a great soloist timeline guide, too.) As annotator Rob Adams suggests, this new recording is, in its own way, an extension of the original subtitle of this piece: "An Experiment in Modern Music." The audacity of the new experiment is that it takes very familiar material and makes it work nearly 90 years after its conception!

Tracks and Personnel

George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess (feat. Lew Soloff & Adam Nussbaum)

Tracks: The Buzzard Song; Bess, You is My Woman Now; Gone; Gone, Gone; Summertime; Oh Bess, Where's My Bess; Prayer; Fishermen, Strawberry and Devil Crab; My Man's Gone Now; It Ain't Necessarily So; Here Come de Honey Man; I Loves You Porgy; There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon for New York.

Personnel: Lew Soloff: trumpet; Adam Nussbaum: drums; Joe Muccioli: conductor; Lars Lindgren, Lennart Grahn, Samuel Olsson, Jan Eliasson: trumpets; Johan Borgstrom: alto saxophone; Niklas Robertsson: clarinet, bass clarinet; Mikael Karlsson: flute, piccolo flute, alto flute, clarinet; Jan Forslund: flute, alto flute, bass clarinet; Alberto Pinton: flute, piccolo flute, bass flute, clarinet, bass clarinet.

Rhapsody in Blue Live

Tracks: Rhapsody in Blue.

Personnel: Ryan Quigley, Paul Newton, Tom MacNiven, Linsey McDonald: trumpets; Martin Kershaw: clarinet, alto saxophone; Paul Towndrow: alto saxophone; Tommy Smith: tenor saxophone: Konrad Wiszniewski: tenor saxophone; Bill Fleming: baritone saxophone; Chris Greive, Michael Campbell, Michael Owers: trombones; Lorna McDonald: bass trombone; Brian Kellock: piano; Graeme Scott: guitar; Calum Gourlay: bass; Alyn Cosker: drums


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Possibilities of Percussion: Yarn/Wire & ensemble, et. al Multiple Reviews The Possibilities of Percussion: Yarn/Wire & ensemble,...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Holiday Roundup 2017 Multiple Reviews Holiday Roundup 2017
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Old, Borrowed and Just a Little Blue Multiple Reviews Old, Borrowed and Just a Little Blue
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Another Timbre Celebrates Its First Decade Multiple Reviews Another Timbre Celebrates Its First Decade
by John Eyles
Published: December 9, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman Makes It Rain Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman Makes It Rain
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 12, 2017
Read Jazz from the US Virgin Islands' new breed Multiple Reviews Jazz from the US Virgin Islands' new breed
by Nigel Campbell
Published: November 4, 2017
Read "Green Mountain Jazz" Multiple Reviews Green Mountain Jazz
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Blues Deluxe 2" Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe 2
by Doug Collette
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Cassette Plus Download Labels" Multiple Reviews Cassette Plus Download Labels
by John Eyles
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Emanem Releases New Music From Late, Great Heroes Lacy And Rutherford" Multiple Reviews Emanem Releases New Music From Late, Great Heroes Lacy And...
by John Eyles
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Holiday Roundup 2017" Multiple Reviews Holiday Roundup 2017
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "440 Keys: A Batch of Piano Delights" Multiple Reviews 440 Keys: A Batch of Piano Delights
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 21, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!