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George Gershwin

George Gershwin was born Jacob Gershowitz in Brooklyn in 1898, the second of four children from a close-knit immigrant family. He began his musical career as a song-plugger on Tin Pan Alley, but was soon writing his own pieces. Gershwin's first published song, "When You Want ‘Em, You Can't Get ‘Em," demonstrated innovative new techniques, but only earned him five dollars. Soon after, however, he met a young lyricist named Irving Ceaser. Together they composed a number of songs including "Swanee," which sold more than a million copies. In the same year as "Swanee," Gershwin collaborated with Arthur L. Jackson and Buddy De Sylva on his first complete Broadway musical, La, La Lucille. Over the course of the next four years, Gershwin wrote forty-five songs; among them were "Somebody Loves Me" and "Stairway to Paradise," as well as a twenty-five-minute opera, "Blue Monday." Composed in five days, the piece contained many musical clichés, but it also offered hints of developments to come. In 1924, George collaborated with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, on a musical comedy Lady Be Good. It included such standards as "Fascinating Rhythm" and "The Man I Love." It was the beginning of a partnership that would continue for the rest of the composer's life. Together they wrote many more successful musicals including Oh Kay! and Funny Face, staring Fred Astaire and his sister Adele. While continuing to compose popular music for the stage, Gershwin began to lead a double life, trying to make his mark as a serious composer. When he was 25 years old, his jazz-influenced "Rhapsody in Blue" premiered in New York's Aeolian Hall at the concert, An Experiment in Music. The audience included Jascha Heifitz, Fritz Kreisler, Leopold Stokowski, Serge Rachmaninov, and Igor Stravinsky. Gershwin followed this success with his orchestral work "Piano Concerto in F, Rhapsody No. 2" and "An American in Paris". Serious music critics were often at a loss as to where to place Gershwin's classical music in the standard repertoire. Some dismissed his work as banal and tiresome, but it always found favor with the general public. In the early thirties, Gershwin experimented with some new ideas in Broadway musicals. Strike Up The Band, Let ‘Em Eat Cake, and Of Thee I Sing, were innovative works dealing with social issues of the time. Of Thee I Sing was a major hit and the first comedy ever to win the Pulitzer Prize.

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Album Review

Greg Diaz & The Art of Imagination Jazz Orchestra: Begin the Agora

Read "Begin the Agora" reviewed by Jack Bowers

At a time when many contemporary big bands are eager to brush aside the past and “break new ground," it's always a pleasure to welcome an ensemble that honors and espouses jazz tradition with no appreciable loss of savoir-faire or, well, imagination. Begin the Agora, the debut recording by saxophonist Greg Diaz's Florida-based Art of Imagination Orchestra, embraces a customary point of view that in no way encumbers the leader's resourceful compositions (three) and arrangements (all). In other words, this ...

Anatomy of a Standard

"Nice Work If You Can Get It" by George and Ira Gershwin

Read ""Nice Work If You Can Get It" by George and Ira Gershwin" reviewed by Tish Oney

George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin represent a quintessential songwriting team laying claim to several early masterpieces included in what we now call the Great American Songbook. Representing the epitome of the “Jazz Age," they worked together from 1924-1937, creating no fewer than twenty-five full musical scores for performance in Hollywood and on the Great White Way. One of their many undisputed standards, “Nice Work If You Can Get It," beautifully balances clever lyrics with an interesting interplay of melodic and ...

Album Review

George Gershwin: Gershwin Performs Gershwin: Of Rhythm and Constipation

Read "Gershwin Performs Gershwin: Of Rhythm and Constipation" reviewed by Marc Davis

Insert your favorite toilet joke here.I tried. I considered dozens of poop puns, then finally decided nothing could top reality. So here it is:In the 1930s, George Gershwin--already a huge star--hosted a radio show on which he played piano between laxative commercials.It's funny, really, when you hear it. And yet it doesn't detract from the music, which is sensational. Actually, the Feen-A-Mint ads are kind of charming.You can hear it yourself on ...

Live Review

Porgy and Bess Broadway Production at Academy of Music

Read "Porgy and Bess Broadway Production at Academy of Music" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Porgy and Bess Broadway Musical Production The Academy of Music Philadelphia, PA February 18, 2014 Following its multi-Tony Award-winning run on Broadway, an electrifying stage revival of George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess came to Philadelphia as part of an original cast national tour. For jazz aficionados, this timeless masterpiece, which debuted in Boston in 1935, is a quintessential opera in the jazz idiom, the purest and most potent illustration of why jazz ...

Book Review

The House That George Built

Read "The House That George Built" reviewed by David Rickert

The House That George Built Wilfred Sheed Paperback; 368 pages ISBN: 0812970187 Random House 2008

Why were so many more good songs written during the first half of the twentieth century than the second half? Wilfred Sheed, who believes this to be the case, presents two theories in The House That George Built. One is that there were many more pianos in households during the 1920s and 1930s than there ...

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Tribute to George Gershwin at Arsenalarts on September 11

Tribute to George Gershwin at Arsenalarts on September 11

Source: MassJazz: Jazz in Massachusetts

A new musical series called The American Songbook: The Jazz View, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 11 at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown Massachusetts. Songwriter George Gershwin is the featured artist. Musicians include Saxophonist Larry Monroe, vocalist Donna McElroy, pianist Russell Hoffmann, trumpet player Jeff Stout, bassist John Repucci and drummer John Ramsey. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 for Arsenal members, and $15 for students and seniors and can be purchased online. Other ...



Ran Blake with Ricky Ford & Steve Lacy: That Certain Feeling (George Gershwin Songbook), available September 2010

Ran Blake with Ricky Ford & Steve Lacy: That Certain Feeling (George Gershwin Songbook), available September 2010

Source: Werner Uehlinger

Songs—with or without lyrics—being no less than stories, and the best songs of George (and frequently Ira) Gershwin being stories of the first order, any number of these exhilarating moments are to be heard on this disc, a result of the material (Gershwin's) inspiring the imagination of the improviser, Ran Blake. Blake's art is wholly a product of his acute attention (to the stories, images, and utterances of his imagination) and integrity (in the formal process of making music, spontaneously). ...



Brian Wilson Reimagines George Gershwin out 8/17

Brian Wilson Reimagines George Gershwin out 8/17

Source: JamBase


Brian Wilson It's an unprecedented meeting of two legendary musical minds, separated by 70 years. Pioneering musical genius Brian Wilson, co-founder of The Beach Boys, has teamed up with George Gershwin, in Wilson's Disney Pearl debut CD, Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin. Featuring timeless classics like “Rhapsody in Blue," “I've Got Rhythm" and “Summertime," the album makes history with “The Like in I Love You" and “Nothing ...



Brian Wilson to Finish Some George Gershwin Songs

Brian Wilson to Finish Some George Gershwin Songs

Source: Michael Ricci

Wilson plans to finish and record at least two songs on an album of Gershwin music that could be released next year.

In a surprise union of two quintessentially American composers from different eras, one the 1960s mastermind of “Good Vibrations," the other the Jazz Age creator of “Rhapsody in Blue," former Beach Boy Brian Wilson has been authorized by the estate of George Gershwin to complete unfinished songs Gershwin left behind when he died in 1937.

He plans to ...



Blue Note Records Announces the June 28 Release of Bill Charlap Plays George Gershwin: The American Soul

Blue Note Records Announces the June 28 Release of Bill Charlap Plays George Gershwin: The American Soul

Source: All About Jazz

On The American Soul, pianist Bill Charlap augments his acclaimed trio (bassist Peter Washington & drummer Kenny Washington) with an A-list horn section that includes alto saxophonist Phil Woods, tenor saxophonist Frank Wess, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, & trombonist Slide Hampton, as he delivers a fresh take on the well-worn Gershwin songbook like only Charlap could.

Charlap also takes the helm of one of New York City's premiere Jazz institutions when his inaugural season as the Artistic Director of the 92nd ...



Berklee Presents "The Great American Songbook: The Music Of George Gershwin"

Berklee Presents "The Great American Songbook:  The Music Of George Gershwin"

Source: All About Jazz

BOSTON - Picture a stage full of musicians, a string section, men in tuxes, women in evening wear, and the great standards and show tunes of George Gershwin, performed in the classic styles of the mid-20th century golden age of popular song.

On Thursday, January 30, 2003, Berklee College of Music presents “The Great American Songbook: The Music of George Gershwin" at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center. Tickets for this very special event are $10 general admission, $4 ...

Bill Gati
Thisbe Vos
Brian Eaton
Eddie Scher
Sam Vaulina
saxophone, baritone





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