All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Marcus Roberts: Portraits in Blue

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
This has to be the most raucous, the most bluesy, the most improvisational "Rhapsody in Blue" ever recorded. And not all of the best improvisation is by Marcus Roberts. Wailing clarinets and wandering trumpets abound. And it is all in a spirit of the original, so much so that I believe jazz-loving George Gershwin would have approved.

All of Gershwin's original music is there, but much of it is taken at unusual tempos—speeded up, slowed down or synchopated—with many additional minutes of improvisation that actually fit with the original. I'm usually a traditionalist, so I wasn't sure I really wanted to hear a 28-minute "Rhapsody in Blue," figuring it probably had a lot of filler. It doesn't. This is music that's interesting and worth hearing.

Oh yes, there are also two additional pieces, which are very, very good.

The 20-minute James P. Johnson piece, "Yamekraw," is NOT stride piano, which threw me for a loop. But it IS a sort of answer to Gershwin's "Rhapsody." Written just three years after the Gershwin original, it is also a multi-themed bluesy mini-symphony. An historic curiosity, for sure, but also musically adventurous.

Finally, Roberts plays a 12-minute version of Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm Variations," which are catchy and inventive. But Rhapsody is what you're buying here, and it may be the best one I've ever heard. Certainly the bluest.

Track Listing: Rhapsody in Blue; Yamekraw; I Got Rhythm Variations

Personnel: Marcus Roberts, piano

Title: Portraits in Blue | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Columbia Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read All Melody CD/LP/Track Review
All Melody
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 23, 2018
Read The Future is Female CD/LP/Track Review
The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Hunters & Scavengers CD/LP/Track Review
Hunters & Scavengers
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow CD/LP/Track Review
Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Transatlantic CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "Pekka" CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "9" CD/LP/Track Review 9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Small World" CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Vintage Christmas Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Vintage Christmas Trio
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "The Voice of Robert Desnos" CD/LP/Track Review The Voice of Robert Desnos
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "The Fever: The Remastered Epic Recordings" CD/LP/Track Review The Fever: The Remastered Epic Recordings
by Doug Collette
Published: April 9, 2017