Wednesday, July 26, 2017

George Gershwin Inducted Into DownBeat Hall of Fame

George Gershwin's An American in Paris

In his August 2017 article on George Gershwin that accompanies his selection by the Veterans Committee to the DownBeat Hall of Fame, John McDonough writes that Gershwin is the most important figure in the literature of the jazz repertoire. He notes that if one looks at the list of the 100 most performed songs there are 11 titles from Gershwin (starting with "Summertime" and ending with "S'Wonderful." The next closest composer is Duke Ellington with seven and then Cole Porter with four. Simply look at "I Got Rhythm," and the structure and changes of it has "served as the harmonic support chassis for more original jazz titles — contrafacts, as they're called — than any song ever written."

 Here George Gershwin plays "I Got Rhythm."

The timelessness of Gershwin's music is seen and heard from the Broadway adaptation in 2015 of the 1951 film, "An American in Paris," was made into an exuberant Broadway Music with brilliant choreography as well as the timeless music. I had the pleasure of seeing it on Broadway, although it is now on tour in the North American (and will be at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC over the holidays this winter). Of course this composition is echoed in Bud Powell's classic "Parisian Thoroughfare." 

Here is Billie Holiday 1939 recording of "The Man I Love,"

Of course, "Rhapsody in Blue," first performed at Paul Whiteman's Aeolian Hall concert in 1924, is a classic of American Music.Let us continue to enjoy the legacy he left over the next century. And here are some more samples of this legacy.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong performing "Summertime."

 Here is Charlie Parker performing his "Anthropology," a contrafact of "I Got Rhythm."

Finally here is Duke Ellington's "Cotton Tail," featuring Ben Webster on tenor sax 
and also a contrafact of "I Got Rhythm."

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