Gershwin’s ‘jazz soul’ explored by Purdue Jazz Band
Saturday, October 20, 2007
A pivotal force in American music when he died in 1937, George Gershwin wrote the pop music of his era and tacked Broadway with gusto. But many felt he had jazz in his soul. To kick off Purdue’s Homecoming weekend, the Purdue Jazz Band explores “The Jazz Soul of George Gershwin” at its Oct. 26 concert.
It is set for 8 p.m. Friday (10/26) in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center. Admission is free.
Jazz Band Director M.T. “Mo” Trout says the concert honors Gershwin’s genius on the 70th anniversary of his untimely death from a brain tumor just weeks shy of his 39th birthday.
“In the canon of music known as the Great American Songbook, certain composers stand above all the rest - Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer.
“Gershwin, however, stands out from all these outstanding mid-twentieth century musicians because he was so prolific, not only as a writer of the American musical and Tin-Pan Alley songs, but also as a serious composer for the symphony orchestra and even for opera,” Trout says.
At the same time, “jazz music influenced virtually every piece of music Gershwin composed, and in turn, his music has become an irresistible magnet for jazz musicians to perform and use as creative vehicles of their own.” Trout adds.
The Oct. 26 concert showcases some of Gershwin’s best loved melodies and compositions, both in their most recognizable forms and used as vehicles for more creative self expression through jazz improvisation.
The Purdue Jazz Band will perform a flag-waver version of “Fascinating Rhythm” created for the Count Basie band by Sammy Nestico and a straight-ahead version of one of the most important standards for jazz musicians, “I’ve Got Rhythm.” “This particular tune has become such a favorite of jazz musicians that they have composed countless jazz tunes using the particular set of chord changes found in this song, known simply as “Rhythm” changes,” Trout says.
“The same chord progression will be featured in a wild arrangement of a jazz standard written by saxophone legend Sonny Rollins, ‘Oleo’.”
Other legendary Gershwin tunes on the concert include “’S Wonderful,” “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “The Man I Love.”
Music from Gershwin’s milestone operatic composition Porgy and Bess dominates the concert’s second half. The jazz arrangements of Porgy and Bess tunes were created by Bill Potts one of the most influential and innovative of the 1950’s jazz composer/arrangers. In 1959 he put together an all-star band to record the critically-acclaimed album The Jazz Soul of Porgy and Bess.
This Purdue Jazz Band concert is presented by Purdue Bands & Orchestra.
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