The Essential George Gershwin

The Essential George Gershwin

by George Gershwin

CD(Special Edition)

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Although there are a couple of pieces performed by George Gershwin himself, the rest of this two-CD, 41-track compilation, The Essential George Gershwin, is devoted to interpretations of his works. It's impressive in its stylistic and chronological sprawl, though inconsistent. Spanning 1925-2002 (though most of it predates 1970), the performances include instrumental classical pieces; pop vocals by Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme, and Tony Bennett; and jazzier covers by Miles Davis, Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Alberta Hunter, and Cab Calloway. There are a number of cuts by artists more associated with the screen and stage than the recording studio, like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. And there are some rather unusual items here, like the 1960 cover of "It Ain't Necessarily So" by Aretha Franklin; the "Third Movement (Allegro Agitato)," from "Concerto in F," with Oscar Levant on piano (with the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York); and the whiter-than-white harmony pop of the Hi-Lo's on "Of Thee I Sing." Many of Gershwin's major compositions are represented, including "I Got Rhythm," "Summertime," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "I've Got a Crush on You," "I Loves You Porgy" (seven of the selections are from Porgy and Bess), and "Rhapsody in Blue." If there are any drawbacks to this package, it's that with such a wide body of material that has been interpreted by so many artists in so many different ways, the final list is bound not to please everybody. As good as Aretha Franklin is, for instance, there have undoubtedly been better versions of "It Ain't Necessarily So," and as novel as the Hi-Lo's' arrangement of "Of Thee I Sing" is, it's so lightweight it treads the saccharine. Although the liner notes include a lot of original recording and release date information, it's unusually cagey in some respects. It doesn't include the label or format of release for numerous cuts. That leaves you to guess, though it's pretty obvious to many informed listeners, that much of this is, in fact, drawn from the Sony catalog: logical and convenient enough considering this is on Sony Classical/Legacy, but a condition that probably kept this retrospective from being as wide-ranging as it could have. Collectors might want to note the inclusion of four previously unreleased cuts: Benny Goodman's "Liza," Rosemary Clooney's "A Foggy Day," Fred Astaire's "They Can't Take That Away from Me," and Michael Feinstein's "Home Blues." It should be noted, though, that the version of "Rhapsody in Blue" with George Gershwin on piano combines his original 1925 recording with additional orchestration laid on in 1976, long after his death.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/14/2003
Label: Sony
UPC: 0696998991323
catalogNumber: 89913
Rank: 60027

Album Credits

Performance Credits

George Gershwin   Primary Artist,Piano
André Kostelanetz   Conductor
Michael Feinstein   Piano,Vocals
Cannonball Adderley   Alto Saxophone
Buster Bailey   Cornet,Vocals
Bunny Berigan   Trumpet
Buck Clayton   Trumpet
Jimmy Cleveland   Trombone
Johnny Coles   Trumpet
Miles Davis   Trumpet
Harry Edison   Trumpet
Benny Goodman   Clarinet
Freddie Green   Guitar
Dick Hyman   Piano
Budd Johnson   Tenor Saxophone
Jo Jones   Drums
Jonah Jones   Trumpet
Red Norvo   Vibes
Mel Powell   Piano
André Previn   Conductor
Jerome Richardson   Clarinet,Flute
Artie Shaw   Clarinet
Julius Watkins   French Horn
Lester Young   Tenor Saxophone
Joe Bushkin   Piano
Cozy Cole   Drums
Frank Rehak   Trombone
Ernie Royal   Trumpet
Joe Sullivan   Piano
Oscar Levant   Piano
Irving Joseph   Piano
Joe Bennett   Trombone
Mike Bryan   Guitar
Jimmy Cobb   Drums
Willie Ruff   French Horn
Walter Page   String Bass
Danny Bank   Bass Clarinet,Alto Flute
Lou Bring   Conductor
Red Callender   Bass
Paul Chambers   Bass
Doc Cheatham   Trumpet
Vic Dickenson   Trombone
Gil Evans   Conductor
Morey Feld   Drums
Bernie Glow   Trumpet
Jeffrey D. Harris   Piano
Harry Zimmerman   Conductor
Milt Hinton   Bass
Norm Jeffries   Drums
Ellis Larkins   Piano
Jay Leonhart   Acoustic Bass
Robert Mersey   Conductor
Butch Miles   Drums
Louis Mucci   Trumpet
Romeo Penque   Clarinet,Flute
Gunther Schuller   French Horn
Axel Stordahl   Conductor
Michael Tilson Thomas   Conductor
Earle Warren   Alto Saxophone
Jack Washington   Alto Saxophone
Paul Weston & His Orchestra   Conductor
Vishnu Wood   Bass
Torrie Zito   Conductor
Dick Hixon   Trombone
Dick McDonough   Guitar
Eric Cohen   Drums
Gerald Cook   Piano
John Green   Conductor
Pete Peterson   String Bass
Leo F. Forbstein   Conductor
Buck and Bubbles   Track Performer

Technical Credits

George Gershwin   Composer
Claude Thornhill   Director
Ray Heindorf   Arranger
Irving Caesar   Composer
Buddy DeSylva   Composer
Gil Evans   Arranger
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Jeffrey D. Harris   Arranger
Gus Kahn   Composer
Brian King   Engineer
Ballard MacDonald   Composer
Mike Renzi   Arranger
Don Rose   Arranger
Eddie Sauter   Composer
Axel Stordahl   Arranger
Diane Warren   Liner Notes
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Tim Page   Liner Notes
DuBose Heyward   Composer
Stacey Boyle   Tape Research
Triana DOrazio   Packaging Manager

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The Essential George Gershwin 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The glory of this CD is two-fold, first is the inimitable music of George Gershwin, second is the wide array of performers featured including Gershwin himself. From Fred Astaire singing "Let's Call the Whole Tbing Off" to Oscar Levant playing the "Third Movement" to Cab Calloway seducing us to get on "the Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon for New York", this is an outstanding collection of Gershwin music. Every lover of the American song and George Gershwin's music needs to own this CD.