Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks (with Conductor Maurice Peress) Celebrate 90th Anniversary of George Gershwin's RHAPSODY IN BLUE at Town Hall, 2/12
It may be one of the greatest combinations of classical music with jazz and pop ever created by an American-born composer, and this February 12 it will be 90 years since the immortal George Gershwin first played his "Rhapsody in Blue" for an audience. Bandleader Vince Giordano and Conductor Maurice Peress, who share a love for American music, have joined forces to honor Paul Whiteman's historic Aeolian Hall concert on the same day and the same block where Gershwin's amazing piece was introduced nine decades ago.
This concert will be on Wednesday, February 12th, at The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, NYC, at 8:00pm for a one-time-only performance. Tickets are modestly priced ranging from $25 to $40 and will be available at www.ticketmaster.com or at The Town Hall box office.
The program will recreate the authentic 1924 Whiteman concert "Experiment in Modern Music." In recognition of the "first jazz band recording," Whiteman opened with "Livery Stable Blues," complete with mock horse whinnies and chicken squawks in the raucous hokum-style of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Whiteman then played his most-favored Palais Royal arrangements, which included solo turns for virtuoso banjo player Mike Pingatore, multiple-reed wizard Ross Gorman and trumpet player Henry Busse. Nighthawk virtuosos Ken Salvo, Dan Block, Michael Ponella, Dan Levinson and Jon-Erik Kellso will recreate solos and exact renderings from Whiteman's hit records: "Whispering," "Limehouse Blues," and "Mama Loves Papa." Crowd-pleasing "knuckle busters" performed by the dashing novelty piano virtuoso Zez Confrey, will be recreated by brilliant jazz pianist Jeb Patton. Andy Stein (known for his work on "A Prairie Home Companion") will be featured in Paul Whiteman's role on violin. The program's second half will feature an augmented Nighthawk orchestra, including three reeds, eight violins, two French horns and an extra bass will join four brass and five rhythm pieces.At the historic Aeolian Hall concert, Whiteman put down his violin for the first time in his dance-band career and took up a baton to lead special arrangements of selections including MacDowell's "To a Wild Rose" and Rudolf Friml's "Chansonette," later known as the "Donkey Serenade." Whiteman concluded the "Experiment" with Gershwin's masterful "Rhapsody in Blue," which had been commissioned especially for the occasion. On keyboard for this performance of the "Rhapsody" will be the first winner of the Thelonious Monk competition, jazz piano virtuoso Ted Rosenthal.
"Whiteman's idea that Gershwin compose 'a jazz piece for solo piano and orchestra' turned out to be inspired," says Peress, who reconstructed and conducted a version of the "Rhapsody" for a 1996 album recreation of the Aeolian Hall concert called The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue. "Gershwin artfully transforms the same ragtime and blues harmonies, the fiddle, brass and sax colors, and the banjo and tuba rhythms that the audience had been listening and toe-tapping to throughout the evening, into a masterwork with immediate appeal. With his 'Rhapsody' for solo piano and jazz band, Gershwin took a giant step for American music. It is indisputably the first American orchestral work shaped from blues and ragtime that 'crossed over' and found a welcome place in the standard orchestral repertoire."
"The original performance of 'Rhapsody In Blue' established Gershwin as one of the truly unique voices in American music, and solidified Whiteman's reputation as America's leading bandleader," says Giordano. "By recreating this historic event, we honor Whiteman and Gershwin, and commemorate the 90th anniversary of the piece and the event that changed music forever." --END--