Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gershwin and Feinstein - a Reminder of the Immortal Bond Formed by the Two...

It began almost a century ago and continues this very day,  in  the recordings of one of America's most valued performers.
It begins with  a boy growing up  on the streets of New York, who receives that call from within, at around  age ten, after hearing  a violinist, to enter that magical world of a language without words.  One of his early tunes, called "Swanee" catapulted George Gershwin  to fame in his early twenties. In his 26th year he alters the course of music history with his "Rhapsody in Blue" - why go on? The rest is, as they say, History. Our American Mozart (both dying in their thirties) visits us for a brief period, and leaves an indestructible imprint.
A young man of about twenty is introduced to George Gershwin's older brother, Ira, some forty or so years later. He is employed by Ira to catalogue the vast collection of records  the Gershwin family had amassed. This young man remained about six more years, having become, essentially, a kind of  student of  the Gershwin legacy, and he remains, arguably, the  most valued Gershwin historian of our time. The man, of course, is Michael Feinstein, who is , I believe, around sixty years of age.  Feinstein's wonderful recordings of the tunes of Gershwin constitute, in my view, the import of  his connection with the Gershwin experience, and the ongoing reality of the miracle formed by the fusion of the music by George and the lyrics  by brother Ira in these immortal tunes - there is no parallel in the history of the Great American Songbook.
I recently paired some of the Gershwin tunes, sung by Feinstein, Ella Fitzgerald and Cleo Laine, with piano transcriptions of these tunes, written and  recorded by the great American pianist Earl Wild. It is one of my favorite personalized CD's. Do look for some of these absolutely breathtaking  piano transcriptions. I'm sure that Gershwin himself would have been flattered by Wild's encomium to one of America's greatest possessions;  a boy growing up on  the streets of New York, dropping out of school at age 15...

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