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Home » Classic in Field » JOHNSON,RESER,GERSHWIN,SUESSE: Jazz Nocturne, American Concertos of the Jazz Age

JOHNSON,RESER,GERSHWIN,SUESSE: Jazz Nocturne, American Concertos of the Jazz Age
A useful and pleasurable collection of five jazz-orientated concerts composed between1922 and 1931. Of particular interest are Black composer James Price Johnson’s Yamekraw: a Negro Rhapsody, a success from its premiere in 1928, when Fats Waller took the piano part, which is heard on this CD for the first time complete and in its final orchestration, and Harry Reser’s Suite for Banjo and Orchestra. Reser, considered one of the greatest banjoists of all time, was a technical virtuoso, as this composition makes clear, is well served in this performance by banjoist Don Vappie, who is also responsible for the excellent orchestration, reminiscent at times of Van Dyke Parks’ work on Jump. This work alone is worth the price of the CD. The familiar item here is Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, which is OK, but there are far better, and far swingier, versions of this around already. interesting though is the clarity of the recording, making it good for study, if clinical, and the fact that sections cut from the original at the instigation of Paul Whiteman (who commissioned and premiered the piece) and Ferd Grofe (who completely orchestrated and arranged the work from Gershwin’s two piano composition) are here restored, so that for the first time we can hear it as George originally planned. Again, interesting - but I think the Grofe’s cuts were sound. Lastly, there are two pieces by Nadine Dana Suesse (‘the girl Gershwin’, according to the New York Times, author of countless hits and show tunes): Jazz Nocturne – in a modern arrangement by Caroll Huxley and a work that was the centrepiece of Paul Whitman’s fourth ‘Experiments in Modern Music’ concert series, Concerto in three Rhythms – also brilliantly arranged by Ferde Grofe. An important release, and at a budget price. L

Code: 8559647
Price: £8.75