RHAPSODY IN GERSHWIN
Ted Rosenthal Trio
In his liner notes, pianist/arranger Ted Rosenthal self-deprecatingly calls his arrangements of composer George Gershwin's music "derangements".
Purists might balk at his temerity at tackling Rhapsody In Blue, Gershwin's first light classical masterpiece, in a trio format. But supported ably by bassist Martin Wind and drummer Tim Horner, Rosenthal turns it into a bravura first track that gives the signature clarinet opening line to the piano, then meanders through a range of jazz styles, from almost too prettily twee ragtime-esque trills to curiously catchy Latin rhythms.
By the end of the 17-minute, 10-second piece, you will either hate it or be won over by his chutzpah. I belong to the latter category. Gershwin's music is so much a part of the American pop canon by now it is a pleasure to hear a musician reconstructing it with so much curiosity.
And Rosenthal, a 1988 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano winner, has the chops to do it well. Listen to his slightly staggered chords in his introduction to Let's Call The Whole Thing Off, which attempts to introduce Monk's signature asymmetry into one of the most squarely sweet American pop trifles, and pay attention to the dropped notes in I Loves You, Porgy, which enrich the melancholic introspection of the song.
A real pleasure of an album.
By Ong Sor Fern