Mudcat Café message #374886 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #29591   Message #374886
Posted By: Rick Fielding
15-Jan-01 - 10:57 AM
Thread Name: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
Subject: CD: The Glory of Gershwin..George Martin
Sorry, couldn't think of a quirky Header for this.

A friend and I were discussing this album the other day and I'm curious if any of our mutual Mudcat friends have an opinion about it.

It's honouring the great chromatic harmonica player (and life-long shit disturber) Larry Adler. Adler was one of those Americans who spoke out loudly against discrimination of blacks in the 40s, was branded a Communist, blacklisted, and high-tailed it to Europe. He fully admits that without the participation of several Rock stars (Elton, Sinead, Sting, Cher, Meatloaf etc.) this album of Gershwin songs would never have gotten made.

Taken on those terms, it's easy to criticise the album as "Gershwin Lite", and I can picture jazzophiles gagging at the prospect of Elvis Costello singing "But Not For Me", or Jon Bon Jovi sinking his teeth into "How Long Has This been Going On".

But....But...From the first note to the last, there's not one false step, TECHNICALLY, so if ya hate it, it's got to be a matter of just can't stomach Rockers messing with George and Ira. If it's the arrangements that bug you, then you gotta dis George Martin and Larry Adler, 'cause they came up with them (and don't forget who's version of Rapsody in Blue, Ira Gershwin loved the best...Adler's)

I'm not suggesting blanket tolerance here. "Rockers singing Gershwin", probably strikes some the same way that "Rockers (Van Morrison, Mick etc.) doing Celtic", with the Chieftans, or "Rockers with the London Symphony" does.

A few years ago I heard classical Violinist Yehudi Menhuin play with Ti-Jean Carignan. The result was horrid (folk) music, although both were at the top of their game skill wise. The genres simply didn't jell.

As far as my own prejudices go, I cringe when I hear Bluegrass music (I'm a fanatic) performed slickly by modern "New country" matter how technically accomplished they are. Nope, I'd much rather hear old recordings of the Stanley Brothers than new ones by Alison Krause (doing Stanley material).

Many years ago the same disagreements came up when "folkies" discussed Peter Paul and Mary or the Kingston Trio. Many loved the new sound, but some said it "destroyed" the "real" music. The arguement was made that a percentage of their fans would dig deeper after being hooked on the "pop" treatment and go on to enjoy more traditional music. Same thing could be said about the Gershwin album. It may be a bit of a stretch, but those "Classical Music's Greatest Hits" that they're always flogging on TV ("Now you can enjoy Mozart's 'good bits', without having to listen to the 'boring stuff') in theory at least, can lead people in the right direction.

There can be no question that the inclusion of the Rockers have made "The Glory of Gershwin" a best seller. Anyone got any thoughts?