George Gershwin, Lang Lang, & Herbie Hancock - "Rhapsody in Blue"
Arguably one of the most well known pieces of music ever. The Rhapsody in Blue was Gershwin’s incredible arrival into the classical world. This perfect synergy of jazz rhythms and chords with classical piano and orchestration is a classic for a reason. Beyond the many spoofs, the cartoons utilizing the score, the comedic sketches using the music for overdramatic effect, this piece still retains it’s brilliance nearly 100 years later.
It is a masterpiece.
Here Hancock and Lang come together fusing again classical training and jazz soul to take the synergy of the piece and raise the stakes yet again. The magic they have made together is staggering and breathtaking.
The composition was commissioned by the bandleader Paul Whiteman. It was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé several times, including the original 1924 scoring, the 1926 "theater orchestra" setting, and the 1942 symphony orchestra scoring, though completed earlier. The piece received its premiere in the concert, An Experiment in Modern Music, which was held on February 12, 1924, in Aeolian Hall, New York City, by Whiteman and his band with Gershwin playing the piano.
The editors of the Cambridge Music Handbooks opined that "The Rhapsody in Blue (1924) established Gershwin's reputation as a serious composer and has since become one of the most popular of all American concert works."
Lang has performed in major cities and was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and some top American orchestras. A Chicago Tribune music critic called him "the biggest, most exciting young keyboard talent I have encountered in many a year of attending piano recitals". Lang has been praised by musicians and critics around the world—the conductor Jahja Ling remarked, "Lang Lang is special because of his total mastery of the piano... He has the flair and great communicative power." National Public Radio's Morning Edition remarked that "Lang Lang has conquered the classical world with dazzling technique and charisma." It is often noted that Lang successfully straddles two worlds—classical prodigy and rock-like "superstar", a phenomenon summed up by The Times journalist Emma Pomfret, who wrote, "I can think of no other classical artist who has achieved Lang Lang's broad appeal without dumbing down."
Lang's performance style was controversial when he stormed into the classical music scene in 1999. At that time, pianist Earl Wild called him "the J. Lo of the piano." Others have described him as immature, but admitted that his ability to "conquer crowds with youthful bravado" is phenomenal among classical musicians. His maturity in subsequent years was reported by The New Yorker: "The ebullient Lang Lang is maturing as an artist." In April 2009, when Time Magazine included Lang in its list of the 100 most influential people, Herbie Hancock described his playing as "so sensitive and so deeply human", commenting: "You hear him play, and he never ceases to touch your heart."
Herbert Jeffrey Hancock (born April 12, 1940) is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer and actor. Hancock started his career with Donald Byrd. He shortly thereafter joined the Miles Davis Quintet, where he helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound. In the 1970s, Hancock experimented with jazz fusion, funk, and electro styles.
Hancock's best-known compositions include "Cantaloupe Island", "Watermelon Man" (later performed by dozens of musicians, including bandleader Mongo Santamaría), "Maiden Voyage", "Chameleon", and the singles "I Thought It Was You" and "Rockit". His 2007 tribute album River: The Joni Letters won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album to win the award, after Getz/Gilberto in 1965
So today, with fusion, creation, and fortitude on my mind, I choose the incredible Herbie Hancock & Lang Lang’s version of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” as my, create something new, create something for you, just create, song for a, gently with your heart, firmly with your hand, swiftly with you soul, Thursday.