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George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Gershwin For Trumpet: arrangements for trumpet and piano

But Not for Me [5:04]
They Canít Take That Away From Me [5:34]
The Man I Love [4:39]
How Long Has This Been Going On? [6:06]
Embraceable You [5:07]
A Foggy Day [8:31]
It Ainít Necessarily So [4:56]
Love is Here to Stay [2:47]
By Strauss [6:05]
But Not for Me [1:26]
Juraz Bartos, Trumpet
Peter Breiner, Piano
Rec. Glenn Gould Studio, C.B.C., Toronto, Canada, 3-5 June 1996 DDD
NAXOS 8.554302 [50:15]

George Gershwin is easily one of the great songwriters of the 20th century. He was embraced by movies, the stage, jazz players and the more "serious" musician. His melodies have been co-opted, reinvented, and performed in hundreds of ways throughout the last century.

This album continues the tradition of taking what Gershwin initially wrote and expanding upon it in a way that highlights both the melodies and the performers. The arrangements here are quite heavily influenced by the traditions in jazz and gospel music, and tend to be quite good. The form is very much along the lines of a normal jazz combo following the "head-solo-head" form. In most of the songs this is a nearly ideal way of hearing Gershwinís music. The arrangement of "They canít take that away from me" is a jazz-infused, bluesy rendition that summons forth images of New Orleansí Bourbon Street, with the trumpet nearly speaking the words through the variety in timbres and inflections. "Embraceable You" is similarly infused, although with the bluesy introspection that harks back to an Ella Fitzgerald recording of the same song. "A Foggy Day" is particularly good, with the Harmon-muted trumpet alternating dizzying virtuosity and blues-soaked street musician guttural qualities that epitomise Wynton Marsalis at his finest.

The only disadvantage is that the listener eventually begins to miss the rest of the combo. While many of the songs were originally written strictly for piano and voice, after decades of hearing this type of recording either with an orchestral string section or with a jazz quartet, one can miss the walking bass line and drum set. For the majority of the album this is a minor complaint, as the listener is apt to have heard many vocal arrangements of Gershwin for voice and piano that have been similarly set. In fact, with the slower, more heart-felt tunes, a full combo could seem less intimate and cluttered. However, as the tempos increase and the pianistís left hand attempts to take the place of the bass line in arrangements of "It Ainít Necessarily So" or "But Not For Me" one wonders that the two men, both so obviously talented and knowledgeable about these tunes, did not also recognize the limitations that the chosen instrumentation has and compensate with the addition of one or two more players.

Taken as a whole, however, this is a fine collection of familiar songs arranged and performed in unsurprising but very competent ways. As is generally the case with above-average Gershwin recordings, this album will find its mark with both lovers of classical and jazz music, and is definitely worth the time spent listening.

Patrick Gary

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