Search - John [Composer] Adams, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein :: New World Jazz

New World Jazz
John [Composer] Adams, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein
New World Jazz
Genres: Jazz, Soundtracks, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1

One of the activities for which Michael Tilson Thomas has an especially strong passion is cultivating the traditions of great ensemble playing within the next generation of young musicians. In his work with the New World S...  more »

      
   
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One of the activities for which Michael Tilson Thomas has an especially strong passion is cultivating the traditions of great ensemble playing within the next generation of young musicians. In his work with the New World Symphony--a training orchestra for gifted conservatory graduates from around the world, which he founded in 1987--MTT has clearly inherited the mantle of inspiring educator from Leonard Bernstein. He similarly works along the popular-classical divide so prevalent in American culture--not as a dead end but a source of creative energy. This disc showcases the vitality of orchestral jazz in various guises as it straddles that divide, from the music of American composers and European émigrés to Hollywood film scores. One of the things MTT demonstrates with the selections here--eminently incarnated by the ensemble, which has a huge sense of fun with it--is the amazing malleability and assimilibility of jazz elements, whether it's the spiky rhythmic fragments that get blown to oversize in John Adams's Lollapalooza or the brashly outrageous brass yawpings of Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs (demonstrating the composer's own belief in a shared sensibility linking baroque improvisatory counterpoint with jazz). One of the real treats here is the account of Rhapsody in Blue in its first, seldom-heard version (as orchestrated by Ferde Grofé for a '20s jazz band). This is one of the freshest, most absorbingly joyful versions of the Gershwin available, full of colors you will have likely never encountered, with an exuberantly inventive MTT at the keyboard. The stardust saxophone sound in Rhapsody's slow dance tune alone is worth the price of admission. --Thomas May

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CD Reviews

Fun stuff
06/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Michael Tilson Thomas is one of the great conductors of this century, having proven himself over and over again with the London and San Francisco Symphonys, and now the New World Symphony, a Florida-based training orchestra. In this recording he also shows that he's very adept to conducting jazz, as was his mentor Leonard Bernstein. What comes on this CD is a fun look back on jazz-influenced works of this past century. It starts with a treat by John Adams called "Lollapalooza", which sounds like, if you've heard as much Adams as I have recently, well, John Adams. The Gershwin "Rhapsody in Blue" is given a well done, if maybe a little long (on the piano solos, not the orchestral bits), reading with MTT at the keys. Bernstein's all too little known "Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs", written for Woody Herman but premiered by Benny Goodman, shows a composer totally at home in his element. It's a great piece and Ted Calcara does a fantastic job on the clarinet solos. Paul Hindemith's "Ragtime" is probably the angriest ragtime you'll ever hear, but it is a delight to come across. As for the rest of the CD, some of the pieces are rather well known (Stravinsky's "Ebony Concerto" and Milhaud's "Creation") and some are not (Antheil's "Jazz Symphony"). It's a wonderful intro to a sort of symphonic jazz world, and Michael Tilson Thomas is the conductor to lead the way."
Get this recording! You won't regret it!
Christopher Losee | New Paltz, NY (USA) | 04/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I bought this recording mainly for Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and it is THE best Rhapsody in Blue I have ever heard! I also love Lollapalooza by John Adams. Of all the wonderful tracks on here, my favorite has got to be Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs. It blew me away! The end of that piece made me get up and dance! The New World Symphony Orchestra sounds terrific under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, who really knows how to conduct jazz! This copy is a must for everyone out there!"
A Little Disappointing
A Reviewer | 08/07/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I've had better. I bought this CD for the Adams number, Lollapalooza, and was pleased. To my knowledge, there are very few recordings of this piece floating around out there, and I feel this one is the best - at the very least for the technical quality of the recording (eg all the instruments seem mic'd appropriately).

Gershwin is by far the biggest disappointment of the lot. Coming across paradoxically as miserably fast and strangely unenergetic, it leaves the listener wishing they'd spent the last 17 minutes mowing the lawn instead of wallowing in front of the stereo.

Not a bad album, but only for select pieces."