No living pianist is better equipped to address the music of the iconic composer George Gershwin than Ted Rosenthal, as is amply displayed on Rhapsody in Gershwin, his 15th release as a leader. Fulfilling The New Yorker's description as "a musician's musician who balances technique and taste," Rosenthal launches the proceedings with a kaleidoscopic trio arrangement of Gershwin's enduring concerto Rhapsody In Blue, and continues with personalized interpretations of seven enduring hits from Gershwin's canon.
The treatments by Rosenthal and his impeccable trio (bassist Martin Wind, drummer Tim Horner) further burnish his long-standing reputation as one of the leading jazz pianists and improvisational conceptualists of his generation,
Throughout the epic journey that is Rhapsody in Blue, he hews to the original score, never losing sight of the melodies and motifs, "while adding my own jazz improvisations in the cadenza sections" and postulating an array of colors, moods and textures for the trio to navigate."What was tricky, challenging and fun was to strike a balance between the notes that Gershwin wrote and the new directions that we take it,"
"Gershwin is almost taken for granted, because he's such a staple of American culture," says Rosenthal, 54, who himself stands only a degree or two of separation by dint of close proximity to hardcore stride practitioners like Byard and Dick Hyman. "But he wrote both songs and extended pieces, and he was a wizard-like pianist who could play his pieces all night at a party to dazzle the party-goers, especially the ladies. When I think about my musical identity, I'm also a pianist, composer and arranger."
The music on "Rhapsody in Gershwin" has strong influences and homages but still exhibit Rosenthal's own attitude and approach: expressive, creative, and sparkling.