Photo credit: William Ellis. All Rights Reserved
This Thursday I will once again be joining the City of London Sinfonia for a performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue in the original arrangement “For Jazz Band and Piano” written for the Paul Whiteman band.
It’s great to have the challenge of playing one of the most famous jazz-classical crossover pieces ever written. I’m also delighted to be furthering my working relationship with the City of London Sinfonia, who are among the UK’s leading orchestras.
Rhapsody In Blue is an iconic work that set a template for the bridging of the gap between the worlds of classical and jazz. It is essentially a mini-piano concerto and it is exciting to be returning to that approach for the first time since the performance of my own concerto at the BBC Proms in 2008.
Approaching Gershwin’s music from the perspective of a jazz musician, one is drawn especially towards its rhythmic possibilities. I’m hoping to open up the piece a little for some improvisation, of course in a reverential way to the written music.
My collaboration with the City of London Sinfonia has already been very fruitful one, and includes a recent recording of my orchestral piece MOVE! which will feature on a new album for ACT Music to be released in early 2014. On this occasion, it’s also fantastic to be working with Michael Collins, a world famous clarinettist and conductor, for whom I’m writing a commission with CLS next year.
This Thursday at Cadogan Hall, the orchestra will also be performing works by Stravinsky and Bernstein, composed respectively with clarinettists Woody Herman and Benny Goodman in mind, and the Shostakovich Jazz Suite No.1 from 1934. There will also be a performance of a suite from Weill's The Threepenny Opera.
This should be a really enjoyable concert, and will hopefully be of interest to anyone fascinated by the integration of classical and jazz music.