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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful rendition.....
Just when you thought you'd heard all of gershwin.. a jazz master such as herbie hancock brings together this talented bunch and gives us a whole new definition of his work. A new approach to gershwin which leaves me gasping. The album flows beautifully from end to end and can be considered a summation of the "feel" of gershwin from the point of view of the...
Published on October 10, 1999 by Russell Jennison (rustamon7@ao...

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just doesn't cohere and therefore doesn't compel
Until a week ago, I have never listened to the album but knew of the critical and popular acclaim it has received. I picked it up from the library and have attentively listened to it four times. While the individual performances are enjoyable listens, the album on the whole didn't satisfy me or absorb my attention as I thought a Hancock tribute to Gershwin might...
Published on July 25, 2000 by Frank Cohen


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful rendition....., October 10, 1999
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
Just when you thought you'd heard all of gershwin.. a jazz master such as herbie hancock brings together this talented bunch and gives us a whole new definition of his work. A new approach to gershwin which leaves me gasping. The album flows beautifully from end to end and can be considered a summation of the "feel" of gershwin from the point of view of the arranger herbie hancock. Herbie has always been one of my favorite jazz aritsts, and this album is no exception to his excellent musicmanship. If you've liked herbie's albums before, I'd put this one right up there with 1+1, headhunters, and all his other defining albums.. Herbie has definately created a winner here.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Majestic, a musical experience for body and soul, December 7, 1998
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
I saw Herbie Hancock live for the first time in London in the early 80's, accompanying Winton Marsalis. He blew me away, for the range of his technique and conceptual genius.On this album, he soars on gilded wings, portraying his vision of Gershwin, aided by the stellar cast he has surrounded himself with.The sound of Wayne Shorter's Tenor horn brings back memories of that all -time great band of Miles in the 60's.The amazing vision that Herbie has, which he gathered under Miles, is shown at its fullest here, in the mental and aural concepts he explores.He takes Gershwin's compositions to their limits, expanding them with a subtle intensity which breaks into white flame on tracks like " Summertime", a piece now so common that one would think it impossible to reignite it with new life. But reignite it he does, with Joni's smoky,etheral/erotic vocals and that piano. The incorporation of African percussionists is a master stroke, and underpins the themes with a breathy freshness. It is marvellous to hear Stevie Wonder exploring those cadences which show here where Rap and Hip hop came from. There are no duds here-this is a coming together of all that is finest in American and world music, united in the vision of genius-Gershiwn and Herbie Hancock. If your are not a jazz fan, if you listen to one "jazz" album a year, but if you listen to musci of any sort, listen to this. Majestic,marvellous, this is a master work for all.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious and Satisfying, But Not Completely Effective, July 5, 2000
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
This would have earned 5* were it not for the annoying title and a few cuts that just don't work. While many of the 14 selections evoke Gershwin, not all of them "reach inside the core of the piece in search of the composer's original impulses," as stated (pretentiously, I think) on the CD cover. The most effective pieces stay fairly close to Gershwin, (including "The Man I Love" and "Summertime" with inspired, bluesy vocals by Joni Mitchell and effective comping by Wayne Shorter on sax), although there is outstanding African instrumentation (djembe, talking drum, and three percussionists) on the "Overture" (a spin on "Fascinating Rhythm) and on "It Ain't Necessarily So." The latter features multi-layered African drums, an immense bottom, and a beautifully muted trumpet by Eddie Henderson. Another highlight is the unaccompanied "Embraceable You," taken here at a languid pace that recalls Andy Bey's rich vocal version.
Stevie Wonder's scat/harmonica on "St. Louis Blues" (by W.C. Handy) is a major disappointment. Was it included here for it's single potential? It doesn't fit, either as a Gershwin-esque reconstruction or as a W.C. Handy interpretation. "St. Louis Blues" and Duke Ellington's "Cotton Tail" seem like marketing ploys, even if Cotton Tail is based on the "I Got Rhythm's" chord structure (a debt that is hardly unique in jazz).
"Lullaby" is a Gershwin song I've never heard (or just don't recognize), but the band pulls it off with majesty and soul. Operatic at times, floating and mystical at others, layered with blue notes, it is a beautifully orchestrated number (Did "There is a Rose in Spanish Harlem" copy some of the melody?). This piece, along with Gershwin's "Prelude in C# Minor and Ravel's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G, 2nd Movement" represent Gershwin's "classical" side. The `Prelude' features Kathleen Battle's soprano, but sounds thinner than the Ravel piece, which is given chamber orchestra treatment and beautiful long flowing lines by Hancock. (Why Ravel? He and Gershwin shared great admiration for each other: Gershwin met and played for Ravel; Ravel's Piano Concerto in G contains hints of jazz.) The connection seems more solid than than the fatuous one drawn between Gershwin and Ellington ("the two men were kindred spirits in their search to expand the scope and language of American music"). Fortunately, one does not buy music for the liner notes.
The concept, though not wholly realized, is ultimately subordinate to its parts. Most of the numbers succeed, either on their own terms or as extensions of a Gershwin sensibility. Recommended.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best "Embraceable" you could have..., June 6, 2003
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
This CD is a Masterpiece!
You can also get, the DVD.
It's shocking Herbie's interpretation of "Concerto For Piano And Orchestra In G, 2nd Movement", it's so funny, that even underwater we could recognize it's Herbie Hancock playing. I'm thinking about those people who wrote a bad review of Chick Corea playing Mozart what they would write here about it. :)
I feel fine whenever a Jazz Musician plays classical music, because they're free, and music sound as fresh as when the composer did it.I always think: It's better to listen to Classical music played by Jazz Musicians than to listen Jazz or popular music played by Classical Musicians. The second option always tends to be a disaster!!
Congratulations Herbie Hancock for this NICE work.
George Gershwin (one of the first Jazz Musicians ) would have loved it!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just doesn't cohere and therefore doesn't compel, July 25, 2000
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
Until a week ago, I have never listened to the album but knew of the critical and popular acclaim it has received. I picked it up from the library and have attentively listened to it four times. While the individual performances are enjoyable listens, the album on the whole didn't satisfy me or absorb my attention as I thought a Hancock tribute to Gershwin might.

After having heard about it for years and having seen it receive numerous awards, I was disappointed in the quality of the album and enormously surprised by all the critical and popular accolades.

This is a poorly conceived Gershwin tribute in that it sounds like parts of at least three concepts (e.g., chamber-jazz-style approach, postbop approach, rhythm and blues approach to the Gershwin-penned or Gershwin-ish tunes)that could have been executed in the form of three thoughtful tributes. Don't get me wrong. Each individual tune seems to be thoughtfully arranged, creatively interpreted, and well executed. However, the tunes simply don't cohere in an album format. There is a little chamber-like jazz mixed with a little bop mixed with a little rhythm and blues. The stylistic shifts are jarring and divert from the quality of each individual tune. In other words, the parts are greater than the whole and the whole detracts from the parts.

I think Hancock was trying to appeal to too many tastes (his own tastes or those of the listening audience . . . who knows?) and ended up with a stylistic potpourri that jars the listener rather than drawing him or her in. Therefore, the album comes across as a novelty rather than a truly compelling listen.

Let me give deserving recognition to Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder who take on their challenging tasks gracefully. Of course, Hancock's playing is not a problem in the album.

Listen, 5 stars for this album? Do you mean to say that it is the equal of the greatest Hancock recordings: His 60s bop-oriented works with Blue Note or his 70s fusion works with Warner Brothers and Columbia?

I am telling fans of Herbie Hancock that you will be disappointed with this album because of its jarring unevenness and lack of coherence. The lack of coherence is contributed to by the problem that Hancock's keyboard work and ensemble leadership (in terms of performance) are not featured as prominently throughout the album as they are in his classic works.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very felt homage in Gershwin' s memory!, May 30, 2006
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
With motive of George Gershwin's centenary in 1998, it was evident Herbie Hancock should be another one of the privileged jazz musicians of extensive trajectory who simply could not be absent of this prestigious homage in Gershwin' s memory - without forget to Dave Gruisin, who made his personal tribute in 1993 with an anthological album -.

There are emblematic tracks along the album; The man I love and Summertime are played with enraptured inspiration. Embraceable you and Saint Louis Blues with the harmonic and voice of Steve Wonder is another outstanding piece.

The only minor default may found in the lovable Ravel' s Piano Concerto in G Major' s Second Movement. Hancok should have named Symphonic Variations on this section.

But this is an minor observation, taking into account the rest of this seductive and expressive rendition.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Listen only with open ears, October 14, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
Owners of albums like 'The new standard' will find very little differences of style between Hancock's own works and his attempt to deliver Gershwin -not to mention Ravel. Powerful creative minds are perhaps better employed in their own constructions rather in attempts to re-create other people's works.
As per Duke Ellington: "It is increasingly difficult to decide where jazz ends or where it stops . . . or even where the borderline lies between classical music and jazz". Difficult it is indeed; when listening to a guy like F. Gulda, I somehow believe it is possible for someone to do both things. When listening to guys like Jarrett or Hancock -who introduces lines of his own into Ravel's concerto-, I start distinguishing what was a hard-to-define borderline to Mr Ellington. I am sure Mr Hancock's arrangements where not Ravel's intention and when presented with something which is neither jazz nor classical, the result can be misleading to put it mildly.
I think I stand rather on the purist side. If you like readings of Bach and/or Haendel by guys like Jarrett, you will probably enjoy Mr Hancock's attempt to recreate Gershwin, Ellington and Ravel. If not, do not bother; there are many other albums where you can explore Hancock's world.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful musical experience., April 24, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
This recording is beautiful. When I first got it, I was curious about what other listeners would think of this record. I thought it would get great reviews, but a lot of people didn't like it. I was very surprised at this. This album is more than worth the twelve dollars I spent to get it. His ability to work with such a wide range of guests such as Wayne Shorter, Kathleen Battle, Kenny Garrett, Stevie Wonder, The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Chick Corea, and Joni Mitchell (who shows the potential to be a jazz star), and some very solid sidemen, shows that Herbie Hancock is a musical genius. Only he could put together such a great collection of songs ranging from compositions by George Gershwin, of course, the great W.C. Handy, James P. Johnson, Duke Ellington, and believe it or not, Maurice Ravel, modern classical genius. The album begins with a fun "Fascinating Rhythm Overture", which only lasts about a minute but is very interesting. There are such instruments in this piece as the talking drum (played by Massamba Diop), the djembe (as played by Madou Dembelle), and there are also three percussionists who add to the rhythmic flavor. The second track is the jazzy "It Ain't Necessarily So", which features a saxophone solo from Kenny Garrett, and some tenor saxophone playing from James Carter. There is a certain rhythmic flavor about this song. It is jazz meets african as there is even a little Duke Ellington flavor on this song. Herbie's solo on this track is amazing. It swings so well, and it has a creative improvisation. Then he flows well while backing up the other soloists and introducing the song with that one specific chord. The bassist Ira Coleman plays solid lines and makes an interesting flavor to the piece. "The Man I Love" is a great performance from Joni Mitchell, as she sings with feeling being backed by Herbie and Wayne Shorter, who both take tremendous solos. The song is very heartfelt and you can tell by listening that there is a lot of happiness going on in the studio while this song was being recorded. A certain special warmth is evident here. Plus, with Wayne Shorter and Joni Mitchell on one track, plus Herbie Hancock, this is a masterpiece. Then there is an interesting remake of "Here Come De Honey Man". It is more rhythmic than, say, when Miles Davis did it on Porgy And Bess, and has a good ensamble of James Carter, Kenny Garrett, and Eddie Henderson on trumpet are good for the melody. The guitar adds something special to the song, too, and the bass is played very well by Ira Coleman. Cyro Baptista plays many percussion instruments here. Robert Sadin, the producer, does some percussion programming on here and it is very successful and adds to the song. My favorite is next, the great "St. Louis Blues", which has a Stevie Wonder feature on this W.C. Handy composition is amazing. Stevie doubles up on harmonica and does some great vocals. It is great how he sings the tune like he did. Stevie could make a jazz album. The beats are all very good, too, and the bass hits hard. "Lullaby", is a beautiful slow song with a classical flavor. To me, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is an excellent addition to this song. There are no drums, as with many of the songs on here. Herbie wanted to have more of a clasical style to personalize the Gershwin tunes, as he said in the liner notes. The piece goes on as Herbie and the strings trade solos for eleven minutes. This is one of the better tracks on this album. Then there is the beautiful "Blueberry Rhyme", which is a duet between Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. They trade riffs on this beautiful song. It is hard to tell who is doing what on this song. This tune was written by James P. Johnson, and the melody is played beautifully by Chick and Herbie. Once again, there are no drums on the piece, just two great pianists. Then there is the short "It Ain't Necessarily So(Interlude)" is a little jam that is done very well, with a good back-up band. The percussion and bass shine very well and the results are amazing. The tune isn't really played here, but it doesn't have to be, and the jam is very solid. Okay, now we have a great composition, Duke Ellington's "Cotton Tail". One of the few straight-ahead jazz tracks on here, this is a great track where Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington make great contributions. They do an excellent job on a classic tune. This song goes very well with the rest of the album, too, which will surprise you. The next track is the talent-laden "Summertime", which has a great assembly of talent; Joni Mitchell on vocals, Stevie Wonder on harmonica, Herbie Hancock on piano, Wayne Shorter on soprano saxophone, and Ira Coleman on bass. Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie all on one track. How could it not be good? Stevie takes a great swinging solo, and Joni tears it up. Wayne Shorter only does a little back-up work, but does a fine job. "My Man's Gone Now", is a sweet ballad with great rhythm and a great piano solo job from Herbie. The song is kind of outdone by the other songs, but is a great song. "Prelude In C# Minor", is a great feature for Kathleen Battle, as it has that typical Kathleen Battle sound and some amazing vocals by Battle. There is a cello on this track and a guitar as well, but as Herbie said before, there are not that many tracks with drums because he wanted to capture a certain feeling. This song definitely captures that feeling. Then there is the highlight of the album, the remake of the classical song "Concerto For Piano And Orchestra In G, 2nd Movement". This track has an incredible arrangement and Herbie plays it very well. They sure did pick the right classical song to jazz up, because the song had some jazz on it to begin with. It is dedicated to Tony Williams. The final track is the sweet "Embraceable You", which is a piano solo. Herbie does a great job on it.
To conclude my review, this album is one of the better jazz albums I've ever heard. It is jazzy, sensitive, interesting, and elaborate. The music gives you great memories. It is great, and a must buy. Why some didn't like it I'll never understand. They probably just don't understand it and don't know anything about jazz. Please buy the album, and you will not regret it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, creative, surprising, and full of beauty, October 31, 1998
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
Jazz has always tackled what have come to be known as the standards, as a matter of fact, so often entire repertoires have been based on "The American Songbook". Obviously, knowing a song, it's melody as well as its lyrics leads to a great jumping off point for improvisation. The examples of this kind of musical concept are many - some successful, others sufficient, but after a while few of these endeavors really pass the test of time and leave their mark on the jazz idiom. If this review was to be general rather than particular I could take the time to give the proper credit where it is due, however, Herbie Hancock's latest project, "Gershwin's World" is so large and expansive in its scope that there is more than enough to say about this particular musical masterpiece.
Those lucky enough to have been able to follow Hancock's entire career, will no doubt rejoice in the maturity of concept and artistry that Herbie brings to this recording. His mentor during the adolescence of his career, Miles Davis, would have smiled and been deeply moved by the sheer beauty that captivates this recording, in a very similar fashion to the creative approach Miles took, most especially, on his "Porgy and Bess" recording with Gil Evans.
Some jazz artists seem reluctant to create jazz that is too pretty, for fear that their true expression will be viewed as diluted. In "Gershwin's World" Hancock achieves just the opposite result - expanding the repertoire, and redefining every note, resulting in a musical canvas that is brilliantly original.
Two cases in point are the pair of vocals featuring Joni Mitchell. Despite there being no secret in the fact that Joni has been able to sing jazz, amply evidenced on her recording "Mingus", Hancock's choice of her voice within the context of this project is a display of "Impressionistic" genius. When you think of any of the masterpieces of any of that group of painters, you are struck by the incredible importance of the choice of every color that touched the brush and found it's particular nuance on the canvas. Joni Mitchell is a sympathetic voice that becomes a deeply important instrument among this cast of exceptional players. On "The Man I Love" the intrerplay between herself and Wayne Shorter posseses all of the elements that make improvisation in this art form so singular.
Speaking of Wayne Shorter who appears on three tracks on this recording, his playing displays well his special gift for lyricism and imagination, and his musical sympatico, forged over many years, with Mr. Hancock.
Having addressed those particulars, let me also say that the albums all star lineup never gets in the way of the spirit of the larger concept. No solo seems forced, and everyone involved is truly a part of something that's largesse is truly greater than the sum of it's individual parts.
For those of you, like myself, who are devotees of the pianistic art form, you will be richly rewarded with Hancock's role as pianist in this project. His delicacy of touch and intelligent choice of every note once more solidifies his position as one of but a few truly great players that have contributed to this art form displaying the same economy of choice where not a single note exists as "fill".
This recording makes the world of modern music proud by taking important elements of the last century of music and creating a eulogy of beauty that will inspire, and last long past the life and times of those that contributed so beautifully to its creation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Success for Hancock, June 16, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Gershwin's World (Audio CD)
This artist continues to amaze me with his versatility and daring explorations. I don't like the CD all the way through, some of it drags and gets a little too "lush". I skip right past the 11 minutes of "Lullaby", for instance. But the cuts with Stevie Wonder ("St Louis Blues" in particular) and Joni Mitchell just blew me away. For someone who grew up thinking of Joni Mitchell as some folkie granola girl, this was a revelation!
I'm listening to this CD more and more, and putting it on more mix tapes for friends. I recommend it highly for anyone wanting a very rich addition to their Hancock collection.
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Gershwin's World
Gershwin's World by Herbie Hancock (Audio CD - 1998)
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