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Gershwin's World

4.2 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 20, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

HANCOCK HERBIE GERSHWIN`S WORLD

Amazon.com

Perhaps the most ambitious of album tributes to George Gershwin on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Gershwin's World earns its title by encompassing not only jazz versions of key pop songs from his catalog and a version (with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra) of his Prelude in C-Sharp Minor but also reminding us of the composer's sources in everything from Ellington, W.C. Handy, and stride pianist James P. Johnson to Ravel. Those four are represented by versions of key pieces that affected Gershwin, in a bid to place his achievement in a context that is often discussed but perhaps too little listened to. This is an album that could have been a massive, pretentious failure; instead, with the likes of Wayne Shorter and a nearly unrecognizably torchy Joni Mitchell on hand, it's as close to a triumph as this type of thing reaches. --Rickey Wright
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 20, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: October 20, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Verve Records
  • ASIN: B00000DBYQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,000 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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?).
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Format: 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.
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