Paul Whiteman’s “An Experiment In Modern Music” at Aeolian Hall on February 12, 1924 is well known for the premiere of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue. Yet it also placed an American popular music ensemble in a concert setting, at a venue typically associated with classical artists, to perform several original works that challenged preconceptions of both jazz and classical (fourteen years before Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall concert and several decades before “crossover” entered the lexicon).
Critics have weighed in on the merits of the rest of the program as well as Whiteman’s supposed aim to refine jazz. Now there’s an opportunity to hear all of the music live and judge for oneself.
To celebrate the ninetieth anniversary of this event in American music, Vince Giordano And The Nighthawks will perform the entire program, with conductor Maurice Peress directing the band on his meticulously researched transcription of Rhapsody In Blue, featuring pianist Ted Rosenthal.
Peress’s transcription draws upon several original sources as well as insights from members of the Whiteman orchestra. He notes that “…during the [Whiteman band’s] road tour, which immediately preceded the recording sessions, some of the jazz embellishments added by the players or Gershwin became ‘frozen,’ such as the little bundles of turning notes that flavor a phrase and klezmer-like whoops and hollers that clarinetist Ross Gorman introduced here and there, not only into the familiar opening.” On February 12, 2014 at New York City’s Town Hall, concertgoers can experience a performance of Gershwin’s work “chock-a-block with details never written down in the score or parts.”
The audience also gets to enjoy Whiteman’s own dance music performed with the Nighthawks’ distinct blend of energy and understanding, as well as pianist Jeb Patton playing Zez Confrey’s whirlwind piano pieces. If you are in or around New York City on February 12 (and let’s face it, anywhere on Earth might as well be around New York City), don’t miss this music.
Tickets and more information are available online here.