Americana

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
Gone are the days when only Americans knew how to swing. British conductor Simon Rattle certainly has established his credentials as a fine jazzman, as this alternately breezy and brash compilation of Americana demonstrates. In addition to a lean, mean though sometimes stiff account of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Rattle also leads some lush orchestral arrangements of Ellington favorites, the snazzy overture from Bernstein's musical Wonderful Town as well as that composer's lesser-known Prelude, Fugue and Riffs originally written for Woody Herman, some carefree tunes from the 1920s, a pair of arias from an award-winning recording of Porgy and Bess, and -- ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
Gone are the days when only Americans knew how to swing. British conductor Simon Rattle certainly has established his credentials as a fine jazzman, as this alternately breezy and brash compilation of Americana demonstrates. In addition to a lean, mean though sometimes stiff account of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Rattle also leads some lush orchestral arrangements of Ellington favorites, the snazzy overture from Bernstein's musical Wonderful Town as well as that composer's lesser-known Prelude, Fugue and Riffs originally written for Woody Herman, some carefree tunes from the 1920s, a pair of arias from an award-winning recording of Porgy and Bess, and -- bringing us up to date, more or less -- John Adams's explosive miniature orchestral showpiece, Short Ride in a Fast Machine. The English ensembles featured on this disc are clearly at home in the American vernacular style. It will be interesting to see if Rattle can inspire such effectively jazzy playing from his new band, the Berlin Philharmonic.
All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
A compilation of earlier released recordings done under the supervision of British classical conductor Simon Rattle, Americana collects pieces by American composers (and one Russian), and is notable for its seamless cohesiveness (it doesn't feel like an anthology at all, but more like a logical, free-flowing sequence) and for being called Americana and not including a single Aaron Copland piece. The emphasis here is on American jazz, and compositions by Duke Ellington and George Gershwin are featured prominently in jazz-classical fusions that work at least as much as they don't. The 16-minute version of Gershwin's classic "Rhapsody in Blue" included here is revealing, and a wonderful exploration of theme at the juncture of jazz and classical; when it works, it opens doors, and when it doesn't, well, it simply fails to swing. Portions of Igor Stravinsky's "Ebony Concerto" are included here because of the American jazz sensibilities at the center of the composition, and it works perfectly. Another impressive selection is an obscure Ellington piece called "That Doo-Wah Thing," which manages to do what is so difficult in grafting classical and jazz together: It swings. Combining jazz and classical seems like an easy thing, but it seldom works well, maybe because jazz, with its unbreakable roots in the blues, is too much like Mark Twain's immortal character, Huck Finn, and is a notoriously hard one to dress up all nice and fancy. Still, Americana raises interesting possibilities.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/9/2004
  • Label: Emi Classics
  • UPC: 724355769121
  • Catalog Number: 57691

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Wonderful Town, musical in 2 acts: Overture - Leonard Bernstein & Luther Henderson (5:21)
  2. 2 Rhapsody in Blue, for piano & orchestra (orchestrated by F. Grofé) - George Gershwin & Luther Henderson (16:07)
  3. 3 Dardanella for voice & piano - Felix Bernard & Luther Henderson (3:02)
  4. 4 Makin' Whoopee - Walter Donaldson & Gus Kahn (3:40)
  5. 5 San, for voice & piano (or orchestra) - Luther Henderson & Lindsay McPhail (3:12)
  6. 6 Prelude, Fugue & Riffs, for clarinet & jazz ensemble - Leonard Bernstein & Luther Henderson (7:49)
  7. 7 Ebony Concerto, for clarinet & jazz band: III: Moderato - Luther Henderson & Igor Stravinsky (3:29)
  8. 8 Take the A Train - Luther Henderson & Billy Strayhorn (9:10)
  9. 9 Sophisticated Lady - Duke Ellington & Duke Ellington / Mitchell Parish / Irving Mills (5:16)
  10. 10 That Doo-wah Thing (after Ellington & Mills: It Don't Mean a Thing) - Luther Henderson & Duke Ellington (9:07)
  11. 11 Porgy and Bess, opera: Summertime - George Gershwin & Luther Henderson (3:27)
  12. 12 Porgy and Bess, opera: It Ain't Necessarily So - George Gershwin & Luther Henderson (3:31)
  13. 13 Short Ride in a Fast Machine, fanfare for orchestra - John Adams & Luther Henderson (4:22)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Simon Rattle Primary Artist
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