Off Topic Messages

Rhapsody in Blue (Herbie Hancock)

Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:02 am

There is a wonderful concert that's show on Sky Arts over in the UK occasionally in which legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock teams up with the LA Philharmonic and charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel for a concert of Gershwin. It is a brilliant show, in my opinon, and one guaranteed to put a smile on the face of anyone who enjoys this kind of jazz/classical crossover material. The finale, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Rhapsody in Blue. The surprise, perhaps, is that this isn't a watered down jazz arrangement, but the full thing with Hancock as the soloist.

The performance has been criticised by a number of purists (see the youtube comments), which seems ironic since Rhapsody in Blue really isn't pure anything. Some say it is too slow, some moan that Hancock hits a couple of bum notes, and some that the whole thing is treated in too much of a liberal way - Hancock certainly makes the solo passages more jazzy than we are used to.

But, in my opinion, music isn't about perfection, but about feeling - and very few videotaped music performances manage to capture the sheer joy of making music. The 68 Comeback is a good example of one that does, and I would argue that, more recently, Springsteen's Live in Dublin with the Seeger band does as well. In another field, many would argue that the better among the Andre Rieu concerts do too. None of these are about giving perfect renditions, but totally about having a ball on stage, and making that sense of fun and love for the music infectious. This rendition of Rhapsody in Blue has that sense of love for the music and fun.

And so, as the annual jazz-awareness month kicks off, enjoy...