In The Sublime Gershwin, the immensely gifted pianist Roger Lent salutes the all-American musical icon by playing to perfection seven of Gershwin’s Preludes and four pieces, including Promenade in C, Impromptu in Two Keys, Three Quarter Blues, and Two Waltzes in C Major, all written between 1919 and 1937.
The Preludes would have added up to twenty-four had Gershwin lived to complete The Melting Pot, a collection of two dozen short pieces with which he aimed to if not establish at least reinforce his credentials as a “serious” composer.
It took for Nadia Boulanger to tell someone to tell Gershwin not to bother with the rigors of classical composition lest he should lose his jazzy identity. Ravel bluntly said to him that given the American’s handsome annual income, it should be Gershwin the one to teach Ravel and not the other way around. But Gershwin persisted, teaching himself while writing if not for Carnegie Hall, then for Broadway and Hollywood
Listening to the straightforward honesty of these gems, one is 100% convinced that the two French giants were right. But do not for moment think that there is nothing but well-structured, daringly harmonized, contrapuntally complex, quintessentially American, blessedly inspired music in each and every one of the eleven tracks in this CD. Nor let anyone suspect that I am giving short shrift to the ubiquitous Rhapsody in Blue with which Roger Lent felicitously brings the album to a memorable close.
Throughout Lent’s playing is deliberate, elegant, relaxed, clearly articulated, and attentive to details that faster tempi often tend to muddle. This invaluable artist, first an esteemed jazz musician and trumpet player, now an accomplished keyboard artist has in this, his first solo album as a pianist, a hands-down winner.
Classily produced by Lent’s mentor William Daghlian, perfectly engineered by Jonathan Schultz, and accompanied by insightful liner notes by Lent himself, the Espressivo label CD The Sublime Gershwin is available through http://www.jazzheads.com.
Rafael de Acha
Hi Roger. What a nice surprise to receive your CD this afternoon. Thank you so much for a fantastic piece of art. I have been a long fan of the Rhapsody and piano music in general. When I joined your campaign I intentionally went out and bought a new pair of cans (Grado sr325e’s) in preparation. And am I glad I did. You did a fantastic job. I love the tempo you selected. It allowed me to hear every single note in all of the pieces. Compliments to William, and Jonathan. What’s next?
Hank Becker - Contributor to the album Indiegogo campaign
I'll start with the short for those that don't want to read a long post: check out Roger Lent's new solo piano recording of Gershwin music.
I've known Roger pretty much as long as I've been in New York, I met him in late 2000. He is a great, great trumpet player with a beautiful sound, great swing feel, and his genuine enthusiasm for all things music is inspiring. We played duets regularly back in the early 2000s, and at some point he left town for a few years. When he got back I learned that he had started playing piano, and was getting quite serious about it. He began playing a lot of jazz trio gigs, at the same time he was still rehearsing with his brass quintet every week and playing trumpet beautifully.
Fast forward to a couple of days ago when I received his new solo piano CD, "The Sublime Gershwin", featuring a number of works I wasn't familiar with and of course "Rhapsody In Blue". It's hard not to be impressed with somebody playing this kind of repertoire after starting an instrument as an adult, but this isn't really about that as it is fantastic playing regardless of when he started. It's great to hear Gershwin's "jazzy" moments rendered by someone with a deep understanding of the jazz language and the rest of it executed by someone with serious classical chops. Clearly there is a level of artistic attention to detail and the result is a beautifully-recorded, thoroughly enjoyable album. Congrats Roger, for everybody else, check it out!
Dave Smith - NYC jazz trumpet player