Starring John Petters (“…England's finest traditional Jazz drummer..” The Mississippi Rag, USA) and His Broadway Melodists
With special guests, Miss Val Wiseman, Britain's Queen of Song ”..The Jazz idiom comes to her so naturally that her simplest phrase swings ..” Dave Gelly - The Observer
& Piano Professor Martin Litton “…his style comprises driving swing with gentle melodic invention, in addition he is a good accompanist”. Jazz Journal International.
Summertime, Embraceable You, The Man I Love, They All Laughed, Lady Be Good, Someone to Watch Over Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It and 'S Wonderful are just a few of the memorable Gershwin hits that have become classic examples of the evergreen American Songbook.
Many of these masterpieces were composed for Fred Astaire and Al Jolson, but Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday are just some of the many artistes who also scored massive hits with the Gershwin's repertoire.
This show promises a night of music that matters and songs that swing, the melodies of which will be fondly remembered for years to come.
The music of George and Ira Gershwin is indeed timeless. Many of the songs you will hear this evening were created during the most creative period of popular music, the 1920s, when melody and lyrics mattered and the music was designed to swing.
It was the Jazz Age - the era of the Broadway musical, when Fred and Adele Astaire were dancing and singing their way to stardom. Al Jolson was the major entertainer of the day. Paul Whiteman, the self styled King of Jazz was trying to formalise the sound created by impoverished Afro-Americans, into popular dance music to be enjoyed by white society folk. More importantly it was the decade when Louis Armstrong burst upon the scene and changed the way that music was played and that songs were sung. Bing Crosby made his first recordings. The talking picture was launched and George and Ira Gershwin hit the big time.
Born of Jewish immigrant parents, in Brooklyn, New York on 26th September 1898, George started his career as a song plugger on Tin Pan Alley. He was a talented pianist who discovered the ability to compose quality popular tunes. His first big hit, Swanee was popularised by Al Jolson.
Ragtime and jazz were prime influences. Running parallel to his interest in jazz was the yearning to be a serious composer. His Rhapsody in Blue was premiered by Paul Whiteman in 1924 and quickly achieved popular acclaim.
With his brother Ira (born 1896) he started writing a series of Broadway musicals. Early successes included Lady Be Good in 1924 and Oh Kay in 1926, the latter in collaboration with P G Wodehouse.
When the Hollywood musical boom in the '30s arrived, the Gershwins achieved even bigger exposure with such hit movies as Shall We Dance with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and A Damsel In Distress based on a novel by Wodehouse and with a cast that included George Burns and Gracie Allen.
In 1935 the George & Ira premiered their only opera. Porgy and Bess opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York and ran for only 124 performances. Its recognition as a great work was slowly realised, and today it is regarded as the most important American Opera of the 20th century. The evergreen, Summertime, was part of the score.
Tragedy struck in 1937 when George died as a result of an inoperable brain tumour. Ira lived a long and fulfilled life and died at the age of 86 in 1983.
Over the decades the Gershwin's songs have been revived rat regular intervals. Crazy For You was a West End smash a few years back. 'S Wonderful was launched by John Petters in 1998 to mark George's Centenary. The show played to packed houses all over the UK. The music is truly timeless.
I Got Rhythm - Girl Crazy 1930
But Not For Me - Girl Crazy 1930
Embraceable You - Girl Crazy 1930
I Was Doing All Right - The Goldwyn Follies 1938
Isn't It A Pity - Pardon My English 1933
SlapThat Bass Shall We Dance 1937
They Can't Take That Away From Me - Shall We Dance 1937
Somebody Loves Me
Someone to Watch Over Me - Oh Kay 1926
That Certain Feeling - Tip Toes 1927
Strike Up The Band - Strike Up The Band 1930
It Ain't Necessarily So - Porgy & Bess 1935
Summertime - Porgy & Bess 1935
I Got Plenty Of Nothing - Porgy & Bess 1935
I Love You Porgy - Porgy & Bess 1935
Liza - Showgirl 1929
Lady Be Good - Lady Be Good 1924
The Man I Love (piano solo) - Lady Be Good 1924
The Half of it Dearie Blues - Lady Be Good 1924
'S Wonderful - Funny Face 1927
Encore: Love is here to Stay - Damsel In Distress 1937