“Gershwin Celebration” at Macky hits the suitable notes for a festive occasion
By Peter Alexander Jan. 23 at 12:20 a.m.
The Boulder Philharmonic and the Marcus Roberts Trio each returned to a stay stage final night time (Jan. 22) for the primary time in two years, to current “A Gershwin Celebration” in Macky Auditorium. And it was a celebration for sure.
Two works by Gershwin have been on this system: An American in Paris, and the Piano Concerto in F with the trio—Marcus Roberts, piano, Jason Marsalis, drums, and Rodney Jordan, bass—as a solo ensemble with the orchestra. The interpretation of Gershwin’s concerto, which Roberts first did with conductor Seiji Ozawa practically 20 years in the past, has develop into one thing of a specialty for the trio. They did it with the Boulder Phil as soon as earlier than, in conductor Michael Butterman’s first season with the orchestra 15 years in the past.
We must be grateful that Butterman determined to return to that have. This system, and particularly the efficiency with the trio, hit all the suitable notes for a festive occasion. It was brilliantly artistic, it was enjoyable, it was musical artwork on a really excessive stage.
The efficiency was live-streamed from Macky to anybody who had purchased a ticket. I had the privilege of first attending the rehearsal yesterday morning, in order that I may hear how the trio put their interpretation and interpolated solos along with the orchestra, and watching the stay stream within the night to listen to the way it all match collectively.
One benefit of “attending” the live performance by stay stream is you can see issues that aren’t simply seen from seats within the corridor—the very busy percussionists, for instance, and who’s enjoying the solos. That could be very a lot a worthwhile pleasure. Since COVID, streaming is frequent, because it permits individuals to absorb a live performance with out being in a crowd. Let’s hope streaming turns into regular, because it provides entry to individuals who in any other case wouldn’t be capable to attend.
And it give us all the chance to listen to performances from world wide, constructing a bigger, shared musical tradition.
This system opened with An American in Paris, which has earned a spot within the orchestral repertoire—and in American viewers’s hearts. It’s not honest to “overview” a streamed efficiency as a result of as a listener I’m on the mercy of the sound engineers and the audio system on my desktop. However Butterman and the Boulder Phil clearly gave a fluid, polished efficiency.
For the Concerto, the orchestra performed nearly solely what Gershwin wrote. When enjoying with the orchestra, Roberts noticed, if he didn’t precisely reproduce, what Gershwin wrote within the piano half. At occasions he spun off from Gershwin’s line—however Gershwin did the identical.
There have been additionally “breaks” for the jazz trio when the orchestra sat out and turned the efficiency over to the trio. These moments have been, for me, essentially the most joyous elements of the live performance, as a result of all three members of the trio are simply so darned good. It was pleasant to listen to Roberts work bits of Gershwin into the multi-hued material of his improvisations, and to witness the exchanges amongst three musicians who know one another so effectively. Like all tight jazz group, no matter course Roberts went, the others have been with him.
Listening to each the rehearsal and the live performance, it was not onerous to seek out the essence of each classical and jazz kinds. “We need to guarantee that [audiences] perceive the grandeur and wonder and structural logic that classical music has,” Roberts informed me earlier, “and the liberty of improvisation and the spontaneity of jazz.”
Each have been evident in Macky. The “grandeur of classical music” was current within the full orchestral passages of the concerto, which body and culminate the solo passages. In fact these grandiose passages have been the identical within the morning and within the night; that’s classical music.
The improvised, jazz passages, nevertheless, weren’t the identical; of their exuberant unpredictability they confirmed the “spontaneity of jazz”—and therein lies is the true greatness of the artwork type. The true greatness of Roberts’s efficiency of the Concerto in F is in bringing the 2 collectively.
As an encore, the trio alone performed their model of one other Gershwin staple, “I Received Rhythm,” which is each a nod to the composer’s variations for piano and orchestra on “I Received Rhythm” and recognition of the place the tune’s chord development has taken in jazz historical past. Right here the trio was playful, buying and selling riffs firstly and the top, and giving a welcome probability for Marsalis on drums and Jordan on bass to have their very own solos.
All of them killed it. It was a stunning demonstration of what we’ve missed for the previous two years, and an exhilarating finish to the celebration.
The Boulder Phil and the Marcus Roberts Trio will repeat their efficiency of “A Gershwin Celebration” this afternoon, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23, on the Lone Tree Arts Middle. It’s possible you’ll buy tickets for that stay efficiency right here.