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Gershwin Plus: Piano Solos And Novelty Arrangements

Gershwin / Confrey / Beiderbecke / Haydon
Release Date: 05/08/2012 
Label:  Aca Digital   Catalog #: 20031   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George GershwinZez ConfreyBix Beiderbecke
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 50 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GERSHWIN 18 Song Hit Arrangements. Three Preludes. Prelude (Novelette in Fourths). Prelude rubato. Prelude (Melody No. 17, Sleepless Night). Impromptu in Two Keys. Someone to Watch Over Me. Love Walked In (arr. Haydon) . Embraceable You (arr. Haydon). CONFREY Kitten on the Keys. BEIDERBECKE In a Mist Read more Geoffrey Haydon (pn) ACA 20031 (50:19)

Geoffrey Haydon’s love of this infectious period of American musical history can be felt in each of the CD’s 30 tracks. Mostly by Gershwin, but with a little Confrey and Beiderbecke thrown in (plus three of Haydon’s deft arrangements), this is the tuneful, sentimental, rollicking sound that conquered the world with its fresh syncopations and harmonic invention. Gershwin, one of America’s great tunesmiths, wrote songs for 16 Broadway musicals and four Hollywood films that between them entertained millions. Famous at social gatherings for commandeering any piano in the vicinity and playing into the wee hours of the morning, he eventually transcribed 18 of the best-known numbers in the style of his undocumented improvisations. Studio recordings of Gershwin playing select songs survive, as do numerous film clips, and it’s fascinating to compare them with the published versions. Playing Swanee , he restores the introduction—listening to it I couldn’t help but hear Al Jolson—and adds all manner of rippling variations that didn’t make it into print: I wouldn’t be surprised if he made them up on the spot. Gershwin’s playing was often irrepressibly rhythmic, with great forward momentum, but he also knew how to sell a tune by emphasizing its lyrical nature without fussy distortion. Haydon, too, never forgets that the 18 Song Hit Arrangements are just that: songs. Each number emerges as a self-contained story illustrated with nuances of touch, dynamics, and subtle rhythmic fluctuation. Haydon gives us a sweet and gentle Nobody but You , observes Gershwin’s instructions with a surprisingly dramatic introduction to The Man I Love , fuses humor to languor in Oh, Lady be Good , makes the most of the rousing march rhythm of Strike Up the Band without slighting the tune, and romps through the technical tour de force of the set, I Got Rhythm , immersing himself in the transitional descending seventh chords with palpable pleasure before breaking into the jubilant stride of the coda.


The disc includes an attractive clutch of preludes, of which the Three Preludes are the most familiar. He relishes the insouciant jazziness of the first, probes the bluesy sadness of the second even as he savors the middle section’s cock-of-the-walk swagger, and teases out the third’s darker but still good-humored flair, with its hints of things to come ( Porgy and Bess ). The jaunty, delicately played Novelette in Fourths and the slightly more sedate Impromptu in Two Keys have Gershwin exploring enticing intervals and slightly “off” tonal temptations. The Prelude Rubato and the Prelude ( Sleepless Night ) are lyrical musings, with the latter the more dreamily melancholic (on my copy, the track listings for these two are reversed). Haydon has arranged Someone to Watch Over Me as a tribute to Art Tatum, and he tosses off the interpolated runs with an easy grace that recalls the Master himself. So well organized that they could pass for carefully plotted compositions, Love Walked In and Embraceable You are, in fact, tasteful, inventive improvisations that flow smoothly from Haydon’s talented fingers. Zez Confrey’s entertaining novelty number Kitten on the Keys is harder than it sounds (as are many of the Gershwin transcriptions)—not that you’d know it by listening to Haydon’s stylish portrait of the syncopationally gifted ball of fluff. Lastly, there is Bix Beiderbecke’s In a Mist , which is a more up-tempo item than the title suggests. While there are some impressionistic effects scattered here and there, there’s also a fair amount of novelty-era swing clearing the way through the fog, at least until the softly enveloping close. As should be evident from all the above, Geoffrey Haydon has a winning way with this repertoire, as anyone fortunate enough to hear this enjoyable disc will soon discover.


FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper

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This is a fun disc (entitled Gershwin Plus ) that deserves success. Geoffrey Haydon is a pianist who is known both as a classical and a jazz performer. He co-ordinates the piano faculty at Georgia State University, where he also teaches a variety of subjects, including jazz history and theory. His doctorate was awarded by the University of Texas at Austin.


The arrangement of The Man I Love is remarkably like Rachmaninoff—scored in three staves, it conveys that composer’s heaviness of utterance. Swanee might be more happy on an old honky-tonk piano, yet it is delivered with aplomb here by Haydon. There is fun aplenty here, whether it be the zesty Fascinating Rhythm or the laid-back, dissonance-spiked Oh, Lady Be Good, or the boogie-woogie of Sweet and Low Down . Geoffrey Haydon is a fine pianist, as his delivery of I Got Rhythm demonstrates beyond doubt.


The Three Preludes receive a tremendous performance, not least the splendid, unbuttoned third. It’s nice to have the “extra” preludes as a bonus to the better-known Three Preludes. There is an error in the booklet: the Prelude (Novelette in Fourths) is given as track 22; it is actually track 23, and the Prelude rubato is track 22. Haydon’s Prelude (Novelette in Fourths) is particularly attractive, as he seems here preternaturally attuned to Gershwin’s idiom. The characterful Impromptu in Two Keys is absolutely fascinating, yet retains the essence of Gershwin. Haydon’s gentle way contrasts with the more impetuous Someone to Watch Over Me , and his two arrangements are expert and wonderfully performed (especially, perhaps, the right hand Chopinesque filigree in Embraceable You ).


The ragtime/stride of Zez Confrey’s Kitten on the Keys is delicious. The Beiderbecke is a transcription of the composer’s own 1927 recording. It is a beautiful miniature that closes the disc perfectly. A fascinating, and decidedly lovable, album.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1. Lady, be Good: The man I love by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 45 Secs. 
2. Capitol Revue: Swanee by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; New York, USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 51 Secs. 
3. La La Lucille: Nobody but you by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 8 Secs. 
4. George White's Scandals of 1922: I'll build a stairway to paradise by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 38 Secs. 
5. French Doll: Do it again by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 18 Secs. 
6. Lady, be Good: Fascinating rhythm by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 52 Secs. 
7. Lady, Be Good!: Oh, Lady be good by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Written: 1924 
Length: 1 Minutes 1 Secs. 
8. George White's Scandals of 1924: Somebody loves me by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 59 Secs. 
9. Tip-toes: Sweet and low-down by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; New York, USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 52 Secs. 
10. Oh, Kay!: Clap yo' hands by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 48 Secs. 
11. Oh, Kay!: Do, Do, Do by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 57 Secs. 
12. Funny Face: My one and only by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 52 Secs. 
13. Funny Face: 'S Wonderful by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 3 Secs. 
14. Strike up the Band: Strike up the band by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927/1929; New York, USA 
15. Girl Crazy: I got rhythm by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 15 Secs. 
16. Of Thee I Sing: Who cares? by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 0 Secs. 
17. Tip-toes: That certain feeling by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; New York, USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 2 Secs. 
18. Show Girl: Liza "All the clouds'll roll away" by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
19. Preludes (3) for Piano by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; USA 
Length: 6 Minutes 4 Secs. 
20. Novelette in fourths by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 50 Secs. 
21. Rubato by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 20 Secs. 
22. Sleepless Night "Melody no 17" by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Length: 2 Minutes 3 Secs. 
23. Impromptu for Piano in 2 keys by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1924; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
24. Oh, Kay!: Someone to watch over me by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
25. Goldwyn Follies: Love walked in by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 35 Secs. 
26. Girl Crazy: Embraceable you by George Gershwin
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 
27. Kitten on the Keys, for piano by Zez Confrey
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1921; United States of Ame 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
28. In a Mist for piano by Bix Beiderbecke
Performer:  Geoffrey Haydon (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1928; United States of Ame 
Length: 2 Minutes 52 Secs. 

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